Top List Thursdays – Top ten comic book movie villains

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Let’s be honest here. Half the fun of going to go see a superhero movie, is to see what the villain is going to be like. You can’t have a great hero with a great villain, and a healthy dose of MANIACAL LAUGHTER! MANIACAL LAUGHTER! So after more than decade of comic book movies being awesome again, here’s ten such villains that made at least half of the summer blockbuster on offer, worth watching.

Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin – Spider-man

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I don’t care that Dafoe looked like a power ranger on acid during this film, because when it came to tripping crazy and throwing punches at the same time, he was the man. I never, ever really liked Tobey Maguire as Spidey, but casting Dafoe was a stroke of genius. Manic, intense and able to imitate Porky Pg for some reason when he dipped into the insanity bag, Dafoe clearly had a great time with the role, even coming back in the subsequent films as the ghost of Goblins past.

Although holy heck, that costume was bad though.

Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin – Daredevil

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And with Marvel having started something at the box office, they went back to the streets with Daredevil. I quite enjoyed the film, especially the director’s cut, and that’s thanks to Michael Clarke Duncan being big, tough and imposing. Duncan was already a massive star, both figuratively and literally when he was cast as the Kingpin of crime, but he had to bulk up even further for the role as Wilson Fisk.

And he wasn’t just a bruiser in that film. He was a charming bruiser that ran a criminal empire, and could take on just about anyone in hell’s kitchen. Now that’s how you handle being a comic book villain.

Geoffrey Rush as Casanova Frankenstein – Mystery Men

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If you have yet to see Mystery Men, then you’re missing out on one classic cult comic book movie. Long before Blade and X-Men set the industry on fire for such films, along came this indie gem which starred William Macy and Ben Stiller as wannabe heroes. And also PeeWee Herman with farting powers.

But throwing in stage and screen actor Geoffrey Rush as the main villain? Genius. He went from remorseful to maniacal within the span of minutes, as plotted to take control of his metropolis and finally rid himself of his longtime nemesis Captain Amazing. And he actually did it. Sure, he got foiled at the end of the day, and he didn’t directly get rid of the Captain.

But how many supervillains can boast that in some way, it’s thanks to them that they killed a superhero who tormented them into a lengthy prison sentence? None! Plus, Casanova must have had the weirdest and most dangerous martial art style of all time.

Pinkie-Fu.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman – Batman Returns

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Now usually, Catwoman was nothing more than a tease with a feline theme in the Batman comic books. And in Batman Returns, she was still pretty much just that, provided that you had a feline leather fetish to go with it. But she was more! Michelle Pfeiffer took an ordinary role that was normally campy, and turned it into a tour de force of crazy, delusional and lethal asskicking over nine lifetimes worth of acting. And kitty litter. Mustn’t forget the kitty litter.

Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane – Iron Man

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In the comic books, Obadiah Stane is an old man who plots and schemes against Tony Stark while bitching that there aren’t enough reruns of Columbo on TV. He was lame, is what I’m saying. But leave it to Jeff Bridges to once again own a role, as he turned the businessman into the Gordon Gecko of arms dealers and black market deals while pretending to be on the side of angels.

Of course, he basically screws years worth of planning when he decides to don an armoured killsuit of mass destruction and go ona  rampage, but hey! We can’t all be perfect, all of the time.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki

MANHATTAN

Ah, sibling rivalry. Some brothers or sisters just want to be better than you by having more money or a great job. And then some sibling s decide to go on a course that involves a combination of deicide and patricide, and then turning a teleportation system into a mini death star so that they can cap off all those ‘cides with some genocide.

Loki is the glue of the phase one Marvel movies, the driving force behind all the heroes uniting to form the Avengers. And if it had been entrusted to another actor besides Tom Hiddleston, it would have come off as a lacklustre performance.

Thomas Haden Church as the Sandman – Spider-Man 3

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Here’s another comic book movie role which was usually seen as lame and as a waste of time. But Church goes in a different direction with it, creating a villain that you not only like, but actually sympathise with. I’ve mentioned it before, but I think that moment where the Sandman has to literally pick himself up from nothing, using sheer willpower and a drive to help his sick child, is one of the most powerful moments in the third Spider-Man movie.

It’s incredible, haunting and sad. And it takes a could-have been villain and elevates him to the big time.

Rebecca Romjin Stamos as Mystique – X-Men

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I’ll be honest here: This role is pure eye candy. Rebecca Romijn Stamos endured hours of make-up on a daily basis, and the result was a character that was made for gawking at. But that’s the beauty of this role. She’s butt naked, but you just cannot tear your eyes away from the screen when Stamos appears, the make-up and physical is just that good. And with a few fight scenes thrown in to show just how lethal she actually was, Stamos made the role perfect.

Elijah Wood as Noah – Sin City

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It’s not easy when you’ve got absolutely zero lines ina  film, to come up with a performance that just works wonderfully. Take Elijah Wood in Sin City for example. Normally, the actor could always rely on those peepers of his to help sell a role, but thanks to director Robert Rodriguez deciding to stay canon and giving Wood a pair of shades that were drenched in comic book whites, he couldn’t even rely on that technique of his.

So he played it as straight to the comics as he could. And the results were fantastic. If I had to pick a serial killer to finish me off, you can rest assured that I’d soon run towards a clowned Gacy than go anywhere near Kevin.

Tom Hardy as Bane – The Dark Knight Rises

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Bane has never been easy to write about in the comics. He’s seen as a one trick pony, a character that was brought along to help jumpstart sales on Batman comics. True, he broke the bat (spine), but since then he’s been severly underwritten and has wasted away in obscurity. But when Christopher Nolan decided to use him as the final villain for the Dark Knight Rises, he chose well when he picked Tom “Bronson” Hardy to don the mask.

Hardy was a brute with intelligence, an unstoppable force with an incomprehensible accent behind those anesthesia pipes. But he was the driving force behind that movie, as he systematically destroyed not only Batman, but Gotham City as well. And in a film plagued with narrative problems, he was the plot that Gotham deserved, not the one that it needed.

Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson as The Joker – The Dark Knight/Batman

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You can’t mention comic book villains without thinking of the Joker. The most resilient Batman villain, and the nastiest. But to dismiss either performance from Ledger or Nicholson would be foolish. Two sides of the same coin, these clown princes of crime represented the worst that a criminal could be. Vain, chaotic, campy and unpredictable, they headlined the Batman films that they were each in.

And they did it all with style.

Last Updated: May 23, 2013

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