Gary Collinson selects his Essential Movie Supervillains...
If there’s one thing any good superhero needs it’s a strong nemesis; someone who can push them to the very limits as they set about realising their diabolical plans for world domination. From the A-listers of Batman’s Rogues Gallery to classic Marvel bad guys such as Doctor Doom and the Green Goblin, the superhero world is littered with great antagonists. However, when it comes to translating them to movie screens most of these fail to live up to their comic book counterparts, resulting in a stream of missed opportunities, outright misfires and close-but-no-cigars.
Of course that’s not always the case, so here we present our selection of the essential movie supervillains...
5. Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus.
Having come so close to getting it right with the Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man movie (a good performance from Willem Dafoe let down by an overly action-figure look), Sam Raimi tried his hand with another of the Marvel Universe’s most treasured villains for the webslinger to square off against in Spider-Man 2. Alfred Molina’s Dr. Otto Octavius is a sympathetic figure, benefiting from the injection of human qualities not present in his comic book form, and his tragic story is the main reason why the 2004 sequel is the highlight of Raimi’s series.
4. Jack Nicholson as The Joker.
When up-and-coming filmmaker Tim Burton was handed the reigns to Batman he turned to legendary screen psychopath and two-time Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson to ensure that Gotham’s protector would meet his match against a worthy adversary. Nicholson’s Joker is a fine representation of the comic title’s ‘classic’ Crown Prince of Crime and he really is the star of the show, overshadowing Batman at every opportunity. In return for his enormous pay check, Nicholson delivered the definitive portrayal of The Joker until Heath Ledger reinvented the character almost two decades later in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
3. Terence Stamp as General Zod.
The problem with the Superman franchise is that when you’re main character is The Man of Steel, it’s pretty hard to find a villain that can give him a good go. Step forward General Zod - a guy with the same abilities as Superman and a pair of similarly-powered lackeys to back him up - who conquers Earth with ease before demanding that the son of Jor-El kneels before Zod. Stamp’s turn as the ruthless Kryptonian General in Superman II made Zod one of Superman’s most popular foes and will be a hard act to follow should the character’s rumoured return for the Zack Snyder reboot Superman: The Man of Steel (2012) prove true.
2. Ian McKellen as Magneto.
A veteran thespian such as Sir Ian McKellen may not be the most obvious choice for a movie supervillain he certainly makes the role of Magneto his own in the original X-Men trilogy. McKellen is pretty much perfect in the part and his interactions with Professor X (Patrick Stewart) deliver the kind of punch you'd come to expect from two such respected actors. Both Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy will have their work cut out to match up as younger versions of the friends-turned-arch-rivals in Matthew Vaughn's upcoming X-Men: First Class (2011), but as we shall see, it can be done...
1. Heath Ledger as The Joker.
The only actor on this list to receive an Academy Award for his efforts (and indeed, the only actor in history to receive such an accolade for a comic book movie), Heath Ledger delivers a masterful turn as the antagonist of The Dark Knight. Ledger's Joker is an out-and-out psychopath, stripping away much of the humour to bring the character back to his roots as a ruthless, cold-blooded killer. Rumours persist that Ledger will make a posthumous appearance in The Dark Knight Rises (although Nolan has continuously denied this), but regardless his efforts in The Dark Knight are more than enough to make Ledger's Joker the essential movie supervillain.
The original plan for this article was to include ten selections to keep it in line with our Ten Essential Movie Superheroes, but in all honesty it was hard enough picking five worthy of inclusion.
And the epic fails…
5. Ryan Reynolds / Scott Adkins as Weapon XI (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 2009)
4. Colin Farrell as Bullseye (Daredevil, 2003)
3. Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut (X-Men: The Last Stand, 2006)
2. A cloud as Galactus (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, 2007)
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze (Batman & Robin, 1997)
Agree? Disagree? We'd love to hear your comments on the list...