What is the purpose of a movie villain? For what reason are they so crooked, so vile and so corrupt? Why are some of them so gosh darn enticing? And why are some of them so annoyingly unthreatening that they make a wooden spoon look like a nuclear bomb? A villain is meant to represent everything the hero is against. While the hero is the one we’re meant to root for and sympathise with, the villain is the one we want to see be stopped in their dastardly tracks. A true villain provides a challenge for the hero as the good guys bravely fight for the greater good. They are meant to stand against all that is decent and moral in the world, working only for their own greed, power and evil personal gain.
From the scar-faced kitty-stroker Ernst Stavro Blofeld of the “James Bond” series to the asthmatic space dictator Darth Vader from the “Star Wars” saga, there are many icons of supervillain lore for amateurs to look up to. However, there are also many that the greats should look down on in sheer embarrassment. While a villain is meant to be a physical or a mental threat to the courageous protagonist, some bad guys of cinema are frankly laughable, utterly incompetent and wouldn’t even frighten a newborn baby hamster. Here is my list of the top ten worst villains in movie history.
10. Dominic Greene from “Quantum of Solace” (2008)
James Bond has had many striking and unforgettable arch enemies throughout his 22 official cinematic adventures, but Dominic Greene is the exact opposite of this. He’s a lame, dry villain in what was one of Bond’s most unexciting and unthrilling escapades, and I’ve seen “Never Say Never Again.” Played by Mathieu Amalric, it’s his evil scheme to help a dictator overthrow the Bolivian government and in return receive ownership of a piece of land. Like the film, he’s disappointingly insipid and bland, barely even posing a mental or physical threat. When he eventually has a proper punch-up with 007 himself in the explosive climax, he’s laughably hopeless, screaming as he weakly throws punches before getting his French ass handed to him. It’s like when the geeky kid in the playground plucks up the courage to face up against the school bully, but is helpless at fighting. Blofeld groans in disgust.
9. Venom from “Spider-Man 3” (2007)
Anyone who’s read the “Spider-Man” comics or watched the cartoons or, heck, even played the video games should know that Venom was a muscle-bound, growling monster and one of the ultimate enemies of everyone’s favourite arachnid-dressed superhero. However, in “Spider-Man 3,” the character is played by the dorky Topher Grace off “That ’70s Show,” the complete opposite of what one would expect given Venom’s past depictions in the source material. He’s scrawny, he’s whiny and he’s about as buff as a two-year-old guinea pig. And when Eddie Brock’s body finally merges with the evil symbiote and becomes Venom about three quarters way through the film, he’s an epic let-down, barely even registering as a genuine menace and disappearing all too quickly. This is a case of poor casting and also an annoyingly limited screen time, resulting in Venom’s long-anticipated on-screen portrayal being universally roasted by moviegoers and fanboys alike. Sorry Topher, but I like my Venom buff and manly.
8. Toad from “X-Men” (2000)
If there’s anyone with a ludicrous superpower in any of the “X-Men” films, it’s Toad. He’s luckily not the film’s main villain, more of a henchman of the brilliant Sir Ian McKellen’s metal-manipulating Magneto. If he were the main villain I’d laugh my ass off. Who the hell would follow this guy’s orders? He’s played by stuntman Ray Park, his character’s power being that he is part man, part toad. A ribbiting, hopping, fly-pinching toad. His skin is green, his tongue is impossibly long, he has the ability to ejaculate green goo from the back of his throat, and he eats live birds. Like I said, who the hell would take orders from this guy? He is just ridiculous and practically useless, making it a wonderfully satisfying moment when he’s killed by a bolt of lightning. Yeah, go eat some flies on your lily pad, you aggravating amphibian.
7. Nuclear Man from “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” (1987)
Most people are lucky enough to not even remember that there was a fourth “Superman” movie, but many still suffer night terrors since its unbelievable release in theatres back in ’87. In this witless sequel, the Man of Steel goes up against the villainous Nuclear Man, a sharp-nailed, mullet-sporting mega-doofus who came to be after a nuclear weapon with a strand of Superman’s hair attached was thrown into the sun. Despite him having god-like superpowers, he’s working under the orders of the brainy Lex Luthor, which I suppose is for the best, given that Nuclear Man can barely even string a sentence together. His weakness is that once taken away from sunlight he becomes very weak, which means all Superman has to do is toss him into a dark corridor and voila, no more Nuclear Man. Instead, the solar-powered supervillain is defeated when Superman hurls him into the core of a nuclear power plant, which doesn’t make any goddamn sense, but hey, neither did the rest of the movie.
6. Mr. Freeze from “Batman & Robin” (1997)
“Batman & Robin” is constantly referred to as one of the worst comic book movies of all time, if not the worst. Practically a live-action Saturday morning cartoon, it was directed by Joel Schumacher and clumsily juggled three main villains, from the seductive Poison Ivy to the brainless Bane to the sidesplittingly goofy Mr. Freeze, played by muscle-bound actor-slash-bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s a victim of an unfortunate accident in a cryogenics lab, now having to wear a subzero suit powered by crystals, which he nabs without permission. Spitting out pun after pun (“Let’s kick some ice,” “Cool party,” “You’re not sending me to the cooler,” etc.) in an Austrian accent and zapping citizens with his ice ray thingamajig, he was an uproariously daft enemy of the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder as he tried to turn Gotham City into a frozen wasteland. He really sucked ice.
5. Devlin Bowman from “The Master of Disguise” (2002)
I’d cut this one some slack due to the villain being from a kids’ movie, but really, this character is just exasperating regardless of demographic. Played by Brent “Star Trek” Spiner, Devlin Bowman’s a pretty standard supervillain, all sharply dressed with a gazillion henchmen and a massive underground lair. His plan is to steal important treasures of the world by forcing a man with a magical talent for impersonating others to snatch them for him. Oh, and the thing we’re meant to remember this character by? He farts a lot. Yep, this character’s trademark is passing wind while he laughs maniacally. Pretty stupid, right? Well, it’s a stupid villain in an obnoxiously stupid movie; he fits right in.
4. Dracula from “Blade: Trinity” (2005)
Dracula has been portrayed time and time again since the good ol’ black-and-white days of cinema, always the charming Transylvanian with a thirst for delicious blood — Gary Oldman and Bela Lugosi instantly spring to mind. However, when Dominic Purcell off “Prison Break” took him on in the limp third instalment of the “Blade” franchise, he was less charming and more mind-numbing. Brought back from his long-residing grave by other vampires, he’s told that he must create more daywalkers such as himself so that the vampire race can take over the world without having to cower away when the sun comes up. Problem is that this Dracula (stupidly renamed “Drake”) isn’t particularly menacing, and when he does transform into a frightening monster he’s killed off after about two minutes. Too bad he wasn’t killed in the opening scene.
3. Laurel Hedare from “Catwoman” (2004)
There were many things wrong with surname-less director Pitof’s “Catwoman,” one of them being that the film made it past pre-production. Another one of these many bad judgements was the villainess, Laurel Hedare, played by Sharon Stone, who sadly doesn’t uncross her legs at any point during the film. Her character is an aging model who plots to sell beauty cream that has horrible side effects once the user stops applying it to their skin, thus sales in the cream will quickly sky rocket. And in case that’s not stupid enough, her character’s superpower is ultra-hard skin due to her overuse of cosmetics, so strikes to her body don’t harm her. The film is largely idiotic, but this lame femme fatale really takes the cake for its sheer absurdity, and not the good kind of absurdity.
2. The plants from “The Happening” (2008)
Yes, you read right; the villains in writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s hysterical non-comedy thriller “The Happening” are a bunch of flamin’ garden plants. Now, this isn’t like “The Day of the Triffids” where the plants sting and gobble up passers-by on the street. No no, in “The Happening,” the immobile plants emit gasses that force people to spontaneously commit suicide. Because of this, there’s a worldwide panic as everyone starts throwing themselves down in front of lawnmowers and feeding themselves to lions (I’m not kidding). This forces, in one hilariously ludicrous scene amongst many, Mark Wahlberg and his pals to desperately run away from a gust of wind that’s apparently chasing them to avoid, I dunno, punching themselves to death. Well, that’s what I’d do if I were in this movie.
1. Terl from “Battlefield Earth” (2000)
It’s difficult to believe that the John Travolta in “Battlefield: Earth” is the same John Travolta who swing danced with Uma Thurman in “Pulp Fiction” just six years before. It’s also difficult to believe that the film, which is based on a book by scientology founder (ha ha ha) L. Ron Hubbard, cost almost $50 million to make, given the bottom-of-the-barrel production value and sheer inanity of the film. Here, Travolta plays a member of a species of aliens called the Psychlos, who, for over 1000 years, have enslaved all of mankind. For most of the film, he spends his time getting drunk, having his crotch licked by alien Kelly Preston and shooting the legs off of cows. With his hair in dreadlocks and his high-pitched voice as all-over-the-place as a chipmunk on a pogo stick, egomaniac extraterrestrial Terl gets more laughs than scares and looks like something Amy Winehouse vomited up after binge drinking yet again. Anyone who likes Travolta’s performance probably can’t even SPELL their NAME.
Lisa-Marie Dutt says
I agree with all on this list, though I would have added one of Gary Oldman’s worst roles to date and that is Spider Smith in Lost In Space. That was a villain who just did not deserve any screentime at all.