Supervillains: they’re super important to superhero movies. Supervillains can make or break a superhero movie. Take Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Vulture, for example. He wasn’t just a believable bad guy, he turned out to be [no spoilers!] the heart of the film.
More than just a maniacal laugh and a penchant for monologue, supervillains give heroes motivation, move the plot forward, and give the audience someone they love to hate. After all, without Loki, who could mess with the Avengers on such an epic level? Who other than Magneto could be the foil of Prof X and the X-Men? And, of course, where would Batman be without The Joker?
Here, we list 15 of the best superhero movie supervillians—and also five of the worst.
15. Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Why so mad, Ultron? It’s never really quite clear. Some daddy issues and general anger from reading the comments section of the Internet. Ultron is big and bad, but mostly just meh.
14. The Mandarin (Iron Man 3)
One of the biggest WTF moments in supervillain history comes from this guy, though it may take multiple viewings of Iron Man 3 to appreciate the unconventional humor.
13. The Winter Soldier (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
He catches Captain America’s shield with his robot arm—that movie moment is just off the charts.
12. Ronan the Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy)
He’s big, he’s bad, and he’s blue. The overly serious Ronan the Accuser is the perfect foil for those goofy Guardians of the Galaxy. Dance-off, now!
11. Ego (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Kurt Russell as lovable dad/child-eating planet is just... fun.
10. General Zod (Superman II)
Forget about Man of Steel, the real bad-ass supervillain of the Superman franchise is General Zod from Superman II. That menacing mustache, that plunging neckline, those chest hairs… what’s not to love?
9. Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)
Yet another role where poor Tom Hardy is made to wear a mask. Still, with only his eyes, his absurd voice, and his physical presence, he manages to be menacing, monstrous, and one of the most memorable movie supervillains ever.
8. Mystique (various X-Men films)
Good guy? Bad guy? Mystique’s role gets confusing. What’s crystal clear is that Jennifer Lawrence does such a good job playing the mutant that she almost pulls a Wolverine and runs away with the entire X-Men franchise.
7. The Vulture (Spider-Man Homecoming)
Finally, here was a supervillain without any complex motivation, or revenge-filled origin story. This Vulture was a thief, plain and simple. And yet he managed to become the emotional core of the movie. Who’d have thunk it?
6. The Scarecrow (Batman Begins)
Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow seriously creeps us out. Perhaps the only thing scarier than the maggot-filled bag that was the Scarecrow’s mask, was Cillian Murphy’s crazy eyes when he took the damn thing off.
5. Catwoman (Batman Returns)
We still get hot and bothered whenever we think of Michelle Pfeiffer in a leather catsuit. That scene where she smashes the “Hello there” sign into “Hell here” is just divine. Moviegasm.
4. Doc Ock (Spider-Man 2)
We didn’t know whether we wanted to strangle Spider-Man 2’s Doctor Octopus or give him a big hug. He looked like he needed one. Alfred Molina was brilliant in this role.
3. Magneto (various X-Men films)
Tied for third, we have both Ian McKellen’s Magneto and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto. Ian McKellen was perhaps a touch more iconic as the Master of Magnetism, but we dig Fassbender’s version too.
2. Loki (The Avengers/Thor/Thor: the Dark World)
Say what you will about Tom Hiddleston and his ill-advised tryst with Taylor Swift, but no one can deny he was a pitch perfect Loki. It was almost a shame to see Hulk smash him so easily.
1. The Joker (The Dark Knight)
Heath Ledger’s Joker is the best Joker, and—let’s face it—the star of The Dark Knight, not that Christian Bale guy.
Not all supervillains are good. Here are five of supervillians who aren’t just bad, they’re the worst.
5. Venom (Spider-Man 3)
Taking a fan favorite from the comics like Venom, bringing him to life on the big screen, and making fans universally hate him—that’s quite an achievement.
4. Doctor Doom (Fantastic Four 2015)
The biggest crime of this Fantastic Four reboot’s Doctor Doom is that he’s so forgettable. Its biggest achievement is how fast it inspired everyone to talk about another reboot.
3. The Joker (Suicide Squad)
No, just no. Jared Leto and the character designers of Suicide Squad go out of their way to create a compelling, modern day Joker. The result is just a disaster—from the baduy facial tattoos to that pathetic laugh.
2. Mr. Freeze (Batman & Robin)
In the comics, Mr. Freeze is one of the most tragic supervillains to ever exist. In the movies, he’s just Ahhh-nold screaming in a tacky neon blue suit.
1. Wade Wilson (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)
Before Ryan Reynolds was the brilliant Wade Wilson from Deadpool, he was the horrible abomination of Wade Wilson from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This version of Wade had adamantium swords coming out of his arms, no face, and no resemblance to the actual Deadpool character. Eugh.
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