Bullz-Eye Round Table: Best and Worst Superhero Villains
Tears for Fears said that everybody loves a happy ending, but every superhero movie has a character that begs to differ. Or, to be fair, maybe each side agrees on the concept, but has a much, much different idea about the approach. The men of the Bullz-Eye table sat down once again to discuss superhero villains, which led to debating the merits of Colin Farrell (!) and how Arnold Schwarzenegger should have thought twice before cashing that $25 million “Batman & Robin” check.
David: Okay, first let's talk best superhero villains (we'll do worst later). Several spring to mind, but I gotta go with Jack Nicholson's Joker. Psychotic and sympathetic, which is tough to balance.
Will: I respectfully – at least for the moment, anyway – disagree. Memorable, yes, but I thought there was way too much Jack and not nearly enough Joker.
Jason: I have to agree with Will on that one. The Joker has always been more Nicholson in a bunch of makeup than the actual villain from the comics.
Jamey: Is that necessarily a bad thing? Jack's Joker made that movie. "Wait'll they get a load of me." Classic.
Jason: Well, it is if you're not a fan of the film.
Will: It’s all how you like your comic book villains, I suppose. Personally, I think the most successful villains are the ones where you focus on the character, not the actor…and never once did I forget that I was looking at Jack Nicholson. Personally, I gotta go with the one and only General Zod, as played by Terrence Stamp. “Come to me, Superman! I defy you! Come and kneel before Zod!”
Jeff: Shit. How can you top Zod?
Jamey: Doc Ock would tear Zod in half.
Jeff: What? An overweight, four-eyed scientist is no match for Krypton's finest criminal mind, metal tentacles or no metal tentacles!
Will: If this was the Bad Ass Comic Book Movie Villain Bracket, those metal arms would shatter against Zod’s skin…AND the voters would go crazy for Zod over Doc Ock! Not only is he awesome, but he was even quoted by Jason Mewes in “Mallrats”!
Jamey: Suddenly, having less than 20/20 vision makes you less of a villain? Elitist.
David: I bet that Max Shreck would find a way to con Zod into doing his laundry.
Will: Credit where credit is due: Christopher Walken took Max Shreck – who would’ve been little more than a cleverly-named character in anyone else’s hands – and made him just as viable a villain as The Penguin or Catwoman. And I’m not saying that he tops Zod, but another viable contender is definitely Ian McKellen’s Magneto.
David: Magneto's a badass. He'll kill you using your own blood. Which Lex Luthor do you prefer, Hackman or Spacey?
Will: Hmmm. Spacey chews more scenery, but he’s certainly the more threatening version.
Jason: Spacey's definitely the better Lex. He just happens to be in the worst movie.
David: Worse than "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace"?
Will: Please, God, Jason, say you stand corrected. Don’t make me have to go on a tear about how even a geek like me couldn’t get past the dollar-store special effects in that flick.
Jamey: Stand your ground, Jason. Just for fun.
Jason: Worst. I said worst!
Will: Bastard! Okay, fine, here’s my position: I loved the first “Superman,” then I loved “Superman II” even more. “Superman III” I wasn’t so hot on, but it had its moments, so I was still excited for “Superman IV.” But, my God, it just looked awful! And, c’mon, Jon Cryer playing Lex’s Valley dude nephew…? Jesus H. Criminey on a pogo stick. Plus, even Christopher Reeve described the film as “simply a catastrophe from start to finish,” going so far as to pull Cryer aside at one point and tell him, “This is going to be terrible.” Basically, it was a good-intentioned film for which the studio provided an insufficient budget. That, and Gene Hackman clearly didn’t recite a line of dialogue until his check cleared. Guaranteed.
Jason: Okay, so it's pretty clear who the best villains are, but what about the worst? I, for one, vote for Julian McMahon (Dr. Doom) in "Fantastic Four." Talk about stale performances...
David: Everybody, all together now: Arnold Schwarzenegger, "Batman & Robin." "My name is Fries. Learn it well. For it is the chilling sound of your dooooooom." Oh, mercy.
Will: “Allow me to break the ice”? Christ.
Jason: Yeah, he's gotta be the worst (though is it his fault?), unless you consider Richard Pryor.
Will: Actually, Pryor was only half the villain in “Superman III.” I’d totally forgotten about Robert Vaughan hamming it up in that flick.
Jeff: Schwarzenegger would rip Pryor in half.
Jamey: Don't we have to give a shout out to Colin Farrell in "Daredevil"? I mean, dude, his name was Bullseye.
Jason: Farrell was one of the better things about that movie. Of course, every right thing he did was nullified by Michael Clarke Duncan. I mean, seriously, that guy got the part JUST because he was big.
David: Tommy Lee Jones' Two Face was pretty bad, too. But what do you want from a guy whose character received a whopping ten seconds of character development?
Jason: It's too bad they didn't bring Billy Dee Williams back. He would have knocked it out of the park. Okay, maybe not, but it still would've been cool.
Will: Must…resist…disparaging…Billy Dee…
David: is Blade a superhero? How about Spawn? In that case, I think we all know where Stephen Dorff's Deacon Frost ranks on the good villain/bad villain scale. Can someone who's seen "Spawn" tell me where we put Leguizamo's evil clown? My gut says he's no match for the clown in "Poltergeist."
Jason: Oh, come on. I rather liked Dorff's over-the-top performance. "Spawn," on the other hand, is just filled with bad villains, from Leguizamo's Clown to Martin Sheen.
Will: How about a little (lack of) love for Judd Nelson in “Steel”?
Jason: Wow, I didn't think anyone even went to see that movie.
David: You are talking to the President and CEO of Sale Bin Cinema, after all. No movie is too bad for Will.
Will: It’s all a matter of perspective. At some point, “really bad” becomes “really good.” Well, at least, to me.
Jeff: I submit, then, that “Batman & Robin” exists in a dark and painful void that's beyond "really bad," but still nowhere near "really good."
Will: All right, I’ll grant you that one. It’s sufficiently awful to transcend traditional definitions of “bad” and “good.”
Jamey: True, but without it, we wouldn't have the term "neoprene nipples" to giggle about.