Iconic Big-screen Villains of Superhero Movies

February 21st, 2014

Iconic Big-screen Villains of Superhero Movies

The big baddies in superhero movies are just as important as the powerful heroes. Often, the villain is what makes the movie worth seeing, being the driving force behind the plot and one of the most interesting characters of the film. In the long history of big-screen superhero films, there are a few enemies that stand out as the must-see characters. These are iconic villains who show up in multiple renditions of the franchise. These villains often have intricate backstories that provide insight into motivations and desires. From the X-Men to Batman to Superman and more, the wide variety of superhero franchises has a colorful cast of beloved villains.




Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox


Magneto is the opposite to the famous Charles Xavier, known as Professor X, in the X-Men comic canon. The two are old friends, but they have differing views on how mutants are meant to survive in society. Their contrary views caused a split, triggering the formation of the two mutant sides of the conflict. Audiences love Magneto's cool composure, the way his intelligence matches with Professor X and, of course, his power. This impressive villain has the ability to control metal, a very dangerous power to battle against in the modern day. The man takes the spotlight whenever he is on screen, leaving viewers begging for more.


The Joker


Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Joker is the most iconic Batman villain. He is the chaos to Batman's strict moral code, challenging the dark hero in battle after battle, teasing and taunting in hopes of breaking the Bat. Each version of the Joker has been a critical and commercial success, and every Batman movie is expected to at least mention this famous villain. Like many Batman villains, Joker's history changes often, but he is generally considered one of the few truly evil enemies. This chaotic nature is what makes him a necessity in any Batman franchise.




Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Another Batman villain, Harvey Dent was once a friend and ally of Batman before a horrible accident. His resulting disfigurement and dependency on his signature coin lead to insanity, creating a frightening enemy. His coin is representative of his morality, and he relies on it to make many of his major decisions, such as whether or not to let someone live. Like the Joker, Two-Face is a staple in the Batman universe and is much loved by the fanbase due to his tragic storyline. 




Photo Credit: Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Loki is the adopted brother of Thor. While Thor is physically powerful, Loki relies on wit, sorcery and mental power to fight his battles. This caused a rift between the brothers and caused Loki to head out on his own, becoming a foil to Thor. He is often called a trickster persona, which is a character trope that many viewers enjoy. His talent for manipulating people and sometimes walking the line of evil makes him an intriguing character. He appears in movies such as "Thor" and "The Avengers." When pitted against the Avengers, his particular talent for wit and sorcery shine since many of the Avengers rely on physical abilities. This makes for impressive and strategic fight scenes.




Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Shredder is a shift away from traditional superhero villains, as he is one of the main enemies in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle canon. He makes an appearance in most iterations of the Ninja Turtles, dressed in a daunting outfit that somewhat resembles samurai gear, though it has notably more metal spikes. As the head of the Foot clan of criminals, Shredder has many martial arts skills and has enough intelligence to create technological weapons for use against the Turtles. A return of Shredder in the 2014 "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" movie is a welcome departure from the well-known superhero movies such as "The Dark Knight" and "The Avengers."


Lex Luthor


Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Lex Luthor is Superman's archenemy. Luthor has several different histories, but the most well-known is that of him as a wealthy and powerful businessman. Although he does not have superpowers of his own, his immense wealth and cunning let him create weapons and beings to pit against Superman. He does not usually directly fight Superman, but he uses his business and financial power for nefarious reasons against the people of Metropolis and earth. When Luthor is pitted against Superman, the audience is in for a battle of wits and wills, providing a nice contrast to over-the-top fight scenes found in many superhero movies.

These villainous characters are the perfect foils for their respective superheroes. Without colorful characters such as these, the movies simply fall flat. Superhero films on the big screen benefit from having these wonderful characters, and they are who the audience expects to see when they hear of the next big superhero movie.