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Top 10 Supervillain Portrayals in Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Brandon William Peach. They captivate audiences with their plans to disrupt society and destroy the world. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 supervillain portrayals in movies. For this list, we’re focusing on the actors’ portrayals of these supervillains, and not on the characters themselves. We’ve tried to keep some variety over the different franchises; otherwise it’d just be a list of the best Batman supervillains. Special thanks to our users Anthony Redford, Forrest Stutts, Cal Smith, Callum Prentice, Shakib Ahmed, CaptainSandwich, liam043, Nick Konjicija and Cameron Rogers-Hawson for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Transcript
Script written by Brandon William Peach.

Top 10 Supervillain Portrayals in Movies


They captivate audiences with their plans to disrupt society and destroy the world. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movie supervillain portrayals.

For this list, we’re focusing on the performances of the actors’ portraying these supervillains, and not the characters themselves. We’ve tried to keep some variety over the different franchises; otherwise it’d just be a list of the best Batman supervillains.

#10: Danny DeVito as The Penguin
“Batman Returns” (1992)

DeVito delivers something Burgess Meredith’s quacking, pie-throwing Penguin never could: real scares. His version of Batman’s nemesis is a self-loathing cave dweller with a murderous disposition, and the intention to kidnap and murder Gotham’s children. Delivered through black, clenched teeth, this plan is a brilliant display of simultaneous madness, genius, and pity. Plus, his PR campaign to undermine Batman reveals that the Penguin’s mind is his deadliest asset.

#9: Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass
“Unbreakable” (2000)

Are villains made, or born? In the case of Mr. Glass, it’s a bit of both. With a condition that renders his bones easily broken, the comic book-obsessed Glass becomes a supervillain, and sets out to find his arch-nemesis, an unbreakable hero. With Jackson’s intelligent, bitter and unlikeable portrayal leading the charge, director M. Night Shyamalan delivers a trademark twist, revealing how far Glass went to meet his match.

#8: Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor
“Superman I & II” (1978-80)

Superman’s archrival Lex Luthor is a megalomaniac with a plan to kill millions and increase his wealth. And Hackman’s portrayal of Luthor as a calculated, callous businessman contrasts perfectly with the earnest goodness of Christopher Reeve’s Superman. Equal parts genius and villain, Hackman’s smarmy Luthor set the standard for what other actors would try – and arguably fail – to bring to the character in later incarnations.

#7: Hugo Weaving as Red Skull
“Captain America: The First Avenger” (2011)

Malicious, power-hungry and eyeing world domination, Johann Schmidt – a.k.a. Red Skull – is the Nazi head of the criminal syndicate HYDRA, and it’s hard to imagine a more perfect fit for the role than this. Schmidt’s unveiling as the Red Skull shocks, thanks in no small part to Weaving’s expressive take on the character. Injected with the same super-soldier serum as Cap, this is one villain you wouldn’t wanna meet face-to-skull.

#6: Tom Hardy as Bane
“The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)

Bane is one of those larger-than-life villains that fills the screen and steals every scene he’s in. His croaking, elite British accent contrasts wonderfully with his brute strength and menacing mask. However, what makes Tom Hardy’s Bane so sinister isn’t just his muscular power: he’s also a brilliant demagogue, a self-styled revolutionary, an anarchist – and a calculated terrorist who wants to watch Gotham crumble.

#5: Terence Stamp as General Zod
“Superman I & II” (1978-80)

Contrasting Lex Luthor’s hunger for money, Zod is obsessed with power – and Stamp superbly portrays this Kryptonian supervillain’s arrogance and mercilessness. When he learns that Superman is the son of his sworn enemy, he decides on murder as his means of revenge. General Zod is terrifying even in his quietness, which quickly turns to outbursts of anger when provoked – and provoking Superman’s physical match is a recipe for disaster.

#4: Tom Hiddleston as Loki
“Thor” (2011), “The Avengers” (2012)

The emotional and neurotic Loki, of Marvel Comics fame, is brought to the big-screen by the inimitable Hiddleston, who portrays the character in all his off-kilter glory. Loki is the epitome of a fun-to-watch villain: hilarious, threatening, crazy, and power-hungry, his eloquent speeches offset his ruthlessness. As a god, his contempt for mortals and desire to wreak chaos make Loki an impressive supervillain – one who’s simply irresistible to watch.

#3: Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus
“Spider-Man 2” (2004)

The best movie of the “Spider-Man” series gets the most menacing villain. Fueled by the fury of losing his wife in the failed experiment that fused robotic arms to his spine, Doc Ock is a mentally unstable beast. In a bid to gain the tritium he needs to level the city, his dark sarcasm and disregard for human life show him as the truly horrific monster he is.

#2: Ian McKellen as Magneto
“X-Men” franchise (2000-)

The most frightening villains seem human, but hide something more sinister. Shaped by the atrocities of WWII, Magneto’s contempt for humanity is fully meted out in his war against non-mutants. McKellen brings classiness and substance to the role of the man who’s out to destroy humankind. Though that’s an unsettling metaphor for the real world, Magneto isn’t just scary as a metaphor – every moment he’s onscreen is nerve-wracking.

#1: Heath Ledger as The Joker
“The Dark Knight” (2008)

While Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker focused on the character’s comical demeanor, we’re going with Heath Ledger’s darker and more sadistic performance in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” This murderous psychopath destroys for one reason and one reason alone: he enjoys it. Killing on the small scale or wreaking havoc on the large, he loves playing sick jokes on Gotham. As for the man standing in his way? The Joker’s wry wit and lack of empathy make this incarnation of Batman’s famous nemesis the best ever.

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite movie supervillain? For more thrilling top 10s, subscribe today to WatchMojo.com!
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