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Darth Vader – The Star Wars Trilogy
As far as planet crushing brutality in concerned, Lord Vader has no equals. The former Jedi has it all: an overly elaborate weaponized lair, dumb but endless minions, the glossy outfit (complete with cloak) and a total lack of compassion which all supervillains must possess. If you want to double the trouble, team him up with his master Emperor Palpatine and unless your lat name is Skywalker, kiss your lightsaber goodbye.
Magneto – The X-Men Trilogy
Sure, you could feel some sympathy for young Erik Lehnsherr and his time in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII, but after he whips a Buick at your face you will likely re-evaluate your position. Magneto hates all humans (that means you) and with an army of mutants at his back and planning of a not-too-cheerful genocide, you will be cursing the Iron Age with all your might.
The Joker – The Dark Knight
Not your typical supervillain in the traditional sense, The Joker incites anarchy out of pure twisted glee. Tim Burton’s interpretation of the famed villain certainly fits more with the manically over-the-top mantra but he would not last a second in Christopher Nolan’s Gotham City. Whether disfiguring district attorneys or levelling hospitals, The Joker is, and always will be, Batman’s greatest foe. Plus, he does magic tricks.
Lex Luthor – The Superman Films
Continued failure to vanquish his foe Superman, or an inability to carry out plans in a flawless manner are not things to keep a man like Lex Luthor down. His epic shining dome and infinite wealth keep him on the money, so to speak, and he's rarely in jail long enough to allow Clark Kent any rest. Unlike most supervillains, Lex Luthor operates in plain sight and behind legitimate business practices. In his latest big-screen appearance, Luthor actually manages to “kill” Superman with a shard of Kryptonite. Not bad for a follically challenged businessman.
Any James Bond villain
Weather it be sabotaging nuclear missiles, capturing Soviet spacecrafts, unleashing viruses, creating a poisonous gas to wipe out humanity or ... umm … building a giant space mirror to destroy the Korean DMZ after you undergo gene therapy procedure to transform yourself from an Asian soldier into an English billionaire, the supervillains of the Bond universe know how to create global unrest in style. Any villain that has a cutting laser hovering over a shackle-clad table in their lair is ok in my book.
Satan’s appearance in this list could be debated, but really is there anyone more villainous that the prince of darkness? Of course in that case, any big-screen incarnation of the antichrist could be included, but the most interesting has to be the singing, homosexual Satan from Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s 1999 adaptation of their television series. His dastardly plan to rule “up there” could push him into the “ugly” realm, but he is a touch too sensitive to achieve ultimate supervillainy.
Doc Ock – Spider-Man 2
Like many antagonists in the “bad” section of this list, Doctor Octopus is certainly a fairly evil dude, but just doesn’t have the disturbed psychotic characteristics needed to be the ultimate baddie. Doc Ock is more a villain of circumstance, following his scientific mishap, than an inherently shady individual and is obsessed with finishing the fusion reactor which killed his wife. Yet it is that obsession that makes him infinitely dangerous, and Spider-Man clearly learned that eight limbs are better than four.
The Green Goblin – Spider-Man
Also populating the Spider-Man universe is the genetically enhanced Green Goblin. The mayhem-loving villain has a number of things going for him: a slick outfit, wealth and significant weaponry at his disposal to wage war against NYC and his arachnid foe. Unlike his “ugly” cohorts, however, The Green Goblin lacks grandeur and is more a well-equipped guerrilla fighter with no real plan who simply revels in his destruction.
General Zod - Superman II
Otherworldly powers are a good jumping-off point for a supervillain, but when you dress in shiny leather your street cred tends to take a bit of a dive. Wardrobe aside, he is certainly a match for Superman, but doesn’t quite reach the upper tier of villainy for a few reasons including his incredibly easy defeat and lack of a real supervillain-esque plan. But hey, anyone who reshapes Mount Rushmore in his own image certainly has promise.
Syndrome – The Incredibles
Just an upset kid at heart, Syndrome aka Buddy is essentially the anti-Batman; he has no powers and relies on expensive technology to vanquish his foes. Unfortunately for Syndrome, it is his own creation that ultimately leads to his downfall. After successfully disposing of a number of supers, he meets his match not at the hands of Mr. Incredible, but of Mr. Incredible's infant son Jack Jack. Enough said.
Dr. Evil – The Austin Powers Trilogy
Is this really a surprise? Evil in name only, the good doctor’s pathetic attempts at extortion, torture and intimidation incite as many laughs as the films in which he stars. In theory, Dr. Evil has everything going for him: a lair, henchmen, excessive plots and sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their frickin' heads. Yet he seems to be no match for groovy spy Austin Powers who continues to send him to prison, banish him to space or convert him to the good side. What a sad day for supervillains everywhere.
Nuclear Man - Superman IV
Any villain who can rival the suit badness of General Zod belongs squarely in the dredges of evil. Skin-tight black and orange leather with a sun emblem. Stylish? Ya, not so much. With some villains building death rays or blowing up every other thing they see, Nuclear Man attacks the Man of Steel with deadly radioactive fingernails. Avon would be proud.
All the villains from Batman & Robin
Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy and Bane, seem like a good collection of classic villains to wage war against Batman and his sidekick. Everything is definitely not as it seems. This disastrous movie turns Mr. Freeze into a wise-cracking parody, Bane into a lumbering idiot and don’t get me started on Poison Ivy -- I still have a rash. Even though their dastardly plot certainly fits well within the constraints of ludacris villainy, the nippled batsuit is the real evil.