10 Good Movies That Succeed Despite A Disappointing Villain

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Summary

  • Sometimes villains in movies can be forgettable or inconsequential, and it doesn’t affect the overall enjoyment or engagement with the film.
  • Villains with little screen time, who are easily overpowered, or lack sincere motivation can fade into the background.
  • Even with a weak or underdeveloped villain, a movie can still be great if the heroes are well-developed, overcome obstacles, and engage the audience.

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Villains can make or break a movie, but sometimes, they end up so forgettable or inconsequential that it doesn’t really get in the way. Action films that have clearly defined heroes and villains often rely on the dynamics that play out between the two, whether their origins are linked or they have some sort of connection, this relationship tends to be important. For some projects though, the villains and heroes just seem to casually cross paths because of conflicting interests that lead them to each other.

While the performance from a villain should compliment and elevate a project to new heights, it turns out that sometimes, they just don’t matter all that much. If they have very little screen time, if they are easily overpowered by the heroes, or if they just come across as goofy and lacking sincere motivation, the villains can fade into the background. In spite of this, there are still some great movies that have the heroes develop, overcome obstacles and really engage the audience, without much help from their antagonistic opponent.

10 Ronan: Guardians Of The Galaxy

search for infinity stones ronan

In Guardians of the Galaxy, a mismatched group of lovable rogues come together to become reluctant heroes. The film is quirky, fun and full of great action scenes as they escape a prison, explore the galaxy and overthrow an angry blue warlord. Lee Pace plays Ronan the Accuser, a narrow-minded villain who seeks to wipe out those he views as opponents to the Kree race. When war is potentially at an end between the Kree and the Xandarians, Ronan decides to intervene in an effort to wipe out the Xandarian race. He is monotonous and flawed. Despite this, Pace is an incredible award-winning actor who was given a one-dimensional character to embody.

9 Zorg: The Fifth Element

The Fifth Element manages to stand tall among the greatest sci-fi films of all time with incredible performances by Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich and Gary Oldman. The movie sees a taxi driver become tangled up in a multi-planetary adventure to save the universe. Oldman, an Oscar-winning actor with an illustrious career behind him plays the greedy Mr. Zorg who is willing to sell out the universe in exchange for more riches. The thing is, Zorg comes across as an oddball and a buffoon quivering and slinking away from the mysterious evil forces and shouting orders. The performance is good, but the character as a whole is exceptionally weak.

Related: 18 Awesome Facts About The Fifth Element

8 Blackbeard: Pan

pan blackbeard hugh jackman

In the modern 2015 retelling of the classic fairytale by J.M. Barrie, the origin of the boy that would become known as Peter Pan is revealed in Pan. The film is beautiful and full of interesting twists on the original tale that add depth and meaning, but there is one prominent sticking point. The primary antagonist, Blackbeard, played by Hugh Jackman is somewhat ridiculous. The film panders to an audience that adores Jackman for his musical abilities, showmanship, and flamboyance, and in doing so, it cheapens the character. With musical numbers and pizzazz, Blackbeard does not appear to be the threat that he needs to be to carry off the dark performance that was promised.

7 Balem Abrasax: Jupiter Ascending

balem abraxas jupiter ascending eddie redmayne

Eddie Redmayne has an incredible range for his performances. In Jupiter Ascending, it appears to be a confusing mixture of all of that range that creates an unimpressive, frantic, and silly villain. Balem Abrasax intends to rule over and capitalize on the surrounding galaxy, but his outbursts and sudden hushed whispers which appear to be mostly random, make him more of a joke than a threat. Jupiter Ascending deserves more love with its spectacular visuals and epic story. It’s creative and dynamic and despite the villain, the overall plot is sound and layered making for something very special.

6 Howard Payne: Speed

dennis hopper as Howard Payne in Speed

In 1994’s Speed starring Keanu Reeves as a young police officer, the film creates a tense and powerful action thriller. Reeves delivers a career-making performance and the pressure building throughout is exhilarating, but in the face of all this, the villain is extremely poor, both characteristically and financially. Dennis Hopper plays Howard Payne, a down-on-his-luck ex-cop is trying to get a big payout for committing some sort of hostile crime as he feels betrayed and shortchanged after losing a thumb. He admits his intentions are purely financial and his motivation is weak, so his villainous nature doesn’t really add much to the film and his role is easily forgotten.

5 Poison Ivy: Batman & Robin

George Clooney as Batman, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and Chris O'Donnell as Robin in Batman & Robin (1997)

Uma Thurman is another actor with an extremely impressive career, but her performance as Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin starring George Clooney was more campy and comical than cruel and creative. When Doctor Pamela Isley is slain by a cruel and villainous colleague, she accidentally gains powers from the venoms and chemicals that were intended to kill her. Her motivations to give life to mutant plants and have them grow over humankind’s disturbance of nature is pretty bizarre and wacky. She also seduces her opponents to bend to her will, but despite her poisonous lips, her villain is lacking.

Related: Was Mr. Freeze In Batman Returns?! Schwarzenegger Easter Egg Explained

4 Lex Luthor: Superman

Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor in Superman

In 1978’s Superman, a young Gene Hackman plays the infamous foe of Earth’s mightiest hero. The villainous mastermind is attempting to destroy much of the western United States by means of massive explosions, but his motivations are a little skewed. His father always drilled home the reality that real estate is an enduringly positive investment as people need places to live. So, Lex decided to buy up much of the desert in the Midwestern states. Upon realizing that beachfront properties like those in California are exceptionally more valuable than the literal desert, Lex decides to make his land the new beachfront.

No super genius would blow up entire chunks of the country just to add value to their property. Never mind the fact that destroying a state that contributes so much to the overall economy of the US will have a bigger impact on the market in other ways. It seems unlikely that people would be rushing to move into the portion of land that is literally next to the watery grave of millions. Despite this, the movie was a huge success and Christopher Reeve’s performance as Superman is outstanding.

3 Evelyn Deavor: The Incredibles 2

The Incredibles 2 Evelyn arrest #3 (1)

The Incredibles 2 is a family film from Disney and Pixar, so it isn’t necessarily intended as something that will be all that clever or dynamic. However, naming a central character Evil Endeavor… or Evelyn Deavor is beyond giving away the plot. When Elastigirl gets the chance to bring heroes back into the limelight with help from some generous benefactors, the movie makes it all too obvious how things are going to play out. It’s still a fun family film, but the villain twist ends up being no twist at all.

2 Russel Van Pelt: Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

Bobby Cannavale as he appears in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017).

One of the most forgettable villains of all time, Van Pelt, played by Bobby Cannavale, is easily forgettable, only appearing in a few scenes of the film and most of the action playing out without any influence from him. He is easily defeated and once gone, he is gone for good. Overall, his character could be removed from the film entirely and it would still be an action-packed, fun adventure throughout.

1 Venom: Spider-Man 3

Topher Grace as Venom in Spider-Man 3

Spider-Man 3 of the Sam Raimi trilogy may be the weakest entry, but it still delivers a great story and a lot of fun. With Spidey facing an identity crisis, struggling to balance work, and his personal life, and his superhero life, he has a lot on his plate. Add in to the mix multiple villains that the studio pushed to include and there’s a pretty challenging set of elements to incorporate into one cohesive story.

Topher Grace is Eddie Brock and straying from the comic book version of a bulky and intimidating figure, Grace’s slender figure make him a fairly unassuming villain. When enhanced with the alien symbiote Venom, he becomes a hulking mess that is largely ruled by Brock’s own insecurities and desires. Overall, he was a pretty weak villain that could have been absent from an otherwise solid movie.