With the 3rd of October being just around the corner, Joker is set to revolutionize the comic book film genre as we know it. In the past, it used to be a fairly straightforward template with ordinary folks going through the typical monomythic journey of learning what it means to be a hero. From 1978’s Superman to 2011’s Captain America, our introduction into the genre has mostly been through the eyes of heroes. Then in the 2010s in a post-Dark Knight world, people became tired of their cookie-cutter crusaders. They wanted edgy. They wanted badass.
They wanted anti-heroes and boy did we get ‘em. From 2010’s Kickass to 2016’s Deadpool and Suicide Squad before hitting 2018’s Venom, we saw a modern wave of non-conventional heroes hitting the big screen. Most of them can be summed up in a simple catch-all phrase: asshole with a heart of gold. For all their dark edginess, there was something to be said about their cultural significance. They appealed to our sense of disillusionment and yet at the same to our virtue. They represented (some of them anyway) the moral complexities of real-life and our inherent struggle to do good in a bad world.
So it doesn’t seem so far-fetched that the audience would be ready to carry this sharper sense of empathy and moral ambiguity to the perspective of villains. And judging by the mostly positive buzz Joker has been receiving, it seems that we are indeed ready. Joker could be a pioneer for a new villain based subgenre. The catalyst to kickstart a new wave of films centered around villains. If Joker is a sign of things to come then we certainly have some future prospects in mind. Here’s a rundown of some comic book villains we believe deserve a film of their own.
Believe or not, Thanos wasn’t born a genocidal maniac. In Infinity War, we see him reminisce of his homeworld, Titan. He shows Doctor Strange a glimpse of what the planet once was, a technologically advanced and thriving civilization. In time however, the planet began to decay as its people drained its resources and the planet was ravaged by disaster and civil unrest. All this due to overpopulation according to Thanos. He suggested having half the planet’s inhabitants wiped out to change their world’s course. He was exiled from society, seen as a madman. Soon enough his prophecies came true and Titan did indeed fall, leaving the world a barren wasteland. Nearly all life on Titan was wiped out. It was from this point on forth, Thanos would go on his crusade across the galaxy to make sure this never happened again. He will do the unthinkable. He will restore balance.
No one ever thinks themselves the villain of their own story and to Thanos’ credit, he was right about Titan’s fall. His motivations were not borne out of selfish ambition but rather out of concern and while his methods are dubious, he did, for the most part, seem genuine in his care. I’d love to see Thanos’ origins from concerned citizen to insane warlord on the big screen. There’s definitely more to his character than his Death-worshiping comic counterpart. Another aspect we never really saw was the aftermath of the genocide. Were some of the other planets’ standards of living improved due to his actions? Is there actually a case for Thanos? These questions deserve to be answered in the form of a movie.
Some villains on this list we chose because of the incongruity between their purported virtues and their actions. Not Carnage though. Carnage is one evil batshit crazy son of a bitch and we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s such a crying shame that not many folks are as aware Carnage as they are of his more popular foil, Venom. The guy seriously deserves some attention. Before he was Carnage, Cletus Kasady was born in an insane asylum while his mum was being given electroshock treatment…without anaesthetic. In 2018’s Web Of Venom: Carnage Born one-shot comic book, we learn that for nineteen minutes after birth, Kasady was dead and during that time he claimed to have gone to hell. Yikes, he later would grow up becoming a sadistic psychopath. He pushed his grandmother down the stairs killing her, tried to murder his mother with a toaster and shoved a girl making fun of him in front of a moving bus. Now that’s one bad seed.
If Sony ever wanted to break into the R-rated market, a Carnage psychological horror film would be a great place to start! It could be like Marvel’s own version of Silence of the Lambs. It starts with Cletus regaling a psychiatrist of his troubled past to his life as a serial killer to how his life changed when he got a hold of the Carnage symbiote to how he wound up back in a maximum-security prison on Rikers Island. All the while he’s hatching up a plan to break out every prisoner Spider-Man and Venom have placed behind bars!
3. Lex Luthor
Lex Luthor is many things. A scientific genius, a masterful politician, the owner of a multi-billion dollar corporation, a generous philanthropist but above all else, a man. Yes, a mere mortal who had to push past an alcoholic father and life of poverty to build a tech empire that rivals that of Bruce Wayne’s. Yes, a man did all that. Not some alien who came crashing down on Earth with amazing powers and abilities handed to him. Not some demigod who struts around Metropolis revelling in the worship of his adoring fans. No, Lex believes himself to be what mankind should strive towards and Superman to be the enemy of that vision. Lex will stop at nothing to free his people from their dependency to the Man of Steel. He shall be their hero. That ladies and gentlemen is exactly how Lex Luthor views his himself and Superman.
Driven by both ego and hubris, Luthor is determined to show the world that Superman is not to be trusted and that he is mankind’s true messiah. We don’t want another brain-cell-murdering slugfest via Man of Steel or Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and we certainly don’t want that prepubescent Riddler knockoff of Lex. No, we want to see a film that shows two morally-principled men of integrity engage in a battle of wits with the audience rooting for Lex Luthor. The only way to truly destroy Superman is to create a world where he’s no longer wanted, or needed. Since Warner Bros. is branching out into the realm of psychological thrillers with Joker, why not a political drama detailing the rise and fall of one of the greatest villains in comic book history? Please, in the name of all that is good and pure, get Bryan Cranston on it!
One of the most developed and rewarding character arcs I’ve seen throughout Fox’s X-Men saga would be Erik Lehnsherr’s transformation into the radical mutant advocate and extremist Magneto. In First Class, we witnessed first hand his disillusionment with the human race with his Jewish family being murdered and his powers experimented on by the Nazis. When mutants finally entered public consciousness, they were met with fear and disdain. Erik once again felt his righteous rage rising again as it did in the camps of Auschwitz. Like Moses to the Israelites, he sees himself as the leader to his people. He will secure the future of mutantdom at all cost. Whether it be through isolation in the form of the mutant nation of Genosha or through domination as seen in his cooperation with Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse.
As much as I hate to say it, Magneto does have a point. Charles Xavier and his X-Men’s dream of peaceful coexistence has made them prey to the world. What if we got a chance to see Magneto’s dream of a better world come to fruition? Would it truly be the hateful nightmare Charles envision it would be? It’s an idea that definitely warrants exploration. In the past, Disney has toyed with this idea of revolutionary utopia in the character of Erik Killmonger. Unfortunately, it never came to pass. Seeing that they now have access to the X-Men and have a chance to set a new status quo for mutants. Show us something new Disney. Show us something revolutionary.
5. Red Hood
Bruce Wayne is a man who plans for everything. From battle tactics to forensic analysis. From boardroom meetings to advanced interrogation techniques. Over Gotham, the Dark Knight watches all from the shadows but he definitely didn’t see this coming. He didn’t expect the Joker to go as far as murdering his second Robin, Jason Todd. He didn’t expect that he wouldn’t be able to arrive in time to save him. He didn’t expect to move on but he did. He certainly didn’t expect a new crime lord to rise to the surface with a deadly arsenal of skills and weapons that rival even that of his. He didn’t expect to see a resurrected Jason Todd come back to claim the mantle of Gotham’s protector. He didn’t expect the Red Hood!
Jason Todd’s Red Hood is Batman’s greatest failure, back from the dead to haunt him. A vengeful son coming for the sins of his father. If you’ve seen the animated film Batman: Under the Red Hood, then you know what a bonafide badass Todd is and how screwed up his code of ethics are. A Red Hood film is a unique opportunity to tell a story of Batman’s greatest regret through the perspective of a Robin gone rogue. Next to the Joker, Jason Todd is easily one of Batman’s greatest villains to date. Watch the student become the master.
6. Steve Rogers/ Captain Hydra
Yes, you are reading that right. In Marvel’s 2017 comic book event Secret Empire, we see the Red Skull used the Cosmic Cube to alter the very history of Steve Rogers. We see how the plucky Steve Rogers was inducted into the ranks of HYDRA through his mother encountering a seemingly kind and helpful agent. After years of indoctrination, he infiltrated into the US military and became a candidate for Project Rebirth and became Captain America. His years of loyal service was all a ruse to cripple the hero community from within. He then became director of S.H.I.E.L.D. with the authority to declare martial law under his rule. The Red Skull was cast aside as Rogers rose to power, bringing about a new age of peace and order to the world. The icon has fallen and in its stead, a tyrant!
While we are aware that Chris Evans’ contract with Marvel Studios has ended, we still believe that if given a juicy enough role, we may see him don the red, white and blue again. A Secret Empire film would be an epic subversion of the Captain America story we’ve all come to know and love. I mean we already saw a tiny hint of it in Endgame when we hear Steve say “Hail Hydra”. Imagine the audience’s face when they realize that the very symbol of nobility and justice has been secretly an authoritarian fascist this whole time. It’s the secret history of Captain America and would single-handedly be the most shocking reveal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) thus far.
7. Vandal Savage
Before there was Batman, Superman and the Justice League, there was Vandal Savage. He was once a caveman in prehistoric times but after being exposed to the radiation of a crashed meteor, his higher senses and intellectual functions were awakened. The rays also granted him near-invincibility and immortality. He was the Earth’s first immortal, older than Ra’s Al Ghul and far wiser. Throughout history, he would build empires, assume a number of important positions of power and most importantly, create major conflicts to test man’s evolutionary capabilities. He isn’t just DC’s Apocalypse knockoff. Unlike the mutant, the man has actually defended Earth on a number of occasions from invaders as seen in Young Justice: Outsiders. Though he is most certainly an adversary of the Justice League.
If the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) ever wanted to get serious and actually set up a compelling villain worthy of the Justice League, Savage would be a top contender. A Vandal Savage film is an excellent way for DC to build up their world’s history by showing us the secret organizations and the lesser-known aspects of the DCEU. He is a man of both science and technology, while also being aware of the realm of magic and sorcery. The ideal route would be a series of anthological stories that see the man’s hand in history. We could see him ruling the Babylonian empire, battling with the League of Shadows for dominion and finally culminating with him creating the Legion of Doom with Lex Luthor’s assistance.
8. The Green Goblin
If there was ever a Marvel version of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, it would undoubtedly be Norman Osborn. The man runs a billion-dollar tech and research corporation by day and goes around dressed up as a cackling goblin based villain by night. The guy impales people with his Goblin Gliders, vaporizes folks with pumpkin bombs and drops women to their death. Yeah…it’s safe to say Mr Osborn isn’t exactly the sanest person out there, which is why personally I think his character would make for a great dark comedy. He’s your average business tycoon, doing mergers and having meetings, but he feels like something’s missing. As if he needs something to break the monotony of his day-to-day life. One day he sees Spider-Man on the news and he thinks to himself, “Maybe I’ll have some fun with him.”
He steals his son’s old Halloween costume, modifies it and goes on a rampage across town while doing his very best to avoid detection. During one of his scholarship ceremonies, he encounters one of the recipients and has a strange, oddly familiar, feeling about him. That young scholar is none other than Peter Parker. The two of them play their game of cat-and-mouse off and on the streets of New York. Eventually, however, Norman begins to suspect Peter to be Spider-Man and vice versa. The two of them meet up at Harry’s birthday party and the shit is about to hit the fan! Since Sony is longer obligated to keep with the tone of the MCU, they could try to experiment with their characters more. we think a Green Goblin film is a great place to start.