Most comic book/film enthusiasts are just as big, if not bigger, fans of the villains as they are the heroes. That’s not a universal rule, though, as there are some people that choose to adhere to the time honored tradition of good versus evil. These soulless individuals often miss out on one of genre’s biggest unkept secrets; villains are often much cooler than their adversary. Why? They have to be.
Heroes are often larger than life, it’s what attracts readers and viewers to the product in the first place. Those that continue to absorb more by way of subscribing to comics or buying bonus disc copies of Blu-Rays often find a character to which they can relate and begin following down that path. One of the reasons that Spider-Man is Marvel’s most profitable character is because most everyone can relate to being an awkward teen trying to find their place in society. But then you meet Spidey’s villains — Venom, Carnage, etc. — and you find yourself thinking “this guy is an absolute badass.”
The Allure of Villains and Antiheroes
Aside from their often incredible looks, these villains are often more powerful and more equipped than the superhero. Once again, they have to be. If the villain were less of a threat, the reader would never believe there was real danger and would likely get bored of reading squash job after squash job. Our superheroes need to be placed in impossible circumstances for the reader to believe in the danger and the only way to accomplish that is with larger-than-life villainy.
In some cases this will lead to villains becoming anti-heroes — Venom, Taskmaster, Deadpool, Punisher, etc.. — for the sole reason of giving the reader a reason to root for the character they’ve secretly wanted to win the whole time. Many comic properties do an outstanding job of making these villains as robust as possible, giving them rich, diverse, and ever-changing back-stories.
Every so often, for no apparent reason whatsoever, the powers that be will place the superhero in an impossible situation, only to see them come out on top because of some ridiculously stupid McGuffin or plot twist that is barely palatable. There are few things worse than plowing through an incredibly interesting arc, only to to see the main antagonist seen off in the dumbest way possible, ruining the enjoyment of the product.
This article is a short list of villains that went down way, way too easily for their own good. I’ve mixed in several examples from primary comics and a couple examples from the cinema. While I will acknowledge that they are Marvel-heavy (4-of-5 are Marvel), this is by no means a definitive or qualitative list. Think of these as examples more than a fleshed out rating of dumbassery to eliminate deadly foes. A conversation starter, if you will. With that, to the villainy!
Galactus — Fantastic Four — Ultimate Nullifier:
Back in the early days of the Fantastic Four, talking 1960’s here, Galactus was introduced as the supreme baddie. The World Devourer could literally eat entire planets and had to do so in order to stay alive. Galactus didn’t need to feed on planets with living beings on them, but since when have details ever gotten in the way of a delicious meal.
Faced with the possibility of the earth becoming a fourth meal for the cosmic entity, Johnny Storm flew to the home of Uatu the Watcher and retrieved a device called the Ultimate Nullifier. This device was the only known object, person, or power that could strike fear in the heart of Galactus. One day it wasn’t there in the Marvel universe and the Fantastic Four were boned with no way to overcome the threat, the next day they had a device that could wipe out Galactus with the press of a button.
As one would expect, Galactus opted to find a different planet to eat rather than see Reed Richards use the device on him, but the device has popped up a couple other times in the Marvel Universe, though its full power has never been seen. It sure was convenient for the Fantastic Four that this completely unknown item just happened to be the only thing that could solve their problem.
Thanos — Infinity Gauntlet — Sheer Stupidity:
After acquiring all six Infinity Stones, the mad titan Thanos assembled them in a Gauntlet designed to allow the wearer to wield the full power of the gems, which was essentially god-like. Able to control all of time and space, Thanos literally wiped out half of humanity with the snap of a finger, including half the superhero population. When one thinks of the all-time greatest weapons in the Marvel multiverse, the Gauntlet is among the top two or three items likely to be mentioned.
So how did our heroes overcome a God that had already wiped out fifty percent of the earth’s population? They didn’t, Thanos took the damn thing off and became a cosmic being with his badly mutilated and pissed off daughter standing right there, hoping for revenge. Nebula simply walked up to the body of Thanos — the same body he left in a motionless state to replace the being Eternity as a cosmic entity that would live forever. She took the glove off his hand and repaired all the damage Thanos had done. Just that simple.
It was later explained by Adam Warlock to Thanos the real reason he took the glove off; he does not deem himself worthy of the power. So, basically, Thanos took off the Gauntlet because he had incredible self-esteem issues. If that’s not an absurd way to go out with ultimate power, then surely none exist. For that very reason, Thanos has been dubbed a self-defeating villain that you can always count on to undo what he’s done.
Venom — Peter Parker: Spider-Man — Fire/Sound:
Personally, I think Venom is one of the coolest villains of all time. The symbiote suit that Spider-Man brought back with him following the Secret Wars turned out to be one of the greatest things to happen in comic book history. Venom was awesome, but then Carnage spawned from Venom when Eddie Brock was imprisoned with serial killer Cletus Kasady and a piece of the symbiote bonded with his crazy ass. Carnage might just be the craziest and deadliest villain in all of the Marvel universe, but that’s another topic for another day. Today we’re here to talk about the ease with which Venom can be defeated.
A simple flame has often been enough to take down Venom. As Cracked pointed out in their article on ridiculous weaknesses of superheroes, a lighter was used to take him down at one point. No, seriously. A dude tossed Peter Parker a lighter and he lit it, causing Venom to freak out. This was something Marvel later mocked him with and addressed with other versions of Venom. I mean, if you can be beaten by a smoker with a zippo, it’s probably a pathetic weakness.
Sound is another way to take down Venom. Certain frequencies can be used to pry the symbiote off the wearer. This has been accomplished myriad ways; a bell, sub-sonic emitter, etc… As long as it’s the right frequency, the symbiote drops off of Venom quicker than you can say “lame.”
Bane — Dark Knight Rises — Catwoman
Few villains in Batman’s world are cooler than Bane. Offhand I can only think of one and that’s the Joker. Bane is such a badass, he broke the back of the Batman and left him for dead. Superman couldn’t even best Batman and Bane handled him like he was a jobber warming up to face the heavyweight world champion. Besting Batman in combat is no small feat, he’s supposed to be the Captain America of DC. You don’t beat him.
For much of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, Batman had faced darker villains. He crowned off his saga with Bane overrunning Gotham and breaking the Dark Knight’s back. Bruce Wayne eventually recovered, in remarkable time, too, but when he went back to try and beat Bane, he still couldn’t get the job done. Enter Catwoman.
Catwoman rides into the area where Batman and Bane are battling it out in what is meant to be a life or death squabble for all of Gotham. While the fight scene was fun, it ended rather abruptly when Catwoman arrives on the scene in the Batpod and kills Bane with the press of one button. The dude had taken a town in America within six months and was dictating orders to the Army, but Catwoman took him out with the Staples Easy Button. Then viewers were given another steaming turd on their plate when it was revealed that Talia al Ghul was actually the one in charge the whole time and she is dispatched within five minutes. Bane deserved better.
Dr. Doom — Fantastic Four (2005) — 3rd Grade Science
Dr. Doom is the best villain in the entire Marvel universe, if you ask me. Not only is he the most complex, but he’s extremely intelligent, plays both sides, has diplomatic immunity (which is sorta weird if you think about it), and he has an endless supply of money that he uses to build Doombots like they’re Big Macs. He is truly the thinking man’s villain.
Given that, it’s little surprise that he primarily goes to war with the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, both of which are usually boasting an equal mind. Guys like Hank Pym, Tony Stark, and Reed Richards are about the only Marvel characters capable of keeping up with Doom’s genius. Sometimes Doom even out-thinks himself, he’s that intelligent. He’s also nearly impossible to destroy, since his armor can protect him against anything.
Doom’s armor is loaded with tech, including a lethal shock to anyone that tries to grab him or come into contact with him. It’s also extremely durable and boasts a forcefield. If you wanna get near Doom, it’s going to take an enormous amount of effort or it will take the 2005 Fantastic Four film.
Using third grade science, the Fantastic Four take down Doom by first enveloping him in intense heat and then drenched him with cold water to induce thermal shock. You read that right, they froze him into “defeation.” It was a ridiculous end to a ridiculous movie and it rightly pissed off a number of people, who felt that Doom deserved better. To date, Dr. Doom continues to be the greatest villain that Hollywood can’t seem to get right.
Well, there you have it. My little list of super villains that went down way too easily. I do apologize once again for the Marvel favoritism, but you write about what you know, eh? As I said earlier, this is meant to be a conversation starter more than a definitive list. Have some that you would like to add to the list? Leave them in the comments below and let’s kickstart an amusing conversation about bad beats.
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