For whatever reason, movies are full of organizations that are just straight-up evil and don’t seem to have a problem with it. That real world corporation that you might think is evil is really just trying to make a profit (albeit in a way that might tread across certain moral boundaries). These guys, on the other hand, are bad to the core… and they have the means to do something about it.
In the age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the rebooted Star Wars and James Bond franchises, there is plenty of evil to go around. There are multiple megalomaniacs wreaking havoc on the planet for no other reason than because they want to watch the world burn. (While we’ve paraphrased The Joker here, he doesn’t make the list because he was more of a lone wolf.)
These are the worst of the worst: evil organizations, syndicates, corporations and conglomerates that you’d never want to go up against…
Known as a persistent thorn in the side of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra is perhaps the most prolific organization of evildoers in the Marvel universe. Their persistence reflects their choice of name: if a head is cut off, two more will take its place. They might have a few goofy traits, such as the bright yellow and green uniforms and a tendency towards cackling, card-carrying villain antics (most of their plans seem to involve bombs, some of which make for pretty wacky explosions), but there’s no denying that they’re a force to be reckoned with.
Their most significant achievements include secretly controlling S.H.I.E.L.D. from the inside, in both the comics and the MCU, as well as a number of sectors of the American government. Not bad for a supposedly secret organization with fluorescent uniforms.
THE SYNDICATE (Mission Impossible)
Inspired by real-life events and conspiracy theories, The Syndicate from the Mission: Impossible series are essentially a terrorist organization, albeit one that deals in many kinds of crime.
Steeped in mystery and with its very existence doubted, The Syndicate is a criminal network known for having connections in every corner of the business world, and in many instances controlling them from within. The organization has a long history in the Mission: Impossible TV series, and were recently the focus of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, in which they are shown to have employees whose skills rival that of IMF agents. They are “an anti-IMF” whose clandestine nature allows them to operate almost without limits.
SPECTRE (James Bond)
Soon to be gracing the big screen once again, SPECTRE is the evil organization that all the others want to be. It probably says something when their insignia is an octopus giving you a dirty look (which is a clear influence on HYDRA’s logo), but their name stands for Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. Those are not nice things.
SPECTRE is the world’s most powerful criminal organization, with agents across the globe and a true evil genius at the helm. Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the leader of SPECTRE, has established himself as James Bond’s archnemesis. But he and his organization are perhaps most famous for their impact on popular culture. Villains stroking cats, overly-complicated acronyms, secret volcano bases and so much more…it all began here.
THE UMBRELLA CORPORATION (Resident Evil)
Traditionally, pharmaceutical companies in fiction are almost certainly up to no good. Resident Evil’s Umbrella Corporation is no exception, and may just be the one true example. A major economic player, the company deals to the public in medicines, foods and other benign services. However, this is a front for their genetic engineering projects and bio-weaponry development. The Umbrella Corporation’s most famous product: the T-Virus, intended to create living weapons, but with the unfortunate side-effect of turning people into zombies. The company also has its own private military force to silence its enemies.
The corporation may have been shut down by the government after accidentally wiping out an entire city (no, really), but this only caused their research to leak into the rest of the globe, carrying on their destructive legacy.
BLACK SUN (Star Wars)
Appearing in the now-renamed Star Wars Legends, Black Sun is a vast criminal network that stretches across the entire galaxy and is perhaps even more influential in some areas than The Empire. The syndicate’s information networks were legendary, and their influence extends to nearly every known illegal activity.
Black Sun lurked behind and benefited from every major galactic event, from the Clone Wars to the New Jedi Order, despite several of its leaders being murdered by Darth Maul and coming into contact with the Skywalker family on a number of occasions. They were finally destroyed by the New Republic, but as with almost any evil organization, they were revived years later to plague the galaxy once again.
COBRA COMMAND (G.I. Joe)
Often known simply as ‘Cobra’, this long-running adversary of G.I. Joe is populated by some of the most transparently-evil names in the business; Serpentor and Doctor Mindbender among them. Goofiness aside, Cobra is a formidable terrorist organization organization commanding legions of soldiers and seemingly unlimited funding, judging by how many secret bases they have dotted around the globe.
KAOS (Get Smart)
Unlike most of the clever evil-organization word-plays on this list, KAOS doesn’t actually stand for anything…except causing actual chaos and general mayhem. As something of a parody of evil organizations within the Get Smart universe, KAOS uses some of the most bizarre methods imaginable, including its own brigade of ice-skating troops and an entire division devoted to causing contrived accidents (appropriately titled the ‘Contrived Accident Division’). The organization is notoriously slippery, as when one division is dismantled, there will always be more to take its place.
THE LEAGUE OF ASSASSINS (DC)
Sometimes known as the League of Shadows, this organization is most often lead by prolific Batman villain Ra’s Al Ghul. As their name implies, they’re an organization with the purpose of assassination… and while their effectiveness can be stunted in a medium aimed at a young audience, they’ve been a persistent foe of many DC superheroes.
The group has been seen in both Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and more recently Arrow, along with many comic book series, and their membership has shifted to include some of the most powerful individuals around, notably Bane, Lady Shiva and Merlyn.
SHINRA (Final Fantasy VII)
Known by the innocent-sounding name of the Shinra Electric Power Company, this organization holds nigh-absolute power over the world of Final Fantasy VII, and can be traced back to more or less any and all the bad things that happen within the compilation.
Their SOLDIER experiments created Sephiroth, the ultimate enemy of the planet, though he’s only the first in a long list of crimes. These include draining the planet of its life for profit, genetic experimentation, instigating a war over resources, dominating the globe with military force and making a lot of irritating boss robots.
M.A.D. (Inspector Gadget)
The Inspector Gadget TV series wasn’t too heavy on subtlety, and this is reflected in their primary antagonist: M.A.D. (true acronym unknown). M.A.D. was a light-hearted parody of SPECTRE, complete with evil cat-stroking and an enigmatic villain obscured by the camera.
The organization was lead by Doctor Claw, a mad scientist/evil genius/multi-millionaire/feline enthusiast who singles out Inspector Gadget as his greatest enemy. The organization’s schemes are never particularly successful, with its agents arrested in every episode. However, they always return in the next episode, proving that M.A.D. is one of the most resilient evil organizations around.
Any more evil corporganizalomerationyndicates that we missed? Let us know in the comments!