Like being annoying or just boring, being unintentionally funny is one of the worst qualities a “serious” character can have. That can take the air right out of a movie faster than you can say “Jar Jar Binks.” But the unfortunate members of this list are the opposite of the Star Wars prequels’ hapless Gungan comic relief: they weren’t supposed to be funny, but they totally were.
This roundup ignores explicitly comic characters in favor of ones we were supposed to find threatening, sincere, or just normal but just couldn’t because of their design or execution. Here are 11 movie characters that we just couldn’t take seriously.
11. Solomon Lane – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
No joking: the lead villain of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is terrifying. He’s evil, methodical, and he shot that pretty lady from the record shop in the face just when hero Ethan Hunt was learning to love again.
He’s also a mostly silent antagonist who waits to speak until it will achieve maximum creepiness. And all of that is pretty effective except for the part where when he’s just skulking around; he has a strange habit of pouting in a way that is decidedly unscary. Lane’s usually fine, but his silent moments plus his general facial resemblance to Kip in Napoleon Dynamite and Reno 911‘s dorky serial killer Craig Pullin had us less than fearful for most of the movie.
10. John Boy – The Nice Guys
Writer/director Shane Black’s The Nice Guys builds the oddly named John Boy up to be the most fearsome of killers. We even see his work before we properly meet him when he straight-up murders an entire penthouse’s worth of meeting attendees and their security detail. And then we see the guy.
Nothing against Matt Bomer (White Collar); he’s a handsome, handsome man, and a talented actor. But in a joke designed to check the age and classic TV knowledge of the audience, Black decks him out with a facial mole to match his namesake, the oldest son of the eponymous family from The Waltons. The film sets this up with a direct mention of the show and another character describing the TV character as having a “hockey puck on his face” while trying to remember the name of the actor who played him.
9. Jorge – Beauty Shop
Even before we learn that he’s from Nebraska and his entire personality is a fraud, it’s hard to take Beauty Shop‘s jilted salon owner Jorge seriously.
Granted, this is a comedy, and most of what he does is for laughs. But the plot depends upon him posing a serious threat to Gina’s (Queen Latifah) fledgeling business, and it’s hard to believe he’s capable of that with Kevin Bacon sounding and acting like a villain in a Mel Brooks film. Jorge is overplayed, broad, and he’s apparently decided that although he’s a native English speaker, part of his affectation will involve mispronouncing words so that they sound kind of like racial slurs.
8. Adrian Doyle Pryce – Oldboy (2013)
Adrian (Sharlto Copley), the villain of Spike Lee’s Oldboy, is a murderer, a rapist, and a criminal mastermind with the will and resources to keep his enemy imprisoned for 20 years while he produces a fake crime documentary series and socially engineers a person. All of this is terrifying, but Copley makes such strange decisions in his performance that it’s hard to really get the menace across.
Maybe that’s the point; he answers his victim’s brute violence with brilliant planning and ultimately prevails. But something about Copley’s effete accent, slicked hair, odd mustache that does not break in the middle, and spats stopped us from sending in his application to join Lex Luthor and Sinestro in the Injustice League. We’re pretty sure they’d only laugh at him.
7. Bo Abobo – Double Dragon
We don’t envy the makeup artists tasked with bringing this character from 1987 arcade brawler Double Dragon to life. In the game, Abobo is a tall, half-naked man with a huge, bald head, and we’re not sure we’d like to see that guy tottering around in reality. In the 1994 film adaptation, however, Bo Abobo is a mostly normal-looking (but still super tall) gang leader whose incompetence leads villain Koga Shuko to pump him full of “sub-molecular steroids.”
What this means to the viewers is that the new Abobo looks like somebody skinned and overinflated the Michelin Man. In addition to his trademark (we guess) giant head, Abobo’s arms and legs are themselves giant, but not in the way that says “deadly ripped” so much as “puffy and Popeye-esque.” And while this would usually result in a character who exists just so the rest of the cast and the audience can take turns mocking him, it sets Abobo on a straight-up path of redemption. He even gets a scene where he sees his horrid reflection for the first time, and it brings him to tears.
6. Bane – Batman & Robin
Similarly, the incarnation of the man who broke the Bat in director Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin looks less like a terrifying mass of muscle than a guy in a muscle suit. Probably because he is.
Fans who took issue with Tom Hardy’s bizarre vocal stylings in The Dark Knight Rises should look back to this 1997 hacksterpiece and see how much worse Bane can get. This early version’s dialogue includes such poignant lines as “Grrrrr!” and “Arrrrrgh!” and not a single mention of hope and how to use it to destroy a man’s spirit. “Hope” is not even in this Bane’s vocabulary because he is in Batman & Robin, and it is a dark and merciless place.
5. Krang – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
It’s hard to create something truly sinister when your source material is a talking brain monster from a parallel dimension, and the makers of Out of the Shadows gave it everything they had. But it still doesn’t change the small things that keep him from being completely monstrous and intimidating, like that time his eyeball pops out for really no reason. And for some reason, voice performer Brad Garrett makes him sound an awful lot like Snagglepuss, the daffy pink puma from classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
Movie Krang also has a weird habit of hanging out on his robot body’s shoulder like Rocket does with Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy. We’re sorry, but that’s just adorable.
4. Goombas – Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. has a lot of problems, and its version of Goombas is one of them.
We’ll admit it – we have no idea how to adapt sentient, video-game mushroom creatures for a live-action film. But we’re pretty sure the answer is not making them giant guys with tiny heads that look almost, but not quite, completely unlike mushrooms.
These creatures were King Koopa’s muscle, and we assume that their main use wasn’t so much their martial prowess as the fact that the evil dictator could turn you into one of those ridiculous things if you gave him any sass. We don’t recall them doing much in the movie beside wearing giant trench coats and marching in lines, but the part of our brain that remembers Super Mario Bros. has been mercifully destroying itself for the past 20 years.
3. Emperor Palpatine – Star Wars: Episode III
It’s odd that the prequel trilogy’s Sith leader would be more threatening before he became a withered man-crone, but here you have it. Chancellor-and-then-Emperor Sheev Palpatine scared the hell out of us when we first saw him in Return of the Jedi, but somehow the technology behind his makeup got way worse in the 22 years between that film and Revenge of the Sith, when Force lightning lays waste to actor Ian McDiarmid’s friendly-grandpa looks.
Like Abobo and Bane before him, Palpatine’s problem is uncanny puffiness. It doesn’t look like he’s developed wrinkles so much as someone filled the spaces between his existing folds with massive amounts of collagen. Jedi‘s Palpatine looks like a withered old man, his life unnaturally extended through his selfish manipulation of the Force. Sith‘s version is beyond our understanding.
2. Emil Kovac – Killing Season
As a veteran of the Bosnian War, Killing Season‘s Emil Kovac (John Travolta) has a serious life. He’s known serious pain, serious heartbreak, and he seriously wants to take it all out on Robert DeNiro’s character in a sequence of harrowing torture scenes and ridiculous fights, one of which involves one of them getting shot just right through the face with an arrow.
And while we know that the backstory of this character is joyless, harsh, and worse than anything that most of us will ever know, it’s hard to remember that when we watch Travolta’s performance. It could be his jet-black, downright shiny hair, which is so short that it looks like somebody just spray-painted the actor’s head with a nice gloss. It may also be his accent, which we were planning on describing until words just refused to be in the same sentence as that thing.
1. Juggernaut – X-Men: The Last Stand
We had several characters from the X-Men series that we wanted to include here, including Apocalypse‘s shirt-deficient Angel and X-Men Origins: Wolverine‘s walking wrong, Deadpool. But we ultimately decided on The Last Stand‘s Juggernaut. And that wasn’t just because he also has some strange allergy to shirts and no unwieldy, giant wings to make it pretty reasonable.
Juggernaut’s a tough character to bring to life, but all you really need to do is give him some kind of suit and a matching, oddly wide helmet. This movie got almost halfway there, but it’s kind of telling of your helmet design when even the characters are calling Juggernaut “dickhead.” Add in the fact that his most memorable act in the whole film is quoting an internet meme, and he becomes easily the least respectable character on this list.
Which other movie characters did you find yourself laughing at? Be sure to let us know in the comments.