In just under two weeks, the third film in the new DC Extended Universe will be released in theaters. Of course, we’re talking about David Ayer’s highly anticipated Suicide Squad. Fans cannot wait to see some of DC’s less mainstream villains team up on the big screen. Box office projections already show that Suicide Squad could be heading for the August box office opening weekend record, previously held by Marvel’s rewarded gamble, Guardians of the Galaxy. There are some who may feel that it is strange that a film about villains could be so anticipated. Shouldn’t we be rooting for the good guys? In reality, some of the most beloved characters in film are the bad guys. They bring a grit and complexity that sometimes can be difficult for a good guy to replicate. Sure, there are exceptions. But even many traditional heroes like Batman and Wolverine have a darkness in them.
In the last several years we’ve seen quite a few films that feature not those traditional heroes, but antiheroes and even villains. Guardians of the Galaxy featured a group of criminals that banded together to save the galaxy. After all, they all met in space prison. But it is not just superhero flicks or comic adaptations that are featuring more villainous characters. Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent gave us a different look at the beginnings of the famous Sleeping Beauty bad gal.
With audiences more willing to embrace characters that traditionally would be considered evil, studios now have the opportunity to monetize properties that they may have felt would not have been successful. This got us thinking. What other villains out there deserve their own movie? We have decided to compile a list of bad guys who could get an interesting and successful origin story. Why an origin? An origin story would allow filmmakers to dig into the reasons some of these characters became villains, and thus, their nature would be more complex than when they have fully gone bad. Just so there is no outrage, there will be no Marvel characters on this list. But do not fret, you can find a list of Marvel villains who deserve their own film right here. So, if you think it’s good to be bad, check out these 15 Classic Movie Villains Who Deserve Their Own Origin Story!
15. Ra’s Al Ghul
We’re going to start this list off strong with one of Batman’s most formidable and long-lasting (that’s the understatement of the century) adversaries. Batman happens to have one of the more well known rogues gallery of any hero, comics or otherwise. In fact, we could just do an entire list on his enemies. For now, let’s take a look at the leader of the League of Assassins. Ra’s Al Ghul is well known to both casual and hardcore comic fans. Even if you have never picked up a comic book, you likely know of the Demon’s Head. In just the last decade, Ra’s has been adapted both in film and television in live action. He was the main adversary of Oliver Queen in the third season of Arrow, and of course, trained and then fought Batman in Batman Begins (with a slight cameo in The Dark Knight Rises).
Without a doubt, Ra’s Al Ghul is a legendary villain. But why does he deserve his own movie? The interesting thing about Ra’s is that he has been alive for centuries. Thanks to the use of his Lazarus Pit, he has cheated death over and over again. This simple fact would allow a filmmaker to take the character in a direction that would have him to stand out easily on his own, without the looming distraction of Batman. Just imagine how awesome it would be to see a Ra’s Al Ghul led League of Assassins tackle Rome (as mentioned in Batman Begins)? Or, perhaps, they play a role in the defeat of the British in the American Revolution.
Whether their ends justify their means or not, the League of Assassins has a belief that what they are doing is for the greater good. True or not, that motivation makes them, and their leader, uniquely qualified to head their own movie, because it can be framed in a way that highlights their desire, no matter how flawed, to make the world a better place.
14. Dr. Evil
Perhaps he is not the most feared villain, but he definitely one of the funniest. And for that reason, he is also one of the most popular. Former SNL star Mike Myers hit gold with his dual role as both Austin Powers and Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers film franchise. It is no wonder that Mike Myers at one point was considering creating a Dr. Evil spin-off. Well, he definitely should.
But here is an interesting idea. We don’t need to see a film about the already established Dr. Evil. Rather, let’s see how he was driven to villainy. Surely it would be hilarious, feature some sort of wacky Belgian upbringing, and of course, an ancillary rivalry with the International Man of Mystery himself, Austin Danger Powers. We already know a little about Dr. Evil’s upbringing. Flashbacks in the Austin Powers films show him being adopted after a car explosion claims his parents’ lives. He explains that he only lived because his mother’s smoking created a cocoon around his body. We also saw him as a student alongside Austin Powers, devastated when he was not named International Man of Mystery.
That is where a Dr. Evil origin film should take off. Let’s see him right after graduation. What decisions did he make that made him one of the most “dangerous” and “diabolical” adversaries of Austin Powers. Plus, where has Mike Myers been? We need him funny again.
13. Hector Barbossa
One of the easiest motivations for creating a film around a villain is the success of the franchise in which he originated. Most of us know Captain Barbossa as enemy and reluctant ally to Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. And if Disney were looking to bring more villains to the big screen in a lead role, they should look no further than Captain Barbossa. From a purely financial perspective, the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise is one of the most successful of all time. The four films released thus far (there is at least one more coming) have grossed a whopping $3.7 billion worldwide. Sure, At World’s End and On Stranger Tides both dipped from their respective predecessors, but despite any domestic disappointments, the international box office proved that there is plenty of demand for these theme park-based characters.
While Geoffrey Rush has been brilliant as Barbossa, an origin film would be an opportunity for a young actor to further shape the motivations of the character. Perhaps, the film takes place before Barbossa even joins Sparrow’s crew aboard the Black Pearl. What was his upbringing? Why did he become a pirate? These are all questions that could be answered in all the glory of an IMAX cinematic experience. A Barbossa origin also allows Disney to keep the franchise alive while moving in another direction, and thus, avoiding what some have criticized as a staling of the characters.
12. Darth Maul
This may be a controversial pick. After all, there are many Star Wars fans (though certainly not all) who want nothing to do with the prequel films. And while many of these fans would argue that the prequels be ignored all together, the fact of the matter is, they are canon, and should not be ignored. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a resounding success, breaking several box office records, including highest opening weekend, and largest domestic gross. This, of course, was not just because it was a good film. Plenty of great films do not set box office records. Nearly 40 years of nostalgia pushed The Force Awakens to extreme box office heights. But it was not just fans of the original trilogy who showed up. On the contrary, millions of fans grew up on the prequels, and showed up to see more of the story that they were first introduced to in 1999.
The first film in the prequel series, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, was also a box office success, being the first film in the franchise to gross over $1 billion (after a re-release). And love him or hate him, there have been few characters introduced in any of the films that look more badass than Darth Maul. The guy is straight-up terrifying. With his red skin and black face tattoos, and double edged lightsaber, the Sith apprentice looks like a force to be reckoned with. And he proved his strength when he defeated Qui-Gon Jinn. Further fleshing out Darth Maul’s backstory would be an interesting way for Disney to continue adding to the Star Wars canon while embellishing the narrative of the prequels. Much of the Star Wars lore is based around what draws characters to the dark side. Kylo Ren, Anakin Skywalker, and even Luke have felt the pull of the dark side. Let’s see what happened in Darth Maul’s life that eventually led him to battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
When we start talking about successful film franchises, Michael Bay’s Transformers has to be mentioned, and any discussion of villains must include the leader of the Decepticons, Megatron. Despite being largely dismissed by the critics, the Transformers film franchise has continued to reel in large sums of cash. The first four live-action films have grossed over $3.7 billion worldwide. So, it is not really surprising that Paramount is looking to create a cinematic universe around the highly profitable franchise. One of the films that has been proposed in that cinematic universe is a prequel set on Cybertron.
In the first Transformers, we got a small glimpse of Cybertron and the civil war between the Autobots and the Decepticons. But something we have not seen in film is what transpired before Optimus Prime and Megatron went to war. An interesting film, one that no doubt would be successful at the box office, would be one that explores Megatron’s life on Cybertron before the war. Whether it be the events that lead to his leadership of the Decepticons or something else entirely, there is little doubt that fans of the franchise would line up to see a film featuring Megatron.
10. Freddy Krueger
Any list of villains is not complete without at least mentioning one of Wes Craven’s most chilling creations, Freddy Krueger. The villain, well known for his appearances in the A Nightmare on Elm Street films, has been scaring audiences for decades. The character’s backstory is pretty well known. He was child murderer who was trapped in a building by an angry mob and burnt alive. He eventually returns to seek vengeance, by attacking (and killing) a group of teenagers living on Elm Street. Oh yeah, he kills them from their dreams – try falling asleep tonight.
A film about Krueger as a child murderer would be the wrong way to go. Despite that being his established backstory, it’s likely that audiences would not want to watch such heinous crimes, even fans of the horror genre. But perhaps, his backstory could be further fleshed out. From several films, much is already known about Krueger’s childhood. But additions and retcons are nothing new to established franchises. Maybe Freddy Krueger has more experience with the dream world than we realize? Could he have been tormented as a child or teenager by another damned soul? Sure, why not?
9. Owen and Deckard Shaw
Would anyone have imagined after the release of The Fast and the Furious in 2001 that the film would spawn six sequels with three more on the way? The original film was a run of the mill undercover street racing film with little complexity, and relatively minor stakes. Well, things have certainly changed. While that film was a success, grossing over $200 million worldwide, the most recent three films, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7, have combined for just under $3 billion worldwide. It comes as no surprise that Fast 8 (or whatever it ends up being called) and two more sequels are in development.
The bottom line is that The Fast and the Furious franchise is one of Universal Studios most profitable franchises, standing with the likes of Jurassic Park, Jason Bourne, and Despicable Me. So, it would seem foolish for Universal not to take a look at extending the franchise even further. While Dominic Toretto’s story may come to a close, there are no shortage of characters that can be spun off. The most likely candidate is Dwayne Johnson’s Agent Hobbs. However, there are two formidable villains who would shine in a Fast & Furious spin-off– the Shaw brothers. Owen Shaw, played by Luke Evans, was the main antagonist of Fast & Furious 6, while his brother, Deckard Shaw, played by Jason Statham, was Toretto’s main adversary in Furious 7.
The brothers showed that they were more than capable in several types of warfare, not limited to vehicular. Seeing them together in their younger years, perhaps as government operatives, would make for one hell of a thrill ride, and no doubt keep the money flowing for Universal.
This would certainly be an interesting film to see. Legally speaking, this one may be the most far-fetched, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream. While Peter Jackson and New Line (Warner Bros.) have had incredible success adapting the stories of Middle-Earth, the rest of the film rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s works remain with his estate, and it is unlikely they will be licensed any time soon. Whether the rights to make a film about Smaug belong to Tolkien or Warner Bros. is not for us to say. But one thing’s for sure, basing an entire film around an inhuman (or even in-humanoid) villain, but an evil dragon, would be freakin’ awesome.
Even casual fans of Middle-Earth know from The Hobbit films that Smaug was a dragon who coveted gold and invaded the Dwarf kingdom, sending the dwarves into exile. It was the quest to retake their homeland from Smaug that united the dwarves with Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins. But a spin-off story featuring Smaug earning his reputation as a feared dragon, perhaps by sacking other kingdoms, would be a pretty compelling story. And basing a film around a CGI character is not much of a risk anymore. As we saw with The Jungle Book, not only can that type of film be successful at the box office, but critically as well.
7. President Coriolanus Snow
Lionsgate, the studio behind The Hunger Games film franchise, is desperate for a hit. They have had a tough run lately trying to launch franchises. In just the last few years, they have seen films like The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Gods of Egypt, and Ender’s Game under-perform. Lionsgate is now looking to start new franchises like Power Rangers, while also relying on older established franchises like Blair Witch and Saw. But without a guarantee that these films will succeed, you know they are thinking of ways to continue monetizing one of their most successful franchises– The Hunger Games.
We have likely seen the last of Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen, but that doesn’t mean we have to have seen the last of her greatest foe, President Snow (the rhyme is a happy accident). We know the Hunger Games are to remind the Districts of their uprising against the Capital. Well, how about we see that uprising? Would it not be unique to see it from the perspective of Snow and the Capital, rather than the insurgents? Whether this is likely or not is anybody’s guess, but Lionsgate is looking to continue capitalizing on their properties and there is no reason they should ignore one of their greatest villains.
6. Ernst Stavro Blofeld
There has been a lot of discussion here about capitalizing on villains from established franchises. So, you had to have guessed that there would be at least one villain on this list from one of the longest running franchises in cinematic history. The James Bond film franchise has been going strong for over 50 years! The actors have changed, but the character has not. What’s amazing, is that the films have never been spun off. There were rumors that Halle Berry was going to star in a spin-off of Die Another Day, but fortunately, that never came to pass.
If we are going to nominate a Bond villain to head his own movie, Ernst Stavro Blofeld has to be first in line. One of Bond’s recurring villains, Blofeld has served as the inspiration behind many supervillain parodies and tropes. Dr. Evil was directly inspired by Blofeld. Moreover, currently, there is a pretty highly acclaimed actor portraying Blofeld. Christoph Waltz portrayed him in Spectre, and based on the way that movie ended, we will likely see him again. But before we do, how about we see Ernst Blofeld before he headed up SPECTRE?
Fans of The Lord of the Rings know who Sauron is. He’s the big bad. Even if you have only casually watched the movies, you probably recognize him as that weird floating eye. Sauron is also the guy who forged the One Ring. You know the one that caused Gollum to go crazy and Frodo’s eyes to roll into the back of his skull. Creating a film that centers around Sauron would involve the same legal issues we discussed with Smaug. But any list of movie villains has to include the main antagonist of one of the most recognized works literature and its cinematic adaptation.
The story could take place long before the events of The Hobbit, and long before he forsook his bodily form. Peter Jackson has utilized the scope of the Middle-Earth stories to create epic battles, grand cinematic landscapes, and insanely long extended cuts. We can only imagine the vast battles that could be filmed if Sauron were at the center of them.
4. Professor James Moriarty
No matter how iconic the villains of the Marvel and DC universes are, there is a villain who has been gracing the pages of literature and the silver screen, for much, much longer. Think about this, the Joker was created in 1940. He certainly has had a long and captivating run. But Sherlock Holmes’ main adversary, Professor James Moriarty, first appeared in the late 19th century. What’s incredible is he only appeared in one Sherlock Holmes story. Despite this, he had such a lasting effect, that he not only serves as Sherlock Homes’ archenemy, but also as one of the first supervillains ever.
Despite being around for so long that he has entered the public domain, Sherlock Holmes continues to be featured in films, comics, and television shows. He has recently been portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, and Jonny Lee Miller. And wherever Sherlock is, Moriarty is nearby. In those same adaptations, Moriarty has been portrayed by Jared Harris, Andrew Scott, and Natalie Dormer, respectively. Andrew Scott’s portrayal of the “criminal consultant” in the modern day Sherlock TV series has been incredibly well-received, and it could even serve as the inspiration for a future spin-off. The big question is do you set the film in modern day or the traditional early 20th century?
3. Emperor Palpatine
The original six Star Wars films may have been the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, but that tragedy would have never come to pass were it not for Emperor Palpatine. In the prequel trilogy, Palpatine played the senate and the Jedis for fools. As Darth Sidious, he orchestrated conflicts between the Trade Federation and the Republic. He then began to corrupt a young Anakin Skywalker’s mind, until eventually, he succumbed to the dark side.
Now that Star Wars official canon is well defined, there is room for Disney to revolve a film around Emperor Palpatine. We know that the plan is to continue releasing Star Wars films, and after Rogue One and the Han Solo prequel, fans will continue to clamor for anthology films. We propose a film with Palpatine as a young Sith apprentice. In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine tells Anakin the tale of a powerful Sith lord, Darth Plagueis, who learned to cheat death, before being murdered in his sleep by his apprentice. The Extended Universe has explicitly stated the connection between Palpatine and Plagueis, but seeing it in live-action and in official canon would be awesome. Plus, if we go back to when Palpatine was an apprentice, that means there will be plenty of Jedi around.
Even if we tried to stay away from too many comic book characters in this list, no list of villains, no matter the topic, is complete without at least mentioning the Clown Prince of Crime. The Joker is the Dark Knight’s greatest adversary, and he has appeared in some of his most memorable stories. Whether it is the recently adapted Batman: The Killing Joke, Tim Burton’s Batman, or The Dark Knight, the Joker has stood out as one of the most incredible, sadistic, and everlasting villains, EVER.
The Joker is such a complex and captivating character, that the three most recent (including the upcoming Suicide Squad) live-action adaptations featuring the Joker, see him portrayed each time by an Academy Award winning actor. Sure, Heath Ledger won his award for his portrayal, but he already had a nomination to his name. Can you think of another character that has been portrayed by three actors with the combined resume of Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto? Not to mention being voiced in several properties, most notably Batman: The Animated Series, by Mark Hamill? The Joker is so immensely popular, that the R-rated animated film, Batman: The Killing Joke made $3 million dollars on its limited opening day in theaters.
While many may consider The Killing Joke to be the Joker’s defining story, a live-action adaptation would present the opportunity to merge several storylines and original fare into one epic film. And if Jared Leto is as spectacular as we hope, there is no reason not to bring him back and see what one bad day can lead to.
1. Lord Voldemort
He has many names. “The Dark Lord.” “He Who Must Not Be Named.” “You Know Who.” Whatever you call him, Lord Voldemort is, to an entire generation, the greatest villain in all of film and literature. The dark wizard who killed Harry Potter‘s parents, and tormented him for seven long books, is one of the most powerful and chilling villains on this list. And there are several reasons why we should see more of him on the big screen. It is no secret that Warner Bros. wants to continue making money off of Harry Potter. The series has grossed nearly $8 billion at the worldwide box office. We will soon see the first Harry Potter spin-off with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a film that will itself spawn two sequels.
While Warner Bros. is in prequel territory, they should strongly consider a film that centers on the origins of the Dark Wizard himself. Before he was Lord Voldemort, he was Tom Riddle. We saw Tom Riddle as a student in The Chamber of Secrets, but there is so much more to see. Whether an ambitious filmmaker decided to use Riddle’s established backstory, or embellish it, there are no shortage of fans who want to see more Harry Potter stories, and more of the villain so horrible, he is referred to as “He Who Must Not Be Named.”
There are so many popular villains in film who have gone on to outshine even their heroic counterparts that it would be impossible to name them all. Who did we miss? What villain would you like to see get their own film? Let us know in the comments!