Not every character can be a fan favorite, because that would just be too perfect. Still, since many superhero movies have a wealth of great characters to draw from and decades of stories for inspiration, you'd think the awfulness would be kept to a minimum. You'd also think that directors would be a bit more careful when handling massive cash cows and beloved icons, so as not to upset multiple fans.
Yet, as we keep seeing, there are still dozens of creative ways to utterly ruin a character, whether they're already an iconic name or a new creation who'll probably never make the jump into canon.
So, we chose to go through every superhero flick and analyze each bad character and provide proof for why they're so terrible. These, however, will not include characters who are just plain bland, but instead focus on characters who are actively horrendous.
Here are the 15 Absolute Worst Characters From Superhero Movies, Ranked.
15 Nuclear Man (Superman IV)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace already looked like a massive mistake right from the opening credits. The franchise had long been showing signs that it was running on fumes… and then they decided to make this extra clear to everyone, by having Superman go toe-to-toe with a feather-haired clone with electric nails.
To say Nuclear Man was "portrayed" by Mark Pillow might be too generous-- Pillow filled an unconvincing set of spangled jammies and spent most of his time grunting out his jumbled collections of words.
As an evil clone of Superman who wasn’t Bizarro, Nuclear Man was created by Lex Luthor using convoluted make-believe science and let loose upon the world. Apparently Lex just crossed his fingers and hoped that Nuclear Man’s powers of vaguely-threatening telekinesis and-- we can’t emphasize this enough-- electric nails would be the end of the Man of Steel. This plan backfired when Nuclear Man’s ultimate weakness was revealed: lack of sun. Specifically, he was powerless when it wasn’t sunny.
We also feel the need to mention that he destroyed the Great Wall of China, which would be pretty significant if Superman hadn’t put it back together with his build-o-vision.
14 Slipknot (Suicide Squad)
Never exactly a major player in the phantasmagorical world of DC villains, the comic version of Slipknot at least has a few more skills going for him than the ability to climb anything. The movie version of Slipknot just shows up unannounced at the prison compound without so much as a zany intro screen, punches a guy, lets himself get talked into escaping by fellow idiot Captain Boomerang and… well, you know what happens next.
We get two glorious seconds of Slipknot climbing a wall before he becomes the traditional Suicide Squad sacrificial lamb. The rest of the team picks off scattered chunks of Slipknot’s brain from their lapels and carry on without ever mentioning him again. His character is so superfluous it goes beyond this and turns into a grotesque parody… and yet there’s still probably a Hot Topic shirt with his face on it somewhere.
13 Robin and Batgirl (Batman and Robin)
Yes, this is technically two people, but they bounce off each other so horribly that it’d be shame to separate them. We’re not going after any of the villains in Batman and Robin-- Bane is bland and boring, Mr Freeze is hammy and fun, and Poison Ivy is magnificent. On the side we’re supposed to be rooting for we have Robin and Batgirl... unfortunately.
Alicia Silverstone is acting her heart out, bless her, but her performance as Barbara Wilson is tragically unpolished and her transformation into Batgirl is nothing more than slipping into a suit. Since it would just be awkward to have Batman kicking Uma Thurman in the teeth-- never mind that complete lack of training.
Meanwhile, Chris O’Donnell turns the Boy Wonder into a whiny child with a massively bloated sense of self-importance. “Why isn’t it Robin and Batman? Where MY Robin-signal? You don’t trust me! *dramatic rooftop hissy fit*”
It certainly is a dynamic duo, it's just not the one we were hoping for.
12 Lex Luthor (Batman V Superman)
At least you can’t fault Jesse Eisenberg for not throwing his all into his performance. Let it not be said that he portrayed Batman V Superman’s Lex Luthor in half-measures, because he picked an interpretation and went all out.
Unfortunately for many a jilted fan, it wasn’t the right one. Instead of a confident, callous villain with vast intelligence and skills in manipulation, this version of Lex Luthor just comes off as nuts. He’s smart, sure, but more in a "I’ll pay smart people to do all the work and fill in the gaps" sort of way. Instead of crafting power armor and skilfully building a fake public reputation, this Luthor is more content to urinate in jars and speak like a twitchy drug-addict.
The only reason his evil plan gets past phase one is because of mere coincidences, as well as the fact that Batman and Superman don’t ever take a moment to discuss their problems like normal people.
Now it looks like Lex has gone right off the deep end, so we’re probably not seeing any power suits any time soon. But hey, at least he’s bald now.
11 Viper (The Wolverine)
The Wolverine at least learned a few lessons from Origins, such as how not to be awful and how you can have interesting female characters in a movie about a knifey-stabby maniac. This was what gave us Yukio, and, to a lesser degree, Mariko.
Then we get to Viper, who’s interesting in all the wrong ways. In a film infused with Japanese culture and subtle villainy, Viper is absolutely none of these things and sticks out like a neon firework in every scene. Her initial guise as Dr Green is passable enough, but after she ditches the lab coat and starts dressing like a weird fusion of the Green Goblin and Rita Repulsa, it’s hard to take any of her scenes seriously.
Viper really bogs down the third act of the movie, as she spits out cheesy dialogue and peels off her skin, trying to impress the audience-- but by what, exactly? How distractingly disgusting it is? Great job, but there’s a Wolverine V Mech-Suit battle going on upstairs, so we’re not sure why Viper is still here.
10 Emo Peter Parker (Spider-Man 3)
Spider-Man 3 is an oddity among superhero movies, being one of the very first to make it to full-trilogy status and showing us that yes, comic book flicks suffer from this curse as well. Despite a few shining moments, the movie is horrifically dragged down by bizarre directorial choices. The worst: turning lovable crybaby Peter Parker into an extra from Grease with 60% more fringe.
Instead of a subversive, sinister transformation, the symbiote in this movie is instead forced to dance in the street, on the stairs, and on top of pianos, and basically be a complete douche to every single person he loves for fun and profit.
This version of the character is most often known as "Emo Peter Parker" due to the fringe, but even that would’ve been an improvement from what we got. What we got was a cinematic stain on Tobey Maguire’s career that he probably wants to forget.
9 Karl Mordo (Doctor Strange)
Call it a controversial entry if you'd like, but at least we know Karl Mordo is eventually coming back as a villain, so maybe we were supposed to end up hating him.
Mordo a great character in the early stages, acting as Stephen Strange’s guide to this new world of magic and mystery, and also beating up a bunch of guys in a flawlessly-choreographed street fight scene that would make a Marvel Netflix series jealous. So, yes, we can kind of understand his shock that the Ancient One is drawing power from the source of all evil.
Unfortunately, it’s about here that Mordo turns into that one kid you knew at school who squealed like a piglet every time you put a toe out of bounds. “Strange, you’re a fool! Strange, get down here and fight! Strange, you’re a coward! Strange, you’ve ruined everything! Stop saving the world in a way I don’t like!”
Indignant that the world isn’t a smoldering crater, Mordo then stalks off in a huff to take out his frustrations on the irresponsible magic users of the world (aka anyone who doesn’t fit his exact code).
8 Doctor Doom (Fantastic Four 2015)
There’s a lot to be said on the characters of Fant4stic. We should mention that Sue Storm is a nigh-emotionless husk, Johnny is a huge jerk for no reason, and Ben Grimm needs to put some clothes on.
However, none of them quite measure up to the failure of Doctor Doom, one of Marvel’s premier villains who is reduced to a twenty-minute cameo of terrible CGI. Despite supposedly being a brilliant scientist, Doom immediately adopts the Prometheus principle of "if it’s weird and alien, touch it," bringing the entire disaster on the expedition. He then shows up at the end of the movie with vague powers and a rushed, nonsensical plan. He's also now dang-nasty evil for the purely because the movie needed a climax and villain.
That’s really it. Even for a generic villain, he fails on every front; they just had to drag down one of the greatest bad guys in all of comic book history.
7 Deadpool (Wolverine: Origins)
Wade Wilson is one of the best parts of Wolverine: Origins, at the beginning, as he's infused with Ryan Reynolds’ natural charm and manages to snag some slick action scenes. He’s all snark and one-liners: everything we want from the future Deadpool.
Then they go and stitch his mouth shut. They managed to skew things up, but extinguishing the main thing that makes Deadpool fun doesn’t stop there. He’s now reduced to a mute genetic experiment, essentially a final boss with a hodgepodge mix of powers to try to spice up the finale.
Perhaps this would’ve worked if they hadn’t utterly ruined an iconic character, but, as it was, Deadpool went from being the best part of the movie to the worst, faster than you could say "retcon." In fact, it was so bad that they tried to fix their errors… twice. First with time travel, then with an entire Deadpool movie to confirm that the original monstrosity was truly no more.
6 Catwoman (Catwoman)
Taking first place in the "why was this allowed to exist?" event is Catwoman. Apparently, someone decided it would be a good idea to take a B-list Batman anti-hero/love interest, change literally everything about her except the vague cat theme, and make it into a movie-- a bad movie.
Forget Selina Kyle, anti-hero and thieving seductress; this version is Patience Phillips, a meek office worker who’s murdered and brought back to life by… cat magic? Probably? She then gains the incredible kitty powers of being distracted by shiny things, an unhealthy lust for tuna, and the power to defy gravity (but only whilst playing basketball).
We feel like it’s okay to rag on Halle Berry for her bizarre performance here, since she accepted her Razzie award with grace, and was a pretty good sport about the whole thing. However we're not sure that we can forgive whoever came up with the idea of this script in the first place.
5 Jane Foster and Friends (MCU)
Quick, name all the members of Jane Foster’s research team in Thor: The Dark World... okay, name one.
Congratulations for looking it up on Wikipedia, but there’s a very good chance that we’re never seeing any of them again, and for good reason. Despite her legacy in the comics, Jane Foster never exactly clicked with the MCU’s version of Thor, with many decrying their complete lack of chemistry or relevance.
Still, Jane is a still a cut above her wacky underlings, who mostly just exist to eat up screen-time and make attempts at zany dialogue. For example, Darcy is just a quirky, pixie-type in the movie, and it's clear that she doesn't fit in.
Then there's the sequel, which gives her an equally-wacky boyfriend who just makes the screen-time theft even worse. Never mind the actually interesting characters like Sif, the Warriors Three, and Heimdall. Nope, we need to hear Darcy mangle the pronunciation of Mjolnir a few more times, since apparently it's comedy gold.
4 Everett Ross (MCU)
Everett Ross, aka SmugFace McObstructiveBureaucrat, is a bizarre character in a number of ways.
On a surface level, he flits in and out of Captain America: Civil War without all that much to do, with his main role apparently being to act like a smug jerk who clearly isn’t taking his job seriously enough.
He’s no fun to watch, has no real purpose in the movie, and exists to be a hate sink in a setting that doesn’t really need one. We already have a villain, and a complex morality plot that pits friend against friend. So, why is Ross there, exactly?
Making matters worse is the fact that Marvel decided to cast Martin Freeman, an actor well-known for playing roles that are amusingly mild-mannered. They paid big bucks to fly him over to the US, gave him about ten minutes of screen-time, and left us wondering why Bilbo/Watson is acting superior to actual superheroes with an American accent.
3 Jonathan Kent (DCEU)
Remember Smallville? Remember how we spent five seasons listening to Jonathan Kent’s salt-of-the-Earth wisdom, before he finally kicked the bucket and remained a constant encouragement to Clark even after death?
Yeah, this is not him. The Jonathan Kent in the DCEU exists for one reason: to stop Clark from becoming Superman, or doing anything good with his powers. When young Clark saves his classmates from a sinking school bus, his adoptive father’s best advice is that he probably should’ve let everyone drown. Thanks, Dad.
Jonathan even goes so far as to die in the act of stopping Clark from helping people, which probably helped to turn Clark into the angst-ridden mess he currently is. The writers evidently tried to put a stop to this by having Jonathan appear in Batman V Superman as… a ghost, probably? An apparition created by Clark’s tortured psyche? It’s never explained, but we’re apparently supposed to take Jonathan’s rambling tale as proof that he’s actually okay with Clark becoming a superhero.
Sadly, all it took was Jonathan getting himself killed and coming back as a quasi-ghost to give us this revelation.
2 Rick Flag (Suicide Squad)
In a movie with its fair share of forgettable characters, Rick Flag is perhaps the worst of them all. At least Killer Croc looks like a crocodile, and Katana has a sword that steals souls (in theory, we don’t actually see it happening). Meanwhile, Flag is supposedly the straight-laced leader of the Suicide Squad, but ends up standing out as a symbol of the movie’s wasted potential.
His entire role is "generic soldier" whose only real connection to the plot is through his relationship with June Moon. Unfortunately, even this gets sidelined for most of the film. We never explore his reaction or thoughts on his girlfriend housing the spirit of an ancient demonic being, as most of his time consists of trying, and failing, to keep the squad in check.
Come the end of the movie, most of the screwballs at least have something to do and eventually become somewhat decent people… and then we have Rick Flag, the generic soldier. He shoots guns and says army things, and could’ve died halfway through the movie without you noticing.
1 April O'Neil (TMNT)
The news that Megan Fox would be returning to work with Michael Bay was a surprise to most, since their professional relationship was less than cordial after Transformers,. Then we got Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and everyone’s suspicions were confirmed: Megan Fox’s April O’Neil was mostly in the movie for the close-ups.
Fox actually doesn’t do such a bad job here, at least with what she’s given, though she does represent a lot of what bogged the movie down: too much human, not enough turtle. Instead of us seeing what the turtles were up to, the movie cuts away every fifteen minutes to a bland a April subplot.
She ends up hogging most of the focus, even when the titular ninja turtles are in the scene, and the plot ends up being mostly about her as opposed to the characters we actually care about.
April O’Neil just works best as an ally, since we came to see the actual teenage mutant ninja turtles. When you take a beloved fictional character, have her played by a controversial actress, and devote a chunk of her screen-time to voyeuristic camera angles, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Can you think of any other bad characters from superhero movies? Let us know in the comments!