10 Comic Book Movies About Villains

The release of Black Adam has not only changed the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe, but also the world of comic book movies as a whole, bringing a film about a comic book villain rather than a hero to the spotlight. While it’s certainly not the norm, this happens far more often in superhero or anti-hero movies.

It is more common to find movies focused on villains, showing the characters’ complexity that exceeds just having evil intentions. From alternate universe retellings to animated bloodbaths, there have been numerous films that shined a light on the evildoers of the comic book world.

Deathstroke Knights & Dragons: The Movie (2020)

Available To Stream On HBO Max

Slade Wilson, better known by his alias Deathstroke, is one of DC Comics’ most notorious assassins, as well as a perennial foe to Nightwing and his fellow Teen Titans. The endlessly cruel and calculating killer fathered two metahuman children, Jericho and Rose, both of whom would eventually join the Teen Titans themselves and battle with Slade.

However, Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons: The Movie showcases a more fatherly version of the character, as the plot follows the merciless assassin on a thrilling mission to rescue his children from the organization H.I.V.E. and their evil plan to exploit the children’s powers.

Morbius (2022)

Available To Stream On Netflix

The second Spider-Man foe to join Sony’s Spider-Man Universe in a starring role, Morbius the Living Vampire is a tragic character in the comics. A renowned biochemist who becomes a vampire in the process of trying to cure his rare blood disease, he acts as an antiheroic figure whose affliction, unfortunately, drives him to villainous acts of murder.

Morbius presented Jared leto as the titular character, and highlighted Morbius’s origin and struggle to live with his vampire identity. The superhero film received extremely negative reviews from critics, but has spawned a cult following due to the thousands of memes that the film has inspired.

Justice League: Gods And Monsters (2015)

Available To Stream On HBO Max

DC’s storied Trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are likely the last three names fans will think of when talking about comic book villains. However, Justice League: Gods and Monsters follows an alternate version of these characters vastly different from their usual depictions.

Batman is Kirk Langstrom, better known as the villain Man-Bat; Superman is Lor-Zod, the son of General Zod; and Wonder Woman is Bekka, a character who becomes a Yellow Lantern in the comics. The three are a merciless version of the Justice League on their Earth, using violence and fear to maintain order, until they become framed for a horrific crime by an unknown enemy.

Birds Of Prey (2020)

Available To Stream On HBO Max

The DCEU interpretation of Harley Quinn is one of the very best, and Margot Robbie was finally given the chance to showcase the character in a leading role with Birds of Prey. The film follows Harley in the aftermath of her breakup with the Joker, and her chance meeting with the young Cassandra Cain leads her into a conflict with the villain Black Mask. This ultimately has her teaming with the titular team (comprised of Black Canary, the Huntress, and Renee Montoya) to stop him.

While the film failed at the box office, it received rave reviews and has been consistently praised for its franticly fun tone and vivid colors, which truly evoke the feel of a comic book.

Wanted (2008)

Available To Stream On Prime Video and Netflix

A non-DC-or-Marvel comic book film, Wanted is based on the comic book miniseries of the same name by Mark Millar. The book follows a seemingly-ordinary office worker named Wesley, who learns about his recently-deceased father. After discovering he was an extraordinary supervillain working for a secret villainous organization, Wesley joins them to take his place.

The film adaptation is vastly different, retaining several characters and ideas, but majorly shifts the focus from supervillains to assassins, as well as making Wesley a more sympathetic character. Its inventive violence and off-the-wall visual fun made it a hit with critics.

Catwoman: Hunted (2022)

Available To Stream On HBO Max

While Catwoman’s live-action film adaptation is considered one of the worst superhero movies, that is certainly not the case with her first animated feature, Catwoman: Hunted. A sleek and fast-paced anime-inspired adventure, the film sees Catwoman go up against a wide variety of DC Comics villains and come face-to-face with Batwoman after stealing the Cat’s Eye Emerald.

The film received excellent reviews from critics, with major praise for its animation quality and outstanding voice cast that included popular actresses such as Elizabeth Gillies and Stephanie Beatriz.

Venom (2018)

Available To Stream On Starz

Before Morbius, Sony’s Spider-Man Universe kicked off with Venom, a 2018 film which highlighted the Eddie Brock incarnation of the titular Spider-Man villain. Venom is the combination of Brock and a sentient alien symbiote, whose fusion together creates a monstrous creature with unbelievable abilities.

While Brock, and thus Venom, holds a murderous hatred toward Spider-Man in the comics, the absence of Spider-Man in his films leaves Brock as an antihero who does battle against other symbiotes in the film and its sequel. Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Brock, as well as the film’s humorous tone, were both sources of acclaim from fans.

The Suicide Squad (2021)

Available To Stream On HBO Max

The comic book films easily featuring the most villains are the Suicide Squad films, which follow a ragtag team of DC Comics’ very worst undergoing dangerous missions for the U.S. government to lessen their prison sentences.
While the DCEU’s first attempt at Task Force X was met with poor reviews from fans and critics, this was far from the case with its second attempt in The Suicide Squad. It saw returning characters such as Harley Quinn and new characters such as Bloodsport and Peacemaker brought in to handle the threat of Starro the Conquerer. The ensemble cast’s performance, as well as James Gunn’s directing, were both subjects of heavy praise.

Deadpool (2016)

Available To Stream On Disney+

While Deadpool started his run in the comics as a villain, he has more famously morphed into one of Marvel’s most popular antiheroes. He constantly comes into conflict with his fellow costumed crusaders due to his extremely violent methods and fourth wall-breaking shenanigans.

His 2016 film adaptation, Deadpool, decided to embrace that in droves, telling a fantastically violent and vulgar story in which Deadpool goes on a mission to rescue the love of his life from the man who disfigured him. Reynold’s portrayal of the character has become widely-loved by audiences, and the film’s mockery of fellow films in the genre have been met with delight by fans.

Joker (2019)

Available To Stream On HBO Max

As Batman’s archenemy and perhaps the single deadliest character in all of DC Comics, the Joker was given a sympathetic origin story with the release of Joker in 2019. A Scorsese-inspired look at 1980’s Gotham, the film follows struggling stand-up comedian Arthur Fleck’s violent descent into becoming the Joker after a series of tragic incidents in his life. Because of it, he leads the way to a violent revolution in Gotham.

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