A certain amount of violence is baked into the very fabric of the superhero story, a genre that's all about solving problems with your fists (or heat rays or sonic blasts or whatever). But there are violent superhero movies, and then there are violent superhero movies. In recent years, efforts to "deconstruct" or otherwise undercut audience expectations of "biff, pow" comic books have become increasingly common, even as PG-13 superhero flicks dominate the box office.
Even in R-rated movies and shows like Punisher or The Walking Dead, though, sometimes the violence gets a little more over the top than usual, and these 14 scenes are moments so grisly, we kind of can't believe they were ever in a movie or show that was adapted from a comic book... even when the comics were sometimes just as gruesome.
- Photo: Amazon Prime Video
Those who hadn't previously read Robert Kirkman's (best known as the creator of The Walking Dead) hit comic book series were probably caught off guard when the brightly colored, seemingly old-fashioned superhero tale he was telling in the Amazon adaptation of Invincible suddenly took a particularly gruesome turn at the end of the first episode. Omni-Man, the series' Superman stand-in, is Earth's most popular superhero and the father of the series' main character, Mark. He's also a member of a superhero team called the Guardians of the Globe - think Invincible's answer to the Justice League or the Avengers.
At the end of the first episode, however, Omni-Man ambushes the rest of the Guardians, slaying them horrifically in a grotesque splatter of blood and brains. He crushes one's head, decapitates another, and smashes their answer to Batman against the floor so hard he leaves little more than a red smear - perhaps suggestively answering the age-old comic book question of what would happen if Batman and Superman got in a fight in the process. Why he did it - and what it will mean for his relationship with his superhero son - is one of the questions that anchors the show, but the sudden ultra-violence certainly puts viewers on their toes.Over the top?
- Photo: AMC
The Walking Dead is a horror comic by Robert Kirkman, adapted by Frank Darabont into a horror TV show, so perhaps it should come as no surprise it's often more violent than its superhero contemporaries. Yet, there's violence and then over-the-top violence that The Walking Dead occasionally visits upon its characters.
At the beginning of the show's seventh season, Negan, the sadistic leader of a predatory survivor group called the Saviors, promises to beat the life out of one of the main cast as a retaliation for the number of Saviors they've slain. His first choice is Abraham, but after Daryl strikes him, he chooses another target - this time, series regular Glenn. The beating he dishes out with his barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat, Lucille, is among the show's more stomach-churning moments, as Glenn tries desperately to keep saying his beloved Maggie's name, even as his mouth fills with blood and his eyeball has been knocked out.
While it's gruesome indeed, it's also very true to the comics, where Glenn meets the same fate at the hands of one of the series' most notorious villains.Over the top?
- Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
"I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with me."
When violent vigilante Rorschach is sent to prison, it seems like he'll be at the mercy of the many, many wrongdoers he's locked up over the years. At least, that's what they think. Among their numbers is the diminutive crime boss Big Figure, who plans a brutal revenge during a cell block riot. However, Rorschach quickly demonstrates he still has the upper hand when he ties the hands of one of Big Figure's henchmen together through the bars.
With his henchman now quite literally standing in the way of his vengeance, Big Figure orders his other lackey to saw through his arms with the power saw they brought for cutting through the bars of Rorschach's cell. Just one of many moments of over-the-top violence present in both Zack Snyder's film and the original comic, although the latter had an acetylene torch rather than a power saw.Over the top?
- Photo: Amazon Prime Video
The Amazon original series The Boys is adapted from a comic book series of the same name by Garth Ennis, so it should probably come as no surprise it's extremely violent. Still, the level of carnage depicted can occasionally take even jaded viewers by surprise, such as an imaginary sequence when the show's Superman analogue Homelander fantasizes about using his laser vision to wipe out a whole crowd. Less than imaginary is his later strike against Madelyn Stillwell, the executive who is in charge of running the corporate superhero team of which Homelander is a member.
Homelander and Stillwell were in a relationship, so when the eponymous group of anti-superhero vigilantes kidnaps Stillwell, it appears they've got an upper hand. Problem is Stillwell has been keeping secrets from Homelander, and he just now learns about it. So when the leader of The Boys lets Homelander know they've captured Stillwell and are using her as leverage, Homelander handily solves the problem in his reliably sadistic way - by using his laser vision to burn out her eyes and melt her brain.Over the top?