14 Movie Villains Who Put A Next-Level Amount Of Work Into Their Plans

List Rules
Vote up the villains who *really* put some work into their plans.

Get out your red string and corkboard because the following elaborate villain plans are next-level in terms of how complicated they are. Whether they're trying to take control of a galaxy far, far away, or they just want to start World War III, every single one of these plans is both needlessly complex and wildly expensive.

Whether the plans involve hordes of robots, secret bases built into active volcanoes, or just a lot of time in law school, once you pull all of these plans apart, they'll make you wonder whether or not all of the hefty and intricate planning was worth it.

All of these heinous plans are over the top, but it's up to you to figure out which baddie put real thought into their plan and who's just complicating things for no reason.

  • The Joker Rigs Up Warehouses, A Hospital, And Two Barges With Explosives - With Some Light Surgery On The Side
    Photo: The Dark Knight / Warner Bros.

    The company line about the Joker in The Dark Knight is that he's an agent of chaos. As he puts it, the Joker is like a dog chasing cars. He wouldn't know what to do with one if he caught it. That's just not the case. The Joker carries out some of the most elaborate plans in Gotham City, and he doesn't do that by accident.

    The Dark Knight has a cold open that sees the Joker carry out a bank heist that not only relies on the guys working for him acting in their own interest, but also depends upon the Gotham school system rolling out their buses perfectly on time so he can escape in plain sight. At the very least, he had to put pen to paper to figure out how the heist would work. It didn't just happen at random. This kind of excellent planning continues when he surgically implants an explosive device inside a prisoner before they're both arrested so he can use the man as a living bomb.

    All of the intense planning continues when Joker hardwires two different buildings with explosives so he can make Batman choose between Harvey Dent and Rachel Dawes before wiring a hospital to blow. That's not the kind of thing someone does at random. Maybe it's easier to wire a couple of abandoned warehouses with explosives (Gotham seems to be full of them) - but a hospital? At the very least, that would take card keys, a couple of disguises, and a lot of well-hidden explosives. Agent of chaos, indeed.

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  • Palpatine From 'Star Wars' Orchestrates A Multi-Decade Plan To Live Forever And Control The Galaxy
    Photo: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Across nine films set in a galaxy far, far, away, there's only one person who's constantly making moves, and that's Emperor Palpatine. In his quest to control the galaxy and live forever, Palpatine puts together a tangled plan that can only be described as needlessly complicated. 

    In the prequel films, Palpatine wants to create the Empire so he can control the galaxy. Let's call this Plan A. In order to put Plan A into motion, Palpatine has to make a series of political moves so he can win sway over his enemies and take control of the Galactic Senate. He starts the thing off by placing a blockade around his planet before invading it with droids (who also belong to him) as a means to garner sympathy within the Republic. He leads the Senate through the crisis and comes out the other end looking like the greatest leader in the galaxy.

    He uses his newfound influence to take over the Galactic Senate and push the planets to jettison their formerly peaceful ways. While setting that up, he somehow creates a clone army without anyone being the wiser. Why no one asks what he's up to when jet-setting off to oversee his clones on a backwater planet is beyond us, but no one really seems to care. It would seem that rather than sleep, Palpatine is either pulling off political moves or overseeing the construction of his personal military.

    Palpatine then lets the clones loose on the Separatists and Jedi, wiping out anyone who wants to keep the Old Republic in place. Once that's done, he immediately pivots to building a giant space laser that's also a military base. It's kind of hard to describe, but it's not a moon. You know what it is? It's like a death-bringing star. Someone should come up with a snappy name for that kind of thing. For the most part, he's able to build the base without anyone knowing, and despite an attempt to destroy it before it's fully operational, this portion of the plan pretty much goes off without a hitch.

    Parallel to all of this, Palpatine is training with the dark side of the Force and tempting his young friend Anakin Skywalker to dip his toes into evil until he's pretty much a freaky robot Jedi who goes by the name of Darth Vader - his would-be successor should something go sideways. At this point, Palpatine has legitimately won, but then a bunch of Rebels show up and destroy his giant space laser, so he has to build another one. Where did the infrastructure come from to build two giant moon-shaped death lasers? Maybe he has a lucrative side business selling Kyber crystals.

    Palpatine's stranglehold on the galaxy is loosened after he's thrown down a shaft and presumably blown up by his protege. Somehow, there's still more to Palpatine's ludicrous plan to control everything forever. After he's blown up, Palpatine somehow sends his very essence to Exegol, the Sith planet, where a new body is constructed for him. This means that another part of Palpatine's plan was to have a crew on a planet no one has ever heard of building a body for him just in case he's blown up. He puts Plan A on the back burner and begins Plan B, which is all about getting into a new body so he can get back to Plan A and regain control of the galaxy.

    Most of Plan B is just sweet-talking Kylo Ren while running the First Order through the bio-engineered Snoke, which means that at some point, Palpatine had to build Snoke and have him rise through the hierarchy of the ashes of the Empire while working the angles with Kylo Ren so he could steal the young Jedi's body. Okay. We're almost finished. When Palpatine isn't able to possess Kylo Ren, he moves on to his granddaughter, Rey. Oh, right! At some point, Palpatine fathered a group of children who went off the grid and had children of their own. It's not clear when he had time to do this, but let's say it was in his downtime between the prequel series and the main series. Palpatine attempts to possess Rey, but she and, like, every Force ghost in the galaxy, go wild on him and finally take him out in the final boss battle - ending the longest and most complicated evil plan that's ever been committed to film. Does anyone else have a migraine?

  • Syndrome Builds At Least Six Giant Hero-Killing Robots To Set The Stage To Become A Hero Himself
    Photo: The Incredibles / Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

    With dreams of being a superhero playing in his head, the powerless Buddy Pine has only one option - make an incredibly detailed plan that requires the infrastructure of a small town to accomplish. Syndrome's plan to rid the world of superheroes while creating gadgets that make everyone on the planet special - thus rendering superheroes unnecessary (and once again, dead) - sounds straightforward, but there are a lot of moving parts.

    First, he has to construct at least six Omnidroids - basically giant, metal, walking eyes that are loaded with whatever Cold War-era weapons you can imagine. The cost of manufacturing one of these bad boys has to be through the roof when you add lasers, whirring blades, and whatever else they require - it has to cost the GDP of Morocco. Syndrome doesn't just stop at one - he builds a half-dozen of them. It's safe to assume that his credit cards are maxed out.

    As if the Omnidroids aren't enough, the guy builds a secret base on an island in the middle of nowhere and rents a bunch of guards to man the station before pressing play on his plan to eliminate every golden-age hero and position himself as the only person who can save society. All of this takes about 15 years and an ungodly sum of money; maybe he should have invested in clean energy instead.

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  • Helmut Zemo Studies Brainwashing Technology And Detonates Multiple Bombs To Pit Steve Rogers And Tony Stark Against One Another
    Photo: Captain America: Civil War / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    When Zemo pops up in Civil War, he has one goal in mind: avenge the destruction of Sokovia by pitting the Avengers against one another during the Sokovia Accords. To do so, Zemo has to steal a code book that explains how to control the Winter Soldier, AKA Bucky Barnes, before sending him to the UN to detonate a bomb and get the attention of Steve Rogers.

    Rogers brings Barnes in, which is exactly what Zemo wants. Zemo impersonates a psychiatrist so he can get into the UN and activate Barnes's Winter Soldier programming, sending him into the wild like a whirling dervish. At the same time, he reveals that Barnes killed Tony Stark's parents, which sets off the whole Civil War thing.

    To do all of that, Zemo not only has to steal the code book and trigger Barnes; he also has to assume that he knows how Steve Rogers and Tony Stark are going to act. When it really comes down to it, Zemo didn't have to do all of that malarkey with Barnes; he just needed to release the video of the Stark murders. At the end of the day, Zemo spent years prepping for something he could have done with a tweet.

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  • Ray Finkle's plan in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is one tangled web. After missing a field goal at Super Bowl XXV, they blamed Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino for holding the football with the laces in, not out. Rather than train hard and make it back to the big game, Finkle decides to get revenge on Marino and the Dolphins through an incredibly complicated plan.

    After escaping from the Shady Acres mental hospital, Finkle kidnapped a young woman named Lois Einhorn and did away with her before assuming her identity. They then posed as a policewoman for seven years in the Miami-Dade Police Department before kidnapping the Miami Dolphins mascot, Snowflake, and quarterback Dan Marino.

    Finkle didn't just show up and say, "Hey, it's me, Lois Einhorn" - they had to go through surgeries and presumably police training before moving on to their near-decade on the force - all to shake the confidence of the Miami Dolphins. Such an elaborate plan just couldn't have been worth it.

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  • Sullivan Attends The Police Academy, Graduates, And Works His Way Up To State Police Detective To Inform For The Mob
    Photo: The Departed / Warner Bros. Pictures

    Colin Sullivan takes a long, circuitous route to being an informant for the mob. Rather than just making friends with someone from the Massachusetts State Police, he goes to college and graduates with honors so he can then attend the police academy and work his way up to being a state detective.

    After becoming a state detective, Sullivan then has to make sure he constantly covers his tracks while giving out information to mob boss Frank Costello. That's how informants work. They find a place where they can hole up and get information while surreptitiously giving that information to their boss, but Sullivan spending a decade of his life working to become a mid-level statey so he can keep his boss out of trouble seems like a bit too much work for something that just doesn't seem like it's all that important.

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