Ever since Richard Donner's Superman hit theaters in 1978, moviegoers have been fixated on superhero films, and there's been a particularly large influx since the mid-'90s. Viewers have seen a variety of beloved characters cross the screen for the first time since they were initially penned by their creators. Many of them are forces for good, fighting for truth, justice, and other positive ideals. There is, however, more than one formula for comic book adaptations, and as a result, plenty of these films are littered with scary protagonists, baddies, and antiheroes.
Many actors have done stellar jobs of bringing scary superheroes, villains, and antiheroes to life on the big screen. Roles like Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight, and Ed Harris as Carl Fogarty in A History of Violence, are chilling enough to brand themselves on audiences' memories forever.
- Photo: Warner Bros.
Jackie Earle Haley brings the antihero Rorschach to life in all of his volatile, unpredictable, paranoid glory. Even if you're not familiar with the graphic novel Watchmen, Haley effectively conveys the creepiness Rorschach brings to the comics.
For those who have read the original source materials, Haley is an utter and mad delight to behold. Not only is Rorschach the spitting image of the character, but his monotone and hoarse voice are presumably what most readers heard in their heads while reading. The calm way Haley carries out Rorschach's volatility onscreen is bone-chilling, especially when he yells the signature line, "Give me back my face!"Scary?
- Photo: New Line Cinema
The spiteful, slovenly Clown from Spawn is masterfully portrayed onscreen by John Leguizamo. Leguizamo's makeup and prosthetics routine was grueling, but he certainly doesn't disappoint when it comes to using his distorted appearance to strike fear.
Leguizamo brilliantly blends silly antics, reminiscent of his roles in films like The Pest and bits from his outlandish stand-up comedy, with creepy, disgusting behaviors and quips. Many viewers who saw this movie as children were genuinely terrified by the character of the Violator, placing him alongside the likes of Pennywise and other terrifying clowns.Scary?
- Photo: Warner Bros.
Ed Harris as Carl Fogarty is one of the scariest bad guys in any comic book-inspired film to date. From the moment his character is introduced, he is creepy, off-putting, and rude. His scarred visage and rough-and-tumble demeanor clash harshly with the movie's small-town setting, rendering his villainous persona that much more effective.
Harris's performance as Carl Fogarty is so well done, even the audience is likely to react to him in real time. Some viewers might even feel actual relief when Fogarty gets his in the end. It's no wonder Harris was awarded best supporting actor for this role by the National Society of Film Critics in 2005.Scary?
- Photo: Columbia Pictures
Willem Defoe is a legendary actor for his ability to bring compelling and complex characters to the big screen. One such portrayal is that of the mad scientist Norman Osborn, AKA Green Goblin, in the 2002 Spider-Man film. His unstable split personality and dangerous tendencies not only make us fear for Peter Parker's life from the jump, but also complicate our perception of the hero's family dynamic.
Defoe forces us to empathize with his character due to his close relationship with our protagonist, but in the end, his ability to turn off all empathy and target his son's best friend will undoubtedly send chills down anyone's spine.Scary?