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The Worst Supervillain Performances In Comic Book Movies

Updated March 27, 2020 115.6k votes 16.6k voters 573.6k views17 items

List RulesVote up the actors who ruined superhero films with their awful villain portrayals.

Bad actors have ruined plenty of films. This is especially true in the superhero genre, where taking on the role of a classic Marvel or DC villain can really challenge some actors. Classic examples include Topher Grace as Venom, Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, king of the one-liner, as Mr. Freeze.

Sometimes bad CGI is to blame for bad villains. But terrible acting plays a part too. Regardless of how good they are in other films, all the actors on this list are guilty of some really bad comic book movie acting. For some, it's how they fail to add depth to a character. Others were cast poorly and simply didn't have the right body types to bring bulky villains to life. Still others were the victims of poor directing, bad wardrobe choices, or horrible writing, and their performances suffered as a result.

  • Photo: 20th Century Fox / X-Men Origins: Wolverine

    The Merc with a Mouth is notoriously hard to pin down - sometimes he's working with the forces of good, and other times he has no problem wrecking heroes. In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he's activated by Stryker and becomes a villain Wolverine has to fight (seriously, thank God for the 2016 film Deadpool finally giving audiences a good version of the epic character - they deserved it after this abomination). 

    The X-Men Origins filmmakers wanted to go for a more “realistic” take on Deadpool by manipulating his body to convey similarities with his comic costume. This was a bad idea. First of all, they used skin to cover his mouth as a way mimicking the lack of a mouth hole on his costume. They also gave him adamantium arm blades to emulate his katanas, and optic blasts that imitated the signature look of his mask. The whole thing was a sh*t show, and sparked a lot of disappointment from fans. On top of that, these awful "costume" choices made it nearly impossible for Scott Adkins to really inhabit the role - he didn't even have a mouth to speak with. Talk about being set up to fail. 

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  • Photo: Spider-Man 3 / Sony Pictures

    The release of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man in 2002 was a momentous occasion as viewers finally got to see the wall crawler making his long-awaited big screen debut. Many fans started eagerly counting down the days until Spider-Man would face off against his arch nemesis, Venom.

    And then, five years later, fans got Topher Grace, the guy from That ‘70s Show. The casting was beyond questionable because Grace was a far cry from being physically imposing, a signature trait of Venom. And even though Grace went through heavy weight training to prepare for his role, the transition was from a naturally skinny guy into an average built guy. In terms of character, this version of Eddie Brock came off more like an overdramatic whiner who even stopped by a church to ask God to put a hit out on Peter Parker. Remember that? That happened. Grace's timid acting didn't help add any menace to the character, and the performance overall was pretty terrible. In the end, this Venom was underwhelming and jarringly disappointing.

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  • Photo: Warner Bros.

    Sarsgaard’s performance as Hector Hammond in Green Lantern told the story of one man’s journey to become a brilliant, cosmic, screaming pimple. It was so painful to watch, everyone was ecstatic when Parallax finally put him out of his - and the audience's - misery. If he wasn't being extremely creepy, he was yelling. And that was all there was to it.

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  • Photo: Columbia Pictures

    Quick: what do you think of when you hear the phrase "actor Paul Giamatti?" Affable? Schlubby? Endearing? Chances are, you probably don't think "very intimidating, physically." Yet that's exactly what Giamatti expected audiences to buy in 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In a film irresponsibly overstuffed with villains, Giamatti tries to stand out by putting on the worst Russian accent known to man and moving like a constipated dumpling.

    He's so unthreatening and forgettable, even the classic move of getting a barbed wire head tattoo can't elevate him above of the level of "wait, was he in that movie? I think he might have been in the first one." 

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