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by Pauli Poisuo
Sometimes, a particularly cool villain is stuck in a film much crappier than they are, their full potential foiled by bland heroes and hammy writing. But what if you took those awesome villains and placed them in a movie that actually deserves them? It would be like a big sports team buying a star player from a crappier one, thus strengthening their own roster and giving fans a chance to see Awesome McSportsguy do his thing in an environment that is finally as good as he is.
Let's play fantasy casting!
Lucifer From Constantine Should Be The "Big Bad" For The Next Phase Of The MCU
Whatever you think of Constantine, it's hard to deny that its villain game was on point. There were demons of all shapes and sizes. There was Tilda Swinton, playing Tilda Swinton But This Time She Has Wings. And, of course, there was the ultimate bad guy: the Devil himself. Curiously enough, the Prince of Darkness was less of a straight antagonist and more like an amused immortal playing chess with a mortal. He's been waiting for Constantine's soul for a while, but when the hero redeems his soul, Lucifer just heals him from the brink of death (and from a nasty case of cancer) in order to corrupt the guy somewhere down the line again.
Wait, is that Lucifer or 2018 James Woods?
That kind of approach calls for Presence with a capital P, especially since Old Nick only appeared in the movie's finale. Peter Stormare sure as hell capitalized on those precious minutes. He established Lucifer as a slimy, jittery used car salesman type, whose true power is shown to us with subtle audiovisual cues instead of raining hellfire over everyone 24/7. At least, until he gives us a taste of said powers by casually blasting doors and stopping freaking time. My money says that this is one of the best portrayals of the devil we've seen in an action movie -- one that's both captivating and so stupidly overpowered, you could easily imagine him fighting the best heroes any movie has to offer.
Such as the Avengers.
We all know that the MCU's next phase is coming. It will have a "big bad". And their universe does have a devil: Mephisto, who in the comics has ties with current movie big bad Thanos, and could easily graduate to be the next one. There's just one problem: He's booooooring. He's just this really bland, generic demon type, complete with a red unitard and Wolverine horn-hair. He's got the chops to be a massive, overarching villain ... if only there was some way to make him interesting. This is where Stormare's Devil comes in. He oozes power and casual threat like he oozes weird black crap from his hands and feet. He looks more otherworldly in his drowned businessman look than any CGI creation Marvel has thrown at us.
Shang Tsung From Mortal Kombat Should Be A Bond Villain
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa's Shang Tsung from the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie is a delightful, scenery-chewing, slogan-spurting, kung fu cheeseball, whom I personally rank on par with Raul Julia's M. Bison. He has no business being anywhere as entertaining as he is, being the bad guy of a film that sits pretty at 34% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Trouble is, where could a guy like him find a better home? It feels too easy to just transport him into another martial arts movie. His assorted magical soul-eating and transformation powers make him stick out like a sore thumb almost everywhere that isn't Harry Potter. Don't get me wrong, I would pay half of my everything to see a frowning leather-clad wizard spin-kick Harry in the crotch while screaming, "Your soul is mine!" But again, it just feels like cheating. Can't stick every magical character in the Potterverse and call it a day.
Fortunately, there's another very famous franchise that Shang Tsung would be a perfect fit for. He should be a James Bond villain.
That jacket is so awesome, it would need its own credit.
No, seriously, hear me out. The Bond franchise has precedent for magical evildoers: namely, the possibly immortal voodoo enthusiast Baron Samedi, who incidentally is one of the few henchmen to ever survive a 007 movie. Sure, he's from the Roger Moore era, but let's be honest: Isn't that the exact direction the Bond franchise should take next? Daniel Craig has been doing an awesome job as straight-laced, damaged maniac 007, but there's only so far you can take that version until you end up with a movie where an elderly Bond spends two hours drunkenly crying at a therapist played by an ominous Scandinavian dude. So why not take a lighter, more entertaining approach? Bring back the crocodile suits, prosthetic nipples and, yes, magical villains!
Shang Tsung's massively entertaining, cheerfully aggressive, large ham nature would be a perfect fit for a villain in a voluntarily, gloriously dumb soft reboot that would make Bond entertaining again. As a bonus, he could also give 007 a final fight to die for. If you really want to tone down his supernatural elements, you could just explain away all the shape-shifting and soul-eating with some high-tech gadget he stole from Q. Though I can't imagine why you'd want to: Even if you ignore Baron Samedi, the villainous plots from both Skyfall and Spectre were so convoluted that both Raoul Silva and Blofeld must have been magical clairvoyants at the very least.
The Horned King From Disney's The Black Cauldron Should Be An Anime Villain
The Horned King is a skull-faced sorcerer king who enjoys raising zombie armies in one of the most obscure Disney films. He's is easily the creepiest Disney villain not called Judge Frollo, and a pretty interesting move from the company: At some point in the 1980s, multiple Disney executives legitimately sat down and decided: "Yeah, we should totally make Zombie Skeletor the focal point of our next children's movie. Quick, get John Hurt to voice him! We don't want a single child leave the theater with their soul intact."
He looks like a secret bonus level boss for the first season of True Detective, if they went full X-Files with the "Yellow King" storyline. Tragically, he has only appeared in The Black Cauldron, a movie Disney seems to be trying very hard to ignore (which, to be fair, could be just because it didn't get great reviews).
No Skeletor jokes. We'll get to those later.
This is sad, because I can imagine a hundred better uses for the guy ... in the world of anime.
First of all, look at the freaking dude. He's basically an anime character as he is, right from his introductory scene that would fit in this collection of anime character entrances without anyone batting an eyelid. Tons of classic anime arch-villains have a similar "glowing eyes and a creepy, deformed look" design aesthetic. In fact, the Horned King actually manages to be freakier looking than many villains Japan has been able to churn out, which is saying something. He also has the appropriate moves and magic powers -- and most importantly, an anime-appropriately absurd "let's raise a supernatural army to attack the living" schtick. The guy's a natural fit!
You could basically just stick the Horned King in as the ultimate big bad of some existing, long-running series. One Piece certainly comes to mind, with its eternally running plot and a tendency to introduce new, ever-stronger villains whenever the Straw Hats have torn through the previous, supposedly invincible ones. Eventually, they have to hit a brick wall, and isn't the Horned King just the right shape for that?
Then again, why not make him the centerpiece of a brand new franchise? Let's see random ninja teenagers fight this guy.
Sabretooth From X-Men Origins: Wolverine Should Be In A Mission: Impossible Movie
You may not have seen X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but you're probably familiar with its reputation. The X-Men movie canon pretends it doesn't exist. Ryan Reynolds still dislikes it so much that Deadpool 2 explicitly killed off the Origins version of the Merc with(out) a Mouth. Hugh Jackman nearly walked away from playing Wolverine after the movie. The Black Eyed Peas guy who played John Wraith probably has some opinions about the movie as well, but Google neglects to reveal any of them to me and that's OK.
Not everything about the movie is considered bad, though. Liev Schreiber's Victor "Sabretooth" Creed was so great that they even considered bringing him back in Logan, the crown jewel of the franchise. Schreiber treated the role with the peculiar blend of quiet, vaguely threatening professionalism and ruthless violence that he would go on to utilize in Ray Donovan, and was more than believable foil for Wolverine himself. It would be a shame to let such a character sink in the pits of obscurity.
He would also make an awesome Twilight love interest.
But what would be a great place for him? Where could we find a non-Wolverine protagonist who fits the exact same description, so he has a chance to face Victor Creed and survive? If only there was some action hero that could face a borderline unstoppable soldier/agent/killing machine who can jump incredible distances and fight against any adversary ...
Oh, wait. There's a guy who fits that exact same description himself. Hi, Ethan Hunt of the Mission: Impossible franchise!
A Mission: Impossible role is actually not as far-fetched a destination for a superpowered maniac as you'd think. Especially not now, when the franchise is fresh off from testing the "Bring in a bigger, badder & more vicious foil for Tom Cruise" thing with Fallout's August Walker, as played to great acclaim by Henry Cavill. Where can you go after that? Above and beyond, that's where. And that's where Sabretooth is your guy. Bringing in Schreiber's murderous mutton chops is the only logical way the next movie can top Superman With A Porn 'Stache.
The superpowers shouldn't hurt, either. Everyone in the Mission: Impossible franchise low key has those anyway. That's the only explanation to how their bones don't get liquified at least twice per action scene.
Skeletor From The 1987 Masters Of The Universe Should Be A Star Wars Arch-villain
A bunch of the villains we've discussed are obscure enough to warrant introduction, but that's not the case here. To say that Skeletor is a well-known villain is to waste a perfectly good opportunity to use the word "iconic", and Frank Langella's 1987 take on the character is, in professional movie critic terms, badass. The live-action Skeletor embodies the classic traits of the character, and refines them into a charismatic, bloodthirsty space wizard who commands a host of powerful minions, yet can hold his own in battle and shoot magic lightning off his arms. Also, he looks cool as hell.
We just want to see him and Darth Maul drink beer and play Rainbow Six together.
But here's the thing. Forget for a second that you're aware of Skeletor, the Masters Of The Universe character. Then, with a completely open mind, reread what I just wrote in the above paragraph. Then take a long, hard look at that picture. Then watch this clip.
That, friends, is a Star Wars villain. A mighty fearsome one, too. What we have here is a badass skull wizard with a bombastic voice and charisma oozing from every pore, which is incidentally what you'd say if you had to answer the Jeopardy question "What do you get if you roll the Emperor and Darth Vader together?"
Meanwhile, Star Wars just so happens to be a franchise that has been heavily criticized for its last arch-villain-style character, and is just gearing up for a brand new trilogy that might greatly benefit from a more ... classical take. It's almost like there's an incredibly awesome solution to this equation hidden in there somewhere, but I can't quite put my finger on it.
In conclusion: Skeletor. With. A. Lightsaber. Tell me you're not throwing money at the screen right now.