When it comes to movies, we love an iconic villain almost as much as a memorable hero. That’s why guys like Darth Vader, the Joker, and the Terminator have and will continue to endure and be as beloved as their heroic counterparts. Of course, for every great villain, there’s another bad guy who we can’t help but think it’d be pretty easy to defeat when push comes to shove.
By Jeff Kelly
10. Jabba the Hutt (Return of the Jedi)
Yes, we know what you’re going to say: Jabba was a monstrosity with dozens of minions at his disposal, and one of the most feared mobsters in the galaxy. Yeah, he was such a badass that all it took to defeat him was a 115 pound girl wearing a metal bikini who got the jump on him.
Really? That’s your big bad mobster, Star Wars? Not only did he get his ass handed to him by Leia, but imagine for a second it was just you and Jabba in the room, and you’ve really pissed him off. You know what you’ll have to do in order to survive? Stay on the other side of the room. Seriously, the dude was like two tons and could hardly move. He’s about as much a threat to chase after you as a double wide.
9. Emperor Commodus (Gladiator)
Source: Dreamworks SKG
Like Jabba, Commodus has one thing, and one thing only, that makes him at all tough: he’s the freakin’ emperor. But take that away for a moment, and what you’re left with is a sniveling little bitch with severe daddy issues who does nothing the entire movie but cry and whine about how nobody likes him (making him the first emo emperor). Oh, and he tries to sleep with his sister, so he’s got that whole creepy vibe going for him.
And at the end of the movie, even though he’s mortally wounded Maximus to the point where he dies within about 30 seconds of their fight being over (meaning he must have been about as weak as that same 115 pound girl in a metal bikini that took down Jabba at that point), Commodus still gets absolutely worked. And then he cries a little more while the life drains out of him.
8. Deacon Frost (Blade)
Source: New Line Cinema
Long before Edward Cullen, there was another metrosexual vampire trying to ruin humanity. While Edward did it by starring in a god-awful book and movie series based on the fantasies of lonely Goth girls, Deacon Frost did it by trying to awaken some super vampire powers that would make vampires the dominant species on the planet.
A vampire should be intimidating, right? Well, with Deacon Frost’s perfectly feathered hair, designer clothes, and the fact he was played by scrawny little Stephen Dorff, that became a little difficult to pull off. Add in the fact that he spent the majority of the movie moping around whining about how it was so unfair that the vampires couldn’t just take over, and you realize that maybe he and Commodus should have gotten together to go bowling and listen to New Found Glory.
7. Cobra Commander (GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra)
Source: Paramount Pictures
Now if you haven’t seen this one yet, you may want to skim over it due to a few spoilers that might ruin the way-too-convenient-and-contrived plot for you. Now, Cobra Commander was never a particularly intimidating guy. Have you ever wondered what would happen if Starscream took over command of the Decepticons? That’s basically what you have with Cobra Commander.
But in Rise of Cobra, they go ahead and cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a.k.a. the kid from Angels in the Outfield and 3rd Rock From the Sun, in the role and put him in one of the most ridiculous looking get-ups (and hair pieces) in recent movie history. Add in the equally absurd dubbed-over voice, and you’ve got yourself a villain that inspires more laughs than terror. By the end of the movie, you’re almost hoping he’ll get a wacky sitcom spin-off.
6. The Penguin (Batman Returns)
Source: Warner Bros.
Take a look at Danny DeVito. Go ahead, take a good long look. Are you frightened? A little scared, even remotely? Do you think he could cause you even a small amount of physical harm? Didn’t think so. So stick him in a suit that makes him look like a penguin, give him an umbrella as a weapon, and have him just waddle around all over the place, and you don’t exactly have one of the most imposing villains ever.
Now, the Penguin has always been a little goofy as a villain. In Batman Returns, it’s no different. Sure, he’s got some creepy makeup that makes him look a little like a demented clown, but at the end of the day he just looks like a guy who should be in a circus freak show and not vying for control of the streets of Gotham. It’s tough to believe Batman could ever take him seriously, knowing that at any time he could just put his hand on Penguin’s forehead and hold him at bay, kind of like you do to your little brother.
5. Jareth the Goblin King (Labyrinth)
Source: TriStar Pictures
Played by David Bowie, Jareth struts around looking like a transvestite out for a good time. He breaks out in song, bosses around midgets, and his goal is basically to steal a baby. How, exactly, is he scary again? Oh, right. Because he’s Bowie. But even putting that aside, he seems to have become the king of the Underworld because he’s tallest.
Surrounded by a bunch of short frumpy dudes and weird talking doorknobs, it couldn’t have been that difficult for him to come to power. We’re thinking it’s a lot like an adult playing basketball against 10-year-olds. It’s not that difficult to dominate. Trust us, we know from experience. Even though Jareth is apparently magical, about all he does is change up the labyrinth to make things a bitch for Jennifer Connelly. So basically, he’s not a villain, he’s just a dick.
4. Le Chiffre (Casino Royale)
As badass as Casino Royale was, it has to be said that Le Chiffre may have been the lamest villain James Bond has ever taken on. And considering the stable of ridiculously over-the-top characters he’s tangled with over the years, that’s saying something.
Le Chiffre is a banker for some terrorists, and he happens to be good at poker. Those are about his only skills, so far as we can tell. A lanky, thin, and effeminate-looking guy who cries blood when he gets nervous (seriously?), we find it hard to be frightened of Le Chiffre even when he’s pulverizing Bond’s balls. Probably because even while it’s going on, Bond can’t really seem to take him seriously either.
3. Damon Killian (The Running Man)
Source: TriStar Pictures
If you’ve never seen The Running Man, do yourself a favor and go watch this little gem from the '80s. The whole “people being killed on live television” part notwithstanding, it’s an astonishingly accurate prediction of how television would evolve into ridiculous and mindless reality television. And the villain, Damon Killian, is basically Jeff Probst.
As if that didn’t immediately suck every bit of intimidation out of Killian, add in the fact that he’s played by real life television game show host Richard Dawson, most famous for hosting Family Feud back in the day. About the only power that Killian wields are a large number of television cameras, so when he decides to screw with Arnold Schwarzenegger you know that at the end of the film, it’s going to result in one of the most lopsided showdowns ever filmed. Now, if only Probst would decide to mess with Arnold…
2. Ra (Stargate)
You’d think that someone named for the Egyptian sun god would be pretty badass, right? And considering the power wielded by the aliens who took on the names of those gods, he probably should have been one of the most badass villains in sci-fi movie history. The dude can pretty much melt your face off with his advanced technology, after all.
So why isn’t he threatening? He’s played by the dude from The Crying Game. And we mean the dude you thought was a hot chick until he revealed his unit at the end of the movie. Along with being played by someone best known for playing a transsexual, he’s also not played too much differently. And when your big villain acts like he wants to make out with the hero, it’s a little hard to find him all that threatening.
1. Norman Bates (Psycho)
Source: Universal Pictures
How can the top spot go to anyone but Norman Bates? Where a character like Jareth only seems like he’d enjoy dressing up in women’s clothing, Norman Bates loves nothing more than lounging around the house in a dress and a wig. Oh, and killing. Boy, does he love killing.
The shy, pervy owner of the Bates Motel certainly has a creepiness factor, but he’s also got a boatload of mommy issues and a decided lack of any apparent physical strength, as portrayed by the gangly Anthony Perkins. Plus, to really accentuate those mommy issues, he liked dressing up in her old clothes and harassing his guests with, well, death. That is, when he’s not staring at them through peepholes in the shower. In truth, the biggest mystery in the movie was how the hell he managed to keep that motel afloat.