When an actor chooses to take a role in a superhero movie, especially when it is a villain role, they are often wary about one very significant detail -- their face. You see, actors have some of the most famous faces in the world and when they play supervillains, that often means wearing a ton of make-up or a mask to obscure their most recognizable feature. The same goes for heroes, as well, of course, which is why films always find a reason for Captain America or Batman to always take their masks off. However, heroes don't typically have to deal with some of the intensive costumes that villains do, as villains are often made up to look horrific.
It's remarkable, really, to see how talented Hollywood makeup artists can take some of the most admired visages in the movie industry and turn them into hideous ghouls. Here, we will pay tribute to those tremendous makeup jobs by spotlighting 15 villains from superhero movies based on DC Comics where the villain in the movie is ugly but the actor in real life is quite attractive.
15 JOKER - HEATH LEDGER
In The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger was mesmerizing as the Joker, the perfect epitome of chaotic evil. Ledger's performance was so captivating that he won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, the first superhero film to result in an acting award from the Academy. Tragically, Ledger won the award posthumously, as he died from an accidental overdose before the film was released.
Another way that his performance as the Joker was so remarkable is that when Ledger first broke out as a film star in 10 Things I Hate About You, he was known as, in effect, "just a pretty face." Later, meatier roles proved that he could act and he proved it with his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight. He was still a very good looking man, though.
14 ENCHANTRESS - CARA DELEVINGNE
Cara Delevingne wasn't even 18 when she first began her career as a fashion model. She was only working part-time as a model, though, when she was discovered by Burberry's chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey, in 2011. He quickly made her the face of his company's campaigns and she was an instant sensation, winning the "Model of the Year" award in England in 2012 and 2013, when she was only 20 and 21 years old, respectively. She then got into acting.
In Suicide Squad, Delevingne plays dual roles, the mousy, adorable June Moore and the evil witch that Moore turns into, the Enchantress. It takes a lot of makeup to make someone as famously beautiful as Delevingne look bad, and sure enough, the makeup team for Suicide Squad ended up winning an Academy Award for their efforts!
13 HECTOR HAMMOND - PETER SARSGAARD
Right from the beginning of his career, when he starred as one of the killers in the tragic drama, Boys Don't Cry, Peter Sarsgaard has excelled at playing monsters. Most of the time, however, the monsters that he plays are only monstrous in their actions. That changed with his role in 2011's Green Lantern.
In the film, he plays scientist Hector Hammond, who was exposed to the fear entity known as Parallax and it mutates him, causing his brain to expand as he gains psionic powers. Eventually, Hammond barely resembled a human being anymore! Interestingly, superhero films are a family affair for Sarsgaard, as his wife Maggie Gyllenhaal. also starred in a superhero film, as the ill-fated love interest, Rachel Dawes, in The Dark Knight.
12 DOCTOR POISON - ELENA ANAYA
An oft-mocked film trope that shows up repeatedly in teen romantic comedies is the idea that no one realizes that the teen love interest, played by a gorgeous actress, is actually beautiful until she takes off her glasses, because, of course, putting glasses on someone changes their lock dramatically. That is basically the same approach, though, that was used in Wonder Woman with the villainous Doctor Poison.
She has severe facial disfigurement that she hides with a ceramic mask that was common for the World War I era. However, since the mask covers up her disfigurement, she still looks beautiful because Elena Anaya is a beautiful actress, but the film tries to downplay it and everyone around her typically seems to act like she isn't beautiful.
11 JOKER - JARED LETO
Jared Leto is another actor who is known for being a visual chameleon. He won the the Best Supporting Actor in 2014 for his role as a trangender woman dying of AIDS in 1980s Texas in The Dallas Buyers Club. In general, though, Leto is known for being a very good-looking actor. Heck, in Fight Club, his character's whole identity revolves around the fact that he has an "Angel Face."
For Suicide Squad, though, Leto decided to go to an extremely disconcerting look for his Joker, with strange tattoos and dental work that made him one of the most unsettling looking Joker that has ever made it on to the screen. He, of course, highlights his off-putting look via lots of strange preening and screaming.
10 TWO-FACE - AARON ECKHART
Aaron Eckhart was practically the definition of the term "barely working actor" when he first pursued acting in New York City in the early 1990s. His big break was when he was cast in the independent film In the Company of Men by Neil LaBute (adapting his own play into a film) as a sadistic preppy man who woos a deaf girl just to dump her because he could. He then gained major exposure by playing the boyfriend of Julia Roberts' Erin Brockovich in the film of the same name. For that role, the normally clean-cut Eckhart grew a ponytail and a beard to play a biker.
Eckhart got to show off his range again in The Dark Knight, where he was transformed from the clean-cut, no-nonsense district attorney Harvey Dent into the twisted killer known as Two-Face when half of his body was badly scarred in an explosion.
9 KILLER CROC - ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE
As noted before, Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Allen Nelson took home an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling for their work on Suicide Squad, and by far their most harrowing makeup job was transforming Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje into the monstrous Killer Croc. The most amazing thing about it is that it was just makeup! It looks like digital effects, but it was done purely with makeup.
It is hard to make Akinnuoye-Agbaje look bad period, as the Nigerian-born/British-raised actor (who is perhaps best known to audiences as Mr. Eko on the hit ABC drama series, Lost) got his start as a male model before transitioning into acting, but to make him look like a horrific crocadile-man? No wonder they won an Oscar!
8 ZOD - MICHAEL SHANNON
One of the most amazing things that makeup artists in films can achieve is the way that they can transform actors from their normal appearance without even using a ton of makeup, or at least not a ton of visible makeup. In other words, it is "easy" to cover a person with a mask and transform them into a monster, but it is a whole other thing to take an actor and transform them visually with other means. That was the case with Michael Shannon in Man of Steel.
Shannon plays General Zod in the film and he is barely recognizable, using just some facial hair, a haircut, a little makeup and some extra weight that he gained for the role (just for the physicality of his face, as the rest of Zod's body was computer graphics, as his body armor was added on in post.
7 JOKER - JACK NICHOLSON
When it comes to casting superhero films, the studios often go for relatively unknown actors for the heroes so that they can grow into the characters and so audiences don't have a predisposed view of the character based on the actor. Some notable exceptions occur, of course, like Ben Affleck as Batman or Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, but that's generally how casting has gone in the last decade or so.
For the villains, though, since they don't have to grow the same way, there is a bit more freedom, and in the first two major modern superhero films, Superman and Batman, the producers went with huge stars, Gene Hackman and Jack Nicholson. Nicholson was one of Hollywood's most accomplished actors when he put on the Joker makeup in 1989. Even though he was a veteran actor by then, he was still a good looking guy.
6 INCUBUS - ALAIN CHANOINE
A major surprise in Suicide Squad was the reveal of one of the two main villains. It was not so much a surprise that Enchantress would turn out to be a major villain in the movie, but very few people could have guessed that Incubus would be the other villain. He actually did appear in a Suicide Squad story, but as the brother of Squad member Nightshade, not the Enchantress, and that was his only appearance as a comic book character, so to see him then be so heavily featured was a shock.
He was portrayed by Canadian actor Alain Chanoine, who had actually appeared in a superhero movie before. He was Wesley Snipes' stunt double in Blade: Trinity and in one notable scene, he also played 30 different villains that the good guys had to fight.
5 TWO-FACE - TOMMY LEE JONES
Since his career really took off later in his life, people often forget that when Tommy Lee Jones was a young man, he was very good-looking. He was literally a soap opera doctor for a number of years in the 1970s on One Life to Live! He kept working throughout the 1980s, but it wasn't until the late 1980s, when he was in Lonesome Dove, that his career really started to take off, despite now being in his late 40s!
He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the federal marshal hunting down Harrison Ford's fugitive in The Fugitive. Jones cashed in on his red-hot career at the time to take on the role of Two-Face in 1995's Batman Forever.
4 BANE - TOM HARDY
British actor Tom Hardy broke into show business in an unusual fashion. In 1998, he won a contest on a popular British morning show where they tried to find the next British supermodel! That led to a brief career as a model before he then broke out as an actor. With 2010's Inception, he first worked with director Christopher Nolan, with whom he has worked two more times since then.
One of those roles was as Bane, one of the main villains in The Dark Knight Rises. A hilarious thing about Hardy is that, for a man as good looking as him, he covers his face very often in his moves, from Bane's mask in The Dark Knight Rises to the metal face mask in Mad Max: Fury Road to the pilot gear he wears in Nolan's recent war film, Dunkirk.
3 ANTON ARCANE - LOUIS JOURDAN
French actor Louis Jourdan first broke into films in the wake of World War II (where Jourdan served in the French Resistance), as he was cast as the epitome of the suave Frenchman. He had a long and distinguished career as a film actor, including playing the male lead in Gigi in 1958, which won the Best Picture Academy Award. Like most actors, later in his life, the offers were less plentiful and he did some television work and, of course, some lesser films, including 1982's Swamp Thing.
He plays the evil scientist Anton Arcane, who is obsessed with immortality. Arcane ends up transforming himself into a monster that fights against the heroic (but also visually monstrous) Swamp Thing. Despite Arcane dying in the film, Jourdan returned to play Arcane again in the sequel to the movie, The Return of Swamp Thing.
2 MISTER FREEZE - ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
When it came to the Batman series of films that began with Tim Burton in 1989 and continued under Joel Schumacher, the villains were some of the most famous actors in Hollywood. After Jack Nicholson set the stage with 1989's Batman, Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito followed in 1992's Batman Returns. Schumacher brought in Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones for 1995's Batman Forever. Finally, for 1997's Batman and Robin, Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger took on the villain role.
Schwarzenegger, one of the biggest film stars of the 1980s and 1990s, transformed himself completely to become the frozen fiend known as Mister Freeze, who tried to bury the Dynamic Duo not only in ice, but also ice-based puns (like "Allow me to break the ice: My name is Freeze. Learn it well, for it's the chilling sound of your doom.")
1 JOKER - CESAR ROMERO
Before stars were lining up to play villains in the Batman films of the 1980s and 1990s, they were also lining up to play villains in the Batman television series of the late 1960s. For the Joker, Batman's greatest nemesis, the producers went for Cesar Romero, who had had a long career in films stretching throughout the 1940s and 1950s. He was best known for playing "Latin lover" types, but he also was quite good at playing villainous foils.
One of the most amusing things about Romero's iconic performance as the Joker (which was featuring in the 1966 film, Batman, which is why he is included on a list of DC film villains) is the fact that Romero refused to shave his trademark mustache for the role, so they just had to cover up his mustache with white makeup!!
Which actor had the best makeup job in your opinion? Let us know in the comments section!