When it comes to comic book films, some things really work on the big screen. While adapting a medium as dramatic as super hero comics to cinema, finding the line between faithful and ridiculous is a tricky task and this is especially true when it comes to the film’s villain: the staple of any good comic adaption. With great on-screen enemies like Loki, Doctor Octopus and Mystique to compete with, producers have to be sure that their villain will look the part, sadly though, this is not always the case and sometimes the adapted bad guy falls short of their comic book counterpart (take a bow, Juggernaut).
As illustrated by more than a few Marvel films, some villains are extremely difficult to adapt successfully, some however would be impossible to bring to the big screen. With their seemingly unlimited financing, Hollywood can achieve a lot, but some things take more than just money to make a reality and many aspects of the comic book world just wouldn’t work in a live-action environment. In this list we take a look at the Marvel villains that will never make it to the our movie theatres due to the sheer impossible task of successfully bringing them to life.
What do you get if you combine the consciousnesses of Charles Xavier and Magneto with some extreme ’90s artwork? The big, red walking-tin-opener that is Onslaught. A being of pure psionic energy, Onslaught is a character on the ‘less realistic’ side of the Marvel Universe, and although there is certainly no doubting his power (it took the combined efforts of the Avengers, X-Men and Fantastic Four to take him down during his original 1996 crossover event) this particular super villain would be a tough sell to the live-action X-Men films due to his being a physical manifestation of two people’s minds.
M.O.D.O.K is not a looker. Now we all know not to judge someone based on looks, but we feel an exception can be made for this villain (his name does stand for Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing after all) and his phenomenally displeasing appearance. An enemy of Captain America (and anyone with eyes) M.O.D.O.K has been floating about and killing people since 1967, but considering his unique and disturbing design, it’s no surprise that he hasn’t made the jump to the big screen during his decades of existence.
It would take some serious CGI-work to attempt to bring M.O.D.O.K to the big screen and given the negative reception of other big-headed comic book villains in cinema (we’re looking at you Hector Hammond) it’s best for all of us that nobody attempts to.
13. HIGH EVOLUTIONARY
Old-school in many ways, the High Evolutionary is seldom used anymore these days, most likely because of his rather confusing set of principles and ever-changing personality. Throughout all his appearances since 1966, the H.E’s one constant is his obsession with changing the evolutionary process with his god-like powers (he’s on the same power level as Galactus); not an easy villain to imagine battling it out with the smack-talking Iron Man and co. in the next Avengers film.
During many of his appearances in the Marvel Universe, the High Evolutionary raises questions of morality about tampering with the genome and ‘playing God’; heavy stuff for the usually light-hearted MCU films, and given the character’s complicated backstory and motivations he simply wouldn’t translate to a big-screen superhero movie.
Another classic villain with larger-than-life ideals, Annihilus has been a thorn in the side of the heroes of the Marvel Universe since the ’60s, and spent a large portion of those years trying to invade Earth from his home in the Negative Zone. Another spiky-suited bad-guy, Annihilus’ costume and colour scheme illustrate his ’60s origin, although it’s his more modern stories, like “Annihilation: Conquest”, that really illustrate his power and dedication to evil.
Early Marvel villains are always tricky to adapt and where some work well (see Loki), others can be so unrecognizable that it seems pointless using them in the first place, and although it’s too late for Galactus (catch him in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer if you dare), in the case of Annihilus, it’s better for all of us that he stay firmly on the page rather than the screen.
Making M.O.D.O.K look appealing, we have the member of the alien race of Spineless Ones known as Mojo. Long-time enemy of the X-Men, Mojo rules over his own dimension whose inhabitants are all addicted to the gladiator-style television programs he broadcasts; it’s fairly science-fiction-oriented stuff, and hard to imagine in the same film universe as Hugh Jackman’s no-nonsense Wolverine.
Even if his origin didn’t make Mojo a tough candidate to adapt, he’s absolutely hideous and looks more like a horror-film reject than a villain for a big-budget superhero flick. With his robotic legs and gelatinous body, Mojo sticks out like a sore thumb in the comics world and whereas his frightening appearance somewhat lends to his reputation as a slimy TV executive, he simply wouldn’t work on the big screen alongside X-Men villains like Magneto and Apocalypse.
10. THE BEYONDER
A mysterious otherworldly force originally believed to be the living sum of an entire multiverse (and later retconned to be a child version of an ancient and powerful alien race), The Beyonder was the antagonist of the popular 1984 crossover event Secret Wars (and its considerably less popular sequel in 1985) and brought together many heroes and villains to do battle on a patchwork world made from chunks of other planets, appropriately named Battleworld.
It’s hard to imagine a villain as large scale as this ever appearing in a MCU film; The Beyonder’s reality-altering powers put him on another level to the heroes of the current film universe and although the Avengers will soon be fighting Thanos in Infinity War, it appears this toned-down version of the Mad Titan is no way near the same power level as this ’80s bad guy.
9. KANG THE CONQUERER
Time-travelling evil genius Kang the Conqueror has had a busy life. Hopping through timelines, altering history and giving monologues, with time to spare to be beaten up by the Avengers, Kang is always on the go. A long-time villain of the Avengers, Kang would never make it to the silver screen to battle Cap and co. as his live action rights are currently owned by 20th Century Fox.
Now even though he may seem more at home fighting Fox’s X-Men (considering their experience with time travel in 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past) and although recently there have been talks of Disney purchasing the company (which would allow virtually all of Marvel’s characters to appear on screen together) we’re not holding our breath for a movie studio collaboration any time soon.
8. MARVEL ZOMBIES
While they may be the heroes of their own stories (and which villain isn’t really?) the Marvel Zombies are most certainly bad guys — c’mon, they literally eat people. While a small appearance from the flesh-eating inhabitants of Earth-2149 may make for an entertaining cameo in one of the more ‘out there’ Marvel films like Guardians of the Galaxy or Doctor Strange, (we’re imagining a glimpse of an alternate universe during one of the Doctor’s more surreal displays of power) there’s no way we’ll be seeing our favorite heroes as Zombies in the near future.
Marvel simply wouldn’t risk alienating their vast younger audience by showing disturbing zombified versions of the predominantly child-friendly heroes, no matter how much it may please some of their older viewers.
7. MOLECULE MAN
Loosely linked to earlier entry on this list, The Beyonder by a recent retcon, Owen Reece, also known as Molecule Man is another villain who has been around for a while. Able to control and manipulate molecules of all types of matter and energy, the Molecule man can basically do whatever he likes and is often considered over-powered for a human villain.
The retcon in question changed Reece’s history to add that the character is actually a bomb on a universal scale, one of a series of Molecule Men with a different version of Reece having been placed on every Earth throughout the multiverse if extreme genocide ever needed to be committed. Despite his impressive power-set, Molecule Man’s convoluted backstory and relatively low-level of popularity has pretty much killed his movie career.
An ancient Japanese chaos god, Amatsu-Mikaboshi or the ‘Chaos King’ is one scary looking bad guy. The main adversary of the 2011 “Chaos War” storyline, in which he attempts to erase all existence (standard comic villain really) Mikaboshi is another character whose nature and appearance make him (it?) impossible to bring to the big screen.
Given the way the MCU altered the Asgardians within the Thor films from gods to ancient aliens whom some chose to worship, it’s clear that religious figures are tricky to bring to a live action superhero setting; this coupled with the Chaos King’s demonic appearance, which would most likely look somewhat out of place in the MCU, ensures that the only wars the Avengers will be fighting on screen in the near future will be Infinity Wars, rather than Chaos ones.
5. THE IMPOSSIBLE MAN
While villain may be a strong word for this often-playful, occasionally antagonistic alien, his unfilmable nature is one aspect of him that’s certainly not up for debate. Debuting in the pages of Fantastic Four only two years after the team’s first issue, the Impossible Man first appeared in the ’60s and it shows.
While the FF have managed to stay modern and relevant throughout the decades since they burst onto the scene in 1961 (despite Marvel recently deciding they no longer deserve their own comic series anymore because their film rights are owned by Fox) there are a few characters, such as the Impossible Man, who are products of the era they were dreamed up in and just couldn’t make it into a modern Marvel movie.
4. SUGAR MAN
The ugliest entry on this list (and a strong contender for ugliest Marvel character ever) Sugar Man is a fairly low profile supervillain which, given his appearance, is almost certainly a good thing. Part of the 1995 X-Men crossover “Age of Apocalypse”, and making further appearances in the prime Marvel Universe continuity, Sugar Man is just not a nice guy; extremely financially motivated, murderer of mutants and humans alike and monstrously deformed (for an as of yet unexplained reason), this is one villain without a playful side.
Motivations aside, this evil mutant just wouldn’t look right on the big screen; we don’t like to judge by appearance, but his dramatic proportions and demonic body-style illustrate just how bad a CGI Sugar Man would look standing next to the human cast of the next X-Men film.
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that Orrgo existed, although he probably wouldn’t see it that way. About as classic as Marvel villains get, Orrgo first appeared in the pages of Strange Tales in 1961 and successfully (although only very temporarily) conquered the world. Since then he’s been a member of a number of different teams including the Howling Commandos and S.T.A.K.E, a division of S.H.I.E.L.D that deals with supernatural threats (don’t hold out for an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D cameo though).
Looking far too much like a monster to ever appear on the silver screen, Orrgo is another example of a villain who flourishes in the pages of superhero comic books due to their often dramatic and colourful nature, but wouldn’t translate to another medium.
2. THE MAKER
You may not be familiar with the name Maker, but you’ve probably heard of his previous moniker: Mister Fantastic. Not the Reed Richards we know and love, but the one of the Ultimate Universe (of Earth- 1610 to be exact), this Reed eventually turned from selfless hero to evil villain after a string of unfortunate events changed his outlook on life. Now we know what you’re thinking; just how evil can an evil Mister Fantastic be?
Well this one killed his own family for a start. Given the success of the last attempt, it’s unlikely we’ll see another Fantastic Four film for a good few years, but if it ever happens, we won’t rely on the Maker showing up, no studio will put their money on a super-stretchy mass murderer.
When it comes to villains, Death is kind of a big one. An abstract entity of the Marvel Universe, it could be argued that Death is not actually a supervillain, but considering her occupation, it’s really hard to think of her as anything else. Part of a number of popular storylines like The Death of Captain Marvel and Infinity Gauntlet, Death has formed attachments to particular Marvel characters, often because of their strange relationships with the force itself; Thanos’ obsession with it and Deadpool’s ability to avoid it.
We’ve seen some dastardly bad guys across Marvel’s film history, but to attempt to adapt Death herself as the villain of a superhero film would be a step too far, we should take comfort in the knowledge that whoever the dark mistress’ next victim is, she won’t be coming for Iron Man and pals any time soon.
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