Let it never be said that the best super villains come only from the pages of comic books.
In all fairness, given the state of the industry and the discerning tastes of the readership, it’s a complicated affair nowadays to create a character who matches the depth and worldwide familiarity of the Joker, Lex Luthor or Venom – unless unabashed plagiarism doesn’t exactly cause a personal crisis of conscience. But one has to remember that the same people behind the creation of these iconic sociopaths churned out plenty of ill-conceived disasters as well… like the Fiddler… and the stereotypically racist Egg Fu. Fortunately, there have been quite a few super villains from cartoons, movies and video games that, conceptually, blow these pieces of creative garbage right of the water, and even rival some of geek culture’s most renowned. Read on for the 11 greatest super villains not from comics!
11) Mojo Jojo, The Powerpuff Girls
Due to the shortsightedness of product-marketing teams at the time and the series’ flowery, saccharine-sweet facade, The Powerpuff Girls always seemed to belie the fact it was an entertaining, action-packed romp that appealed to a diverse demographic and wasn’t used solely as a promotional vehicle for toys and other merchandise. The latter may be a moot point, but the cartoon still stands today as a staple of ’90s nostalgia and a unique parody of the super hero genre. As such, it wouldn’t have been a show without an assortment of villains to menace the Powerpuff Girls, and none stood out more than Mojo Jojo.
Mojo Jojo is what happens when you cross Dr. Doom with a chimpanzee: a genius, egomaniacal sociopath who also satisfies geek culture’s appetite for simian-related humor. It’s easy to like the character for his characteristic Japanese accent and proclivity for dramatic, long-winded oration, but the fact that he was inadvertently responsible for the creation of his greatest foes adds that dimension of complex irony seen in quality comic book-style storytelling. Plus, having Devo take time out of their busy schedule to belt out what amounts to a musical Mojo Jojo-centric ode is one of the greatest moments in geek history.
10) NegaDuck, Darkwing Duck
Introducing a villain that’s, by and large, a sinister doppelg?nger of the hero has always been shaky territory where comics books, cartoons and such are concerned; most of the time they’re quick to be dismissed as products of lazy writing. Having said that, it’s easy to overlook Darkwing Duck’s nemesis NegaDuck since, going by outward appearances alone, the only aspect that differentiates the two is the color of their respective costumes, and not much else. Of course, that’s a pedestrian way to look at NegaDuck, especially when he has more substantial qualities that merit him a place in the hearts of Darkwing Duck fans everywhere.
Disney villains, whether they be from film or television, have wielded all manner of weaponry to potentially maim, burn or eviscerate the hero with at one point or another, but none hold a candle to NegaDuck’s penchant for chainsaws — quite possibly the most violent instrument of malicious intent ever to be depicted and used in a Disney production. Naturally, network censorship would have had a conniption over the mere notion of NegaDuck using his chainsaw to inflict bodily harm, so, no, there was never an episode wherein he sawed through Launchpad McQuack or Darkwing Duck like a plump Thanksgiving turkey.
Add to that his color scheme’s uncanny resemblance to DC Comics’ Reverse-Flash, and there’s really no denying NegaDuck’s popularity.
9) Evil the Cat, Earthworm Jim
Earthworm Jim has a broad rogues gallery of super villains that range from the weird, downright evil or a bizarre combination of the two, with Evil the Cat occupying the aforementioned overlap. As straightforward and uninspired as his name may be, the feline hellspawn more than lives up to it in more ways than one, considering that he takes the form of an animal notorious for tearing up furniture and is indiscriminate about where they take a leak. Residing deep within the bowels of Heck, the hellish, fiery planet he calls home, Evil harasses the resident damned and Earthworm Jim with his endless army of rabid lawyers and omnipresent elevator music, two very real sources of human suffering that prove the existence of the devil’s handiwork on our plane of existence. Despite his being the physical incarnation of the evil that troubles mankind, Evil (it’s difficult writing this entry without the word evil becoming redundant) is as fallible as any other cat in that he’s bound by the laws of his nine lives: once they’re gone, they’re gone.
8) Dr. Weird, Aqua Teen Hunger Force
The state of New Jersey already has it pretty rough, what with being a constant source of hurtful derision over its playing host to Pauly D/the Jersey Devil (they’re basically the same thing at this point), troublesome white-tail deer population and scenic industrialized landscapes. Proving that things can indeed go from bad to worse, Aqua Teen Hunger Force went and introduced Dr. Weird: New Jersey’s resident evil genius and all-around lunatic. Aided by his unwitting and unfortunate assistant Steve, Dr. Weird has been the mastermind behind quite a few of the foes – if they can even be labeled as such – that have at worst annoyed the members of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. In reality, targeting them was never his actual intention as the villains often escaped from his overtly penetrable laboratory of their own volition. His absent-minded negligence may qualify as an evil deed, but the fact that he willingly chooses to wear a costume that ostentatiously puts his man boobs on constant display is certainly the greatest crime against humanity.
7) Candle Jack, Freakazoid!
Even all the way back in the mid ’90s, a.k.a. those golden days before image macros and Rage Comics permeated our culture, Candle Jack was a widespread meme well before it was popularized on the internet by 4chan, or when people learned that meme was actually a word in the English language. Following his first appearance on Freakazoid!, one couldn’t attend a social gathering without someone saying “Did you say Candle Jack?,” a reference to the villain’s ability to be summoned anywhere at any given time by uttering his name. With so many people cracking the same joke, running it into the ground by the end of the week was commonplace, though the infinite cycle of comedic death and rebirth dictated it would be revived upon viewing a rerun of the particular episode.
While it has been a monotonous 18 years of incessant Candle Jack quips, the episode starring the ghostly villain oddly hasn’t lost its humorous edge and holds up even today. However, the same can’t be said for Candle Jack’s tying up and spiriting away kids to God-knows-where, given that a character centered around child abduction just flies in the face of everything network censors wage war against.
6) X the Eliminator, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law
Sometimes even the greatest of super villains realize that he or she has to, for the sake of their own mental welfare, let go of the Ahabesque animosity toward their nemesis and resolve to move on with their life of immorality. Harvey Birdman’s X the Eliminator, on the other hand, is definitely not one these more rationally minded villains, as his unhealthy obsession with Birdman and obtaining his crest lasted for a little under 30 years. True, X fails time and again to retrieve the trinket adorning his foe’s helmet and present it to the organization that contracted him to do so in the first place, but in that lies the character’s infectious charm: awaking each morning with a renewed sense of carpe diem and putting his past shortcomings behind him as he looks ever forward. And those are some of the very best super villains, the ones that know winners never quit and quitters never win!
5) Destroyman, No More Heroes
If there’s anything worse than a super villain, it’s one that’s also a licensed assassin. And if there’s anything even more worse than a super villain whose contracted to kill people, it’s one that has a day job as a mentally unstable postman that can’t discern fantasy from reality. Destroyman’s colorful moniker succinctly describes what the deranged cosplayer specializes in: destroying things, typically people, via his varied repertoire of attacks ranging from dual nipple lasers to high-intensity crotch beams. But for all the showy theatrics and combat skills, it didn’t stop him from getting cleaved in half by aspiring assassin Travis Touchdown. Regardless of being cut down the middle, he returned yet again to menace Travis as the New Destroymen: the bisected parts of the original Destroyman’s body each given a cybernetic half and their own disparate personalities. It was even suggested in their dialogue that at least one of them continued to work at the post office – the more mild mannered of the two Destroymen, thankfully.
4) The Music Meister, Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Unlike other former stars of the 1980s that allowed themselves to crawl away into the cold, dark recesses of pop culture obscurity – surfacing only when faced with foreclosure, finding religion and/or coming forward with some crackpot Hollywood conspiracy – Neil Patrick Harris of Doogie Howser, M.D. fame endured a string of crappy made-for-TV-movies and Undercover Brother long enough before at last finding his Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, and cementing himself as both a media darling and geek culture icon due to his role as the titular villain in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.
Shocking and delighting the world with both his unprecedented comeback and marvelous singing voice, Harris lent his vocal talents to the cult status Batman: The Brave and the Bold villain Music Meister. Obviously an attempt on DC Entertainment’s part to ride Harris’ musical success with Dr. Horrible, the Music Meister became an overnight sensation when the episode “Mayhem of the Music Meister!” first aired on Cartoon Network, going as far to be hailed as one of the greatest musicals in the history of television. And just think, one episode of a Batman cartoon amassed the same level of acclaim that took Glee nearly half a season to achieve. Knowing Ryan Murphy, no one’s putting it past him to swipe “Drives Us Bats” without permission and cram the musical number into a last minute super hero-themed episode. Calling it now: someone will be in a Spider-Man costume!
3) Sylar, Heroes
He doesn’t have a flashy costume or a secret fortress to run off to when his grand scheme hits the fan, but all those things and more come off as superfluous when Sylar has perhaps the greatest superhuman ability of them all: he’s able to see how anything and everything works. No guesswork. No time wasted brushing up on the subject matter. All he has to do is analyze something and the answers present themselves. So with an amazing talent like that you’d assume that Sylar would use it for humanitarian purposes or properly programing a DVR. He could do that, but there’s more fun to be had when understanding the complex genetic secret of super powers is so readily available.
Learning that the use of superhuman abilities originates in the brain, Sylar goes on a massive murder spree, telekinetically tearing open the heads of his victims like a can of Manwich, harnessing the individual’s power after quickly gleaning over the victim’s blood-soaked gray matter. The method to Sylar’s madness more than earns him the award in super villain assholery, but his endgame could use a little work, which can be summed up as declaring that his power is he has all the powers. It’s ultimately juvenile and reminiscent of South Park’s Eric Cartman… or that one childhood friend you hated playing with but did so anyway.
2) Syndrome, The Incredibles
The Incredibles taught a very valuable lesson to anyone looking to shatter the fragile, pie-eyed spirit of the lowly fanboy: crushing their hopes and dreams is fine and all, so long as you’re totally fine with the likelihood they’ll suffer an emotional breakdown and come back at you hard. The film’s primary antagonist, Syndrome, started out as that very idealistic youth with aspirations of becoming Mr. Incredible’s stalwart sidekick and prot?g?, only to be belittled and turned away by his idol (a moment that hit close to home for many a geek who experienced a similar situation in their own life, likely at a comic book convention).
The reason Syndrome made such a fantastic villain is that his childhood grudge fueled an elaborate revenge scheme that involved wiping out the world’s heroes – much of which paid homage to the character Ozymandias’ master plan from Alan Moore’s Watchmen – to make him humanity’s supreme champion of justice entirely by proxy. Not to mention planning to have his super-powered technology available on the consumer market, rendering the uniqueness of superhuman abilities commonplace. In summation, kids can be the friggin’ worst sometimes.
1) The Monarch, The Venture Bros.
He’s scrawny, dressed as a monarch butterfly and everything from his minions to his base of operations must run with a meticulous butterfly theme to indulge his fixation with said insect, but these qualities do nothing to dilute the Monarch’s standing as one of the greatest non-comic book super villains of all time. His litany of misdeeds runs the gamut from repeated attempted murders of Dr. Venture, killing the sidekick of world-famous hero Captain Sunshine in a drunken rage and consistently incurring the wrath of the Guild of Calamitous Intent for his flippant rejection of their codes of villainous conduct (which also extends to audacious defiance in the face of the Guild’s founder, David Bowie — a weighty crime indeed). In other words, being guilty of a Joker-approved murder and finding a place on the proverbial shit list of fellow super villains pretty much rockets the Monarch all the way to the top of geek-dom’s list of iconic ne’er-do-wells. With a track record like this, the Monarch is long overdue for an appearance within an actual comic book, even if he might be too much for Batman, Superman or the combined forces of the entire Justice League to handle.