25 Greatest Comic Character Portrayals (First Revision)

It’s been a couple of years since I made the first edition of this list. With the plethora of new comic films that have been released since then, several of which have introduced us to new characters or at least new takes on established ones, I figured it was time to dust off the old list and give her a revision. As before, I looked at a combination of performances that stayed true to the comic counterpart and just plain old great acting to create a compelling character. Some of them lean more towards one side of the equation, but I feel like all of them touch on at least a little of both. Some portrayals have risen in the ranks, some have fallen, and several fell off all together. Also like before, with several of these characters having been played by multiple people, I list the actor and what movie(s)/television show the portrayal is in.

Portrayals that fell off from the previous list:
Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) – Road to Perdition, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) – The Amazing Spider-Man, Marv (Mickey Rourke) – Sin City, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) – X-Men, Superman (Christopher Reeves) – Superman, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) – Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) – The Dark Knight trilogy

25. The Flash (Grant Gustin) – The Flash

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24. Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) – Black Panther

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23. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) The Walking Dead

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22. X-23 (Dafne Keen) – Logan

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21. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) – The Walking Dead

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20. Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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19. Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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18. Kilgrave (David Tennant) – Jessica Jones

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17. V (Hugo Weaving) – V for Vendetta

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16. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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15. The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) – Watchmen

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14. Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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13. Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) – Watchmen

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12. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) – X-Men

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11. Spider-Man (Tom Holland) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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10. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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9. Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) – Deadpool

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8. Thanos (Josh Brolin) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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7. Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio) – Daredevil (TV series)

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6. Daredevil (Charlie Cox) – Daredevil (TV series)

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5. Batman (Christian Bale) – The Dark Knight trilogy

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4. Captain America (Chris Evans) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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3. Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr) – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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2. J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) – Spider-Man

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1. The Joker (Heath Ledger) – The Dark Knight

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So what do you think? Who’s too low? Who’s too high? Who got left off that shouldn’t have been? Let me know in the comments.

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The 100% Organic, Gluten-Free, Locally-Sourced Deadpool 2 Review…Now in Spoiler-Free Flavor (Warning: May Contain Nuts)

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Continuing the story of a film that shocked everyone with its success is always a mixed bag. Sometimes the sequel lives up to the original (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), sometimes it doesn’t (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For). But I was optimistic for the follow-up to 2016’s blood-spattered, four-letter-word-filled Deadpool. My only worry was that we would get a movie that tried too hard to re-create the first and falter under its own weight.

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I’m very happy to report that that was not the case. While Deadpool 2 very much stays true to its predecessor in feel and humor, the gags and pop culture references are fresh and different. While there are some callbacks to gags from the first film, like continued verbal barbs directed at Wolverine, there aren’t any recycled jokes just with different circumstances like some comedy sequels (looking at you Austin Powers franchise). I also think incorporating so many new characters helped to give Deadpool fresh material to work with. His interactions with the members of the newly-formed X-Force are particularly hilarious. Especially those between he and Domino, whose mutant ability is probability manipulation. At one point, he literally spends an entire action scene arguing against luck being a super power…and it’s fantastic. Not to say that his banter with the returning Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (which is just as much of a handful to type as it is a mouthful to say) aren’t great as well.

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Speaking of new characters, Josh Brolin’s turn as time-traveling, cybernetically-enhanced badass Cable is great. While he plays a similar role to Colossus in that he’s sort of the straight man to Deadpool’s insanity-laden humor, his routine doesn’t feel as much like schtick. This is not to say that he doesn’t have funny lines. In fact there are a couple of times where he dishes out just as much foul-mouthed goodness as Deadpool gives him. His motivations, while slightly myopic, are relatable and tragic. If I were to give one pseudo-spoiler, though I wouldn’t consider it one, in that it’s apparent very early on in the movie that this is the case: that while he and Deadpool are at odds, Cable is not the real villain. I won’t go into who, but there is a surprise villain that actually ends up being much more a true antagonist.

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I’ve read that some critics felt the movie’s tone jumped around a lot, and while I agree with that sentiment to an extent, I feel like it is in-line with the character and his personality, and in no way makes the film feel disjointed. I felt like with most of the more dramatic or sad moments, you’re given adequate time to soak it in before the onslaught of dick jokes is continued. The violence and action are ramped up for the Merc With the Mouth’s second solo outing, but they don’t feel forced or out of place within the story. The level of gore is up probably a few ticks this time around as well, but it’s all done for comedic purposes and never seems to take away from the moment.

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Do I think that Deadpool 2 captured all the magic of the first film? No. But it is incredibly fun and entertaining its own right. There’s plenty to enjoy if you are a fan of the character or the last movie. There are lots of little Easter eggs and cameos as well for those paying close attention, including a little jab at Deadpool’s co-creator (suck it Liefeld, learn to draw feet!). All in all, I’d give Deadpool 2 a solid 3.5 out of 4 chimichangas.

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20 Greatest Comic Book Television Series

* = indicates an animated series

20. Spider-Man*

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Kicking things off on the list is the Spider-Man animated series from the 90’s. Did a fantastic job weaving together both classic and modern elements of the Wall Crawler and his vast array of supporting characters. Was, along with Batman: The Animated Series, largely responsible for the resurgence of comic book properties in the mainstream and the corresponding boom in merchandise.

19. Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

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After the flop that was Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, the Man of Steel laid virtually dormant as a media property outside of comics. This is the show that really brought him back to the public eye. Dean Cain played a serviceable, if not spectacular Superman, but his chemistry between he and the beautiful Teri Hatcher was the driving force of the series.

18. Sabrina the Teenage Witch

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Fun and easily accessible. A good portion of the fanbase for this teen supernatural comedy have no idea that it was actually a modernized take on an Archie Comics series. While Melissa Joan Hart was great in the titular role, the real star of the show was the animatronic cat, Salem.

17. Batman

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Yes, it’s campy. Yes, it strips away all of the darkness and edge from the Caped Crusader. Yes, it is just downright silly at times. And yes, it is ridiculously entertaining in its own right.

16. Legends of Tomorrow

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The first of 3 of CW’s series of inter-connected DC properties known as the “Arrowverse.” A ragtag team of former villains and fallen/disgraced heroes all in search of redemption as they travel through time battling threats to humanity. Not as consistent as Arrow, but at its best, I actually think it’s better.

15. Agent Carter

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Simultaneously a spin-off of both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Captain America film franchise, Agent Carter followed the life of Cap’s old love interest Peggy Carter and her struggles to prove herself as not only a capable agent, but actually the best agent in a male-dominated world. Really bridges the gap between the MCU movies and television series.

14. Arrow

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The show that launched CW’s “Arrowverse.” Much darker in tone than the other series in the shared universe, without being too dark. While Stephen Amell looks the part of Oliver Queen pretty well, and I appreciate his commitment to the parkour and training regimen for the role, his acting always seems to fall a bit flat, especially in comparison to some of his co-stars like Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak) and David Ramsey (Spartan). Known for strangely consistently using Batman villains instead of digging deep into Green Arrow’s rogues gallery.

13. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles*

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Considered by many to be the definitive take on Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s iconic crime fighting reptiles. Much more lighthearted and funny, and less faithful to and focused on the samurai culture than the original comic, but responsible for creating many of the personality traits and characteristics that have become widely-accepted parts of these beloved characters, including the turtles wearing different colored masks and making April O’Neil a reporter instead of a computer programmer and lab assistant.

12. Luke Cage

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While the series’ first season feels a bit uneven, with a fantastic, engaging first half followed by a slow, sometimes to the point of boring, second half, when it’s good, it’s very good. A huge part of that imbalance comes from the lack of Cottonmouth (played brilliantly by Mahershala Ali) in the back half, and the antagonist focus shifting to the poorly developed, far less interesting, Diamondback. Here’s hoping the second season can reach a little more consistency.

11. Preacher

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Loosely based on Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s seminal comic series of the same name, about a Texas preacher who becomes imbued with supernatural powers on his journey to literally find God. The first season serves almost as a prequel, with small pieces of the early issues woven in. While there are several great performances on the show, the true stand out is Joseph Gilgun as the hard-drinking Irish vampire, Cassidy.

10. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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The first television entrant in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Started off a bit slow, but by the end of the first season, it really found its legs, thanks in large part to direct connections to the plot of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Focuses on a team of specialized agents on clandestine missions for the government lead by Phil Coulson (resurrected after the events of The Avengers), and features one of the most diverse ensembles on television.

9. X-Men*

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Piggybacking off of Jim Lee’s excellent, highly successful run on the X-Men comics, the animated series was largely faithful to the source material and served as the entry point into the X-Men universe for a lot of kids in the mid- to late-90’s. And how much sadder would the Internet be without the overdubbed parody clip “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!”?

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8. The Tick*

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Off-beat, quirky, and incredibly funny, The Tick may have only lasted for a mere 36 episodes, but it quickly developed a large cult following. Detailing the exploits of the extremely strong, but equally as dim-witted superhero, The Tick, the show did a tremendous job lampooning superhero archetypes and cliches.

7. Tales From the Crypt

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HBO’s horror anthology series is famous for the amazing guest starring roles it seemed to pull in every episode and the iconic pun-spewing host, the Crypt-Keeper. Borrowing several stories directly from the 1950’s EC Comics series, and paying homage to the classic horror style in the stories that weren’t, one of the best series in the genre.

6. Jessica Jones

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Heavy and gritty, the Netflix series delves deep into the scarred psyche of the super-powered titular hero (Krysten Ritter) and the effects of the PTSD she suffers after being raped and forced to kill by the mind-controlling sociopath Kilgrave (played to surprisingly icky perfection by David Tenant). Might have been even higher if not for a somewhat disappointing second season.

5. The Flash

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Proof that you don’t have to be dark to make a great comic TV show. Centered around the Barry Allen version of the Scarlet Speedster, The Flash is compelling, smart, and just downright entertaining. Grant Gustin is wonderful in the lead role and is surrounded by a great cast of supporting characters, with Wentworth Miller’s take on Captain Cold being a personal favorite. The only real issue with the series has been its over-reliance on speedsters as the primary villain, finally breaking that mold in the 4th season.

4. The Punisher

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Spinning off of Daredevil, Netflix’s The Punisher is as violent and brooding as you’ll find in a comic book based TV series. Jon Bernthal finally brings us the live action version of Frank Castle we’ve been waiting for. Even as violent as it is, the mayhem and blood never seem forced or over the top, but instead feel like a necessary part of the story of brutal justice for a man who had his family taken from him.

3. Batman: The Animated Series*

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Definitely the top animated series in the world of comics, and in the discussion for best cartoons period. Darker and more well-written than the average animated fare. For many people, myself included, this is THE definitive portrayal of both Batman and the Joker, played to perfection by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, respectively. Also responsible for creating the beloved Harley Quinn and the now-canonical tragic backstory for Mr. Freeze.

2. Daredevil

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Netflix’s dark, gritty take on Marvel’s Man Without Fear, is the greatest superhero show ever produced. Compelling storytelling and some of the best fight choreography you’ll ever see are highlighted by incredible performances from Charlie Cox as the titular hero and Vincent D’Onofrio as his nemesis Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin.

1. The Walking Dead

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Easily the greatest television adaptation of a comic book, and arguably one of the greatest series in general. While the show has definitely taken a step down in quality as of late, it is still a fantastic journey into the human condition. When all of society crumbles after a zombie outbreak, you get to see who people really are. Watching the character progressions of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) are especially captivating.

Worst Comic Book Character Portrayals

While there have been many truly incredible portrayals of characters in comic book movies and television series, there have also been more than a few absolute clunkers. Some of these aren’t necessarily the actor’s fault; they were just written horribly, given awful dialogue, or were stuck with crappy plots. But whatever the reason, they still flopped. Here are my worst of the worst.

25. Iron Fist (Finn Jones) – Iron Fist

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Netflix’s Iron Fist isn’t very good. It lacks an identity, has subpar fight choreography for a show about a Kung Fu master, and the worst thing about it is the lead. There’s literally nothing interesting about Danny Rand. He comes across as whiny and immature. For someone that’s supposed to be a “living weapon”, I wasn’t blown away by his fighting ability. In fact, I’d take Charlie Cox’s Daredevil over his Iron Fist any day.

24. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) – X-Men First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men:Apocalypse

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Jennifer Lawrence is a fine actress and seems quite likable as a person, but her portrayal of Mystique is so inconsistent. Her motivations and characterization seem to change from movie to movie, and are whatever the writer needed her to be in that story.

23. Ghost Rider (Nicholas Cage) – Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 

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Ghost Rider would be a very easy character to make silly and over-the-top, and Nicholas Cage didn’t even attempt to play it otherwise. He’s already known for being quite the over-actor, and it’s on full display here, complete with terrible puns and one-liners.

22.  Dr. Doom (Toby Kebbell) – Fantastic Four

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Will we ever get a good Dr. Doom in a live action movie? Hollywood writers just can’t seem to understand the things that make the character great and compelling. Sadly, another entrance in a long line of failed attempts at bringing Victor Von Doom to life.

21. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) – Thor, Thor: The Dark World

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Natalie Portman reportedly hated being in Marvel movies, and it shows. For such a talented actress, her performance is flat and uninteresting. She also has zero charisma with Chris Hemsworth, making for a very blah love story.

20. Batman (Ben Affleck) – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Justice League

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If there’s anyone that clearly hates playing their role in a comic movie more than Natalie Portman, it’s Ben Affleck when he dons the cape and cowl. He seems like he’d literally rather be anywhere but making these movies. With the quality of the 3 DC movies he’s been in, I can’t entirely blame him.

19. Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) – X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand , X-Men: Days of Future Past

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One of several prominent X-Men characters that are supposed to be from countries other than the US that are passed off as American in the films. Piotr Rasputin, otherwise known as Colossus, is supposed to be from Russia, yet there’s no hint of a Russian accent on him whatsoever. And for a character whose power is to turn his skin into organic steel, we actually see him transform once for all of about 15 seconds in 3 movies.

18. Electro (Jamie Foxx) – The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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Another example of a good actor being stuck in a crappy role. Completely devoid of interest, and despite what was clearly meant to be a sympathetic role, you don’t even feel sorry for the guy because he’s so badly written.

17. Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) – X-Men: First Class

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Kevin Bacon delivers one of the most one-dimensional performances of his career. You just don’t care about his character whatsoever, nor is the character anything close to resembling his comic book counterpart.

16. Storm (Halle Berry) – X-Men, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: Days of Future Past

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Here’s where the “drop the accent” game started in the X-Men franchise. Halle Berry at least attempted an inconsistent one in the first film, but then dropped it all together in the second movie on. Spoiler alert: this isn’t the only time Ms. Berry will be appearing on this list. I promise I’m not picking on her as a performer in general…just in comic movies apparently.

15. Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) – X-Men: Apocalypse

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Everything about this take on Marvel’s first mutant falls completely flat. Poorly acted. Poorly written. Poorly designed. Even his plans and motivations don’t make sense. Severely disappointing as I love Apocalypse in the comics and had high hopes for him here.

14. Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) – Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3

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Could they have made audiences care less about the love interest of the hero? Mary Jane is supposed to be a constant, grounding force in Peter Parker’s otherwise tumultuous life, but here she’s flighty, annoying, and really serves no other purpose than damsel in distress and creating relationship drama…bouncing around between 7 different relationships in 3 movies.

13. Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey) – Luke Cage

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I am unfamiliar with Harvey’s work outside of Luke Cage, but I seriously hope it’s better than what we got in the Marvel Netflix series. Tries way too hard to come across as a cool villain, but it doesn’t work at all. Just rather boring to be honest, especially in the shadow of Mahershala Ali’s brilliant performance as Cottonmouth.

12. Elektra (Jennifer Garner) – Daredevil, Elektra

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There’s plenty to hate about the Daredevil movie, and Jennifer Garner’s bland turn as Elektra is definitely one of them. For a character that’s supposed to be exotic and enticing to Matt Murdock, she gives a performance about as compelling as watching paint dry. Oh and on the topic of being exotic, they claim she’s Greek (as she’s supposed to be), yet she makes no attempt to speak with an accent.

11. Gambit (Taylor Kitsch) – X-Men Origins: Wolverine

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Much like Daredevil, there’s a lot to hate about X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a stupid story with plot holes big enough to fly the X-Jet through being first and foremost, but it also contains some of the absolute worst comic character portrayals ever (there’s another to come on this list). A primary example of writers shoehorning a character into a story that he had no business being in…and the version we got has very little in common with his comic counterpart other than his name. Gambit is known for his silver-tongued charm and razor sharp wit, yet Kitsch plays him with all the charisma of a coma patient…and seriously, why doesn’t his staff explode like everything else when he charges it with kinetic energy?

10. Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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Oh, the DCEU and their consistent misunderstanding of their own properties. Whiny, neurotic, and just plain stupid…that’s really the only way I can describe this version of Superman’s nemesis. And talk about idiotic motivations: Luthor wants to show the world how dangerous Superman is, so he creates Doomsday, which is even more powerful and dangerous…um, what?

9. The Joker (Jared Leto) – Suicide Squad 

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Easily the DCEU’s biggest bomb as a character is Leto’s pseudo-Joker (I refuse to refer to that as the actual Joker). Before I trash his utterly stupid look (which I’m going to), I’ll focus on the actual performance. It’s bad. Just plain bad. Not once did I believe I was watching the Clown Prince of Crime. His motivations are counter to those of the actual Joker, who would never have attempted to break Harley out prison. He would have let her rot until she found her own way out. Ok now for his appearance: what on Earth made them think that THAT is a look people wanted? This “Joker” looks like he’s a douchy rapper that’s part of a drug cartel, who just got some stupid tats in prison, and is on his way to a crappy Avenged Sevenfold concert. Oooo…how “dark and gritty”…

8. The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) – Iron Man 3

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Speaking of pseudo characters. What was meant to be the MCU’s greatest plot twist ended up being nothing more than its biggest middle finger to comic book fans. Turning Iron Man’s nemesis into a fake and nothing but a distraction from the “real” villain, was a giant “F you” to longtime readers who were excited to see this major villain brought to life.

7. Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) – X-Men: The Last Stand 

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If there’s one thing 20th Century Fox knows better than making terrible Fantastic Four movies, it’s delivering awful performances in its X-Men franchise, and sadly this isn’t the worst. A cheap rubber muscle suit and a stupid-looking helmet that’s purpose is never explained in the movie, so he just runs around with a trashcan on his head for the sake of looking dumb. Also, Cain Marko is not a mutant, yet he’s somehow effected by Leech’s power draining ability?

6. Bane (Jeep Swenson) – Batman & Robin 

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The first of 3 craptacular portrayals from Joel Schumacher’s equally awful Batman & Robin, making up half of the top 6. Take one of Batman’s most brilliant and strategic enemies and turn him into a mindless monster just because he’s big. Great choice. *insert eye roll*

5. Venom (Topher Grace) – Spider-Man 3

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You can tell that Sam Raimi didn’t want Venom in this movie, but was forced to by Avi Arad (former head of Marvel), as he gave the character no direction or seemingly any thought. Totally unbelievable as an antagonist. Why does the symbiote make Eddie Brock bigger, but didn’t Peter Parker? Why did it latch on to Brock and mutate immediately since he didn’t have adrenal cancer like he did in the comic? The only thing worse than Venom in this movie is watching the My Chemical Romance version of Peter Parker dance.

4. Catwoman (Halle Berry) – Catwoman 

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Here I am to crap on Halle Berry again. Everything about this role is bad. The acting, the writing, the direction, the costume…all of it. I appreciate the attempted homage to Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman from the 1960’s Batman television series, but the cheesiness and camp are just too much and it comes across like a B-movie performance.

3. Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) – Batman & Robin

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But no one out camps Arnold’s turn as Mr. Freeze. Seriously, 75% of his dialogue is cold puns. One at the right moment would have been acceptable and might have gotten a little chuckle, but not a constant bombardment of “chill out’s” and “everybody freeze’s”. It really makes you hate a villain that should actually be one of the most sympathetic antagonists in comic movies.

2. Batman (George Clooney) – Batman & Robin 

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The final entrant in my dump on Batman & Robin trilogy. Completely unbelievable as Batman. Not even a decent Bruce Wayne. All the things that make Batman special are absent and quite frankly not things that Clooney is capable of pulling off. He was cast simply because he was a hot name.

1. Deadpool (Scott Adkins) – X-Men Origins: Wolverine 

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Here we are: the worst of the worst of the worst. Take everything about Deadpool that makes him unique and special and compelling…Hell take literally EVERYTHING away. Instead of kitanas, slap on some blades that pop out of his forearms like he’s freaking Baraka from Mortal Kombat. Instead of guns, have him shoot lasers out of his eyes. Instead of being a mercenary, make him a science experiment and slave. Oh and sew his mouth shut. Wouldn’t want the Merc with the Mouth to actually talk. Because I mean, come on…a source material faithful Deadpool would NEVER work…oh…wait…

The Avengers: Infinity War Predictions

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With Marvel’s The Avengers: Infinity War just a week away, the culmination of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe to this point is almost here. You’d be hard-pressed to go anywhere online without finding some talk about the movie going on. And with good reason. It is without question the most ambitious undertaking in the history of cinema. Leading the threads of nine separate series into one enormous, inter-connected franchise has been nothing short of incredible. The fact that over the span of 18 films with 15 different directors Marvel has rarely fumbled in delivering high quality, enjoyable entertainment would be reason enough for celebration on their part, but to have done so while weaving together a world of gods, super soldiers, aliens, spies, and genius billionaire playboy philanthropists, is truly amazing.

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For all 10 years of its existence, Marvel Studios has been building to this moment…to Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet. Based loosely on Infinity Gauntlet, the 1991 limited series by Jim Starlin that saw the powerful titan Thanos collect the six Infinity Gems (changed to Stones in the MCU) that each contain the essence of and grant control to the possessor of a different facet of the universe: Mind, Power, Reality, Soul, Space, and Time. For all intents and purposes, to wield them all is to be like God…though Marvel’s actual version of God, the One-Above-All, is still more powerful as he exists outside of reality and time. Thanos uses his new found omnipotence to wipe out half the life in the universe to balance the scales as a tribute to Death, with whom he is desperately in love. This obviously draws the attention of Marvel’s heroes as well as a few villains and more neutral cosmic beings. An alliance of them all faces off against Thanos with him easily defeating/killing almost all of them, taking some serious manipulation and reverse psychology to finally get the Gauntlet from his hand, allowing Adam Warlock to reverse all the destruction Thanos had caused.

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The main question surrounding Infinity War is “who will survive.” With the contracts of several of the main actors in the MCU coming to an end, and one (Chris Evans) having said he’s looking to retire from acting to focus on directing, many believe that a lot of the old guard like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor are on borrowed time. I have my own theories on what to expect in this monumental event.

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Personally, I don’t expect as many major deaths in this film as most seem to. That is not said as a slight to Marvel Studios for fearing to pull the trigger on killing off their major properties as I’ve read several Marvel-haters imply. I simply believe that with Avengers 4 coming out next year and acting as a 2nd half to this story, that that is when we will see the bulk of superhero slaughter. I see Infinity War as focusing on Thanos and his quest to collect all the Infinity Stones. There will obviously be resistance from our merry band of heroes, and I do believe we will see a few deaths in the process, but not on the scale that many are expecting.

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One hero whose days are all but surely numbered is Vision. The sentient android is literally walking around with the Mind Stone on his forehead. Unless he finds a way to survive without it, he’s going to have to die for Thanos to complete the Gauntlet. I also have a suspicion that Loki may meet his end in the film, possibly very early on. In the mid-credit stinger from Thor: Ragnarok we see the ship that now carries all of the Asgardian people intercepted by an enormous spaceship that clearly carries the design of Thanos’s helmet on the front. We can assume then that the ship is that of the Mad Titan himself…probably there to collect the Tesseract which houses the Space Stone. While we never actually saw Loki take the Tesseract from Odin’s vault, it clearly caught his attention on his way to resurrect Surtur in the Eternal Flame. We also see in the trailers for Infinity War that Loki appears to be holding the Tesseract and offering it up to someone. This leads me to believe that Thanos will board their ship and start killing Asgardians trying to find the Stone…a battle that I believe will result in Thor being thrown from the ship (as he’s seen floating in space and discovered by the Guardians of the Galaxy in the first trailer). Loki, finally heeding his brother’s words that he could be more than just the God of Mischief, will offer it to him in exchange for sparing his people. I see Thanos accepting the deal, but then turning around and killing Loki instead. With Loki sacrificing himself, he’ll finally be the savior of Asgard with the admiration of his people he always desired.

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Outside of those two, I don’t believe any of the major characters perish in this film. I can see several of the supporting characters meeting their end, like Dr. Strange’s fellow sorcerer, Wong, or some of the secondary characters from Black Panther, as there definitely seems to be a large scale battle taking place in Wakanda, with Thanos even squaring off with Cap in one of the most truly epic snippets in any of the trailers.

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So who do you think will die in Infinity War? We’ll find out if I’m right next week. I’ve got my ticket for the preview night on the 26th. I’ll try to have a review out the following day. See you then.

Top 5 Rogues Galleries in Comics – #1

Well after more than a year away, and LOTS of life changes, I’m back to finish what I started. I’ve missed this so much. Let’s get back to it.

The finale of the Greatest Rogues Galleries countdown as voted on by you the readers…and it’s really no surprise that it was none other than the Caped Crusader, Batman. He’s almost universally regarded as having the best villains in not just comics, but in pop culture as a whole.

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Batman

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As if there was anywhere else to start on a list of Batman villains than his nemesis, the Clown Prince of Crime himself, the Joker. Rarely is a villain so singularly focused on wreaking havoc on a hero. He is responsible for the torture and death of second Robin, Jason Todd, and the paralysis of Barbara Gordon, just to make Batman and his ally Jim Gordon suffer. The Joker swings back-and-forth between calculated and methodical to erratic and spontaneous. This is really the only thing that makes him such a threat to Batman, because physically and mentally, the Joker is no match for the Dark Knight. But the fact that he’s completely unpredictable, makes him impossible to figure out. It has been discussed at length that in many ways Batman and Joker are really just two sides of the same coin…and whether either of them could exist without the other. Which just makes their relationship even more interesting and dynamic.

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Ever since her creation as a sidekick for the Joker in the incredible Batman: The Animated Series cartoon, Harley Quinn has been an extremely popular and beloved character in the DC universe. So great was her popularity that she was quickly adapted into the comic universe as well. Originally the psychologist assigned to the Joker at Arkham Asylum, Dr. Harleen Quinzel, due to a significant amount of manipulation on his part, becomes obsessed with the Joker, leading her to help him escape and becoming his new sidekick/punching bag. While she is utterly devoted to him, he sees her simply as a pawn to control, using her to do his bidding so he can pull the strings from a position of safety, a shield to keep Batman busy, and just straight up physically and emotionally abusing her on a constant basis. In recent years, she has become somewhat of an anti-hero, as a member of the Suicide Squad, but her obsession with the Clown Prince of Crime has yet to be fully broken.

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One of the most complex and interesting relationships in comics is that of Batman and Catwoman. He stands for order and justice…she stands for, well, nothing but herself really. With Batman being the greatest detective and crime fighter, and Catwoman being the world’s greatest thief, one would think they would be firmly entrenched as adversaries. But with Selina Kyle showing occasional flashes of goodness and with her crimes being typically on the smaller scale, focusing on burglary, she has remained on the Dark Knight’s radar, but rarely does he go out of his way to stop her. They have also worked together on multiple occasions, with her even taking a few forays into anti-hero territory, and have an undeniable, intense sexual tension that makes their relationship so compelling.

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Another incredibly developed villain in the Caped Crusader’s rogues gallery. Once the DA of Gotham City, Harvey Dent worked closely with Batman and Commissioner Jim Gordon to crack down on crime in their city (never more on display than in the fabulous graphic novel The Long Halloween). As a way of striking back, one of Gotham’s major organized crime leaders, Sal Maroni, throws sulfuric acid in Dent’s face, permanently disfiguring the left half of his face and eventually driving him insane. He became obsessed with duality and develops a form of split personality disorder, though both personalities seem to exist simultaneously and are aware of the other…and both hating Batman (the Two-Face half for his constant interference in his schemes, and the Harvey Dent side for his imagined betrayal of Batman leaving him as the vulnerable member of their alliance). This has lead to yet another great relationship between Batman and his villain, because while Batman has to stop Two-Face, he wants to do so in a way that doesn’t hurt the old Harvey Dent, who he believes (some of the time) is still there and can be redeemed.

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While the Oswald Cobblepot doesn’t have the intricate relationship with the Dark Knight as the previous villains have, he has remained a major, compelling member of his rogues gallery. Coming from a very wealthy family and using that inherited wealth to create a criminal empire, the Penguin is simply a real-world type gangster, gun runner, and thief, with a violent temper and an arsenal of weaponized umbrellas. The Penguin may not seem like much of an opponent for Batman. But he is a criminal mastermind and a rather large coward, continually running away while Batman takes out his crew, leaving him to live to fight another day.

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Convinced of his own intellectual superiority, Edward Nigma is obsessed with proving he is smarter than Batman who is regarded as a genius and the “world’s greatest detective,” so he often tries to put Batman in deathtraps that he believes are unbeatable. Due to his overestimation of his own brilliance, this is never the case. And also due to his compulsion to leave riddles at the scene of his crimes, he many times is the cause of his own defeat. Despite this, the Riddler has proven to be one of the most intelligent, logical adversaries of the Caped Crusader even deducing Batman’s secret identity in the Hush story arc.

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Formerly a brilliant psychologist and biochemist, Jonathan Crane is obsessed with the concept of fear. His obsession led him to perform dangerous fear-inducing experiments on his patients and students, leading to his termination and the murders of those responsible. This sends him down a path of a career criminal. While not a particularly physically formidable opponent for Batman, the Scarecrow’s fear toxin has been an incredible tool used to explore the tortured psyche of Bruce Wayne.

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With a body pushed to near human peak levels, genius level intellect, and an iron will forged in the dark, almost unbearable conditions of a Santa Prisca prison, the man known as Bane is easily one of Batman’s more formidable opponents. He is the Caped Crusader’s equal in almost every regard, and that’s before his strength, speed, and stamina are pushed to superhuman levels by the drug known as Venom. Most recognizable as the “man that broke the Bat” when, during the Knightfall story arc, he exhausted Batman (from breaking out all of his villains from Arkham Asylum), deduced his secret identity, and then ambushed him inside Wayne Manor, leading to Bane breaking Batman’s back. While Batman eventually recovered and defeated him, Bane has remained a consistent thorn in his side ever since.

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Due to the resurrective properties of the Lazarus Pits, Ra’s al Ghul has been the leader of the ancient order of the League of Assassins for centuries. A master strategist, swordsman, hand-to-hand combatant, and alchemist that has perfected his skills over hundreds of years, al Ghul is among the most dangerous villains in Batman’s rogues gallery. The League’s purpose is to infiltrate and destroy decadent centers of civilization…with Gotham as a primary target. While Ra’s al Ghul is very much an adversary to the Dark Knight, he also holds Batman in high regard for his ability, respectfully referring to him as “Detective.” Ra’s respects his ability so much that he wishes for Batman to take his place as the head of the League. Batman is also in love with Ra’s daughter Talia, who eventually becomes the mother of his son, Damian Wayne.

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Easily one of the most sympathetic villains in comics, Victor Fries, a cryogenics expert, cryogenically freezes his terminally ill wife, Nora, to buy him time to find a cure. During an experiment, something goes wrong and his body’s physiology is reversed so that he must remain in freezing temperatures to stay alive. To accomplish this, he creates a refrigerated containment suit. Driven by his obsession to save his wife, he also develops a Freeze Gun that instantly freezes objects to sub-zero temperatures, and sets out on committing crimes to fund his research. This leads him into constant conflict with Batman. With his tragic origins and motivations, and cool (no pun intended) abilities, Mr. Freeze has become a popular and endearing villain of the Dark Knight.

There you have it folks. The greatest rogues galleries in comics. I promise to be around more often. No more year long breaks. I’ve got lots more to say and as long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing. See you next time.

Top 5 Rogues Galleries in Comics – #2

Coming in 2nd in the villain-collection countdown is my favorite superhero, Spider-Man. His cast of bad guys is most definitely one of the best, and is surely one of the most colorful. His villains tend to not be massive level threats, but rather smaller-scale ones that often focus their evil deeds directly at Spider-Man himself. Also one distinction Spidey has over other heroes is that it could be argued that he has two nemeses.

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Spider-Man

 

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The most vicious, personal, and psychologically damaging among his rogues gallery is the Green Goblin. Norman Osborn was the first villain to learn Spider-Man’s secret identity, and has continually used that knowledge to torture Peter Parker ever since. Brilliant both in science and tactics, and given enhanced strength and durability (but driven insane) by an experiment gone wrong, the Green Goblin attacks Spider-Man and his family on all fronts, and is responsible for arguably the defining moment of Spidey’s life: the death of his first love, Gwen Stacy.

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Almost on par with the Green Goblin is Dr. Octopus. He has been Spider-Man’s most consistent enemy having made his first appearance in just the third issue of Spider-Man’s solo comic, and has been wreaking havok on him continually since. Equipped with mechanical arms that he can control telepathically, Otto Octavius is almost singularly obsessed with killing Spider-Man, even once saving him from another villain that was about to kill him, just so he could kill Spidey himself. The history between Doc Ock and Spidey became even more entwined when their consciousnesses were swapped and Ock was dying. Inside Peter’s body he swore to be an even better Spider-Man, but ultimately failed as he didn’t hesitate to kill criminals instead of bringing them to justice.

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As part of his obsession with defeating Spider-Man once and for all, Dr. Octopus formed the Sinister Six, a super group of some of the Wall-Crawler’s greatest foes. Though the line-up has changed throughout its history, the team usually consists of: Electro (ability to shoot and control lightning), Mysterio (expert illusionist and effects specialist), Sandman (body composed of shape-shifting sand), Vulture (brilliant criminal with a bodysuit equipped with wings), Kraven (the world’s greatest hunter who sees Spider-Man as the “ultimate prey”), and lead by Doc Ock. Spider-Man typically requires help from other heroes to defeat the Sinister Six.

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After Spidey manages to remove the Symbiote that had become his black costume, the Symbiote falls onto Eddie Brock, a humiliated reporter that Spider-Man had proved a fraud. Their combined hatred for Spider-Man and Brock’s cancer-ridden body producing extra adrenaline (which the Symbiote feeds on) come together to form a new and totally vicious entity known as Venom. With full knowledge of literally everything about Peter Parker, the ability to block Spidey’s Spider Sense, and a twisted sense of morality, Venom immediately becomes a major threat to everyone in Spider-Man’s life.

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When the offspring of the Symbiote is left in Eddie Brock’s prison cell after his escape, it bonds with his cellmate, the psychopathic serial killer Cletus Kasady. Fueled by hatred for its “parent” and Kasady’s psychosis, Carnage is born. Breaking free and going on brutal killing spree, it took a truce between Spider-Man and Venom to defeat him. Even after his initial defeat, Carnage has continued to be a sadistic thorn in the side of the Web-Slinger.

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When biologist Curt Connors experiments on himself with reptile DNA in an attempt to regenerate the right arm he lost in the military, he is instead transformed into the mindless reptilian monster simply known as The Lizard. He eventually changes back, but will occasionally revert back to his monstrous form without warning. His story is one of the more interesting of Spider-Man villains, as Spidey is stuck trying to stop The Lizard’s deadly rampages but also trying to do so in a way that doesn’t permanently harm Connors.

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Biochemist Michael Morbius attempted to cure himself of a rare blood disease by experimenting on vampire bats, he inadvertently gave himself a form of “psuedo-vampirism” where he must subsist on human blood in order to survive and gains superhuman strength, reflexes, durability, and the ability to fly. His appearence also changes to resemble that of a bat, becoming known as Morbius the Living Vampire. His need to feed has set him at odds with Spider-Man on multiple occasions.

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While J. Jonah Jameson may not be the type of character you think of when you’re discussing a hero’s rogues gallery, but he has been every bit as big of a thorn in Spider-Man’s side as anyone else. Being Peter Parker’s boss at the Daily Bugle means that Peter has to listen to Jameson’s constant hate-filled defaming of Spider-Man on a daily basis. Jameson hasn’t settled to just attempt to destroy Spider-Man’s reputation through the media, but has also been behind several supervillains’ attempts at killing Spidey, including being responsible for the creation of major Spider-Man villain, The Scorpion.

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