Where would any good hero be without an equally devious villain to balance them out? Where would Spider-Man be without Doctor Octopus? Batman without The Joker? An iconic villain can redefine the franchise, but these top-shelf baddies are not the villains I’ll be talking about today.
Sure, those guys are great, but what I find myself missing the most from recent superhero movies are the campy, cheesy villains that helped pad out the lineup in comics. You know, those second-string crooks who show up when the A-listers can’t come to the phone. These were always my favorite characters because their costumes and themes and schemes were always wild.
I’m not saying everything needs to be quirky and campy all the time with no substance, but I like my superhero stories with a healthy serving of cheese. Superheroes are inherently ridiculous, so why not lean in? As the Clown Prince himself famously wondered “Why so serious?”
The rogue’s gallery rolls deep, so I narrowed it down to five deep-cut, ridiculous villains I would love to see in a movie.
Egghead is probably the most well-known character on this list and to be fair, I didn’t think the campy character really qualified as ridiculous when much more colorful villains are sorta par for the course. That is until I discovered he speaks mostly in egg puns and all his tools are egg-shaped. Most heroes and villains take their inspiration from another source like an animal or a mythological creature, but for whatever reason, character creators landed on an egg for this one. And it’s not just his name, Egghead really leans into the egg motif, even rocking an egg-shaped head.
Still, a quirky egg-themed nemesis may be just what Batman needs to reinvigorate an already well-explored series. Egghead started out on the small screen, played by Vincent Price in the much cheesier Batman TV show of the 60s. Perhaps he’s ready for an egg-citing (I’m so sorry) move up to the big time.
4. Big Wheel
Doc Ock might have four mechanical, sentient tentacles fused to his back, but he’s got nothing on Big Wheel, a villain whose lack of powers is made up for by a literal giant wheel that surrounds his entire body – so, naturally, he’s a Spider-Man villain. His secret identity name is Jackson Weele (which is perfect) and his origin story is an instant classic. He came up with the idea for the whole giant wheel thing when a criminal who was blackmailing him mockingly referred to him as “Big Weele.” Offended by this razor-sharp barb, he went straight to the mechanic, and the rest was history.
I don’t think he could be the main villain of a movie; Big Wheel just doesn’t capture my imagination in the same way some of the other enemies on this list do, but I would really like to see how they make the wheel in a live-action film. It sounds expensive.
Leap-Frog is hands down my favorite villain. What he lacks in sheer power he makes up for with a suit that augments his natural abilities. “Is it a cool suit like Iron Man’s?” I hear you wondering, “One with lots of useful tools and high-tech features?” No. No, it is not. But it does help him jump very high, and it looks like a frog so at least it’s on-theme.
Leap-Frog’s Wiki page has a detailed explanation of how the suit is purported to work and it sounds like it’s equally as complicated as Stark’s suit but with just a fraction of the utility. I absolutely love that the folks at Marvel took the time to think about this D-list villain’s suit and the fake science behind it and that alone warrants at least a cameo. Even with these minor deficits, I really think this quirky criminal has all the elements he needs to reinvent himself in the MCU or even in one of the Sony Spidey movies.
2. Asbestos Lady
If you’ve owned a television in the past 15 years, you’ve probably heard about the perils of asbestos exposure thanks to a well-advertised lawsuit. Sadly, this next villain must have been a cord cutter. Asbestos Lady was a scientist turned villain who made a costume out of asbestos in hopes it would help protect her from her nemesis, The Human Torch.
At the time she appeared in the comics, asbestos had a much better reputation as a flame retardant and was often used for insulation and building materials, so she may not have been as ridiculous when she was created. But for a generation that grew up with asbestos = cancer messaging, a suit made of asbestos comes with all sorts of new context. I’m not saying she’s the next Thanos, but, given our current cultural awareness of how dangerous asbestos is, I think Asbestos Lady would make an interesting addition, and with a Fantastic Four MCU film theorized to be right around the corner, it might be her time to shine.
1. Condiment King
While there were dozens of second-string villains that immediately came to mind for this list, one clearly stood above all the others. Condiment King is exactly what he sounds like, a condiment-themed supervillain and he’s taken a lot of flak for that over the years. He’s been mocked in The Lego Batman Movie and on the internet for years. Condiment King deserves a chance at redemption.
I’d love to see Warner Bros. bring him up to the big leagues and give him an arc no one could forget. His reputation as a perpetually ineffectual supervillain sets him up for the perfect comeback. Give us a movie where this villain is mocked for his odd theme only to come back and be legitimately villainous. A Heath Ledger-esque performance as Condiment King by an A-list actor would be equally hilarious and fulfilling to me.
I love it when something that seems unorthodox can be brought into a new light and Condiment King could do just that. If nothing else, food allergies are becoming more and more common – perhaps condiments can be more insidious than we thought. In the end, Condiment King is in the perfect position to bring back some of the quirkiness of the genre while also making a legitimate go at reinventing his image which puts him at number 1 on this list.