Must Haves of Any Cape Movie: Part 3

Without a suitably evil, brilliant, imposing villain, an otherwise great cape movie is doomed to mediocrity. One of the biggest flaws of many a cape movie has been the mishandling of the viital role of the villain. The classic example I use, which has been pointed out by many others, was the portrayal of Lex Luthor in Superman (1978). Why the decision was made to allow Gene Hackman play Luthor as pure camp is beyond me. Supes, supposedly the most powerful being on earth, was pushed to his limit by the hardly intimidating Luthor, his clownish sidekick and airheaded girlfriend.

Many other superhero films have made the same mistake of overlooking the importance of the villain. Of course, there are many examples. Here are just a couple that come to mind- In Hulk, Bruce Banner's nemesis was his own weirdo father and his dad's overgrown poodle. In The Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, whom I was lead to believe was the most powerful villain in the Marvel Universe, just came across as a run of the mill bad guy, and was too easily defeated.

But- there have been some recent films that gave us villains that were more than a match for the hero. Of course, both entries in the new Batman franchise were spot on with their portrayals of Ra's al Ghul and the Joker. Both characters were highly intelligent, capable of brutal violence, and came oh so close to defeating ol' Bats. For me, Adrian Veidt, from Watchmen is the textbook example of a film villain who is more than capable of defeating the protagonists and therefore giving the movie an added level of tension and drama.

So, to wrap up this little diatribe- my new entry in the "rules of cape movies" can be stated as: "In any superhero film, the protagonist must be pitted against a villain whose powers are equal to or superior to his own in terms of either physical strength or intellect."

Hollywood, I hope you're listening. Give us really villainous villains!

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