The Dark Knight (2008)
Heath Ledger as the Joker: click here for photo (from Yahoo).
My boyfriend says crazed blind clown. I say a slightly trimmer Beetlejuice with better fashion sense. You decide.
In a recent review for the film American Gangster, the LA Times included a fun little photo gallery of what they considered “more unusual choices for organized crime bosses.” Their picks include Jabba the Hut (can’t argue with them there…) and Don Lino (aka, the voice of Robert DeNiro) in the animated Shark Tale.
And while that’s fun and all, what about those other outcasts from the population of ne’er-do-wells whose chosen occupations sadly don’t fall into the realm of organized crime? Shouldn’t they get their say as well?
Here, then, are some of my favorite villainous oddballs:
WARNING: some contain SPOILERS (read with care…)
Bowler Hat Guy (Meet the Robinsons) – Something about those spindly legs just really creeps me out and to top it all off, the true villain is the mechanical bowler hat itself (uh huh, a bowler hat) that’s telling him what to do. Ick.
Yzma and Kronk (Emperor’s New Groove) – The first looks like some sort of waspish spider and has a weird thing for llamas. The second is a sidekick who hums his own theme song and happily cooks spinach puffs right in the middle of an evil plot. And when Yzma cackles evilly as a cute little kitten? Priceless.
The Penguin (Batman Returns) – Okay, true, in Batman, Jack Nicholson’s The Joker is mighty odd and, yes, totally insane. But he’s got a kind of sense of humor (in a creepy way) and, well… it’s Jack Nicholson. He’s his own kind of weird. In any case, unlike the Penguin in the original comics who was rather cool-headed, refined and quite intelligent, the Penguin in Batman Returns is, as the Wikipedia entry puts it, “a physically deformed, sadistic, megalomaniacal monster.” Plus, he hangs around with penguins all the time. Literally. I think that qualifies him.
The Wicked Witch of the West (Wizard of Oz) – She melts and her henchmen are flying monkeys. Enough said.
The Claw (Toy Story) – Who knew the fun selector of children’s stuffed animals could be such a bizarre nightmarish creature? Not forgetting of course that The Claw is also a completely emotionless cult leader who gets his brainwashed followers to chant “The Claw is our master. The claw chooses who will go and who will stay.” And leads them to believe that being “chosen” will take them to “a better place.” Scary, scary stuff.
HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey) – As an artificial intelligence, this decidedly creepy villain is nothing but a voice and an oddly pulsating red glow. And really, there isn’t much that is scarier and more goosebumpily bizarre than a villain who never, ever raises his voice.
The Emperor (Star Wars) – Why is it that the names of many evil villains begin with a definite article? I suppose we’ll never really know, but I think it’s clear that this villain at least certainly deserves to have a name that begins with an emphatic “the.” With his ghoulish voice and eerie cackle, not to mention that blue lightning thing he can do with his hands, the Emperor is both evil and just plain strange. Darth Vader has got that cool strong man / deep voice in black metal vibe going on, but the Emperor has an omnipresent cowl and cooky sense of humor. He wins.
Assorted Amélie villains (Amélie / Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain) – Perhaps not villains per se, if you want to get technical, but they are all weird and/or mysteriously odd people. So I think they should get their chance too. First, there’s the almost (okay, total) stalker guy from the café who records everything his ex-girlfriend says or does. Then, there’s the obnoxious and cruel grocer who delights in tormenting the boy who works for him and always calls Amélie “Amélie-melo.” And finally, there’s the ghost / possible obsessive picture taker whose eerie mystery haunts the film. Quite the goldmine of weird scoundrels, n’est-ce pas?
No Face (Spirited Away) – Half leprechaun, half “The Blob,” this gold-giving masked spirit vies (successfully, in my opinion) with the witch Yubaba for the title of baddest, largest, most complex, and just downright crazy villain in this spooky Japanese fairy tale.
The Cat King (The Cat Returns) – Pretty much demented, yet still a powerful ruler over, uh, cats, this rotund monarch has “I am CRAZY” eyes, static-style hair and calls the heroine “babe.” And he throws unfortunate palace performers out the window when they can’t make his guest smile. Weird and psychopathic – a winning combination for this list.
Lord Voldemort (pretty much any Harry Potter film) – Let’s recap, shall we? In the first film, he was a face on the back of someone’s head. In the second film, he was a ghost from a diary. In the third film, um… Okay, well, in the fourth film, he was a seriously creepy baby-like creature who transformed out of a boiling cauldron into a noseless man. In the fifth film and (I’m assuming) on, he’s that same snakelike, pasty-faced, noseless man. Yep, I think I’ve made my point…
Dr. Evil (Austin Powers) – This is a bit of a given. And with a medical degree in Evil, he’s earned it.
Honorable mentions: Stay Puft (Ghostbusters), the Black Knight and the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog (Monty Python and the Holy Grail), coat hanger aficionado Toht (Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark), and potentially Grendel’s mother (the animated Angelina Jolie) in the upcoming Beowulf.
The Best Week Ever website recently posted a list of superheroes that it thinks should appear in the movies in the near future. The choices range from the expected (The Flash and, yes, please just make this already! – The Green Lantern) to the unexpected (Quail Man – no, you’re not mistaken, they are referring to the superhero alter-ego of a certain animated Nickelodeon character), but I’m not going to take this time to either criticize or praise their choices. Instead, they got me to thinking.
Sure, all of these superheroes would be fun to watch, but what about branching out a bit more to the “everyday superheroes” in comic books and graphic novels. With the recent critical success of the film adaptations of Persepolis, American Splendor and, for the most part, Sin City, and the huge commercial success of 300, why not look at some of the “alternative” options out there?
Here then are the comic stories that I personally think should be made into film at the earliest available opportunity.
In these days of Desperate Housewives, Footballers’ Wives, and, well, Kill Bill, what could be better than a film adaptation of Moore’s brilliant and soapy tale of two friends and their tumultuous friendships, romantic relationships and, of course, sinister crime-ridden pasts? I don’t know why it’s not being made already.
This highly critically acclaimed epic and comic tale of three cousins – not human, but rather cute little creatures that kind of look like humanoid, um, bones – and their fantastical journeys would make an amazing animated tale from a studio like Pixar (toys, monsters, fish, cars, rats, and, yes, superheroes – why not human-shaped bones?). With the recent release of full color versions of the tales by Scholastic, what better time than now.
Volume 1 of well-known comics writer Bendis’s (Ultimate Spider-man, Daredevil, Avengers) award-winning Powers series, this gritty graphic novel follows the investigation of two detectives into the murder of the popular superhero Retro Girl as they negotiate a world overflowing with superheroes. It seems Bendis has already tried to do Powers with a studio, and is working on a film adaptation of his other work, Jinx, which might star Charlize Theron. Well, here’s hoping Hollywood is good to Bendis – at least he already knows the unfortunate ups and downs of Hollywood from his satire Fortune and Glory (which would also make a great movie, by the way – it’s exactly the kind of insider skewering, sort of in the vein of Entourage, that Hollywood seems to love these days).
Although Gaiman has perhaps not had the best luck lately with his graphic novel-to-screen adaptations (see Stardust – as many, unfortunately, haven’t), I still hold out hope for a cool screen version of Gaiman’s most famous work, his dark fantastical – mythological – philosophical ode to the god of dreams, The Sandman. How would they accomplish an adaptation of this somewhat ethereal and eccentric series? I have no idea. But that doesn’t stop Hayao Miyazaki from making, well, many ethereal, eccentric (and successful!) films.
Okay, I can’t deny that this is in fact a superhero comic. Not only a superhero comic, but, really, the granddaddy of all superhero comics. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, The Flash, Green Lantern, the whole Justice League all together in an apocalyptic superhero showdown? And illustrated in glossy, artful color by Alex Ross, the Norman Rockwell of comics illustrators? Not to mention, the brilliant scene with Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince all eating lunch together at Planet Krypton, a Planet Hollywood-style superhero-themed restaurant (the host is dressed in a Superman costume and they serve Supergirl chicken sandwiches – you get the idea).
Yes, I know they’re already making a Justice League movie. But here is a JLA story already pre-made, with that great “here’s a disillusioned Clark Kent 10 years later” perspective, just waiting to be turned into a movie. Plus, rapper mogul Jay-Z even named his comeback album after the comic. Need I say more? Make this movie now!
Scott Pilgrim would make for lots of great crazy ex-boyfriends / romantic / martial arts fun (and, apparently, has already been optioned anyway, and will be helmed by the director of Shaun of the Dead / Hot Fuzz), while Courtney Crumrin would act as a perfect “haunted house”-type tale, complete with tales of mysterious nighttime creatures, magic, the fairy world, and, naturally, the social terrors of school.
And yes, I do realize that many or all of these might not translate perfectly into film and that they could probably never live up to my own imagination of them, but hey, that sort of concern certainly doesn’t stop me from wishing for a film adaptation of Robert Jordan‘s almost breathtakingly complex fantasy series. If they can make a movie version of Tolkein so successfully, and if Spiderman’s Sam Raimi has already optioned Terry Goodkind for a miniseries, I don’t think great film versions of these titles are so far out of reach.
Superman + Batman + um, the other guys = ?
There have been rumors swirling around for a while now about a Justice League of America movie, but they seem to be gaining steam lately. Firstshowing.net reports that the Warner Bros. film, possibly directed by George Miller (Happy Feet, Babe), will probably “feature Superman, Batman, The Flash, Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern” and may even be released before the next Superman installment.
Here’s what the potential stars say about this thrilling, or not so thrilling, news:
Christian Bale (Batman Begins) says he hasn’t been approached about doing the movie and continues:
It’d be better if it doesn’t tread on the toes of what we’re doing, though I feel that it would be better if it comes out after Batman 3.
Ryan Reynolds (rumored to be staring as The Flash) comments, according to MTV:
I’d love to see a full on Justice League movie done, the scope of which is just enormous. I think it’s something they can pull off.
Reynolds was originally rumored to be starring in a movie just about The Flash, but that movie seems to be on hold for now.
My thoughts? Thank god, finally! My boyfriend has been pestering me for years with complaints about the non-existance of a Green Lantern movie, and hopefully this will mollify him, at least for a little while. And if the JLA movie succeeds, maybe a Green Lantern: Revenge of Hal Jordan in the future? Maybe?
Note: Apparently, in 2003, Greg’s Previews (from Yahoo! Movies) did a survey asking fans to vote on which actor should play Green Lantern, if a movie is made about the character. Out of 17,821 responses, Orlando Bloom came out the winner with 22% of votes.
Go here for other comics that should be given a chance on the big screen.