Ever notice that whenever Superman gets rebooted or remade on film, the first villain he faces is always either Lex Luthor or General Zod? I’m tired of that. Superman may not have a legendary rogues gallery as his best bat-friend from Gotham, but he has other villains than those two. We can make an exception for Luthor, since he is a huge part of the Superman mythos, but we’ll relegate him as the man working from the shadows, either assisting the villains that pop up in Metropolis, or the one making them.
Over the past two weeks or so, I’ve had this sudden need to watch anything Superman related. No clue why, but one thing’s for sure, I’d like to see other villains show up on the big screen to challenge the Man of Steel. This is my top 5 list for villains to show up in a Superman film.
Metallo and Toyman
Our first spot goes to two people actually: Metallo and Toyman. Though I think both characters can present enough of a threat on their own, I feel that there are some interesting possibilities when established together. Winslow Scott aka Toyman is a deranged psychopath who creates dangerous toys capable of maiming and killing anyone unfortunate enough to line up at his store on Black Friday. I figured, that it would be interesting to see a version of Toyman that once worked for Luthor, designing all manners of weapons for LexCorp, until he was fired for being unstable. He goes on to use his engineering skills to create a company selling “toys” in the black market. Ranging from exploding teddy bears to Political Assassin Barbie dolls.
You may be wondering, how can toys stop the unstoppable Superman? Well, look no further than his latest action figure, Metallo. The cyborg’s origins have been a mangled mess over the years, with more than one person taking up the name, but the one I gravitate towards the most is the version from the Animated series. John Corben was a hired mercenary working for Luthor. When he was imprisoned by Superman after a failed plot to steal a LexCorp battle mech, Corben was diagnosed with a rare, incurable heart disease. Luthor offers the mercenary a second chance at life and revenge by turning him into an unstoppable cyborg. What if instead of Luthor tricking Corben to becoming DC’s take on the T-800, it was the Toyman who turns the mercenary into the latest holiday sensation, complete with a Kryptonite heart. With both murderous pychopaths after Luthor’s bald head, Superman must swoop in and put a top to this year’s killing spree.
Also make it a Christmas movie. I think that would be fun.
One of the most interesting questions posed by the presence of Superman is what would happen if there were others like him, but not as kind? That’s sort of why Zod almost always shows up. Kryptonian criminals are brought to the big screen to place doubt in people’s hearts when it comes to Superman. But I’m tired of Zod, let’s put him back in the Phantom Zone for now and think about a better “evil Superman”. He am Bizarro! Wouldn’t it be cool if Luthor was running for President and one of his campaign platforms were to keep humanity safe from Superman. He’d definitely get followers for that. Imagine if he concocts this elaborate plan to use a Superman clone to get him elected into the Oval Office? I’d love to see that. You know what else I’d love to see? Bizarro getting an Iron Giant moment, where he learns the importance of being Superman and what it means to be a hero. Now that’s a tearjerker.
Now here’s an interesting pick. Ever wonder if Superman is still relevant today? Superman was the premier superhero—the golden standard, if you will—when it came to superheroes. Nowadays, people gravitate towards edgy characters with a “tragic backstory” or someone who operates in the morally gray. It’s an interesting shift in the audiences caused by real world current events and modern-day cynicism towards absolutes like truth and justice. Manchester Black can provide that challenge. Manchester Black is the leader of a ruthless vigilante team called The Elites, and they all share a distrust towards The Big Boy in Blue. It would be interesting to see a battle of philosophy on topics like heroism and justice. Where Black is on the side of swift justice by killing villains while Superman is on the other, advocating that murdering criminals makes you no better than them.
I was watching Batman v. Superman the other day with my father and brother. It was the Special Edition Cut with the extended scenes and what not. My brother and I noted how “all over the place” this film was. We reached the scene where batman is having a vision of the future where the forces of Apokalips had laid waste to Earth. It’s such a poor set-up for Justice League, or Darkseid in general. So, I thought to myself, how would I set Darkseid up for future films? It would be through Kalibak. Kalibak is the first-born son of Darkseid. His whole deal is to basically prove to his father that he is a capable warrior and really just wants his father’s approval. It would be cool to see Kalibak go to Earth and prove his loyalty to his father by conquering Earth, the only planet that has been able to stave off the forces of Darkseid. When Kalibak gets to Earth he is met by Superman. Now, it would be interesting to see Kalibak cause untold damage to Earth but imagine if he did untold damage to his fathe’s plans? Kalibak is a strong and capable warrior, but he’s not exactly smart. It would be cool if his unexpected arrival messes up Darkseid’s plans for Earth, having secretly infiltrating their forces for generations, having key people like Granny Goodness and “Glorious” G. Gordon Godfrey manipulating Earth’s masses through media and mind control. Kalibak’s arrival would be the catalyst that sets off Darkseid’s premature invasion of Earth, and the launching of a Justice League film. (DC hire me…)
No list is complete with this final entry. Brainiac is ultimately Superman’s greatest foe, in my opinion. So much so, that whenever this 12th intellect baddie is involved the entirety of the Justice League needs to be summoned. Like all iconic villains, Brainiac has had a messy always changing origin story. Sometimes he’s an alien from the planet Colu who transformed his body into the “perfect” vessel of knowledge, sometimes he’s a super advanced AI that goes rogue. One thing’s for sure, he’s always trying to collect knowledge and destroy the worlds from whence they came. I’ve always liked the stories in which Brainiac and Superman’s fates are intertwined when it comes to Krypton. It would be cool to see Brainiac show up on the final months of Krypton’s life cycle, collecting all their knowledge and shrinking the city of Kandor, before leaving the planet to its fate instead of blowing it up himself. Brainiac travels to Earth when he realizes that one Kryptonian eludes his collection and it’s not Superman. It’s Kara Zor-El.
Now imagine that…