With Zack Snyder behind the camera and General Zod announced as the villain, the new Superman film is guaranteed to have tons of style, a unique visual sense, and we’ll finally get to see Superman punch someone - in gloriously brilliant slow motion to boot! The plot won’t revolve around a real estate scheme and with any luck; the film will be a whole bunch of action-packed fun.
But for as much as we love that villain from the Phantom Zone, we’re a bit dubious as to why he was chosen as the antagonist. With numerous appearances on Smallville and a lack of decent Superman films as of late, it seems that perhaps striking out in a new direction might’ve appealed to a few more fans. We’ve seen the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, Two-Face, Ra’s al Ghul, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, Bane and even Victor Zsasz grace the big screen in the Bat-Films, but the folks behind Superman still can’t seem to see past the Donner franchise.
Hindsight is 20/20, but just in case there’s any last minute rewrites, we’ve come up with a list of Superman villains worthy of taking on the Big Blue Boy Scout in his next feature film outing, and each and every one of ‘em can take a punch too.
The merchandising possibilities are as endless as the fight scenes. Superman battling a giant, mechanized teddy bear. Superman fighting off hordes of little green (Kryptonite?) army men. Superman trapped inside a gigantic pinball machine. A whole bunch of wind-up dolls infesting Metropolis. Not only would Toyman be a novel villain, Zack Snyder could go wild with the slow-mo and the crazy visuals.
He's a cyborg, which at least allows him to take a few licks from the Big Blue Boy Scout. But beyond that, the man has a piece of Kryptonite embedded in his chest. Sure, Zod is more than a match for Superman intellectually and is his physical equal as well - but both are rendered useless when Metallo opens up that chest plate to reveal the Green K.
Despite the fact that he's got Superman's biggest weakness stuck inside his body cavity, Metallo has never really been much of an A-lister. But we'll solve that problem with our next villain...
Superman's father-in-law has never approved of his little girl's choice in men and he's always had a sore spot when it comes to the Man of Steel. With millions of dollars of government funding behind him and pressure to get illegal immigration under control, Sam Lane is more than a threat for Superman. There's actually potential for Lane to take Luthor's place as the "big bad" over a series of movies - funding Metallo, creating Bizarro in some freaky government lab or giving Toyman the money to turn his Christmas list into weaponry. Maybe he could even team up with an imprisoned Luthor as he's done in recent comics, giving Lex an "out" that could establish him as "evil businessman Lex" by the second or third movie. Not only that, Lane would provide a little more dramatic oomph for the film, driving a wedge between Lois and Clark and turning the whole thing into a family affair.
This guy has stood his ground against Superman before and could definitely be called upon to throw down with him again. Basically, he absorbs energy and grows stronger as his opponent grows weaker, so if you're looking for a villain who can trade punches with the Man of Steel, look no further than Parasite. Like Metallo, he's not exactly a criminal mastermind, but we'd just make him a lackey for someone bigger like the aforementioned Lane or possibly even Lex Luthor as a back-up plan when he's not plotting to become ruler of Australia.
Who doesn't love Bizarro? He's like an inbred hillbilly version of Superman. The beauty of using Bizarro is that not only is he an even match for Superman in the powers department, he's something of a tragic story as well. Bizarro is rarely depicted as being outright evil - he's just mixed up and backwards, lashing out at a world in which he does not belong or simply stumbling around in an attempt to be a hero. So not only will we get some devastating fight scenes, we'll get some humor and pathos as well. There's potential for big laughs and a King Kong-sized tearjerker with Bizarro as the villain.
So maybe Titano isn’t exactly a classic Superman villain… but he’s a giant ape who shoots Kryptonite beams from his eyes. Are you seriously going to tell us that doesn’t appeal to you? Not even a little bit?
Admittedly, he is not even close to our top choice. However, Doomsday is an awesome engine of destruction and the only thing powerful enough to stop him is Superman. Snyder doesn't even have to go with the whole "Death of Superman" route; he can just do what he did with 300 - give us a 15 minute fight scene stretched out over the course of 2 hours thanks to the magic of slow-motion cameras and CGI.
Like Lex Luthor, kryptonite has been done to death in Superman movies. But the only other thing that can harm Supes is magic. Enter the imp from the 5th dimension. He’s been around since the Golden Age and is recognizable to many fans that grew up with the Super Friends animated series. He’s also tons of fun and the type of villain we haven’t really seen before in a superhero movie – the kind that can make you laugh at the same time he makes you hate him. And how much fun would it be to see Superman struggle to find a way to make him say his name backwards? For that matter, how much fun would it be to see your kids struggle to even say his name at all?
He might be a villain better saved for a sequel or perhaps for a Justice League movie, but there is no doubt Darkseid would be both an intellectual and physical match for the Man of Steel. Actually, now that we think about it, using Darkseid in the Superman relaunch could be the set-up for the eventual Justice League movie. By the time Darkseid has marshalled his forces and is ready to seek revenge on the Son of Jor-El, we’ll have already seen another Batman movie, a Flash film and a Green Lantern or two grace the silver screen. Well… here’s hoping anyway.
Please, please, please! We’ve been begging and pleading for Braniac since Superman II and so far the closest thing we’ve gotten has been Robert Vaughn, a super computer and Richard Pryor. For the love of God, when will our prayers be answered?!? He’s as smart as Luthor but without any human emotion… and he’s a robot! Superman can punch him in the face! Repeatedly!!! Why is it that the most obvious solution to the problem is continually overlooked?
It’s not that we don’t have high hopes for the next Superman flick. We like Zack Snyder and we’re hoping that Chris Nolan’s guiding hand will add a touch of class and intelligence to his flashy style. And we’re not ruling out the possibility that Zod will be an awesome force to contend with. There’s an old saying: Why would you eat hamburger when you can have steak? And maybe Zod and Lex Luthor are steak. But ask any Superman fan that’s been eating steak every day for the past 30 years what they want for dinner and we bet a T-bone won’t be on the menu.
When he’s not writing the weekly Comicscape column or various other features for Mania, Chad Derdowski takes part in the Zod Complex Podcast… which makes us wonder why he’s so against seeing Zod in the next Superman movie. At any rate, it’s a roundtable discussion with four like minded geeks discussing the types of things you’ve just read about. Find them at ZodComplex.com and give them a listen today!