10 Movie Villains Too Good To Recast
Mad Evil Genius Scripting, Casting, Acting, and Directing. 10 Perfect storms.
How often is an evil-genius funny? Gene Hackman managed to do this. Unfortunately when Lex Luthor got recast, some very non-Gene Hackman unmemorable versions have been presented ever since. More on Lex’s casting later, he’s number 7. Funny or not, these ten villains are unforgettable and irreplaceable.
10. Stay Puft Marshmallow Man - Should Have Been in Ghostbusters 2!
GB2 Sequel Villain: Purple EMO Slime Replaced Mad Marshmallow Man
By comparison, Ghostbusters 2 featured most lifeless incarnation imaginable in the place of Mr. STAY PUFT. The sequel also has a large gelatinous monster the Ghostbusters must fight. This time it’s an underground river of purple “mood slime”. Being living emotional slime of the “bad mood” variety, it’s a threat. Our Heroes develop the antidote: posi…- oops I don’t want to spoil such a masterful piece of work, you’ll have to guess what counteracts negative mood slime.
If they asked me to edit the script, I would have made the slime marshmallowy-white instead of purple. At the end it would take the shape of a very angry STAY-PUFT MARSHMALLOW MAN who’s back for the Ghostbusters, an awesome grudge match climax to the movie.
“Ghostbusters 2, Revenge. The marshmallow man is burning again in New York City, bigger and badder than ever. But this time, he’s burning for revenge, and nobody will get in his way. Look out New York, Mr. STAY PUFT is back, and he wants S’MORE!
Stay Puft is unique as villains go- he truly became a lovable thing from my childhood. He was so unexpected- he’s hilarious and awesomely list-worthy. He was recast in every Ghostbusters video game, cartoon, etc. but we all missed him during Ghostbusters 2.
Number 9: There's Bruce the Shark in JAWS (1975). Then something completely different Jaws 2,3,4,... and then the inevitable idea of "Sharknado"
Call to mind the sharks of Jaws 2, 3, 4. Is there a 5? Nope, every JAWS sequel seems an attempt to become the worst of all time. Well, Jaws 4 "the Revenge" really did it, apparently because when it comes to destroying a cash-cow franchise, someone said "this time, it's personal". It's almost 2015, and though Marty McFly may see an animated billboard in town, it won't say "Now Showing JAWS 19." The prediction is amazingly accurate that Hollywood would be recycling and remaking old movies and comic books, but missed on the notion that they'd be numerical sequels. In fact, after JAWS 4, not a single shark movie was made for almost 10 years, and another few years before one with a real budget.
In JAWS, the villain is the shark. When you make a sequel, you have to recast the shark that made the movie a hit. It's a Shark that has a grudge against all land-dwellers, not one specific family.
They really lost me when their new sharks started roaring like lions, attacking helicopters, tracking and targeting land-dwelling bi-peds mafia-style. Transversing the Atlantic in pursuit of a prop-engine plane for a precise rendezvous in the Bahamas. Managing to go incognito as the only Great White in the Bahamas, ever. Ok.
The fact that the shark prop was so hard to film, Spielberg had to keep building suspense. There is so much suspense, when you finally glimpse the shark in the original Jaws, you feel as if your own feet are dangling in the water where, you know, you could be bitten by his jaws and all those big teeth. If he chewed tobacco and lost his lower jaw, he'd still be scary as JAW, or even with no teeth from chewing on oxygen tanks, given his bite pressure. I'd close the beach anyway if GUMS swam these waters.
8. The Nazis of the First Indiana Jones "Raiders of the Lost Ark"
The villains of "Raiders" blew my mind. Oh yeah, I'm talking about the exploding head FX. They were awesome. (Did anyone else see Scanners?)
I wore out my VHS tape watching those face special effects over and over again. My poor mother. Sorry Mom! It would have been tough to bring them back and explain surviving that scene, but it would be have been more digestible than the scenes of the Villain from Indy 2.
Remember the evil guy who looked like M. Night Shyamalan? In the same vein as his doppelganger, he rips the heart out of his victim, audience and Indiana Jones franchise long before the 4th and final sequel "Crystal Skull" nailed the coffin shut, with gophers and aliens. And the Transformers dude.
Number 7: Gene Hackman As Lex Luthor in “superman” (1978)
Lex Luthor by any other actor is just not the same. It’s Gene Hackman, a genius playing a genius. Any contenders? Nope. Maybe I’m biased because I love to yell “Miss Tessmacherrrrrr!”. He’s standing face-to-face with Superman, talking in an “inside voice” when all of the sudden he bellows “Miss Tessmacherrrrr!” so loudly even Kal-El himself jumps with surprise (awesome acting by Christopher Reeve). I love also how he emphasizes his genius in contrast to his assistant played by Ned Beatty. The character is a buffoon of a goon, and needs everything explained to him in the simplest terms by the evil mastermind. It serves several purposes all at once because of Gene Hackman’s awesome delivery:
A.) Informing the audience of the plot in terms even children understand (great for kid’s movies!)
B.) Provides comic relief
C.) Adds depth to the main Villain
D.) Creates sympathy for the Henchman, Miss Tessmacher in particular
The character also provides some great wisdom, adding more depth and a little respect for his character. In one scene he is taken to task by Miss Tessmacher regarding his “obsession with real estate.” He answers with a great lesson I call his Land, Land, Land speech:
“My father said Son, stocks may rise and fall, utilities and transportation systems may collapse, and people are no damn good. But they’ll always need land, and they’ll pay through the nose to get it. “Remember” my father said, land.”
Number 6: Deep Voice Darth Recast as Teen Dream
Even though the plot wouldn’t support it, they should have started using that awesome suit as soon as possible.
At least make him a rude and unruly Teen. This is how I imagined he’d be as a Teen: Making some off-color remark, being abrasive and inappropriate, like “Padme did you gain weight? You look fat”. He’d otherwise be either silent and creepy, or sickly sweet to the point of sarcasm, à la Willy Wonka. Not the melancholy “Oh Padme, ohhhhh I love you so much it hurts”.
Where does all the whinyness come from? The final words of Vader-turned-Anakin were about how he just wants to look at his Son with his own eyes. The teen version of Anakin would have whined about not getting to see Leia with his own eyes, how it’s not fair, and ooooo that Evil Emperor had the upper-hand for 99.99% of the time.
Number 5: Darth Vader again, unmasked, as we saw him in Return of the Jedi (1983) at the very end.
Note: no photo provided, too ugly. But not too ugly to photoshop apparently.
Having learned nothing from the Episode 1 debacle, the stately older gentleman from 1983 was recast and replaced by editing with… Hayden Christensen. So if you're bad, your ghost is young, but poor O.B. Wan Kenobi's ghost is still an old dude.
That same whiny teen (no picture provided, not ugly enough). Georgie also deleted the man from the credits after editing him out, which put Hayden Christensen in, perhaps to remind casting directors who not to hire? Poor guy got a lot of bad karma from holding George's hand. It's really hit or miss with the Lucas fellow.
Number 4: Black Knight Sauron Before 9 Lives, Cat's Eyes, Tower Spies
Yes, nothing could top the Sauron we met in the flashback scene, you know, the super-cool D&D black knight reaching out his hand with the ring… and chop!
What most people don’t know is what Sauron yelled as he vaporized: “Don’t you know, of course now I’m going to turn into a big flaming feline skyball, oh yeah, just burning with rage at your distant relatives. If you don’t believe how mad I am now, well, you just wait till my future minions build a giant tower from which I may mischievously peep.
It makes me wonder what Sauron looked like under his helmet back in the glory days when he had the ring on his finger and the finger on his hand. What was it about his appearance that said “future giant flaming cat eyeball tower suite tour-de-force”?
Number 3: Hans Gruber, after the original Die Hard (1988).
Don’t recast any Die Hard Villain unless he measures up to the performance by Alan Rickman. That means, don’t bother making any sequels. That acting masterpiece was just too brilliant. Every casting director should be so lucky as to have someone put on a clinic like that. The character Hans Gruber was so fascinating, I can’t be the only one who experienced a sad feeling seeing him fall from the skyscraper where he presumably hit concrete really hard and died.
The Harry Potter casting director did it right. They cast the acting Tour de Force Alan Rickman as Professor Serveus Snape. The villainous Professor Snape appears in every Harry Potter movie, often prominently featured, to the very last. All seven movies had some “Hans Gruber”!
To their credit, Die Hard did bring along Hans Gruber’s brother, maybe they could have tried the identical twin thing. It’s worth a try. The other Die Hard baddies just don’t measure up, “Hans” down.
2: Stop Motion Terminator. Recast with 90's Single Only CGI One-Hit-Wonder.
The Original Terminator (1984) Stop-Motion Robot, vs. the CGI Robot of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). The problem is, this recasting worked!
Like walking on thin ice before a crowd, it gave the false impression that CGI works, and the thin ice is safe to walk on.
Film history shows only too well that this one particular instance of CGI worked, like a fluke.
- CGI does a decent job modeling a shiny blob or silver mannequin. It morphs like liquid. They played off this fact as a basis of the character, which put the project on solid ground.
- Like an 80's glam band, the strangeness is intentional and used as a visual device for the subject to draw attention and invoke fear, repulsion, and admiration at the same time..
- The cartoonish blob skirts some motion issues by morphing into a real non-CGI actor before it starts complicated moves.
- It was an excellent job, I bet they had the time, equipment, money, and talent from day one.
The above guidelines were followed so they successfully crossed the river of thin ice and the crowd followed with smaller budgets, tight timelines, etc. expecting the same result.
The ensuing disaster continued for the next 2 or 3 decades. It brings us to the number one recasting fail, a microcosm of the worst bane of the Film industry today:
1. Puppet Jabba So Convincing, Carrie Fisher's Disgust is Real.
The Rubber Puppet Jabba the Hut from Star Wars, Return of the Jedi (1983) recast as CGI Jabba in Star Wars: Episode VI Special Edition (1997).
Why recast Jabba with CGI? Go get the old rubber suit, or make a new one.
Or leave the film copy on the cutting floor.
I love villains that are ugly rubber suits, puppets, stop-motion (over 24 FPS), even clay. Good special effects always got better from the 1933 King Kong, through the 1954 Godzilla, on to Jabba in 1983. Those were the golden years of film special effects.
Barring animated (drawn) villains, nothing is worse of a recasting than replacing an iconic major character with CGI. The viewer expects continuity, especially in prequels and sequels.
Models cast shadows, and costume rubber suits have weight and pliability. They do keep perfect scale, and literally "hold water".
CGI changes scale but keeps focus, moves without blur or breeze, is weightless and unaffected by weight (and gravity). CGI for now is largely devoid of blood and guts... it just doesn't hold water.
Is Harrison Ford standing in front of a wall-mural? Did someone in 1994 use Photoshop here? Is this an ad for some old video game?
Move Over Little Dogs...
I mean, come on, guys you can’t outperform puppets for crying out loud?! Hey, you failed. Move over and make room for the puppets, the Henson Gang's claiming their seats again.
You got upstaged by puppets… just like Spinal Tap.
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