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Top 10 Darkest Super Villain Portrayals

Super Villains aren't exactly a cheery subject, but these movie portrayals got dark! WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Darkest Portrayals of Super Villains in Movies! But who will take the top spot on this list? Will it be David Tenant in Jessica Jones, Danny Devito in Batman Returns, or Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight? Watch to find out!

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These actors sure know how to go to dark places. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Darkest Supervillain Portrayals.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the actors that really brought out the darkness of the supervillain characters they played in television shows or movies. Warning: some of these entries may be considered spoilers, so view at your own discretion.

#10: Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn
“The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (2014)

While the movie was panned by critics, Peter Parker’s friend turned enemy delivers a creepy and sinister performance. DeHaan masterfully portrays the transition from a sweet friend of Peter’s to the insane Green Goblin, teetering on the brink of insanity for much of the film. This darker portrayal of Spider-Man’s archnemesis comes to a head in the final confrontation of the film, where DeHaan’s unsettling madness steals the show. Harry Osborn is uncomfortable to watch in this film because of his unhinged personality, and DeHaan’s ease in portraying the darker side of a well-known character is captivating.

#9: Michael Shannon as General Zod
“Man of Steel” (2013)

Driven and determined, the villainous Kryptonian has come to Earth with a dark purpose; to terraform the entire planet to be a New Krypton. Shannon’s portrayal of the character is powerful and raw, and manages to appear almost regal and sympathetic as he explains his plans to destroy humanity to rebuild his home. Shannon’s Zod uses fear and mystery to intimidate the people of Earth, and is absolutely merciless in everything he does, from his monologues to his callous attitude towards humans. Michael Shannon turns Zod into a gritty character who is feared and leaves a huge impression on movie-goers.

#8: Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo
“Captain America: Civil War” (2016)

While not a physical threat to any of the Avengers, this was the first villain that succeeded in destroying the unity of the super-hero team. After his family was killed in the confrontation between Ultron and the Avengers, Zemo resolved to destroy the Avengers, no matter the cost. What makes Brühl’s performance dark is the subtle determination to kill innocents and ruin lives in order to achieve vengeance for his dead family. By bringing a more realistic take on the character to the screen, Brühl succeeds in making Zemo a dark and multi-dimensional villain.

#7: Teddy Sears as Zoom
“The Flash” (2014-)

A terrifying speedster with a fitting voice, Zoom served as a terrific foe for Barry Allen and his friends. Sears portrayed the heroic “Jay Garrick” so well that nobody predicted that was just a cover for the dark villain who delights in pain for pain’s sake. Zoom’s only goal is to be the fastest man alive, and he isn’t afraid to kill or maim in order to get his way. The chilling smile Sears gives to our heroes only adds to the menace of this deranged man.

#6: Michael Fassbender as Magneto
“X-Men” franchise (2011-)

While this character has been portrayed excellently before, with the terrific performance of Ian McKellen, Fassbender’s take on the character has brought Magneto to incredibly dark places. While given a sympathetic look at the origins of Magneto, Michael Fassbender still succeeds in showing the twisted side to the mutant’s quest for revenge. The calm look in his eyes as he murders those who stand in his way, or the fact that he served an ancient mutant with plans to remake the world, suggest that this Magneto has very few qualms about the untold destruction he is causing.

#5: Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin
“Daredevil” (2015-)

Nobody expected this performance to be as dark as it was. D’Onofrio manages to portray Wilson Fisk both as a cold and calculating crime-boss, but also as a raging and psychotic man who will brutally decapitate a henchman for disappointing him. Kingpin’s vicious side is showcased beautifully by D’Onofrio, as he can begin in a calm monologue before suddenly snapping and throttling someone to death with little effort. D’Onofrio’s performance is chilling because one can never be sure if he’s about to shake your hand or snap your neck.

#4: Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus
“Spider-Man 2” (2004)

Even with a tragic origin story, this nemesis of Parker’s truly delivered a gritty performance. Driven to insanity by his failed creations, Otto Octavius was a role model to Peter before his mechanical arms twisted his mind and led him down a path of villainy, and Alfred Molina does a great job in taking viewers down that twisted path, making them feel sorry for his character while also terrified of his lack of morals. Molina seems to delight in his role as the villain, smirking as he causes chaos for Spidey.

#3: Danny DeVito as The Penguin
“Batman Returns” (1992)

Few actors can manage to be creepy, disgusting, horrifying and weird all at once, and still manage to put forward a compelling performance. DeVito’s Penguin is iconic because of how delightfully crazy and dark he gets. He isn’t afraid to take risks and go over the top, and somehow finds a way to make the Penguin feared despite some of the silly lines. It would be near impossible to make a villain that considers himself to be more penguin than human seem dark and sinister, and yet, DeVito does a fantastic job of doing just that.

#2: David Tennant as Kilgrave
“Jessica Jones” (2015-)

Imagine the twisted things you could do with powers of mind control, and then watch as Marvel one-ups you. Tennant’s portrayal of the sadistic Purple Man is unsettling to watch, but incredibly compelling. Tennant calmly narrates in a matter-of-fact tone what he wants his victims to do before they carry out his orders. Beyond his extravagant murders, however, it is Tennant’s sinister and casual way in which he longs for Jessica that truly makes his portrayal of the character masterful. Kilgrave is certainly the darkest villain in the Marvel Netflix universe, and that is all thanks to this brilliant performance.

#1: Heath Ledger as The Joker
“The Dark Knight” (2008)

The Clown Prince of Crime has been played by countless actors, but none succeeded in turning him quite as menacing as this. Heath Ledger’s performance of the Joker is rightfully regarded as one of the best acting performances in history, but what really sets Ledger’s portrayal apart is how realistic and gritty his villain is. The manic laugh, the way he licks his lips, the unhinged look in his eyes; Ledger turns the Joker into a more serious yet terrifying foe for Batman, and yet still manages to keep the essence of the Joker intact.

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