The Detroit Free Press quoted Collected Comics Library's Chris Marshall on Sunday, in an article about the importance of good villains to successful superhero movies. Among the aspects that make a good movie villain, Chris advocated sticking to the source material, noting that this is what separated the successful Magneto in the X-Men films from the reconfigured Dr. Doom in the Fantastic Four films.
The article goes on to note that villain camp, which worked on the small screen in the Batman series, it often doesn't work in movies, as with Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin or Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor. Though, the article notes, "some consider it heresy to bash Hackman," I think the campiness of Lex Luthor in the Superman movies is one (of many) reasons that Superman Returns wasn't as successful as it could have been.
When you compare Hackman or Kevin Spacey's Lex Luthor to Jack Nicholson or the clips we've seen of Heath Ledger's Joker, there's no question who's the scarier, more engaging villain -- and neither Nicholson nor Ledger play the Joker for laughs. The flaw is not with the Lex Luthor character -- witness Michael Rosenbaum playing an entirely compelling Lex Luthor on Smallville for seven seasons -- but rather with the portrayal.
This is one (also of many) reasons why I'm looking forward to a Superman sequel. If director Bryan Singer can bring in another, impressive villain -- Brainiac comes to mind -- that might help in the struggling franchise's troubles.
Read the full article at the Detroit Free Press. Congratulations, Chris!