10 '90s Movie Villains Who Aged Poorly – CBR – Comic Book Resources

10 '90s Movie Villains Who Aged Poorly – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Though ’90s films produced many iconic characters, some villains took things too far.
In many ways, the '90s could be considered a renewed golden age for cinematic creativity. This revived drive for ingenuity manifested in the era's villains, who were notably edgier and more provocative than their '80s predecessors.
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As expected, some of these villains unfortunately aged poorly. This doesn't mean their movies are suddenly bad, but it does replace their rose-tinted nostalgic legacies with a much-needed (and often long-delayed) critical analysis.
Spoilers Ahead!
Today, Darth Maul is regarded by Star Wars fans as one of the space opera's coolest villains who borders on being a complex anti-hero. The problem here is that this conception only came to be thanks to the Sith fighter's improved characterization and development in the canon spin-offs and Expanded Universe, not his debut movie.
In the first Star Wars prequel, Maul barely spoke and only had six minutes worth of screen time. Maul's only purpose in Episode I was to look cool and give actor Ray Park a chance to show his awesome lightsaber skills, nothing more. Maul's vindication in later tie-in materials only makes his actual live-action introduction weaker in retrospect.
As big and explosive as Independence Day is, its villainous aliens make a good case for less being more. The less known about the aliens, their motives, and origins, the better they were as an existential threat to mankind. But thanks to the belated sequel Independence Day: Resurgence and its retcons, the aliens became a joke.
Even ignoring how technologically-advanced aliens lost to a mere computer virus (which is a homage to H.G. Wells' War Of The Worlds), Resurgence revealing that they attacked Earth for its resources robbed them of their terror. The sequel also showed the aliens in full, further demoting them from indescribable foes to generic galactic force of evil.
Every Friday The 13th movie tried to reinvent the long-running slasher franchise's formula in their own ways, and the ninth movie decided to give Jason a demonic twist. Here, it's revealed that Jason is actually a parasitic demon worm that turns its host body into the next Jason. The "Hellbaby" is also regarded by fans as one of the series' worst ideas.
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Though the Hellbaby at least explained Jason's immortality, it robbed him of his mystique and downgraded him to a generic horror movie demon. Worse, the Hellbaby only gave Jason less than ten minutes worth of screen time. There's a reason why Friday The 13th fans embrace most of the franchise's silliness, but disown the Hellbaby.
One of the most poorly aged tropes in comedies is the fun-hating villain. Usually, these are strict authority figures who try to stop the starring comedians from having fun. The problem is the comedians are insufferable and uncontrollable, and the designated villain is their victim. Bio-Dome is a good example of this, and possibly the trope's worst offender.
Here, slackers Bud and Doyle bumble into the Bio-Dome and ruin Dr. Faulkner's year-long experiment with their "wacky" hijinks. By the end, Dr. Faulkner snapped and tried to kill Bud and Doyle, but audiences are meant to root for the duo. Bio-Dome is often seen as one of the worst comedies of the 90s, and Dr. Faulkner's vilification is cited as a reason why.
Even momentarily ignoring its controversial director and star, The Usual Suspects' surprise villain Keyser Soze is paradoxically its best and weakest link. The movie's big twist is that the nervous Verbal was actually the merciless crime lord Keyser Soze this whole time, and everything seen in flashbacks were lies he used to uphold his secret.
In the moment, Verbal's true identity is an amazing and unexpected revelation. In hindsight, Keyser hiding in plain sight is too convenient a charade. There were simply too many uncontrollable variables that somehow lined up perfectly in Keyser's favor, making his escape at the end difficult to buy even with a willing suspension of disbelief.
At its core, Starship Troopers is a dark parody of wartime propaganda and zealous nationalism. The Federation's war against the bugs of Klendathu is a thinly-veiled parallel to the dehumanization that fascist regimes use to demonize enemies, and the Mobile Infantry enforced this hateful mindset. Thing is, viewers thought the Federation were the heroes.
Starship Troopers flopped in 1997, but it still inspired countless imitators that took its fanatical militarism at face value. The Federation's basis on Nazi Germany was anything but subtle, and yet fans think that the Mobile Infantry's gung-ho arrogance and wanton genocide were in the right simply because Starship Troopers was too fun for its own good.
Ever since its release in 1993, Falling Down became one of the most celebrated urban vigilante movies ever made. Fans identified with D-Fens' frustration against society, especially when it came to mundane annoyances like smug golfers and rude construction workers. However, what everyone misses (or ignores) is that D-Fens was the villain.
Falling Down was a deconstruction of the vigilante power fantasy, and it never shied away from depicting D-Fens' seemingly cool rampage as selfish and dangerous. Problem is, pivotal scenes were taken out of context and uploaded online. This cemented D-Fens as the everyman's rage made flesh, even if the movie's point was to prove him otherwise.
When it comes to Fight Club, Tyler Durden is always pointed out as being one of the satirical movie's most misrepresented characters. While it's true that Tyler's satire is lost on his biggest fans, the same can be said for Project Mayhem: the anarchist movement he inspired. In brief, Project Mayhem is a collection of spoiled brats.
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Tyler believes that modern society emasculated men, so it's up to him and Project Mayhem to burn the world down so that men can reclaim their denied legacies amidst the ashes. Project Mayhem is obviously wrong and delusional, but there are Fight Club fans who fell for Tyler's tempting charisma and now subscribe to the group's entitled mindset.
The Silence Of The Lambs is undeniably one of the best horror movies ever made, but that doesn't mean it didn't inspire some problematic trends. Besides spawning too many Hannibal Lecter clones who mistook long-winded speeches for creepy verbosity, the central serial killer Buffalo Bill embodied many of the worst stereotypes about transgender people.
Here, Buffalo Bill murdered women and wore their skins to become a "real woman." Besides this, Buffalo Bill is effeminate and flamboyant to a parodic extreme. The Silence Of The Lambs tried to separate Buffalo Bill from the real trans community, but the fact that he played into the worst transphobic misconceptions made some question the movie's lasting legacy.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective's big twist was that the main suspect and Ace's love interest were one and the same person. As it turns out, the disgraced athlete Ray Finkle killed Lois Einhorn then stole her identity to exact vengeance on his spiteful sports team. This was then played out as a gross-out gag that ended with Ace publicly humiliating Lois.
Even if Lois was the villain, the homophobia and misogyny she endured was excessive and mean-spirited, even by the very loose standards of the '90s. Not helping was how Ace Ventura's overriding punchline was that transgender people are inherently disgusting. Jim Carrey revealed that this was done to elicit the most extreme reactions (even offended ones), and it's a joke that wasn't received well in 1994, and even more so today.
CBR Staff Writer Angelo Delos Trinos’ professional writing career may have only started a few years ago, but he’s been writing and overthinking about anime, comics and movies for his whole life. He probably watched Neon Genesis Evangelion way too much, and he still misses video stores. Follow him at @AD3ofc on Twitter, or email him at delos3nos1992@gmail.com.

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