Created By: Euan2000 on August 24, 2012 Last Edited By: Euan2000 on September 6, 2012
Troped

Superhero Movie Villains Die

In movie land Joker Immunity doesn't apply

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Trope
In the world of comics no one is really dead, but in Hollywood things work differently. In the end there needs to be a climatic confrontation between hero and villain and one of them will die. Guess who.

There are several reasons for this. Comics have to come out on a regular basis so they can't afford to lose villains whereas even the fastest movie productions take years. Also the Villain's death leaves the story at a natural conclusion. In movies with more than one supervillain it's usually only the villain that acts as the Big Bad that perishes with the lesser ones either being captured or reforming. Usually a case of Self-Disposing Villain when the hero has a strict no killing policy.

This is a DEATH TROPE! Unmarked spoilers ahoy.

Straight Examples

  • In the Tim Burton Batman movies:
    • The Joker himself is killed by having his leg pulled by a statue while trying to escape in the original.
    • Penguin dies and is given a funeral by his penguin minions at the end of Batman Returns.
  • In the Joel Schumacher movies
    • In Batman Forever, Two-Face is killed, but the Riddler survives.
    • In Batman & Robin, Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy both survive. Bane's fate is ambiguous (he's alive, but severely weakened when we last see him, and the building around him is collapsing).
  • In the Christopher Nolan Batman (The Dark Knight Trilogy) Movies
    • Batman Begins: Ra's Al Ghul is killed when Batman refuses to save him, letting him drop in front of a train. Secondary villain Scarecrow survives and cameos in the other two movies.
    • The major villain dies, minor villain lives sub-clause is inverted in The Dark Knight when Batman captures The Joker alive but is unable to prevent Harvey Dent aka Two Face from falling to his death.
    • Both Bane and Talia al Ghul are killed in the course of the final battle in The Dark Knight Rises. Catwoman joins the Fight against Bane and is seen with Bruce in a romantic relationship in the end.
  • In the Iron Man films
    • Iron Man 1: Obadiah Stane is killed when Tony gets Pepper to overload the Arc Reactor, blowing Tony aside and frying Stane in his much heavier suit.
    • Iron Man 2: Tony and Rhodney combine thier strength to kill Vanko in the Crimson Dynamo/Titanium Man armour. Justin Hammer lives but is arrested with his reputation in tatters.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: Red Skull is seemingly killed when he tries to use the cosmic cube and gets disintegrated (or possibly teleported to another dimension) by it.
  • In the original trilogy of Spider-Man films there's a lot of villain deaths.
    • In Spider-Man, the Green Goblin is killed by his glider impaling him. This happened to him in the comic books as well though he came back from that.
    • In Spider-Man 2, Doctor Octopus is killed by either drowning or the heat when he tears apart the base of the fusion reactor, sending the miniature sun (along with himself) into the river.
    • In Spider-Man 3, The post Heel–Face Turn New Goblin is killed by Venom, and Eddie Brock/Venom dies when he tries to get back to the symbiote after Peter had thrown a Goblin Grenade at it. Sandman survives, however, and Peter is able to forgive him for killing Uncle Ben.
  • In Ghost Rider, Blackheart is able to be killed (or given a Fate Worse Than Death) by Ghost Rider's Reaper's Stare after he absorbs the souls of San Venganza.
  • In Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer the Surfer sacrifices himself to stop Galactus. It's uncertain if that ended the planet-eater for good, but chances are that it stalled him.
  • In Green Lantern, Hector Hammond and Parallax are dead by the end. Sinestro never even becomes a villain until the stinger.
  • In Punisher: War Zone, Jigsaw dies. The villains of the other movies don't count as they are original characters.
  • X-Men First Class: Sebastian Shaw is killed by Magneto forcing a coin through his brain. Shaw's minions join Magneto
  • In the first Blade film, Deacon Frost dies. In Blade III, Dracula (AKA Drake) dies.
  • In the Animated Doctor Strange film, Dormammu and Baron Mordo both die.
  • In Ghost Rider Spirit Of Vengeance, Blackout dies.

Subversions, Aversions and Zigzags

  • Lex Luthor survives all the Superman movies likely because Superman doesn't have as wide a rogue's gallery as other heroes.
  • Magneto, the X-Men's Arch-Enemy survived all the films along with Mystique. The Villains of individual movies were killed however.
  • Loki in both Thor and The Avengers lives though cast into space in the former and beaten senseless by The Hulk and captured in the latter.
  • Blonsky aka The Abomination is spared by Betty stopping Hulk from strangling him to death in The Incredible Hulk. For someone with a reputation for destruction the Hulk causes surprisingly few deaths.
  • Averted in The Amazing Spider-Man, where Curt Connors is arrested instead of killed, which leads to a post-credits Stinger in his jail cell.
  • In Fantastic Four, Dr. Doom isn't killed; rather, he's frozen in place after his superheated metal body is quickly chilled. He returns in (and survives) the sequel.
  • In Daredevil, Bullseye and Kingpin both survive, though in Bullseye's case, you don't know that unless you stayed for the in-credits stinger.
  • In the Adam West Batman movie Joker Immunity is in full effect as it was the movie of the series and they needed to return.

Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • August 24, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Doesn't Death By Adaptation cover this?
  • August 24, 2012
    Euan2000
    It's a more specific trope covering characters that are known to either come back from the dead or be left alive due to their popularity or importance.
  • August 24, 2012
    NimmerStill
    I like it. Happened in most of the Spiderman movies too, I believe; too lazy to do the writeup right now. Anyone remember what happened to the villains in Batman Forever and Batman And Robin?
  • August 24, 2012
    KevinKlawitter
    • In Spider Man, the Green Goblin is killed by his glider. Though this happened to him in the comic books as well.
    • In Spider-Man 2, Doctor Octopus is killed by either drowning or the heat when he tears apart the base of the fusion reactor, sending the miniature sun (along with himself) into the river.
    • In Spider-Man 3, The post Heel Face Turn New Goblin is killed by Venom, and Eddie Brock/Venom dies when he tries to get back to the symbiote after Peter had thrown a Goblin Grenade at it. Sandman survives, however, and Peter is able to forgive him for killing Uncle Ben.
    • Averted in The Amazing Spider Man, where Curt Connors is arrested instead of killed, which leads to a post-credits Stinger in his jail cell.
  • August 24, 2012
    KevinKlawitter
    • In Batman Forever, Two-Face is killed, but the Riddler survives.
    • In Batman And Robin, Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy both survive. Bane's fate is ambiguous (he's alive, but severely weakened when we last see him, and the building around him is collapsing).
  • August 24, 2012
    animeg3282
    If it happens in the comics, it doesn't count.
  • August 24, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^I think it still counts if the life span from villain (complete with gimmick, e.g. the Joker's look or the Green Goblin's machinery) to death is much shorter in the movie than in the comic.
  • August 24, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    You should probably spoiler-tag the The Dark Knight Rises example - it is quite a big reveal and some people still haven't watched it.
  • August 24, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^Eh, really? That the bad guys dies? The way Talia al Ghul is named, the reveal on her part isn't really there. Plus, ya know, DEATH TROPE.
  • August 25, 2012
    Euan2000
    I changed the title to be more close to the topic.
  • August 25, 2012
    HonestGent
    ^^^^^ I dunno, Animeg, in comic books you can pull Death Is Cheap and resurrect villians as needed, so if it happens in a comic it doesn't necessarily stick, whereas in films all bets really are off.
  • August 25, 2012
    Euan2000
    Does anyone know what happened to the villains of the Fantastic Four, Green Lantern, Daredevil and Ghost Rider Movies?
  • August 25, 2012
    KevinKlawitter
    • In Fantastic Four, Dr. Doom isn't killed; rather, he's frozen in place after his superheated metal body is quickly chilled.
    • In Daredevil, Bullseye and Kingpin both survive, though in Bullseye's case, you don't know that unless you stayed for the in-credits stinger.
    • In Ghost Rider, Blackheart is able to be killed by the Ghost Rider's Reaper's Stare after he absorbs the souls of San Venganza.
  • August 25, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Yay for Kevin!
  • August 25, 2012
    Euan2000
    Thanks Kevin. Now all I need is the second FF movie, the Second GR movie and the Green Lanturn movie's villians and we;ll have covered most modern Superhero Movies.
  • August 25, 2012
    SharleeD
    For The Dark Knight Trilogy examples, note that the Scarecrow, who is never the main villain, survives all three movies.
  • August 25, 2012
    surgoshan
    I don't think you should include aversions. An aversion would just be Joker Immunity all over again. Subversions and zigzags are appropriate, though.
  • August 25, 2012
    Euan2000
    It's not full joker immunity as even though they live they're still prevented from further villainy and aversions are notable when Mr. Thou-shalt-not-kill G. Batman has a villain dead in all the movies.

    Luthor counts as Joker immunity though, I'll grant you that.
  • August 26, 2012
    MrRuano
    • In Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Doom manages to survive yet again, though powerless, but the Surfer sacrifices himself to stop Galactus. It's uncertain if that ended the planet-eater for good, but chances are that it stalled him.
    • In Green Lantern, Parallax and Sinestro survive (with the credits stinger revealing Sinestro's conversion to the Yellow Lantern), but Hal's friend who was infected by Parallax doesn't.
  • August 26, 2012
    Euan2000
    Thanks Ruano.

    Anyone got any examples from older superhero movies?
  • August 26, 2012
    SharleeD
    • In the film of The Shadow, Big Bad Shiwan Khan survives but his Psychic Powers are destroyed by a brain injury. An inversion, as villains who crossed paths with the Shadow normally did die in his radio and written incarnations.
  • August 26, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    The names a bit off. It's clear, which is a good thing, but could we also make it a bit snappier?
  • August 26, 2012
    HonestGent
  • August 27, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I think the Superhero part implies the trope is more exclusive than it is (or needs to be).
  • August 27, 2012
    Euan2000
    How about Comic Movie Villains Die?
  • August 27, 2012
    SharleeD
    Movie Supervillains Die
  • August 27, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    In the examples, the Batman movies are described as "the Tim Burton movies", "the campy movies", and "the Christopher Nolan movies". All three should be names: Joel Schumacher directed the "campy" ones.
  • August 28, 2012
    Euan2000
    Thanks Rodney. Changed it.

  • August 28, 2012
    CobraPrime
    In Punisher: War Zone, Jigsaw dies.
  • August 28, 2012
    IndirectActiveTransport
    The Same But More Specific of Death By Adaptation? Don't think this is worthy to be its own page.
  • August 28, 2012
    DAMartin
    In Green Lantern, change "Hal's friend" for "Hector Hammond" if the example is referring to him. In fact, it would make the film more of an example of the trope by noticing that Hammond is a regular villain in GL books. I thought Krona/Parallax/whatshisname had been destroyed too. Besides, I think Doom died in Rise of the Silver Surfer.
  • August 30, 2012
    shastab24
    In the Ghost Rider example, you say Blackheart died, but I don't think that's the case. The Penance Stare was used on a crook earlier in the movie and they showed that he could still blink. Therefore, Blackheart is still alive, suffering a Fate Worse Than Death (which is still viable for this, I think, but I wanted to clarify).
  • September 4, 2012
    Euan2000
    We're still a few movies short. Does anyone know what happened to the bad guys in the 2004 Hulk, the Second Ghost Rider and (I think they were killed but for clarification) the Punisher films.
  • September 4, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    Grammar note: "where as" should read "whereas".
  • September 4, 2012
    oztrickster
    The bad guys are killed in both Punisher films, the 2003 hulk movie has the hulk's father die, but the general survives the film.
  • September 5, 2012
    oztrickster
    Couple of typos in the subversions section. Likely in the Lex example. Through in the Loki example.
  • September 6, 2012
    CobraPrime
    As I already put:
    • In Punisher: War Zone, Jigsaw dies. The 2004 movie's villain is not a comic character so not an example. Ditto for the 1989 film, where the villains aren't comic characters AFAIK.

    Also:
    • In the first Blade film, Deacon Frost dies. In Blade III, Dracula (AKA Drake) dies.
    • In the Animated Doctor Strange film, Dormammu and Baron Mordo both die.
    • In Ghost Rider Spirit Of Vengeance, Blackout dies.
    • In Xmen First Class, Sebastian Shaw dies. Interestingly, all of his minions survive and wind up joining Magneto.
    • Averted in Green Lantern First Flight, Sinestro survives.
  • September 6, 2012
    Euan2000
    I already noted Sinestro but thanks for the rest
  • September 6, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    In the Fantastic Four example, that's not a villain must die, that's a heroic sacrifice. The Surfer is not a bad guy, and Galactus punishes him for rebelling against his master. This of course is comic book knowledge, and the power Cosmic was not explained in the movie but it might be a good hottip.
  • September 6, 2012
    Quatic
    • In the first X-Men movie Senator Robert Kelly dies; he is a longstanding foe in the comics. And in the second X-Men movie, Colonel William Stryker dies, another longtime comics enemy.
    • In Jonah Hex, archenemy Quentin Turnbull is killed.
    • The Transformers movies (including the 80s animated film) have been pretty regular about killing Megatron and other Decepticons (and Autobots). They bring back the dead with abandon, tho, as well.
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