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Evil Overlooker

"Composition wise this cover is actually more interesting than the ones we're used to seeing. We actually have something that catches the readers attention, with the menacing villain holding the symbols of the heroes by knives."

Box art or advertisement that features the villain's head "watching" the hero.

This trope is related to Floating Head Syndrome, though the latter is not typically viewed as fondly. For when a villain is overlooking a scene in-story, see I Have the High Ground.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comicbooks 
  • Marvel Comics has been known to do this: for starters, the one-shot Daredevil villain The Surgeon General and Spider-Man villain Jackal.
  • Batman did this twice in his early years. The first saw him looking down upon an evil vampire named "the Monk" as he dragged a damsel in distress away from the castle. The second time had him looking down in approval as his new sidekick, Robin, fought off some gangsters.
  • Combined with Floating Head Syndrome in the artwork for Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's early short story, "Reign of the Super-Man." (As a side note, the "Super-Man" here—a bald villain—inspired Superman foes the "Ultra-Humanite" and Lex Luthor.)

    Films — Animated 
Many posters and video boxes for Western animated films have these, especially if they are from The Nineties. Sometimes, the villain looks like they are trying to grab the main characters or the MacGuffin.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Many a Star Wars poster has Darth Vader doing this; in fact, the series may well have originated the trope.
  • The Star Trek films:
    • The poster to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country shows the very large, very angry eye of General Chang glaring down at the Enterprise-A from the background.
    • The poster of Star Trek: First Contact does this in a pretty interesting manner. Data and Picard are wary of an approaching army of Borg drones underneath them, but the Borg Queen, the film's Big Bad, is hovering over them both.
    • The poster of Star Trek: Insurrection features the Enterprise-E flying towards the giant face of the movie's main villain (who actually has a rather minor role in the film, considering how prominently he's shown on the poster).
    • One poster for the 2009 Star Trek film does this with Nero. Oddly, most of the posters and DVD covers for the 2009 film do this with Kirk; one could be forgiven for assuming that Christopher Pine plays the villain (although that film's Kirk is arguably an Anti-Hero).
  • 28 Days Later has a poster with just the eyes of an Infected hanging in the sky over a silhouetted Jim.
  • Fright Night uses a variation: villain as an evil cloud. The poster of the 2011 remake is a straight example, although Jerry does kinda merge into the whole sky around the lower side.
  • This movie poster for Inglourious Basterds.
  • The original poster for Child's Play.
  • The film adaptation of No Country for Old Men portrays Anton Chigurh this way. The effect is actually very creepy, especially since this is one story where, justice and logic be darned, The Bad Guy Wins.
  • The 2002 adaption of The Time Machine.
  • The poster for The Haunting of Molly Hartley does this with Joseph, who is revealed in the last ten minutes to be part of a Satanic cult.
  • The poster for The Untouchables has a giant Al Capone in shades, smoking a cigar and smirking over the Untouchables.
  • The Poster for the film Lion of the Desert, about the life of Libyan anti-colonial rebel Omar Mukhtar, depicts Benito Mussolini glowering over his troops and tanks as they clash with the rebels, with central villain General Rodolfo Graziani in the foreground.
  • And also with the zombie nazis flick Horrors of War, which does this with Adolf Hitler and his zombie hordes.
  • The posters for Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later and Halloween: Resurrection do this with Michael Myers' Black Eyes of Evil looming over the frightened-looking protagonists.
  • Some posters for Captain America: The First Avenger have Red Skull's eyes looming over Cap
  • After the "I ♥ NY" -posters for Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan were taken down due to complaints from New York Tourism Committee, they were replaced with a poster of Jason looming over the city.
  • Arachnophobia is a fairly subtle example. Take a good look at the moon on the poster/cover.
  • On the posters of John Carpenter's Vampires, vampire lord Jan Valek is shown as a face in the clouds overlooking the heroes.
  • The poster of the first Blade film show the vampire antagonist Deacon Frost ominously watching over the Daywalker Blade in a blood-red background.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Heroes, the Season 1 graphic novel collection has 2 different front covers, both of which feature Sylar's head looming over the main cast of Heroes.
    • On the cover for the Season 2 DVD, the main cast of Heroes stands in the foreground at Times Square while Sylar's head grins down at them from an overhead billboard.
  • The Troll King is doing this on the DVD cover for The 10th Kingdom — which is a subversion, as he is neither the real BigBad of the miniseries nor even impinges very much on the plot, particularly since he only briefly menaces the heroes in Parts 1 and 2. (He's actually much more of The Rival for the Big Bad.) This might be a borderline case of Billing Displacement, since while Dianne Wiest is greatly respected and a well-known actress, Ed O'Neill is probably more popular. Or it could be a bit of canny advertising to misdirect the audience.
  • Every Angel DVD case has Angelus looking over Angel's shoulder.
  • An inversion: Upon opening it, the House: Season One box set features the main cast looking down at you in a circle with a surgical light over all of their heads, as if you were a patient.

    Music 

    Pinball 
  • Downplayed in Street Fighter II - M. Bison's floating head is rather small and easy to overlook.

    Toys 

    Videogames 

    Web Animation 
  • A widely circulated fan poster of Red vs. Blue Season 3 features the head of Big Bad O'Malley doing some Evil Overlooking of the main cast. A similar fan poster of Season 4 featured the Alien in a similar position, although it was revealed rather early in the season that the Alien was actually not the new villain (it was still O'Malley).

    Webcomics 
  • The third Penny Arcade book, The Warsun Prophecies, has Tycho's eyes looming over Gabe.

    Western Animation 
  • The interior art for The Venture Bros. season two DVD features the Monarch looming over portraits of the main characters.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: the poster for Season One depicts the Gaang down the front, with Zuko looming over them evilly. This is also shown prominently in one of the last episodes "The Ember Island Players", when the in-universe poster showing the Show Within a Show is pretty much exactly the same as the poster for Season one.
    • Also the poster for Season 3, which has Ozai looming behind Aang in the Avatar State.
    • The SDCC poster for The Legend of Korra featured Amon looming over Korra, Mako, and Bolin.
  • The American cover of Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron's DVD case features the Colonel's ethereal head looking over his shoulder at the heroes. Thing is, his expression and the semi-transparency makes him look downright benevolent...
  • The cover of Operation Z.E.R.O features Grandfather looking down on the KND, who as the cover implies are standing between him and the world.


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System ShockImageSource/Video GamesTales of Phantasia

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