Superhero Movie Villains Die
In the world of comics no one is really dead
, but in Hollywood things work differently. In the end, there needs to be a climactic confrontation between hero and villain, and one of them will die. Guess who
There are several reasons for this. Comic books have to come out on a monthly 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; the lesser ones either are captured or reform
. Usually a case of Self-Disposing Villain
when the hero has a strict no-killing policy
A Sub Trope
of Death by Adaptation
This is a DEATH TROPE! Unmarked spoilers ahoy.
- In the Tim Burton Batman movies:
- 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 Saga) movies:
- Batman Begins: Ra's Al Ghul is killed when Batman refuses to save him, letting him crash in the train he's in. Secondary villain Scarecrow survives and cameos in the two other movies. More minor villains like Victor Zssaz and Carmine Falcone are also alive by the end but locked up and driven mad in Arkham. This is interesting in that Falcone is dead in the comics.
- 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. Sadly, Nolan did this because he had plans to use Joker in future installments (he thought the original Batman movie should have let Joker live) but Heath Ledger died after the movie was completed, leaving no chance for him in the sequels.
- 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. Granted, Catwoman is more of an Anti-Hero than a straight villain.
- In the theatrical release of Superman II, General Zod is killed by being thrown into a crevice, although a deleted scene reinstated for some versions had him surviving.
- 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 Rhodey combine their strength to kill Vanko in the Crimson Dynamo/Whiplash armour. Justin Hammer lives but is arrested with his reputation in tatters.
- Iron Man 3: Aldrich Killian is killed when Pepper shoots him with a repulsor blast. His henchmen Eric Savin and Ellen Brandt are killed earlier on by Tony. As for Trevor Slattery he's arrested for his role in the villains' plans.
- 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 Spider-Man Trilogy films there are many 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 decades later.
- 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 Parker had thrown a Goblin Grenade at it. Sandman survives, however, and Peter is able to forgive him for killing Uncle Ben. It should be noted that Harry, like his father, also died under similar circumstance sin the comics and was brought back.
- 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 [Blackheart] absorbs the souls of San Venganza.
- In Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the Surfer nearly sacrifices himself to stop Galactus. It's uncertain whether that ended the planet-eater for good, but chances are that it stalled him.
- Both versions avert this when it comes to Doctor Doom who is alive, but defeated, by the end of both films.
- 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.
- In 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, although Dracula is a Public Domain Character and any could use the character. As it is, Drake had little in common with Marvel Comics' Dracula.
- As with the Punisher examples above, the other villains Blade killed were created for the films; although there was a team of vampires called the Blood Pack, they had different members from their Blade 2 counterparts.
- In the animated Doctor Strange film, Dormammu and Baron Mordo both die.
- In the first The Crow movie, Eric Draven kills all of the gang members responsible for his and his girlfriend's deaths. This is actually in keeping with the original comic. Later movies were original stories, not based on any comics.
- The Bowser equivalent from Super Mario Bros. is reduced to a pile of goo.
Subversions, Aversions and Zigzags
- Lex Luthor survives all the Superman movies, likely because Superman doesn't have so wide a rogues gallery as other heroes. The few villains who are shown to be destroyed were all original characters created for the films.
- Magneto, the X-Men's Arch-Enemy, survived all the films, along with Mystique. The villains of individual movies were killed, however with the possible exception of Juggernaut who was rendered unconscious but was on the island when Phoenix started blasting everything into atoms. Since in the second film Magneto is referred to as one of the mutants captured after the first film, it's probable that at least one of Sabretooth or Toad also survived, but neither was ever seen again.
- Likewise Stryker, Sabertooth and Deadpool all survived X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Though that mostly because it was a prequel and Stryker and Sabertooth were already established to have appeared later down the road. Deadpool is only shown to have survived in a Stinger that only played in certain versions.
- Loki in both Thor and The Avengers lives, though he attempts suicide at the end of the former and surrenders after a Metronome Beatdown from the Hulk in the latter.
- Blonsky aka The Abomination is spared by Betty stopping Hulk from strangling him in The Incredible Hulk. For someone with a reputation for destruction, the Hulk causes surprisingly few deaths.
- Averted in The Amazing Spider-Man, where "The Lizard" Curt Connors is arrested instead of killed, which leads to a post-credits Stinger in his jail cell.
- In Fantastic Four, Doctor 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 the villains needed to return.