A hero is only as good as their villain, but what is that makes a villain good? Some will say that it’s the motive, which can help make the villain more sympathetic and well-rounded. Most villains will sink to any means to achieve their mission, and this usually involves a master plan, a grandiose chain of events that the villain has sketched out to a tee to ensure that everything runs smoothly. The smarter the plan, the better the story — because it’s a disaster when no one in the audience can actually follow the logic.
There’s nothing better than when an airtight plan comes together, but sometimes villain plots are way too complicated to follow. More often than not, this happens in comic book movies and blockbusters with larger than life characters. These antagonists love coming up with the craziest scheme they can, even if it means they could have achieved their goals in much simpler ways. Here are a few villain missions that might have been a bit more complicated than necessary.
Loki’s Avengers Battle Plan
Loki is the God of Mischief and loves concocting schemes, but maybe he should have stuck to turning into snakes instead of leading a war. In The Avengers, Loki wants to bring the Chitauri to Earth and conquer it. Simple enough, right? However, Loki takes a major detour to tear apart the Avengers, the only people that can feasibly stop him. The problem with that is the Avengers aren’t a team at that point, and they only come together because Loki announced his intentions theatrically to Nick Fury right at the beginning of the movie. Then he kept pushing buttons (instead of, you know, killing them), until they were all pissed off enough to unite under one flag. Loki’s a diva, so it plays to his character, but with Thanos breathing down his neck, he probably shouldn’t have gone the complicated route.
Voldemort in Goblet of Fire
Through the first half of the Harry Potter series, Voldemort’s mission is cut and dry: come back to life. After that: take over the world. I don’t think he ever really thought out that second part, but he sure had time to plan the first half. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Voldemort finally achieved that goal, and all it took was a mix of intricate planning, luck, and sheer happenstance. Voldemort’s resurrection depends on a magical ritual that requires Harry’s blood. He decides the best way to get this is to manipulate the Tri-Wizard Tournament into letting Harry compete, cheat so that he makes it to the final round, hope that he wins the tournament, and then teleport him via portkey to a graveyard. There was no guarantee Harry would reach the portkey first or that he would survive the tournament — even with help. Voldemort had a man on the inside the entire time (Barty Crouch disguised as Mad-Eye Moody), so why couldn’t Barty just kidnap Harry? Voldemort lived IN Hogwarts for years on the back of some guy’s head, so Hogwarts security isn’t the best.
Lex Luthor And His Granny’s Peach Tea
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is almost legendary now for how overcomplicated it is, and a lot of that falls on the shoulders of Lex Luthor. Luthor likes to say he’s the smartest guy around, but complicated does not equal intelligent. In order to get Batman and Superman to destroy each other (the reasons for which are just as complicated), Lex is revealed to in some way be responsible for almost everything that happens prior to them fighting. It’s hard to list every detail of his plan but some of the highlights include: Framing Superman for the murder of an African village; hire criminals to kill people with bat-brands in prison; bribe an African villager to give a false testimony so Congress will call Superman to testify; blow up the courtroom by smuggling in a bomb in a wheelchair he gave a disgruntled WayneCorp employee who wasn’t receiving his disability checks because Luthor blocked them; invite Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne to the same gala and introduce them; kidnap Superman’s mom; manipulate a senator to giving him access to the Kryptonian ship; turn Zod’s corpse into Doomsday JUST IN CASE none of the above works out. It’s insanely convoluted with tons of holes in it, but it makes BVS one unique movie.
Joker, Agent of (Planned) Chaos
For a guy who likes to say that he doesn’t have a plan, the Joker sure thinks things through. The Dark Knight’s take on the classic villain was an instant revelation, but that doesn’t make the character’s plan in the movie any less convoluted. The Joker just wants to watch the world burn, but he’ll do everything he can to make that happen. For one thing, he plans to be captured by the police, having planted an escape route through a cell phone stitched into a prisoners stomach. He also sends all of Gotham into a panic though intricately timed attacks against city officials with the ultimate goal of forcing citizens to blow each other up. (He even has a backup plan should they not play by his rules.) To cap it off, he manipulates Harvey Dent into becoming Two-Face, which was like a whole mini-plan hiding inside his main one. It’s a lot to keep track of.
Lex Luthor Again
Lex Luthor just loves a complicated plan. In 1978’s Superman, Lex Luthor (played by Gene Hackman) set out to achieve the most villainous goal of them all: real estate. Yes, all Luthor cares about is buying up a ton of land and profiting from it as much as possible. His big plan is blowing up the San Andreas Fault Line, causing a chunk of the country to fall into the ocean so that land he owns becomes the new West Coast. It’s delightfully over the top comic book stuff, but one can’t help but think that there are other ways to make a buck. In Luthor’s defense, his unnecessary get-rich-slow scheme actually works. Superman fails to stop the missile and has to turn back time in order to stop Luthor. Luthor would go on to have real estate-themed schemes all the way to the soft reboot of Superman Returns, where he created an entire continent with little concern for the vast geographical impacts that would have on the planet he lives on.
Zemo’s Master Plan
Zemo builds a very complex plan to take down the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War. Zemo’s plan is proof of just how hard it is to find a VHS tape in this day and age. Much of Zemo’s plan relies on hoping things work out and taking advantage of what’s out of his control. To find the location of this tape, Zemo needs to speak with Bucky and the “best” way to do that was to frame Bucky for bombing the UN, hoping that someone can find and capture Bucky. He then has to replace the chosen interrogator — without wearing a disguise — and hope that no one knows what this guy looks like. After a timed-EMP attack helps him escape, it’s off to Siberia where Zemo lucks out super hard when Captain America, Bucky, and Iron Man all arrive together. I think Zemo was mostly adapting to things that happened after he bombed the UN, but he still went above and beyond to track down 30 seconds of raw footage.
Skynet Sends John Connor To Kill John Connor
It’s almost a given that any movie involving time travel is going to get out of hand, but Terminator: Genisys really pooped the bed. The reboot/sequel/prequel was playing fast and loose with the Terminator timeline by jumping between three different time periods, but it also gave zero shits about logic. In the movie, Skynet turns resistance leader John Connor, the man its been trying to kill for years, into a Terminator. This advanced supercomputer then decides the best use of its new creation is to send him back in time to kill his parents, thus preventing his own birth. That’s dumb on a few different levels, but how does something like this not break the universe in half? If John Connor was never born, then the evil John Connor isn’t sent back to kill his parents… which means that he WILL be born. Then again, John Connor sends his own father back in time to impregnate his mom, so time travel has never exactly been crystal clear in Terminator.