Alternative ‘Man of Steel’ villains

Mike Myers as Dr. Evil.
Melinda Sue Gordon/New Line Cinema
Mike Myers as Dr. Evil.

Readers seemed to resist the notion of changing the bad-guy template — General Zod or Lex Luthor — that has served various incarnations of the Superman franchise. Since Christopher Reeve first put on the tights in 1978, with Gene Hackman playing the bald-pated, malcontent genius, Luthor, and up to “Man of Steel,” with Michael Shannon as the malevolent Krypton survivor Zod, these two have been inescapable. A few readers saw the need for change: “How often can they rehash the same story of his origins?,” SopwithCamelSomervilleor writes. “The same thing has happened with Spider-Man. Why is it so difficult to come up with a unique story line?” But KN4EVA is having none of it, declaring, “Peter Keough needs to kneel before Zod.” Perhaps. Until then, here are five alternative Superman villains.

Mr. Mxyzptlk

He deserves a movie if only because I love saying his name backward, which, as you probably know, is the only way to get rid of this playfully malicious freak from the fifth dimension. Come to think of it, the ’70s musical group the Fifth Dimension might prove a worthy adversary, too.

Bizarro Superman

If Luis Buñuel were alive, he’d be the ideal director for a film featuring this variation on Frankenstein’s monster. A defective clone of the Man of Steel, he is a kind of crystalline id who, with Bizarro Lois Lane, has set up a Bizarro Planet of their progeny, Htrae, where all values are reversed — kind of like North Korea, or Fort Lauderdale during spring break.

Dr. Evil


Pitted against Superman, Austin Powers’s archenemy would give fresh meaning to that old canard beloved of villains, “We are alike, you and I.” The similarities are uncanny. Both are relics from another time, are prone to megalomania, have clones (see Bizarro Superman above), love hairless cats, and have been played by Michael Myers. OK, I made up the last two. But they could be true. Anyway, it was Alison Koff’s idea.

The Spanish Inquisition

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As we well know from Monty Python, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, and they would surely find much that is objectionable with this heretic, not the least being his origins from another planet, which would suggest that Earth is not the center of the universe. Burn him at a Green Kryptonite stake!

Tardar Sauce aka Grumpy Cat.

Grumpy Cat

If you’re a cat owner, you know Superman is doomed to come up on the losing end of this matchup. Actually, since a Grumpy Cat movie is in the works, maybe they should switch roles, with Superman playing villain to this supremely misanthropic feline’s superhero. Thanks to reader Y.L. Doyle for the idea.

COMING UP: A return of the postponed best high school movies, for June 16. And for June 23, in recognition of Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” the best movie adaptations of Shakespeare. Cast your votes at


Peter Keough can be reached at