The DC universe has a long, infamous list of super villains — from the Joker, who wreaks havoc across Gotham City, to Doctor Poison, who’s literally developing chemical weapons of mass destruction. Not all of them have dastardly powers like we see in the Marvel universe, but they definitely have crippling smarts and even creepier looks.
DC’s most dangerous super villains are scientists, lawyers, doctors and scorned psychiatrists (throw in a politician, and it’s just like the real world). They’re often the brainiest of the bunch, no matter the scars left behind by the physical trauma they inevitably endure. These lasting scars are passed to the gorgeous actors who play them on-screen — from burned faces to regrettable tattoos. In fact, if you only knew these stars from their villainous portrayals, you probably wouldn’t recognize them on the red carpet. The following D.C. movie villains are absolutely gorgeous in real life, even if their movie characters are pretty gross.
Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond
The Green Lantern had a tough go of things. According to The Telegraph, the flick is « roundly considered the worst superhero film ever made. » The movie’s star, Ryan Reynolds, reportedly didn’t even watch the film’s final cut. There may have been a lot of reasons The Green Lantern was considered a colossal failure, but it probably wasn’t for the special effects. The SFX makeup team clearly earned its keep creating a believable, increasingly more grotesque Hector Hammond. That’s a tall order when you’re working with an attractive actor and ever-changing prosthetics.
« Peter Sarsgaard is playing Hector and he is one of those wonderful actors that seem to transform himself into another character completely, » Director Martin Campbell told Collider. « …[The head is] a nightmare by the way, but it looks terrific. »
Despite the (probably literal) headache, IGN’s behind-the-scenes look at the villain’s transformation reveals that Sarsgaard was a good sport. He believed the prosthetic « really helped his character. » The film’s SFX gurus reportedly « sculpted a series of maquettes » to map out the villain’s transformation as his head swelled throughout the film, starting with a human shape and ending with a bulbous protrusion that looked like it was about to pop.
Cara Delevingne as Enchantress
Most of us know Cara Delevingne from two things: her epic modeling career and her spot in Taylor Swift’s girl squad. According to Harper’s Bazaar, the model graced the pages of Vogue Italia at the age of 10. Not a bad first gig, right? Since then, she has signed to Storm Model management, appeared on runways for Burberry, Stella McCartney, and Karl Lagerfeld, and scored the cover of British Vogue. Delevingne was even named Model of the Year at the 2012 and 2014 British Fashion Awards. So, what happened with her as a DC super-villain?
Delevingne took on the role of Enchantress in 2016’s Suicide Squad. The character is meant to be a shy scientist by day and a seductive — but creepy-looking — bad gal by night. The actress is virtually unrecognizable as the dark-haired wild child. According to and interview in W Magazine, all it took to get into character was a simple, x-rated romp through the woods near her sister’s country home.
« [Director] David [Ayer] asked me to go and try and find a forest and, if it was a full moon, get naked and walk through the woods with my feet in the mud, which I did, » Delevingne told W. « There wasn’t a full moon, but I howled like a wolf. It would have been really funny if someone had seen me. »
Cillian Murphy as the Scarecrow
Let’s be honest: no one can deny Cillian Murphy’s stunning good looks. They don’t put blue eyes like that on everyone. In 28 Days Later, no matter how beaten down and exasperated, Murphy’s character still borders on male model. He flawlessly rocks a hard-to-pull-off haircut in Peaky Blinders and even stuns as Dr. Crane in The Dark Knight trilogy. Basically, the one way to make him look absolutely horrific is to cover him up completely — and so we have the Scarecrow.
Dr. Crane may be a sinister psychiatrist on the inside, but his charming good looks aren’t lost until he transforms into his alter identity the Scarecrow. In The Dark Knight Rises trilogy, Murphy dons an unsettling burlap mask as the character. Though he obviously has a knack for playing comic book villains, you won’t catch the star joining up with a Marvel movie anytime soon. In an interview with The Independent, Murphy admitted he isn’t a fan of Marvel’s special effects and fantastical super powers.
« Nobody in those [Batman] films ever had a superpower, » he told The Independent. « Do you know what I mean? It’s a slightly heightened level of storytelling where New York is Gotham and no one did anything magical. Batman in his movies just did a lot of pushups and was, like, British. So that’s what I loved about them. »
Elena Anaya as Dr. Poison
Doctor Poison is one of the DC universe’s oldest, most tortured villains. According to DC Comics, the character debuted in 1942 as the brilliant chemist-slash-Asian princess Maru, the chief of the Nazi Poison Division during World War I. Her name and backstory has changed over the years, transforming from a princess to the child of Russian scientists, and eventually landing on the 2017 incarnation played by Elena Anaya in Wonder Woman. This version, named Isabela Maru, has a permanent facial disfigurement covered by a crude prosthetic. The source of the injury is never explained in the film, but remains a powerful part of Anaya’s portrayal.
In an interview with The Verge, the star admitted that she invented a backstory for her evil genius, which involved researching mustard gas inventor Fritz Haber, whose wife committed suicide. « I had to invent all her past, all her sorrows, and why she’s so tortured, and what happened to her, » she told The Verge. « I created her past, her background. You can’t just put on a face, like « Okay, I’m going to be very evil.’ I think she makes people suffer to avoid her own suffering, because she cannot suffer anymore. »
Tom Hardy as Bane
Bane is defined by two things: his infamous face mask and his unyielding brawn. It’s a weird dichotomy considering the super villain is in a state of chronic pain. According to an interview in Rolling Stone (via GQ), the voice-muffling mask pumps the bulky bad guy up with anesthetic to help him cope with past physical trauma. But really, how do you constantly hit the gym if your entire body is aching? Ask Tom Hardy, who gained 30 pounds of muscle to play the character in The Dark Knight trilogy.
Hardy told the Daily Beast that constantly bulking for roles may have taken a slight toll on his body, especially as he ages. He fears he’ll « collapse like a house of cards » if he keeps putting on weight for films. « I’m certainly a bit achier than I used to be! …I certainly have joints that click that probably shouldn’t click, you know what I mean? And I carrying my children is a little bit harder than it used to be— but don’t tell them, » he said.
Heath Ledger as the Joker
The Joker was undeniably Heath Ledger’s most infamous role. The actor tragically passed away less than six months before the film was set to premiere. Immediately, rumors began to swirl about how jumping into the demented mind of one of Gotham City’s most infamous villains somehow contributed to the star’s untimely death (rumors his director on The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus shut down). Nonetheless, The New Yorker hailed Ledger’s performance as a « heroic, unsettling final act: this young actor looked into the abyss. »
Part of the lore surrounding Ledger’s role was bolstered by his method acting. According to an interview in Empire Online, the star locked himself away for a month in a London hotel room to craft his maniacal character for 2008’s The Dark Knight. When The New York Times spoke to him in 2007 amidst filming, Ledger admitted he was having trouble sleeping. « Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night, » he said. « I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going. »
Nonetheless, Ledger later admitted (via The New York Times) that being the Joker was « the most fun I’ve ever had, or probably ever will have, playing a character. » Unlike Leto’s Suicide Squad incarnation, which relies on the use of fake tattoos, Ledger’s character was both unrecognizable and unsettling because of his worn-down appearance and haphazard makeup. You could almost picture him as a real human.
Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang
Jai Courtney is no stranger to action movies. The star has worked alongside genre greats Bruce Willis, Russell Crowe, and Tom Cruise. Though Captain Boomerang didn’t have a huge part in Suicide Squad, the Australian star still waffled with the idea of taking the role. « …To be honest, when [David Ayer] told me that the role of Captain Boomerang was what he was thinking, I kind of cringed. ‘Cause I wasn’t a comic book kid. I wasn’t familiar with the DC universe and the history of that, » he told Spotlight Report. « So I knew nothing about it. And I was, like, ‘Oh, god, Captain Boomerang … Really? … I really don’t know how Australians will react to this.' »
Nonetheless, the star took the role and admitted it was « really great. » Captain Boomerang certainly amped up Courtney’s inherent ruggedness (a trait that’s almost a prerequisite for a male action star). There’s something about the character’s missing tooth, strategically cropped facial hair, and deep under-eye bags that make Courtney almost unrecognizable yet undeniably evil.
Alain Chanoine as Incubus
Incubus was Alain Chanoine’s largest role. According to AXS, the actor had originally put his passion for acting aside and studied to become a police officer. After landing the lead role in a feature film that was never made, Chanoine eventually accumulated a bevy of bit parts and some stunt double roles in films such as Wesley Snipes’ Blade: Trinity. Despite his inexperience with supporting parts in major motion pictures, the star was reportedly the first choice to play DC’s fiery demon in Suicide Squad.
Incubus is one of the universe’s more obscure villains. According to CinemaBlend, he’s Enchantress’ brother, but there’s a reason director David Ayer decided to include both of the lesser-known characters. « Incubus. It’s a little bit obscure, but it is right out of canon. It’s one of the first Suicide Squad [comics] I read, where [Enchantress] and her brother end up transporting these people into different dimensions, and it was kind of like, ‘Whoa, that’s insane. I’m going to go for that,' » he told CinemaBlend.
Chanoine, who had to keep his casting a secret, is almost unrecognizable as the character, which relies heavily on CGI once he’s transformed out of businessman-mode. If you’re not familiar, he’s the one splitting a subway car in half in the movie trailer.
Karen Fukuhara as Katana
It shouldn’t be surprising that there’s a gorgeous girl hiding under Katana’s mask in Suicide Squad. It’s Hollywood, remember? According to Nylon, Karen Fukuhara, who plays the enigmatic role, was working as a Japanese translator just two years prior. Though she was a newcomer to the world of major motion pictures, W Magazine reports the star landed the part thanks to her martial arts training. The high school karate champion ended up doing all of her own stunts, including running on top of cars in the rain and wielding her sword around her castmates. She also had to endure Jared Leto sending her used condoms on-set, which might be the most trying part of all (she told Nylon it « was disgusting, and I kept it. »)
If the condoms weren’t weird enough, Fukuhara didn’t even know which part she was actually cast to play because Suicide Squad was shrouded in such an air of secrecy. To find out, she Googled everything she knew about the role. « I just went on Google and typed in ‘Japanese, sword, character, hero, superhero’ and Katana did come up, » she told Nylon. « When I got the role and found out who was in it, I just couldn’t believe that I was going to be able to be a part of something so iconic. »
Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face
Two-Face is undeniably one of the most grotesque villains in the DC Universe. The Batman bad guy started out as Harvey Dent, a Gotham City district attorney who was permanently scarred when acid was thrown in his face in the courtroom (in the Nolanverse, the character was scarred in a gasoline fire). Despite actor Aaron Eckhart’s good looks, his depiction of the villain in The Dark Knight is a little hard to watch — especially with the overly detailed CGI gore — but the character’s duality is what makes him one of the most captivating.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Eckhart described Dent as « not a bad guy, not purely. » At the heart of it, the comic book villain isn’t « killing good people. » That’s what made the role so rewarding (that and the fact that Eckhart got to look absolutely disgusting). « I can tell you that, basically, when you look at Two-Face, you should get sick to your stomach, » Eckhart said. « Being the guy under all that, well, that was a lot of fun for me. It’s like you would feel if you met someone whose face had pretty much been ripped off or burned off with acid. »
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc
Killer Croc is an absolute trypophobia nightmare. How do you know if you suffer from one of the Internet’s most hotly debated disorders? Google lotus seed pod, and if you don’t want to puke, you’re probably fine. Otherwise, you might want to steer clear of Suicide Squad, if only for Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s unsettling character.
Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who also holds a law degree, started his career as a model, so it’s rather shocking to see him covered in layers upon layers of scales. Apparently, making an attractive actor look like the human embodiment of nails scraping on chalkboard took a lot of work. In an interview with Esquire, Akinnuoye-Agbaje revealed that it took about six months to become the half-man, half-crocodile. « It was a process. At the time we spoke, they only had a computerized visual, » he said. « There were different parts and pieces that were assembled over six months. I did not get to see the full visual of Croc until maybe a week before principle photography. And it was as nail-biting and as anticipatory for me then as it is for you to see the movie now. »
Jay Hernandez as El Diablo
Jay Hernandez sacrificed a lot while playing El Diablo in 2016’s Suicide Squad, including his good looks. The DC villain is so covered in face tattoos that it puts your average Soundcloud rapper to shame — but that wasn’t the worst part. Hernandez had to shave his eyebrows for the role, which meant on his days off, he was trotting around IRL without eyebrows. « The tattoos were bad, but I think what was worse was shaving the eyebrows because I looked like the missing link, » he said in an interview with Conan O’Brien. « … everybody on the street just had pity for me. »
Hernandez and his castmates worried his eyebrows might not grow back at all. The star admitted he spent seven months feeling paranoid because someone told him that could happen (but of course, they let him know only after he shaved down). Thankfully, Hernandez’s brows have since returned. At least there’s always microblading as a brow backup (or the more price-effective dollar store glasses disguise).