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Cruella & 9 Other Origin Movies About Villains, Ranked According To IMDb

There are a ton of great superhero origin movies, and they continue to be as popular as ever, as many characters’ origins are even told more than once. But villains rarely get the same treatment, and sometimes that’s for the best, as the mystery of the antagonists is part of what makes them great.

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However, whether the green light is driven by market research or the fact that there’s a genuinely great idea, there have been a fair few villain origin movies over the years too, as Cruella De Vil is the latest to get the treatment. Between Darth Vader‘s origin getting explained over a whole trilogy to Maleficent’s actions getting humanized, villain origin movies are only getting better.

10 Catwoman (2004) - 3.4

Catwoman’s origin was never all that lowkey, as the fact that she gets brought back to life by a group of cats was already ludicrous when it was depicted in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. However, the 2004 origins story takes it to another level.

Catwoman is notoriously bad, as critics despised the movie for its terrible CGI and ridiculous narrative, and the IMDb score speaks for itself. But Catwoman might just start piquing the audiences' interest, as villain origin movies are getting increasingly popular.

9 Leatherface (2017) - 5.0

There was never any demand for an origin story about Leatherface, and there’s no other horror villain that needed it less.  It’s hard to believe that Leatherface is the eighth installment of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, as there have been so many entries in the series that have underperformed and disappointed fans, and Leatherface is no exception.

However, Leatherface remains one of the most iconic villains in the history of horror, so exploring his backstory was an interesting, even if not successful, undertaking.

8 Tie: The Phantom Menace (1999) / Attack Of The Clones (2002) - 6.5

As more time passes, fans’ receptiveness to The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones changes a lot. When they were first released, the hype surrounding the movies made audiences love them, and critics rated both movies highly, as they’re certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

But years later people began to look at them for what they really were, CGI messes with cringeworthy dialogue. And now that the prequel trilogy is out, which has been just as divisive, fans are starting to look at them through nostalgia goggles. The IMDb score of the two prequels keeps fluctuating.

7 Venom (2018) - 6.7

Though Venom had been depicted once in Spider-Man 3, it was an almost completely inaccurate portrayal, which was part of the reason why the movie was so negatively received. The character was redeemed in 2018 with the Tom Hardy-led Venom, and it’s one of the classic cases of critics and general audiences not being on the same page.

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The movie was hated by critics, and though audiences didn’t love it, they thought it was enjoyable enough and highly entertaining. But more than anything, it did a decent enough job of explaining Venom’s origins accurately. However, in the 2018 movie, Venom had been turned into more of an anti-hero than the head-eating villain he’s known as.

6 Maleficent (2014) - 7.0

Maleficent is based on the antagonist of Sleeping Beauty, and it was the first of what seems to be a long-running series of origin movies about Disney villains. Before its release, there was worry that the movie would soften the iconic Disney character, as she’s one of the scariest villains of the old cartoon films.

But for the most part, it worked out well, and it was mostly thanks to Angelina Jolie. She was perfect for the role, as she captured both the fearful version of the witch as well as her human side. But that’s the biggest problem of the film too, because it’s entirely carried by Jolie, as it isn’t as enchanting as it could have been, and the CGI was massively overused.

5 Cruella (2021) - 7.4

The latest villain origin movie is a strange one. It’s understandable why Cruella was green-lit, and at the same time, it makes no sense. Cruella is a classic character, is somewhat of a fashion icon, and has a very unique look about her. However, it’s almost impossible to humanize her actions in 101 Dalmations, which was taking pride in skinning dogs, just because she has a sordid past. And that’s exactly what the consensus was.

It’s hard to forget that Cruella De Vil committed those heinous acts, but the movie is stunning to look at, and Stone’s depiction of the character is terrifically theatrical. And though the idea of Disney villains having origin stories started seven years beforehand with Maleficent, Cruella has opened the flood gates for other Disney villains who can actually be redeemed.

4 Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith (2005) - 7.5

Revenge of the Sith is what fans had been waiting decades for ever since Return of the Jedi in 1983. It was the conclusion to Anakin, the sweet young boy fans saw in The Phantom Menace, becoming Darth Vader, the genocidal evil dictator of the galaxy.

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The movie is much more exciting than the two that came before it, as it’s darker, has more stakes, and it’s haunting too. The fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Jafar is worth the price of admission alone. But more than anything, the movie almost makes up for the two negatively received prequels. Almost.

3 X-Men: First Class (2011) - 7.7

Though it isn’t purely an origin movie about a villain, as it also follows Charles Xavier becoming Professor X, X-Men: First Class derived from the initial development of a Magneto origins story.

The movie is very much about Charles and Erik’s relationship, as they’re yin and yang and there can’t be one without the other, and what leads Erik to become Magneto is the best thing about the movie (the Wolverine cameo notwithstanding.) The way the origin is told is what makes First Class one of the best prequel movies of all time.

2 Deadpool (2016) - 8.0

Up until 2016, general audiences only knew Deadpool, the merc with the mouth, from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, who went head-to-head with Logan and unforgivably had his mouth sewn shut. Thankfully, not only did Deadpool give the beloved comic book character a proper origin story, but they didn’t hold back on all the vulgar language, even taking shots at that terrible depiction of him.

Just like Sony has done with Venom, 20th Century Fox took a few liberties with Deadpool and turned him into an anti-hero, as he pretty much saves the world against his will. But that didn’t stop the movie from making hundreds of millions of dollars, as Deadpool is the second most successful X-men movie at the box office, beaten only by its own sequel.

1 Joker (2019) - 8.4

Though it was only released two years ago, Joker is the gold standard of villain origin stories. It is terrifically acted, the world is detailed without being convoluted, and viewers who don’t care about Batman can still enjoy it.

Though there are a select few who think Joker is a bad origin story, among other unpopular opinions, and that it should have been a standalone movie instead, it is one of the highest-rated movies of all time on IMDb. Director Todd Philips was influenced by Martin Scorsese movies like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy instead of superhero movies, and that’s what makes it so much more unique than anything that has come before or after it.

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