Movie Villains: So Bad They're Good

The bad guys have more fun. That's why good actors turn into them in summer

Columbia Pictures

James Franco in Spider-Man 3.

Pity the poor hero. Oh, he gets the girl and saves the planet, but where's the fun in that? Love and duty are a puny match for the epochal mischief a prime bad guy can stir up. The villain may be the supporting part, but it's often the juiciest--from the snake upstaging Adam in the Garden of Eden to Shylock eclipsing Antonio to Jack Nicholson as the Joker in Batman swiping the spotlight from (hmm, who was that?) Michael Keaton.

And is summer the season of movie superheroes? No: supervillains. They get the plot spinning toward catastrophe; its their lurid...

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