6 Abandoned Sites That Would Make Great Supervillain Lairs
Abandoned places come in many flavors, from creepy to cool to flat-out unbelievable. But let's be honest: What you're really looking for in forgotten real estate is its ability to help you in your quest to crush the world beneath your iron boot of terror. Well boy howdy, is today ever your day. Let your minions rejoice as you reveal to them your new base of operations, completely empty and ready for mayhem.
Before you start your career as Lord of Terror, it's important to look within your withered heart and ask yourself, "What do I really want from my Citadel of Fear?" Do your dramatic speeches require tall towers and platforms? Will your weapons of mass doom need plenty of secretive storage space? Are you looking for an ominous entrance? Perhaps you need some ancient machinery creepily clanking away in the background, implying that sinister machinations are at work?
Lash your victim to a wheel and give it a spin!
If you chose anything besides "all of the above," we're sorry to tell you that you're not cut out for a life in evil. The rest of you should take a trip to Hasard Cheratte.
It looks post-apocalyptic. Soon, the whole world will.
Located in the sleepy Belgian town of Cheratte at the very heart of Europe, this massive abandoned mine complex combines an ominous facade with a dignified title, much like Baron Destro, to form the perfect location for some old-fashioned continental terrorism. It offers all the amenities your villainous soul could desire, including a Gate of Evil, a mansion-like exterior, a looming Dark Tower, industrial equipment that could easily double as torture devices, and vast underground caverns over 1,300 feet deep for doomsday device/giant-mech-with-your-own-face parking. The fact that it features plenty of multi-platformed, elevated corridors for parkour-fighting Belgian private detectives should go without saying.
Great as a combat arena, impractical as anything else.
The mine has been abandoned since 1977, and since Hasard Cheratte is considered a protected heritage site, the very laws designed to keep it untouched make it ripe for hostile takeover. All that's keeping you from setting up evil shop is some barbed wire, a polite "keep away" sign, and an army of mustachioed, beret-wearing sentient gorillas.
Nassau Coral World
Water-based lairs are usually a safe bet. Any secret agents attempting to storm your fortress will have to do it in scuba gear, leaving them delightfully defenseless against your platoon of sting rays armed with buzz saws. Superheroes are even less of a risk -- Aquaman sulks for months if anyone else sets foot in his jurisdiction, which means the only hero likely to come after you is, well, Aquaman. And brother, if you're worried about Aquaman, you need to find a new line of work.
Besides, you have a special room for him, with cellmates Bitey and Maw.
On the other hand, land lairs are easier to manage, as supply runs on sea fortresses are a right proper bastard to organize and you've got to fly the mildew guy in, like, every week. If only there was some way to combine the two ...
And your enemies might not even notice it, distracted by the random breast buildings to the north.
Easy to defend and even easier on the eye, your aquatic death ray will find no better home than Nassau Coral World. Located on the small island of Silver Cay in the Bahamas, Coral World was a beach resort, aquarium, and observatory built in 1987. It was quite popular right up until it received a face full of Hurricane Floyd in 1999, rendering it unsafe for tourists. Its owners, not willing to risk the wrath of Mother Nature for a second time, decided to abandon it.
Sure, intruders will try crossing the bridge, but that's why you pack it with 80,000 tons of C4.
The rusting, weather-beaten hulk of the observatory tower now looms ominously over the coastline, surrounded on all sides by gorgeous coral reefs and, once you take charge, murderbots. Apart from the tower and its underwater observatory (which clearly is and forever should be the epicenter of your operations), the island features handy structures like a quaint villa hotel for your mer-themed henchmen and aquatic animal pools to hold your army of sharktopuses.
Since the release of The Dark Knight, many of today's aspiring supervillains opt for the insane clown path to megalomania (not to be confused with the inadvisable Insane Clown Posse path to Juggalomania). It's an easy road to start down, especially for the villain on a budget -- a costume is no further away than a thrift store suit and a raid on your sister's makeup drawer. However, searching for just the right base of operations can be terribly difficult: Your average abandoned warehouse lacks that certain joie de vivre, and running a traveling circus is too exhausting to leave you any time for evil.
Luckily, there's one place that can complement your murderously wacky antics straight out of the box: Japan's Nara Dreamland.
You'll beat that statue's face flat, of course, and carve your own in its place.
Nara Dreamland began life in 1961 as a blatant Disneyland ripoff, but after being abandoned in 2006, it's been quietly dwindling into oblivion. Nature is reclaiming the park, turning it into a twisted version of its original inspiration. Its Sleeping Beauty-esque castle is bleak and tarnished. Its huge fountains are dry, revealing their spiky, rusting pipes. Its Main Street has become Elm Street.
Park Street, not pictured, has become Jungle Avenue.
The park is mostly intact, but it's just broken enough to give off some serious Scooby-Doo vibes. Like the haunted house:
Actual winged guards aren't yet available, but we're working on it.
Or the cute little horses in the carousel:
Or how about the shooting gallery?
Witches belong in haunted houses. Tusked lizard bears, however, are everyday sights in Japan.
The whole place is a psychotic playground full of potential deathtraps and ominous smiling figures lurking in the shadows. Some call it haunted. Some call it condemned. For the low, low price of your sanity and basic morality, you can call it ... home.
Let's take a trip all the way from distant Japan to ... not-so-distant Japan. Look, is it our fault the land of the rising sun cornered the market on villainous lairs?
The Western Village was designed to offer tourists a little slice of Americana -- the cowboy theme park featured saloons, general stores, horses, and gunslingers. There were even two functional steam trains and, most impressively, a one-third-scale re-creation of Mount Rushmore that you could climb inside of.
Don't beat these faces flat. These faces are perfect.
That's right -- you can do battle with your archnemesis inside the gigantic skull of Theodore goddamn Roosevelt. Sure, you'll probably be thrown to your death from Lincoln's forehead by a man with a flag on his chest and patriotism in his heart, but boy, when it happens -- you will look awesome falling.
There's probably no lava in Teddy's head. But there could be.
The park closed in 2007 and sits even now, just waiting for a master twisted enough to take charge. So if you have hatred in your heart for Uncle Sam and want to decorate your villainous set pieces with irony, maybe it's time to pack the Axis D'Evil into the transatlantic U-Haul and stake your claim.
Don't have a Nazi-theme devil-robot to call your own yet? Worry not: The animatronic figures that still litter the park, like these gigantic teddy bears, would make excellent guard robots:
"Hug delivery imminent. ASSUME RECEPTIVE POSITION."
And what better way to deliver an insane monologue than through the mouth of animatronic Abe Lincoln?
Making your fall from Rushmore all the more poetic.
Hell, part of us thinks the designers of this park knew it would one day be taken over by a madman. How else do you explain a cowboy having a tooth pulled by the looming specter of death?
An interrogation manual for illiterate henchmen?
Or the haunted house of melted ... naked bald ladies, drowning in fat?
The leg and head definitely belong to two separate victims.
You know what? This one might be too hardcore even for you, Reichstab. Maybe stick with that decrepit observatory on Mount Terror. At least you'll be able to get some sleep there.
Buran Space Launch Station
Sooner or later, your villainous plots are going to involve space. It is basically inevitable -- was one planet ever going to be enough for you? No, it's Master of the Universe or bust. And that's why you need the Buran space launch station.
Abandoned and disused, much like American space launch stations.
A remnant of the Soviet Union's most blatant attempt to copy NASA, the launch station is a massive abandoned space center in Kazakhstan, conveniently located near the still-operational Baikonur Cosmodrome (where all manned Russian space missions are launched) in case you want to ... expand your operation. The area comes complete with literal tons of space equipment, just waiting for you and your mad scientists to re-enact Moonraker with less wacky antics and more secret agents strapped to the bottom of live rocket boosters.
Don't be picky, though. The rockets can take non-secret agents, too.
The station also offers plenty of ground-based opportunities for mayhem. Facilities large enough to house space shuttles are large enough to house anything. Can you say Godzilla cage?
Can you say halleluiah?
The mess of rusting industrial sprawl looks perfect for converting into an intricate labyrinth filled with a series of elaborate deathtraps:
Dozens will die just building the traps.
And then there's the Buran mover:
That warship-size vehicle was originally designed to move the shuttles around the facility on special tracks, but in your hands it can be the first piece of your very own Terror Drome. Slap a few flamethrowers on there, maybe a giant golden eagle clutching the world in its claws, and boom -- you've got a mobile domination platform that'll make all the fly honeys swoon. Be careful, though: The acidic vomit of the fly-honeys is no joke.
Niagara Falls Hydroelectric Plant
There's nothing like a sinister fortress behind a big ol' waterfall for sheer drama. It's like your base is protected by a force field cast by nature itself! But let's try to stay realistic -- it's not like Victoria Falls comes with a giant Fort Dread pre-installed. Niagara Falls, on the other hand ...
A Canadian base? Of course! It's the last thing they'd expect!
Yes, the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara totally has an abandoned lair lurking behind it. And it's not just some measly two-henchmen shack, either -- we're talking a 10-story hydroelectric power plant, complete with gigantic machinery and sprawling underground corridors. It has something for everyone, whether you're an evil baron, a mad scientist, or a simple screeching mutant looking for a place to lurk away from the judging stares of the normals.
This place says "villainy" right from the get-go. Here's its worn and crumbling facade, proudly standing by the falls on the Canadian side of the border:
Clearly belonging to omnicidal madmen and/or the government.
Here's the factory that lies within its depths:
The machinery never actually produced anything other than fear.
And here's the platform you'll use to throw your treacherous second in command into the raging waters below, then watch as he tumbles helplessly into the frothing abyss:
"Daaaaamnnn yyyyooouuuuu, Baaaaroooon Baaarrrrennnn!" *splash*
Impressed? Don't unpack your leather onesie and hydro-drill just yet, because we've only covered the literal tip. As cool as the main building is, it's actually just a tiny part of the facility -- the shaft is where all the real action happens (ladies ... and/or lady-bots).
Tread lightly. The "tailrace tunnels" are delicate and easily damaged.
Under the plant is a network of mammoth brick tunnels, perfect for a dramatic last-minute escape while cursing those do-gooders' names. The tunnel system was the biggest in the world when it was built in 1906, and we're betting it's still a pretty serious contender today. It was originally used to provide water for the plant's generators, but now the empty tunnels lie in wait for their rightful master. The complex has been abandoned for more than 30 years, visited only by the occasional spelunker who will provide your Mannigators with a steady supply of fresh meals.
Pauli is a contributor to the De-Textbook and will probably call off his army of chainsaw bears if you buy it. Follow him on Twitter.
Related Reading: Not yet settled on your lair? Click here. The Whitley Park Estate is ideal for any truly classed-up bad guy. If you prefer your creepy nightmare home closer to America, check out North Brother Island. To maximize your chance of being straight-up haunted, visit this buried World War One trench.