5 Movie Villains Who Were Unrecognizable At The Start
Great villains are an indelible part of film history, from the mustache-twirling no-goodniks of the Silent Era to the intimidating baritone of Darth Vader to the effete British people who make up 99 percent of Disney movie baddies. But even the greatest of movie villains didn't emerge fully realized. Like any creative endeavor, they underwent painstaking revisions. That's how art works. Thankfully, this also means art can yield some hilariously goofy first drafts for us to now mock. Such as how ...
Raiders Of The Lost Ark -- Indiana Jones' Nazi Rival Was Almost ... A Cyborg?
Indiana Jones has vanquished a number of foes over the years -- Soviet agents, bloodthirsty cultists, multiple states' statutory rape laws. But his greatest adversary has always been the Nazis (he hates those guys). One particularly memorable member of Hitler's gang is Major Arnold Toht from Raiders Of The Lost Ark. You know, the guy who looks like a skeezy alt-right Troll Doll.
Amazingly, the initial idea for Toht was more Skynet than Third Reich. Steven Spielberg originally envisioned Toht as a friggin' cyborg, complete with a glowing eye and a bionic arm that could transform into a machine gun or (if the situation called for it) a flamethrower. According to the director, Toht was to be "The Terminator before The Terminator" -- if the Terminator was an actual Nazi instead of just Austrian.
Proving that the early '80s were a backward, topsy-turvy time, it was George Lucas who put a stop to this silly concept. Spielberg's "heavy-metal view of the character" was halted once George "put his foot down," telling Spielberg: "you're crossing out of one genre and into another." To be fair, this was several decades before the same dude would insist on throwing aliens into the selfsame series.
Ghostbusters -- The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Was Almost A Demon
The most iconic scene in Ghostbusters that doesn't involve Dan Aykroyd being pleasured by a poltergeist is probably the appearance of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the junk food mascot who's magically transformed into a Godzilla-like menace. Thankfully, the movie didn't exploit the scene for some cash-grabbing product placement and have the team, say, explode a 50-foot Col. Sanders.
Presumably, because the filmmakers were hoping to scar a whole generation, originally the Stay Puft man didn't simply blow up, but turned into a terrifying giant demon.
Yup, this skeletal creature was to be birthed from the sky like a haunted David Bowie lyric, then terrorize the Ghostbusters.
Either because this nightmarish development soured the film's comedic tone, or out of respect for America's multiplex custodial staff, who abhor cleaning urine out of seat cushions, the scene was ultimately cut. (Random wet dreams about necrophilia still got the green light, however.)
The Scarecrow Was An Angry Teacher Who Couldn't Feel Pain
One of the most memorable members of Batman's rogues gallery is the Scarecrow, a villain who uses fear to wield power, not unlike cable news. As seen in Batman Begins, the Scarecrow is disgraced psychologist Jonathan Crane, who we assume was wrongfully dismissed for his unorthodox burlap fetish. The scrapped Batman project that preceded Batman Begins was dubbed "DarKnight," likely so those studio tightwads could save a few bucks on marquee lettering.
Scarecrow's comic book origin sees him being 86'd for firing a gun in his classroom to teach students about fear. So yeah, good call, Gotham U.
But in the script for DarKnight, Crane was to be Dick Grayson's teacher, who kidnaps and experiments on Batman's young ward simply because he mouthed off in class. After turning evil, Crane would then become horribly scarred, so after being stitched up, his "face becomes the scarecrow mask," which sounds unpleasant.
Bizarrely, this version of Crane also "suffers from a disease that prevents him from feeling physical pain." Because not feeling pain is a defining characteristic of scarecrows? Making this plot wrinkle extra goofy was its similarity to a lame '90s Bond villain.
Star Wars -- Emperor Palpatine Was A Useless Bureaucrat
From scheming politician to sinister wizard, the Star Wars' Palpatine is one of the great movie villains. While we're all used to him being a butt-faced Sith Lord, in one of George Lucas' early drafts, he was just a regular non-magic dude. Even weirder, the Emperor's original name was "Cos Dashit." Less terrifying ruler of a galactic dictatorship, more petulant 13-year-old's Xbox Live handle.
Even in the official Star Wars novelization, Palpatine isn't referred to as a Force user, but a random politician. According to the prologue, he became resident after pledging to help the "disaffected" by restoring "the remembered glory of the Republic" -- kind of a "Make the Republic Great Again" strategy. Sadder still, Palpatine doesn't wield any real power, but rather is controlled by his assistants and "boot-lickers." Meaning that Darth Vader's boss was conceived as nothing but an impotent hack who couldn't even be bothered to learn how to shoot lightning from his fingertips.
The Shining -- Jack Torrance Dies And Dick Halloran Goes Crazy
Jack Torrance in The Shining is one of the great horror movie villains, unless you hate children and love ghosts who offer free booze, in which case he's kind of the hero of story. While we've never seen the full screenplay (it's presumably locked away in whatever vault Kubrick stashed the evidence that he faked the moon landing and changed the name of the Berenstain Bears), the early outline for the film is available online. And it's ... odd. Particularly the ending. Rather than remain the movie's antagonist, strangely early in the third act, Jack gets stabbed in the belly by Wendy.
The story doesn't end there, though. Remember Dick Halloran, the Overlook Hotel's cook and resident collector of erotic artwork? He shows up at the end, like in the movie. But as soon as he enters the hotel, he's intercepted by the ghostly bartender Lloyd and is immediately possessed. He's described in the outline as "an appalling figure of lunatic savagery," which sounds problematic, to say the least.
Wendy then has to become a "homicidal maniac" to save her son, because apparently picking up a knife to defend your small child from Satan's minions makes you clinically insane. In the end, Kubrick opted to have Wendy and Danny face off with their patriarch, which was far more thematically resonant than battling some chef they'd previously met for like ten minutes.
The Red Skull Was Nearly The Sundae-Inspired "Hot Fudge"
Archenemy of Captain America and future interplanetary jewelry custodian Red Skull is pretty dang scary. After all, what could be more fearsome than a dude who's both a Nazi and looks like Willem Dafoe after his face was torn off by escaped baboons?
Surprisingly, this nefarious character owes his existence to the same (non-alcoholic) thing that makes children's birthday parties tolerable: ice cream. Yup, comic book legend Joe Simon was indulging in a hot fudge sundae when either he was struck with inspiration or whatever drug people did in the 1940s kicked in. Simon started seeing shapes in the dripping hot fudge, which "looked like limbs -- legs, feet and hands." Simon thought that this frozen dessert character would make for a good supervillain, literally called "Hot Fudge." He would basically be an anthropomorphic glob of ice cream who could "ooze all over the place."
Simon drew some sketches, and it didn't take long for him to realize that while ice cream is a good nemesis for fitness and mobility, it's not necessarily the best opponent for Captain America. Fortunately for pop culture, he wasn't done mining his dessert for inspiration. He soon noticed the cherry on top of the sundae looked a little like a human skull, giving him the idea for Red Skull -- presumably after his brainstorming for "Holger the Cherry-Faced SS Officer" went nowhere.
You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter!
For more, check out Why This Week's Episode Is Daenerys' Villain Origin Story - Winter Is Taking Forever:
Also, we'd love to know more about you and your interesting lives, dear readers. If you spend your days doing cool stuff, drop us a line at iDoCoolStuff at Cracked dot com, and maybe we can share your story with the entire internet.
Follow us on Facebook. If you like jokes and stuff.