6 Real Locations That Are Clearly Secret Supervillain Lairs
Like you, I am a down-to-earth human being with a simple goal: to locate the throne of the World King, hogtie him in a cleaning closet, and forever rule in his stead. However, I've recently started to suspect that we're not the only ones with this mission. We live in a world littered with strange structures and eldritch locations that are seemingly normal but clearly hide the command centers of men and women with a mind not unlike mine: cartoonish supervillains hell-bent on conquering everything you hold dear.
With relentless and skillful investigative journalism, I've managed to locate some of these places. They are as follows:
Here are the facts: The Atomium, aka "Belgian Eiffel Tower," is a retrofuturistic 335-foot iron molecule built from steel. Each of its nine 59-foot stainless steel spheres houses a huge hall, connected to each other by a series of escalator tubes and speed elevators. The top sphere offers an unparalleled view of the city of Brussels.
Oh, and one more fact. It's the most perfect supervillain lair ever, and I want it I want it I want it.
Can't you see the potential of the place? Regardless of what sort of villain you're planning to be, it offers a perfect template for building your own brand of mayhem. Are you into the whole "sitting in a large faraway hideout while the heroes work their way through your minions" scene? Ain't no building better at ominously looming on the horizon than a damn giant steel atom.
It'll confuse the shit out of even the most dedicated post-apocalyptic barbarian horde.
Are you more of a Joker/Scaramanga-style villain who enjoys playing cat and mouse with his opponent in a vast lair of corridors and rooms, each with a different theme? That's what the damn building is designed for. But wait, there's more: For a speedy supervillain exit in case of Rainbow Six invasion, there are multiple external staircases, and if you're more of a "climactic finishes" type of guy, you can totally climb on the topmost sphere and fucking rope slide away.
Allowing you to splat over a frankly impressive amount of landscape when the protagonist
takes his last desperate shot and breaks your zipline harness.
These days, the Atomium is a museum of sorts and open to the public, but it was pretty much abandoned until 2004 ... and could very well become so again. After all, if you're going to stick your death-ray control unit on the top sphere, you'll have to haul it on-site first -- and in my experience, very few tourists are willing to stick around in a place actively haunted by a maniac drunkenly firing plasma beams at the sky and screaming, "I am the atom lord! Bow to me, mortals!"
That's, uh, what they tell me, anyway.
In the middle of the Indonesian jungle lies a massive, long-abandoned structure that defies all logic. Its majestic features make locals tremble in reverence, and travelers wonder if humankind will ever accomplish anything quite like it again.
This is because it's a temple shaped like a giant fucking chicken.
"I say. Cluck."
The Internet tells me the massive structure known as Gereja Ayam -- or, oh yes, Chicken Church -- is not meant to be either a chicken or a church. It's an unconsecrated building that was constructed by a local eccentric after receiving a divine message from whatever deity happened to be into giant artificial poultry at the time. To be fair, the dude did originally intend for the thing to look like a dove, but he quickly found that prophetic visions don't automatically come with aesthetic architecture expertise.
What, does that sound like a stupid origin for a badass supervillain lair? Fuck you. Baron Barren, that bastard, might have an awesome skull cave, but I'll have you know the origin story of that thing was just a bunch of running water and some dudes with chisels. We're just fine in our supernaturally inspired chicken thing, thank you, especially since its interiors just happen to look like something out of True Detective.
The good season, mind you.
Besides, skull caves and ominous towers are the first things that will get bombed into oblivion by the world's governments when the "giant gorilla commandos falling from the sky" phase of your world conquerin' plan begins. No one'll think twice about the giant, goofy-ass concrete chicken or the massive catacombs you have dug within.
That is, until it takes flight and unleashes its miniguns.
Batman is notorious for his high-tech (and presumably guano-covered) Batcave. Superman likes to hang out in a cavernous fortress that is the worst example of bling overuse since the Russian royalty's Amber Room. Even the X-Men, who are outlaws like 80 percent of the time, get to chill out in a billion-dollar mansion that would make Richard Branson punch a wall in impotent despair. You just don't fight guys with cribs like that from an abandoned warehouse, unless you plan to escape as they laugh at your inferior carpeting. No, you need something that is completely out of this world. You need the Kyshtym Mines.
Also, a tetanus shot.
Brooding in the remote yet convenient Chelyabinsk region by the Ural Mountains in Russia, these old, abandoned mines are located within striking distance of Europe and Asia alike. Closed since 1961, the Kyshtym Mines are renowned for their brightly shining, eerie rock formations, vast network of deep-running corridors, and huge population of bats just waiting to be tamed and equipped with tiny missile batteries. Well, I say "renowned" -- in reality, this property is so damn exclusive, we know about it only because some local spelunkers have ventured inside and taken pictures. So, you know, better prepare to clear a C.H.U.D. infestation or two before setting up shop.
Kyshtym's backstory is enough to satisfy the most bloodthirsty supervillain. In fact, it was built by one: The complex used to be a part of Stalin's gulags, thus ensuring that every surface is stained with the sweat and tears of prisoners long gone, leaving a lingering air of delicious, delicious despair.
Also, radioactivity. The area around it is said to be one of the worst radioactive spots on Earth, having been subjected to countless nuclear disasters and unauthorized toxic dumps. Don't worry, though -- your lair remains unsoiled by the radioactivity. The lands that surround the site, now, that's fallout territory right there.
"OK, let's put the large red launch button here and the torture chamber over there.
And let's feng shui the torture implements for a positive energy flow."
So, yeah. Looks like Stalin's reckless abandon has provided the Kyshtym Mines with an actual radioactive goddamn minefield, a concept so deliciously vile that even Lex Luthor would probably deem it a little over the top. All you need to do is set up some ground-to-air defense (remember those missile bats?) and you're free to hang out in your base hatching nefarious plans while every hero attempting to stop you has to hike through radioactive hell, constantly under attack by your radioactive mutant henchmen. What, you don't have mutant henchmen? Kyshtym's got you covered; just give Vasili and Bob a stint of outdoor duty.
Maybe you're not the kind of bad guy to hide behind your minions and deathtraps. Maybe you'd rather indulge yourself and engage the hero in a fight, or at least in a high-speed rooftop chase. If proactive protagonist-stomping is your jam, consider Habitat 67.
Designed by architect Moshe Safdie as a project for Montreal's World Fair Expo, Habitat 67 is built around the concepts of "cubes, man" and "uhh ... more cubes, we guess?" Habitat 67 is surrounded on two sides by the Saint Lawrence River, so you save a fortune on moat-digging costs alone. It consists of 354 identically proportioned cubes, all odd angles and haphazard stacking, that somehow form a complex "model society" with its own walkways, streets, giant elevator pillars, skylights, futuristic halls, and plazas. There are also 148 residences embedded in the cubes, which is a good thing, because if your goons really have to live somewhere, they might as well be close at hand.
Also, the complex is big. Really, really big.
Better shape up on your parkour skills, because a rooftop chase on that baby is an all-weekend thing.
Sure, you'll probably have to convince the tenant partnership that owns the place to hand it over to you, preferably with a fair lease that doesn't get too pissy about your pack of sentient guard wolves. But, come on, what kind of brutal overlord are you if you can't handle that? Besides, the prize is totally worth it. The Habitat 67 complex is the perfect hideout for the villain with a penchant for chases and final showdowns. It holds innumerable nooks, crannies, pathways, terraces, and tunnels to parkour battle your way through, and we refuse to even start counting all the potential places for the hero to dangle near certain death while you loom over him, giving your grand speech. After that, you can cut directly to the high-adrenaline speedboat chase in the nearby harbor. And should things not go your way, the immediate vicinity of the river guarantees you a chance for swift submarine escapes.
And if all else fails ... well, let's just say there's no way anyone can convince me that building can't transform into a Decepticon when necessary.
Hush, my league of evil, tread carefully. Although the Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia is still under construction, it's very much an active Roman Catholic church. This means that you can't just waltz in and start installing graviton hell-rays without drawing the ire of the pope, which is an exceptionally unwise move. Regardless of your personal opinions about the dude, he is a man with iron convictions; a billowing, themed costume; and a bulletproof car, commanding a vast fortune and a frankly ridiculous number of acolytes. This makes him the closest thing our world has to Batman, and it's always bad news to piss off a flimsy Caped Crusader analogy -- especially one that has a suspiciously strong jaw and broad shoulders for an elderly religious figure.
Still, it seems like a shame to waste a location so clearly inspired by Sauron's Liberace phase, so here's a financially conscious supervillain lair proposal: Just rent some shit duplex nearby. During your vast and storied career in villainy, you'll inevitably be forced to engage in mortal combat with your arch enemy: whatever incomprehensible serial kumite enthusiast Jason Statham is playing this week. Sagrada Familia just so happens to provide several radically different facades, which means there are all sorts of background possibilities for the inevitable Final Battle Stage. Here's an impressive, if comparatively conservative, one for the first round, right before you stab him in the shoulder with a hidden dagger:
The largest, still-under-construction Glory facade should be good for the obligatory pompous gloating scene:
And when your villainous breakdown finally goes critical, there's the unbridled batshit insanity of the Nativity facade:
When the fight inevitably moves to higher platforms for you to plummet to your demise (although they'll never find your body) -- son, take a fucking pick of the 17,000 towers this thing has to offer, with new ones sprouting every year.
"You fool, this isn't even my final form."
So when Frank Britishtalk-Suithaver finally arrives at your front door wearing the liver of your most trusted lieutenant as a hat, all you'll need to do is decide where you want to take him on, sprint to the appropriate facade, and go nuts. Just remember to dodge his last, desperate spin-kick before ... oh, goddammit, there you go fallin'. Don't say I didn't warn you.
The Global Seed Vault
What is the greatest asset a supervillain lair could possibly have? Remote location? Impenetrable walls? Great security? A metal-as-fuck facade?
If you picked just one of those, friend, you really should reconsider your career in villainy. The correct answer is all of the above, preferably with spikes on everything. But there's one more indicator that may be more important than all the rest (yes, even the spikes): a trump card. A secret weapon or a negotiation item that'll keep the combined forces of the world from nuking your ass from here to Jupiter the second you start your shenanigans. It might be a cool moon laser, or it might be some sorry-ass scheme to control the water reserve of a poor country like that screeching French guy did in Quantum Of Solace. Pro tip: Always choose the cool moon laser. Still, you need something to properly keep the world on their toes.
Luckily, there is one place on Earth that gives you all of that: the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
Hehehe. Hehe. Hehehehehehehe. "Seed vault."
Appropriately enough, if the Earth had a vagina, this is what a diagram of it would look like.
The vault is located in its namesake, a Norway-owned isle with a harsher climate than almost any other place Scandinavia can throw at you, granting you +3 in Hard-Ass Vikingin' right from the get-go. The more snigger-worthy part of its name comes from the tiny, nonessential fact that it just so happens to be the official storage space for most every damn nut and seed in the world in case apocalypse scorches it all.
The Nordic Gene Bank has collected over 10,000 seed samples from Nordic and African plants since 2006, clearly preparing for the inevitable scorching you will bring upon the world. With a task that grand to accomplish, the 11,000-square-foot vault is built to last: Apart from being located on a mountainy island on the ass end of everything, it's buried a good 390 feet in sandstone and includes more security measures and booby traps than the Indiana Jones and Cube franchises combined. Luckily, this is no issue to you: You still have the intangibility armor you used in your fight against Special Agent Lance Dickheart, and you slip through the security system with ease. Congratulations! You are now in possession of the most impenetrable high-tech fortress in the world, and the seeds of new life are yours to sow and reap as you see fit. Go, friend -- Immortan Joe that shit, and let no one stand in your way.
At least, until you realize that you're stuck in a small bunker in the middle of a freezing ocean, with no WiFi or cool Mad Max vehicle chase opportunities. Hey, no one ever said that the most secure lair would be the most comfortable one, did they?
Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked weekly columnist and freelance editor. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.
Man, supervillains can pop up all around us with all of this evil real estate. See what we mean in 6 Incredible Real World Supervillian Lairs and 6 Abandoned Places That Will Make Awesome Supervillain Lairs. Maybe we should build a Hall of Justice, just in case some heroes pop up to inhabit it.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see the greatest evil mastermind there ever was in Leonardo Da Vinci: History's Most Unexpected Supervillain, and watch other videos you won't see on the site!
Also follow us on Facebook and see where true supervillainy lives: The comments section!