Avenge This! Five Dastardly Supervillain Plots To Wreak Havoc On The Environment

by Dave Levitan, via OnEarth

The Avengers is now playing at a theater … well … everywhere, featuring the most impressive array of superheroes on one screen that anyone’s ever seen (sorry X-Men). And it got us thinking: superheroes seem to spend a lot of time fighting off environmental catastrophe brought on by the schemes of their archnemeses. We thought the bad guys wanted to rule the world, not just pollute it. (Anyone know if the Heartland Insitute is funded by Doctor Doom? Because it might explain this.) We looked back at some of the biggest comic book movies of recent years to find out which super villains have been plotting environmental disaster. And we probably don’t need to say this, but… SPOILER ALERT.

Supervillain: Scarecrow, Batman Begins

Warner Bros. Pictures

Evil plot: With the backing of the shadowy Ra’s Al Ghul, this twisted psychiatrist/psychopath wants to dilute Gotham’s water supply with a toxin from a rare blue flower that will cause mass hallucinations, panic, and the ultimate destruction of the city.

Did the superhero thwart it?: Yes. He’s Batman.

Could it happen?: Toxins in the water? Of course! Take California, where unsound practices have led to groundwater pollution from nitrates and other substances. And of course there’s the ongoing risk that fracking for natural gas or building tar sands pipelines will contaminate rivers and streams that provide drinking water for millions.

Preventive measures: Reduce fertilizer and pesticide use in agriculture (and on our lawns), provide stronger oversight of oil and gas drilling and transportation, ban imports of rare blue hallucinogenic flower.


Supervillain: Lex Luthor, Superman Returns

Warner Bros. Pictures

Evil plot: Luthor wants to use a Kryptonian crystal to spawn a brand-new continent in the Atlantic Ocean, causing seas to rise dramatically around the world and kill billions of people.

Did the superhero thwart it?: Yes. Although pretty lamely — hence the coming franchise reboot.

Could it happen?: It’s already happening! Fine, we don’t have new landmasses growing out of nothing, but we do have rapidly rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, rapidly warming temperatures, and soon enough, very rapidly rising seas. Estimates vary, but six feet of global sea level rise by 2100 is well within the range of possibility.

Preventive measures: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and do it yesterday.


Supervillain: Magneto, X-Men, X2, etc.

Columbia Pictures

Evil plot: Humans don’t like mutants? Fine, then Magneto will turn humans into mutants (using a machine powered by Anna Paquin perched atop the Statue of Liberty — don’t ask). Talk about your genetically modified organisms! In the second installment, he skips a step and goes straight to trying to kill every human on the planet. For once, we’re the endangered species! We can just imagine the polar bears thinking: see how you like it, bub.

Did the superheroes thwart it?: Yes. C’mon. Seriously.

Could it happen?: Monsanto … Magneto? Nah, just kidding.

Preventive measures: Don’t piss off endangered species: protect and save them, and maybe they won’t turn against us.


Supervillain: Dr. Octopus, Spiderman 2

Columbia Pictures

Evil plot: Doc Ock just wants to build a stable and sustained nuclear fusion reaction, that’s all. No big deal. Of course, such a thing actually existing would go a long way toward solving the world’s energy problems, but, well, we guess fusion is restricted to the inside of the sun for a reason.

Did the superhero thwart it?: Yes. Are we still doing this?

Could it happen?: Claims of cold, usable nuclear fusion have come and gone several times. Some think we could get there eventually, but don’t bet on it. And more traditional nuclear power, which involves fission rather than fusion, has its share of problems, too, from the risks laid bare at Fukushima to the ongoing issue of where to store nuclear waste.

Preventive measures: Avoid hyper-intelligent robotic arms, focus efforts on renewable energy, don’t attempt nuclear fusion reaction IN THE MIDDLE OF NEW YORK, genius.


Supervillain: Gargamel, Smurfs

20th Century Fox

5 Responses to Avenge This! Five Dastardly Supervillain Plots To Wreak Havoc On The Environment

  1. fj says:

    Avengers is a fun film; especially, when Iron Man (billionaire, philanthropist, genius Tony Stark) remarks to scientist Bruce Banner (aka The Hulk) that he really likes how he does that green thing.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    These are trippy and everything, but what we really need is a gritty and realistic movie about someone like David Koch or Mitch McConnell. Hollywood needs to realize that not all of us are in high school.

  3. Tom L says:

    That’s exactly what James Cameron needs to hear. He could make a real difference if he would settle for lower ‘box office’.

  4. Joan Savage says:

    Most movie supervillains are aware of their evil and definitely unrepentant about the suffering. That makes it deliciously simple to decide who are the bad guys and who are the good guys. More complex characters with ethical conflicts show up in comic books, but apparently not this movie.

    As anyone who has been reading Climate Progress knows, we are all participants in climate change, even with every effort to be purists.
    And, there has been conversation about how we have to understand behavior change to address climate change.

    The recent NPR program on “Psychology Of Fraud: Why Good People Do Bad Things,” touches on clues about how humans can turn into a Merchant of Doubt or a complacent Koch.

  5. Chris Winter says:

    I have to ask: What about Green Lantern?

    “In brightest day, in darkest night…” etc.

    Here comes Mr. Jordan. If he fails, Earth will be annihilated!

    (No, I haven’t seen the movie.)