5 Best Superhero Villains On Big Screen

PHOTO: Bryan Cranston as Walter White
Craig Barritt/Getty Images; AMC Networks

We love our villains.

Reports that Bryan Cranston has been cast as Lex Luthor in the Superman/Batman sequel to "Man Of Steel" are getting as much online buzz as the earlier announcement that Ben Affleck would play Batman in the highly anticipated film.

Cranston, 57, as Superman's arch nemesis is also drawing more cheers than the news that Affleck will play the caped crusader alongside Henry Cavill's Superman.

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It's believed that the "Breaking Bad" star has brokered a deal to appear as Luthor in at least six films from Marvel Studios, though no official announcement is likely to be made until the conclusion of the final season of Cranston's hit AMC show.

Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey previously portrayed Luthor on the big screen. Whether Cranston's Luthor joins the ranks of the greatest superhero villains on film remains to be seen. Click through to see five of our favorites.

PHOTO: Terence Stamp
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Terence Stamp/General Zod

If Luthor is Superman's archenemy, Zod is Superman's evil equivalent. British thespian Terence Stamp originated the role on screen in 1978's "Superman" and 1980's "Superman II." Before computer-generated effects, Stamp elicited fear with his steely gaze and imperious, "Kneel before Zod!" Earlier this year, the 75-year-old actor told Entertainment Weekly Radio that he couldn't understand the need for the "Man of Steel" remake with Michael Shannon taking over his role as Zod.

"I was kind of sad in a way, because [the original] was a benchmark for all of these comic book movies. There's never been anything quite as good as those Dick [Richard] Donner movies," he said. "I thought it would be diluted, in other words, and that it would be a personal dilution because it was such an incredible moment for me to come back, and to come back and play my first comic book villain."

PHOTO: Ian McKellan
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images
Ian McKellen/Magneto

Decades later, fellow British actor Ian McKellen's turn as Magneto in 2000's "X-Men" left audiences wondering if only English actors should be cast as movie villains. McKellen shines as the complicated, often sympathetic Magneto, a Jewish Holocaust survivor whose actions are driven by his desire to keep the mutant race from suffering a similar fate, making him as much antihero as villain. The 74-year-old actor will reprise the role for the third time in the upcoming sequel, "X-Men: Days of Future Past," set for release in July 2014.

PHOTO: Alfred Molina appears as Dr. Otto Octavius
Sony Pictures
Alfred Molina/Dr. Octopus

Next in the line of great British actors playing villains, Alfred Molina originated the role of the evil Doctor Octopus in 2004's "Spider-Man 2." Molina, 60, helped create one of the more memorable fight scenes in the franchise when his Dr. Ock clashes with Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man atop a moving subway car. As great as he was, Molina has staked no claim on the role with the reboot of "Spider-Man," telling Crave Online earlier this year, "I think parts are like rental cars. They don't really belong to you. ... If they revisit Dr. Octopus and they get another actor, that's as it should be."

PHOTO: Jack Nicholson appears as The Joker from the movie "Batman."
Warner Bros.
Jack Nicholson/The Joker

Jack Nicholson so dominated Tim Burton's 1989 "Batman" as the darkly humorous Joker that it's hard to remember who played the caped crusader in the original big screen version. (It was Michael Keaton.) The two-time Academy Award winner told MTV in 2007 that it was "a part I always thought I should play." The 75-year-old actor also thought Christopher Nolan was wrong to replace him when he took over the franchise, telling MTV he was "furious" that no one asked him to reprise his role. Of course many wondered if Nolan had made the wrong decision until the first glimpse of 2008's "The Dark Knight."

PHOTO: Heath Ledger, as The Joker, in a scene "The Dark Knight."
Warner Bros.
Heath Ledger/The Joker

Concerns that the late Australian actor Heath Ledger would give a lame Nicholson impersonation after taking over the role of The Joker in the 2008 Batman film "The Dark Knight" were quickly dispatched with the release of the first trailer. Ledger gave the performance of a lifetime -- he died at age 28 from an accidental overdose after filming ended -- and became the first actor to win an Academy Award posthumously.

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