The skull is a universal symbol for “danger.” You find it on poisons and on signs intended to warn you of impending danger all over the world regardless of language. For this reason it’s some what common to see a villain who wears either a mask that looks like a skull or is just missing a face. Here’s a collection of ten skull villains we love to hate.
10. Gasha Skull
Gasha Skull from the Japanese equivalent of the power rangers was the prince of the youkai or demon army and was every bit as ruthless as he was terrifying. Looking something like a giant demon who raided the local army supply store, I can only imagine seeing this thing as a child it would be difficult not to be afraid. Worse still, it’s based on the Gashadokuro demon of Japanese myth, a 15-foot tall skeleton that likes to bite off the heads of its unsuspecting villains.
9. Atomic Skull (Joseph Martin)
The Joseph Martin Atomic Skull (yes there are two different villains with the same moniker in the same universe.) was a normal student who got hit by a radioactive blast, which resulted in his skin turning invisible. Ironically, it wasn’t the blast that made him insane but rather an encounter with thugs after. He quickly learns that he can focus the excess radiations into blasts and naturally it’s not a good power for a crazy guy to have. One of the things about him in particular that made my skin crawl was his tendency to get strange obsessions over women. We can see this initially when he goes after Louis Lane thinking she’s a movie character and again more recently when he attacks a movie perimeter because he has it bad for the lead actress.
Crossbones is the rather enormous Neo-Nazi follower of the Red Skull. On top of being huge and a skilled fighter, he is also an excellent marksman and regularly walks around with a small arsenal of weapons. Everything from his not so clever signature cross bow to mini explosives. Despite being the Red Skulls henchman he’s a fearsome opponent of is own. That coupled with his racism and involvement in the “death” of captain America is enough to score him the number 8 spot.
Skeletor while quite possibly the laziest villain on this list is probably the first image that came to your mind when you read the title. Skeletor is the abandoned right hand man of Hordrak, who took over Snake Mountain in his absence and raised his own army to try and take over Eternia. Every week he had a new plan to take over castle grey skull that was always easily foiled by He-Man. Despite being mildly in competent, its hard to find someone who grew up in the 80’s and doesn’t remember Skeletor’s annoying voice and green skull face. That notoriety is the sign of good character design and earns Skeletor the 7 spot.
6. Shao Khan
Shao Khan the Konqueror is the skull masked emperor and main antagonist of Mortal Kombat starting from the 2nd game. Shao Khan despite his inability to spell is a fearsome warrior who laughs at the pain of others and enjoys watching great warriors die in front of him. Anyone who played Mortal Kombat 3 likely spent an untold number of quarters trying to beat the game and any one able to defeat Shao Khan certainly has my respect.
5. Red Skull
The Red Skull is perhaps the second most recognizable skull faced villain after skeletor and the main antagonist of Captain America. The Red Skull started off as a Nazi and Hitler’s right hand man during World War II but later came to hate everyone equally. Hitler always one for the theatrical, ordered Johann Schmidt to dawn the red mask from which he gets his name. The one two punch of being skilled in combat and extremely intelligent made him a fierce opponent and Captain America was actually created as a counter measure.
4. Black Mask
Black Mask started off as a rich kid who developed a complex because of a lack of attention from his parents. Then he went completely insane and what’s the first thing you do when you go insane? Why, you burn your parents alive in your childhood home of course. After being bailed out by Bruce in exchange for leaving his fathers company Black Mask.
3. Task Master
Sometimes villain sometimes anti-hero, Task Master from the Marvel comics universe is one of the most bipolar characters the universe has to offer. Most recently know as the enemy/ally of Deadpool, another confused character that has gained a lot of fanfare in recent years. What got Task Master on this list isn’t his fight against the Avengers in early life or anything he’s done in comics lately. No, what got him such a high spot is his appearance in the Capcom fighter Marvel VS Capcom 3 Fate of Two Worlds. Anyone who has played the game knows exactly why. He is by far the cheapest character; anyone using him in beginner mode can literally randomly tap buttons and win 90% of the time.
2. Baraggan Luisenbarn
Baraggan Luisenbarn is the second Espada in the popular manga series Bleach. Like all of the Espada Baraggan has a distinctive transformation that makes him far more powerful but while most of the Espada released forms are based on animals Baraggan’s is based on death. Even worse than his terrifying gigantic demon appearance is his power the special abilty the transformation unlocks. Essentially his power is a cloud of gaseous death that decays anything it touches to oblivion. If that isn’t a power worthy of the number 2 slot, I don’t know what is.
Death as portrayed in the Castlevania series is always one of, if not the most difficult boss in the game. Often the only boss character who is both huge, throws projectiles and is fast enough to avoid damage when you come against death the likely out come is just that. Worse still, in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night he strips the player of all of his powers and equipment right away forcing you to face the demonic hordes of Dracula’s castle alone and essentially naked. Many games have skull-faced bosses but none are the total package of awful quite like Death.
General Kael from the movie ‘Willow’
Skullmaster from 90’s cartoon ‘Might Max’.
*Note: the above list was written by Nerd Bastards guest writer Maria Rainier. Maria is a freelance writer and blogger for First in Education where she’s recently written on accounting degree programs along with a piece on adult literacy teaching careers. In her spare time, she enjoys reading comics, traveling, and working with origami.