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The most messed-up superhero movie moments

Superheroes are shining lights in a dark world, but since these guys and gals are constantly fighting crime, they have to deal with some deranged and depraved individuals. As a result, the superhero genre occasionally gives us scenes that are violent, bloody, and just plain wrong. These disturbing scenes can pop up in gritty, realistic superhero flicks, but they can also appear in more lighthearted fare or even animated movies. Granted, superheroes always wind up in dangerous situations, so we all expect a bit of fisticuffs and a psycho villain here or there. But these crazy scenes push the boundaries further than anyone expected, leaving us shocked, scared, and maybe even a little sick. From bad guys putting their powers on display to grim vigilantes showing they don't play by the rules, these are the most messed-up superhero movie moments.

Goodbye, Frank

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is meant for all ages. There aren't a lot of disturbing moments in this superhero series, so when things do get gross, those scenes stick out. Take Ant-Man, for example: Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) turns a dude into a pulsating purée of organic jelly.  It's especially upsetting since poor old Frank (Joe Chrest of Stranger Things fame) seemed like a level-headed guy. He's a high-ranking executive at Pym Technologies, and when Cross starts talking about his Yellowjacket program — he wants to build shrinking, super-powered, weaponized armor — Frank says they should hit the brakes on the whole microscopic murder suit thing. 

But Cross is a psycho who doesn't take no for an answer, so the supervillain corners Frank in the company restroom and zaps the poor dude with a shrink ray. Unfortunately, Frank doesn't wind up as a pint-sized person. Instead, he's reduced to a bubbling blob of goo. Of course, you can't leave the evidence lying on the floor, so Cross wipes Frank up with a tissue and flushes his rival down the toilet. Walking into Ant-Man, we weren't expecting to see a man turned into marmalade, but the scene was almost a lot worse. In one unused take, Stoll actually tasted the slime before flushing it down the drain. The movie keeps things nasty when Cross experiments on an innocent little lamb, leaving Marvel fans more than a tad traumatized.

A soul for a soul

Thanos the Mad Titan might be the worst dad in the MCU, which is really saying something. Thanos (Josh Brolin) is incredibly abusive towards his adopted children, especially poor Nebula (Karen Gillan). He's been torturing her for decades, tearing off body parts and replacing them with hunks of metal, and in Infinity War, we watch as he basically rips Nebula apart.

But things grow even grimmer when Thanos gets all fatherly towards his favorite daughter, Gamora (Zoe Saldana). After kidnapping the green-skinned swordswoman, Thanos takes her to Vormir, in search of the Soul Stone. When they arrive, Thanos learns that if you want to acquire the gem, you must sacrifice the thing you love most. At first, Gamora thinks this is hilarious because, obviously, Thanos doesn't love anybody... right? Right?

And then the Mad Titan starts crying.

Tears aren't something you expect from a supervillain, and Gamora is absolutely baffled, until the Red Skull spells it out for her. In his own twisted, toxic way, Thanos does love Gamora. But nothing's going to get in his way, so the massive Titan grabs his struggling daughter and throws her off a cliff. Just a few minutes ago, Spider-Man was fighting a space wizard, and Thor was cracking jokes with a talking raccoon. Now, we've got filicide, an abusive father, and Gamora's broken body haloed by blood. Dang, Marvel, that got dark.

My nose could be gushing blood

With his flipper hands and jagged teeth, there's no villain more disgusting than the Penguin. This ball of blubber spends his days living in in the sewers and oozing black sludge from every orifice. He's even got a thing for groping people, but when did that stop anybody from running for office?

In Batman Returns, the Penguin's got big plans. With the help of evil businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken), he intends to be Gotham's new mayor. But if he's going to win over voters, he'll need a total makeover. After all, when he first waddles into his campaign headquarters, he's chowing on raw fish and wearing the world's dirtiest pajamas. He's grunting, groaning, and ogling women, but fortunately, he's got a team of image consultants who cheerfully offer tips.

And that's when one idiot makes a crack about how there must not be any mirrors in the sewer. Fish clenched in his grubby hands, Penguin cackles maniacally before shooting back with his own joke: "Still, could be worse. My nose could be gushing blood!" The image consultant doesn't get it, and that's when the Penguin lunges at his face, jaws wide open. The supervillain takes a great big bite out of the dude's nose, and we hear the sickening crunch as blood gushes across the room. It's pretty sickening, but as far as political campaigns go, we've definitely seen worse.

Granny's Peach Tea

When Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice flew into theaters, everybody expected these heroes to throw down, but nobody expected a jar full of bodily fluids, especially Senator June Finch (Holly Hunter). She's a powerful politician worried about eccentric billionaire Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). He wants to import kryptonite into the U.S., but the senator suspects he's got murder on his mind, so she blocks his import license.

This doesn't sit well with the manic mogul, who starts threatening the senator. And as he tries to intimidate Finch, Luthor asks, "Can I call you June?" The senator shoots back, "You can call me whatever you like. Take a bucket of piss and call it Granny's peach tea....You won't fool a fly or me. I'm not gonna drink it." That's a pretty gross put-down, and it comes back to haunt the senator in a really disgusting way. During a congressional hearing on Superman, the senator is busy giving a speech, and that's when she spots a jar of amber fluid sitting on her podium, a jar labeled "Granny's Peach Tea."

The look on the senator's face is one of pure horror, and the same goes for everybody watching. Seconds later, a bomb goes off, killing everybody in the room except for the Man of Steel himself. But hey, at least it got rid of "Granny's Peach Tea."

How about a magic trick?

The Joker has always had a flair for the dramatic, and he puts his showmanship on full display in The Dark Knight. In Christopher Nolan's classic, the Clown Prince of Crime (Heath Ledger) is a chaos-loving terrorist with plans to get rid of Batman. And if you're good at something, why do it for free? 

Instead of straight-up killing the Caped Crusader, the Joker offers his murderous services for a hefty fee. The smiling psycho makes his pitch at a mob boss meeting, but these gangsters aren't wild about working with the Joker since he's been robbing mob banks. One particular gangster, an angry fellow named Gambol (Michael Jai White), wants the Joker dead and orders a crony to pull the clown's head off. But that's when the Joker decides it's time for a magic trick. He drives a pencil into a table and promises to make it disappear. And when Gambol's goon gets a little too close, Joker grabs the thug and throws him hard against the table, driving the pencil into his eye. What really sells the moment is when the Joker waves his hands like a stage magician and shouts, "Ta-da! It's gone." For this guy, killing dudes with writing utensils is a great big joke, and that's what makes him such a messed-up monster.

The Ravager mutiny

While the MCU is mostly a squeaky clean franchise — no f-bombs, no sex scenes, no gratuitous violence — things get a bit edgy in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. There's that infamous crack about Jackson Pollock paintings and a scene when our heroes gleefully murder an entire ship full of space pirates. But it's all in good fun... until Taserface leads a mutiny, anyway. 

In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the monstrous Ravager Taserface (Chris Sullivan) is tired of the way his boss, Yondu (Michael Rooker), does business. He turns the Ravager crew against their captain, and that's when things get grim. Some of the Ravagers are still loyal to Yondu, but they're quickly overpowered and tossed into the void of space, where they suffocate and freeze. They're dragged kicking and screaming to their doom. Worse still, the mutinous Ravagers are enjoying this a little too much, laughing and cheering as their victims die.

It's incredibly ghoulish, and things get even nastier a few minutes later when they turn their attention to poor Baby Groot (Vin Diesel). They laugh at him, pour beer on his head, and physically abuse this adorable sapling. It's genuinely upsetting, and while the MCU is filled with villainous monsters, they don't get any more sadistic than Taserface and his crew.

Pixar gets dark

While they're primarily aimed at kids, Pixar movies aren't afraid to get dark. Bugs are eaten alive, an old man loses the love of his life, and a fish family get devoured. But things are especially sinister in The Incredibles, when Syndrome decides he's totally cool with killing kids.

The poster boy for toxic fandom, Syndrome (Jason Lee) once dreamed of becoming Mr. Incredible's sidekick, but the strongman (Craig T. Nelson) told him to get lost. Years later, Syndrome has become a demented inventor with his very own evil lair, a gang of gun-toting thugs, and an oversized killer robot. And after tricking Mr. Incredible to visit his private island, he tortures his old idol by sending bolts of electricity through the superhero's body.

Animated kids' movies don't usually feature torture scenes, so nobody was expecting Pixar to take a page from the Gitmo handbook. But the horror doesn't stop here. Elastigirl — along with stowaways Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Spencer Fox) — is on a rescue mission, flying to Syndrome's island to find her husband. And when Syndrome sees the plane flying his way, he lets loose with the missiles. After hearing his wife's voice over an intercom, Mr. Incredible begs Syndrome to spare his family, but the supervillain just laughs. Even when he learns there are kids on board, he refuses to call off the missiles. When it comes to being evil, forget about Thanos or the Joker. Syndrome is a stone cold psychopath.

There's no living with a killing

Logan is a bloodsoaked Western that ups the gore while dealing with the emotional impact of taking a human life. Borrowing from Shane, the movie tells us there's no living with a killing. "Right or wrong, it's a brand. A brand sticks." That's something the Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has to deal with every day. He's murdered a bunch of people over the years, and even if they deserved it, killing still takes a piece of your soul.

We see that hard truth played out when the world goes into slow motion. On the run from the murderous Reavers, Logan, Laura (Dafne Keen), and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) hole up in a casino, where the dementia-addled Professor X has a massive seizure. As Xavier convulses, he sends out telepathic waves across the casino, paralyzing almost everyone, including a band of Reavers who've burst into his room. The only ones strong enough to move are Logan and Laura, and as the Wolverine drags himself down a hallway, he sees it's time to whip out the adamantium claws.

Because everything is in slo-mo, we see the Reavers react as the claws come crashing towards their skulls, and the look in their eyes is pure terror. There's a monster coming to murder them, and they literally cannot get away. Granted, the Reavers are horrible people, but they're still people, terrified of dying. Their horrified faces haunt old man Logan, and they'll also haunt moviegoers for a long, long time.

A sinful family reunion

Directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation), Shazam! features the freakiest cinematic supervillains to date: the Seven Deadly Sins. They're monstrous demons, complete with horns, fangs, and wickedly long tongues. These beings were encased in stone by an ancient wizard, but when Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) shows up, he unleashes the demons and plays host to their satanic party.

Possessed by the Sins, Sivana has all sorts of crazy powers, like flight and the ability to shoot lightning bolts. So what's the first thing he does with his newfound gifts? Well, get revenge on his family, of course. His father and brother, both influential businessmen, have been emotionally abusing him for decades. Literally filled with wrath, Sivana heads over to their company, strolls into a boardroom meeting, and unleashes his seven new friends. The hungry demons gobble up everybody in the room, and while the terrified executives desperately try to escape, there's no getting away from Sivana and the Sins.

The promotional material for Shazam! promised a goofy good time with Zachary Levi eating snack food and doing the Fortnite floss dance. Nobody was expecting a bunch of demons to devour a room full of people. (Originally, Sivana was going to attack a Christmas party, so it could've been worse.) But this shocking scene does a fantastic job of setting the stakes, proving that Sivana isn't here to play and that Billy Batson better get his act together real fast.

Horror hospital

Sam Raimi is the king of blending slapstick comedy and horrific visuals. And while Spider-Man 2 isn't a horror movie, it does contain a terrifying scene that holds its own with messed-up moments from Evil Dead II and Drag Me to Hell.

It all starts after a science experiment gone wrong. Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) is ready to unveil a fusion reactor that will create renewable energy, but he can't handle the tritium fuel with his bare hands. So he constructs four mechanical arms — gigantic tentacles powered by artificial intelligence — and straps those bad boys onto his back. He's got an inhibitor chip to prevent the AI from messing with his mind, but when the experiment goes south, the chip shatters, and the arms take over.  

The explosive experiment knocks Octavius out cold and fuses the tentacles to his spine, so his unconscious body is wheeled into an operating room. A team of surgeons prepare to hack the arms off, and that's when the tentacles come to life. Like a possessed squid, the arms whiz around the room, slashing and grabbing and dragging doctors across the floor. One surgeon tries to fend them off with a chainsaw, but the metal claws just rip him apart offscreen. And the entire time, Doc Ock is completely unconscious, unaware the tentacles on his back have turned the operating room into an exterminating room.

Super gets super graphic

Before joining the MCU, James Gunn dabbled in the superhero genre with Super, a 2010 flick that's hilarious and nauseating. The story follows a short-order cook named Frank (Rainn Wilson), a man who feels like a complete loser, especially after his wife (Liv Tyler) runs off with a depraved drug dealer (Kevin Bacon). Devastated, Frank decides to become the superhero Crimson Bolt, and along with his homicidal sidekick Bolty (Ellen Page), he unleashes hell on all the local crooks, from pedophiles to people who cut in line at the movie theater.

Super is a massively underrated movie, but it's not for the faint of heart. With the weird hentai stuff and the "in between the panels" rape scene, Super is really hard to stomach. And it gets even worse in the final fight scene, when Dwight Schrute goes full-on Travis Bickle. Determined to get his wife back, Crimson Bolt attacks Kevin Bacon's lair, and the ensuing scene is incredibly upsetting. Ellen Page gets her face shot off. A mutilated man begs for his life. Michael Rooker gets his head introduced to a brick fireplace. And to cap it all off, Frank stabs his arch-nemesis to death... slowly, one stab at a time. While some superhero movies want you to clap and cheer, this one wants you to lose your lunch.

Rorschach lends a hand

Based on the landmark graphic novel, Watchmen analyzes the psychos, deviants, and losers who wear flowing capes and skin-tight suits, and the craziest of the bunch is Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), an unbending vigilante who lives by a very violent code. Working outside the law, Rorschach is investigating the death of several super-colleagues when he's arrested and tossed in jail. It isn't the best place for a crimefighter, especially since Rorschach put a lot of these guys behind bars, and during a nasty prison riot, some of his old friends come to pay a visit.

Played by Danny Woodburn, Big Figure is a diminutive gangster with some oversized goons, and they're all in prison thanks to the fedora-wearing watchman. Big Figure wants revenge and orders one of his thugs to saw open Rorschach's cell and cut the dude to pieces. However, when Henchman #1 reaches through the bars, Rorschach breaks his thumbs and ties his arms together, preventing Big Figure from sawing through the lock.

But Big Figure isn't really loyal to his lackeys, and he orders Henchman #2 to cut off the guy's arms so they can reach the lock. The dude tied to the cell begs and pleads for his life, but Henchman #2 takes a buzzsaw and slices through his buddy's arms, leaving him with two gory stumps. Naturally, Rorschach isn't fazed by any of this, but as for the rest of us, well, we wish we hadn't watched, man.