They use their genius level intellects to create world changing inventions, have more megomaniacal tendencies than Hitler after stubbing his toe, can draw on massive monetary resources to support their mad schemes, and harbour aspirations of colonising not only Earth but the Moon and Mars as well.
Who am I talking about?
Surprisingly enough, it’s not Lex Luthor or Doctor Doom, it’s these seemingly nice-guy tech entrepreneurs whose exploits give even the most dedicated fictitious super pricks a run for their money.
Although he was the inspiration for Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man (with Jon Favreau having met Musk while developing the project), a cursory glance at South African born entrepreneur Elon Musk’s achievements reads like the template backstory for every super villain ever committed to ink.
Firstly, he has a cool comic book name: Elon Musk. Secondly, he has all the charisma and charm of Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor from Superman 2, a prerequisite for any diabolical baddie. Thirdly, like all ruthless super geniuses he was a precocious child, teaching himself programming and developing his first video-game at age 12. And, finally, he seems to own or have a stake in pretty much every crazy, high tech firm in existence!
In his 44 years he has started ubiquitous online payment platform, Paypal, founded electric car front runner, Tesla, birthed the first civilian space exploration company to put a human into orbit, SpaceX, began development on a revolutionary type of solar power storage battery, developed a solar power company and is now busy building a futuristic Hyperloop transportation system that will make the journey between San Francisco and Los Angeles in 30 minutes travelling at 750kph.
Come on, if that doesn’t read like the CV of a super villain, then nothing does. Thank fuck he’s on our side… for now.
Having the enviable title of world’s richest man automatically qualifies one as a super villain. In fact, if you have all that money and weren’t entertaining clandestine plans for global domination then you’re doing it wrong.
But, surely, Bill’s not actually a super villain? I mean, we’d know, wouldn’t we?
Well, not necessarily – just look into that face and tell me you couldn’t picture him reclining in a swivel chair stroking a cat.
His rap sheet for possible super-villainy is as long as a line of buggy code. For starters, the guy lives in an earth-sheltered Hobbit hole named Xanadu 2.0 in direct reference to Orson Welles megalomaniacal character Citizen Kane. His house is also home to the Codex Leicester – a 16th century manuscript written by Leonardo Da Vinci costing $30m – as well as an artificial stream, a bunker housing ten cars, and a beach with sand specially imported from the Caribbean.
Surely there’s a hidden missile silo buried in there somewhere, probably with a member of Her Majesty’s Secret Service strapped to a bench while a laser scorches his pubes.
One of the hallmarks of super villains is that they’ll have some kind of character quirk – The Riddler spouted riddles, The Joker wears macabre clown makeup and dresses like a Vaudevillian, and Lex Luthor goes prematurely bald.
In this great tradition steps Peter Thiel. What’s his quirk, you ask? Well, basically, it’s naming shit after stuff from Lord of the Rings. Thiel, a chess master by age 21, is the founder and provider of the Thiel Fellowship, he runs a company called Palantir, and is the co-founder of Mithril Capital Management.
Besides being obsessed with J.R.R Tolkien’s classic fantasy epic, Peter’s other totally super villainous obsessions include research into becoming immortal, developing increasingly powerful AI and building communities on the sea! So it’s plainly obvious that Thiel is planning to make himself immortal so he can set up a massive seabase surrounded by an army of sophisticated robots.
Where’s Superman when you need him, eh?
For a man who models his look on bearded TV stalwart, Noel Edmonds, Virgin boss Richard Branson has built a global business empire so massive in its scope that it makes Stark Industries look like a lemonade stall manned by a couple of snotty-nosed six-year-olds.
Branson’s got his digits in so many pies that there’s apple mush dripping from his fingers and toes. If he was to turn around tomorrow and say he was going to outer space to mine dilithium from asteroids using only a hot air balloon and some tweezers, you wouldn’t bat an eyelid.
With an empire stretching through such diverse businesses as record shops, media outlets, airlines and space exploration – and the kind of dressed down, nice guy look that lulls potential superheroes into a false sense of security – Branson can hide in plain sight while wearing the mantle of international supervillain like Clark Kent in some glasses.
Unlike the rest of the entrepreneur fraternity featured in this list, Martin Shkreli earns his stripes as a super villain not because of any madcap invention or hegemonic business empire, but simply because he’s a c*nt who became the most hated man on the planet when he tried to extort AIDS patients by increasing the price of vital medication by 5,000%.
Thankfully though, like all middling stand-alone villains in any superhero universe he’s now been brought to justice, and will hopefully live out the rest of his days in some high-tech super prison where the more unhinged members of the criminal brotherhood will provide him with a hands-on education in repeated violence.