They're giving Mickey Rourke's dual-whip-wielding, tougher-than-nails, check-out-my-grill bad guy Ivan Vanko, aka Whiplash a cockatoo in Iron Man 2. Although Marvel has used characters named Whiplash before, this is a new character created specifically for the movie, but with some of the elements of the classic Iron Man Russian baddie The Crimson Dynamo tossed in. I just have no idea why they've decided to give him a pet cockatoo, unless they're trying to make him appear more human. Don't be surprised if he pulls an Ozzy Osbourne on it or something.
A lot of different villains have had pets over the years, and they either seem to be used for evil means, like devouring people, or as comic relief by failing miserably at their jobs. Which camp will Whiplash's cockatoo fall into? We won't know until the movie comes out, but we'll undoubtedly find out exactly why he has a this feathered friend, but if Vanko utters one Russian-laced line about "I know why the caged bird sings," so help me. But this reminded me that there's a long line of cinematic villains who have pets. Read on for our list of five villains who had animals that worked, and five that didn't.
Evil Pets That Worked
Blofeld and His Cat from the James Bond Films
For all practical purposes, this was the iconic movie villain pet. You think that the evil mastermind behind SPECTRE in the James Bond movie stroking his white cat would be ridiculous, and well ... it is. However, it just works for this guy because it lets you know that he's both diabolical, and completely nuts. Doesn't he know how much those things shed? All kidding aside, there's a scene in one of these Bond films where Blofeld has someone viciously murdered, and the purring Persian just watches in catatonic silence. Chilling and weird. Although never named in the Bond movies, Dr. Evil's Mr. Bigglesworth in the Austin Powers films is obviously a parody of this famous feline. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, which this cat doesn't need since he even has his very own Swatch. Me-ow.
The Monkey from Raiders of the Lost Ark
When you think about evil pets, a tiny spider monkey isn't the first thing that comes to mind. They're completely adorable creatures, especially when you dress them in tiny little clothes. But as cute as this guy is, you have to remember that he was a Nazi monkey. No matter how much he cuddles up to Indy after Marion vanishes, or how bad you feel for him after he chows down on poisoned dates, the little guy was working for the Third Reich. Marion may have referred to him as "our baby," the monkey remained faithful to his keeper, the appropriately named "Monkey Man." Doubt where his loyalties lay? This little primate knew how to do the Hitler salute, which should leave no doubt in your mind. Still, he lives on in action figure form, and he should probably be glad he didn't suffer the fate of the monkeys in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom.
Salacious Crumb from Return of the Jedi
Remember the cackling little Muppet from Return of the Jedi that served as Jabba the Hutt's de facto court jester? That little guy had a name, and it was Salacious Crumb. He also has an entire backstory, thank you George Lucas and your laserbeam focus on Star Wars and the need to give everything in your universe a backstory. If you dig deep enough, there's probably a name and backstory for Luke's Tauntaun in Empire. Crumb was a cackling annoyance who you wanted to punch, so there's a real payoff when R2D2 zaps the crap out of him. This poor little Kowakian monkey-lizard died when Jabba's sail barge exploded on Tatooine, and his loss was mourned by no one. Mostly because anyone who would've mourned him died in that same explosion.
Khan's Ceti Eel from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Talk about nightmares. I was only 11 years old when The Wrath of Khan was in theaters, and I didn't see it until it hit home video a year later in 1983. I'll never forget watching this in our playroom and then promptly running out the door yelling. I went to bed with my fingers in my ears for weeks after seeing this, and then when I found out earwigs were real, I thought for sure one would get into my brain. This sand-dwellers are the only native inhabitants of Ceti Alpha V, and Khan keeps one in a freaking terrarium as a pet. Mostly because of the ear canal-intruding abilities of the larva, that render the victims "extremely susceptible to suggestion." Never mind that these same things had killed his wife and most of his crew. You think that might predispose you towards wanting to eradicate these things entirely, but not Khan. He turned the thing into a pet that lives in their sleeping quarters aboard the S.S. Botany Bay.
Flotsam and Jetsam in The Little Mermaid
Disney villains are notorious for having pets. Pets who are always asked to do something important, and usually wind up dropping the ball. Not Flotsam and Jetsam. They actually prove to be competent and every task Ursula assigns to them. Instead of being plucky comic relief, they show just how good a devious henchman can be. Especially when there are two of them. Besides doing Ursula's bidding, they also have magical eyes that form up to provide a seeing-eye for the witch of the sea, allowing her to spy on things from afar. It's too bad they didn't survive the original movie, and that the producers of the Little Mermaid television show decided to go back to standards whenever they'd appear in that series. You actually feel sorry for Ursula a tiny bit when she mourns these beasties, and it just goes to show you what a Disney villain could do when coupled with a decent pet.
Five That Didn't
Zorg's Whatsit from The Fifth Element
First of all, what in the hell is this thing? It looks like a fetal version of Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street, and he apparently lives in a box on Zorg's desk to be summoned at the touch of a button. We know from the film notes that the thing is called Picasso, but that doesn't solve the mystery of the creepy pet. Although it has eerily human eyes, its only expressions seems to be "Hi, there!" or "I don't know what you mean!", as Zorg finds out when he nearly chokes on a cherry. Zorg is a vicious, murdering, very evil man in this film, and he's dealing directly with the purely evil Mr. Shadow as a lackey in search of the Fifth Element, yet they give him this goofy as hell pet? Shenanigans. Which might be why he has a Facebook page.
Adrian Veidt's genetically created lynx Bubastis in Watchmen
In Alan Moore / Dave Gibbons Watchmen graphic novel, there's a lot of emotional weight behind Bubastis. This genetically created pet has been Veidt's lone companion at Karnak, his massive fortress in the snow, for years. When Veidt is overseeing the Watchmen toyline, he agrees to the creation of a Bubastis accessory, even though he says no to toy versions of Nite Owl's airship Archie and Moloch the Magician. Why? Because this pet means something to Veidt. She's become a part of his life, and we get to see her playfully trying to catch a frog at one point. When he later has to sacrifice her in an effort to stop Dr. Manhattan, it's a very touching moment. In the movie? She's a throwaway who is just treated like a large cat. That same sacrificial moment loses everything with Matthew Goode's ultra-dry delivery. But at least even Zack Snyder didn't turn her into Scooby Doo.
The Rancor Monster from Return of the Jedi
George Lucas isn't getting off easy just because I have a soft spot for Salacious Crumb. Remember the Rancor monster? This creature was extremely ugly, gigantic, and lived in an elaborately created pit underneath Jabba's palace. One of the Hutt's favorite pastimes was luring his victims on the trapdoor above, and dropping them down to become Rancor fodder. That's not something that gets built overnight, and he probably had to have contractors create it special. And woe be to you if you're one of Jabba's slave girls who acts up. You get dropped down the hole, post-haste. But despite all that, Luke Skywalker is able to defeat this massive beast without his lightsaber and without using the Force! All it takes is the well-timed throw of a skull to crush the thing in its own gate. All of Jabba's hard-earned money, wasted. Good thing he had the awesome Sarlaac pit as a backup.
The Killer Penguins in Batman Returns
Although the Batman films really didn't go around the bend until after this film, but that journey was certainly hurried along by the inclusion of little, tiny Terminator-esque penguins. Remember these mindless drones that carried out mayhem and destruction at the bidding of The Penguin? He'd somehow devised little brain-control units that made the Antarctic little fowls march to his tune, and stop to fire missiles. They even had little aiming reticules. Ridiculous? Yes. These little guys were created by special effects and creature genius Stan Winston but they just didn't fit the bill. So to speak. How did The Penguin manage to invent all of this cool stuff anyhow? The guy had weird flipper hands, yet he created mind-control rigs for penguins, a giant, mechanized rubber duckie, and a device smart enough to take control of the Batmobile? Go figure. And yes, even these little fellas got their own vinyl model kits.
Iago from Aladdin
I've managed to go through life without wanting to punch an animated character in the face, a fact that I was pretty proud of. Until I saw Aladdin. Even the double whammy of magic and high adventure couldn't stop me from loathing Jafar's wacky parrot sidekick, Iago. 100% of the reason for that is Gilbert Gottfried's screeching and grating voice. It's like glass nails being raked across a virgin chalkboard. Which is probably exactly what the producers intended. However, beyond the issue of the voice is Iago's turncoat nature. If you managed to see Aladdin: The Return of Jafar then you know that despite all of the evil deeds that Iago takes part in, he turns feather and becomes a good guy. Could you ever trust someone who was partnered up with an evil magician who tried to murder you? His name comes from the devious and plotting character in Shakespeare's Othello, but this little bird is nothing more than a major annoyance.
Zhora's Snake and Tyrell's Owl in Blade Runner
Unfortunately, neither of these animals got enough screen time in Blade Runner even though the snake's scale is one of the pivotal clues in this film. What's more interesting about this animals are the concept. They're all replicants. Whenever we think about clones and robots in movies, it's always humans that jump to mind as the first things we'd try to replicate, but of course ... why not animals? In the world of Blade Runner, it sounds like all animals must cost a bundle of dough, because Rachel tells Deckard that the owl at the Tyrell Corporation is "very" expensive, yet Zhora also remarks to Deckard "Do you think I'd be working in a place like this if I could afford a real snake?" Either way, cheap cloned robot pets should be the way to go in the future. Unless they just sit and watch your eyes get gouged out, like Tyrell's avian cohort. They sort of worked and didn't work at the same time. They worked because they are cool concepts, but they didn't work because we didn't see enough of them.