The entertainment industry, pop culture, and fandoms, in general, can be an incredible source of inspiration, especially for artists. We always hear terms like “art imitates life” and “life imitates art,” but it’s rare that we hear anything close to the sentiment “art imitates art.” Sometimes, the art of a comic book, for example, can inspire an entire series of fan art from multiple artists. It’s amazing how a huge, artistic body of work can inspire the same kind of artwork from a supportive fanbase. However, that doesn’t always mean that the artwork that’s created from that pre-existing material is always beautiful.
Sometimes, something like a character in pop culture can inspire an artist to craft a mesmerizing but truly vile and disturbing work of art. This usually happens when an artist is inspired to create art after viewing a supervillain character or monster or some sort. It’s then when the artist is inspired to create something just as horrific-looking as the character that inspired the art. Here are just a few examples of disturbing fan art that was inspired by some of the deadliest supervillains that pop culture has to offer.
Anyone who’s familiar with the phenomenal artwork of one Austen Mengler knows that he has an appetite for the delightfully strange and twisted. This portrait of Venom is just one example of his work. The idea of Venom–as well as the character itself–has always been a rather mortifying idea to comprehend when one really thinks about it. Artwork like this not only puts extra emphasis on the terror that is Venom but also makes Venom all-the-more horrifying. Mengler finds a way to make Venom’s slimy texture all-the-more rigid and his toothy frame to be all-the-more spine-tingling the more that we look at it. Well done, Mr. Mengler. Well done. Keep up the good work.
14. Venom Tarantula Hybrid
As we should know from seeing him earlier, Venom is terrifying. As we should all know just from personal experiences and just from knowing what these eight-legged freaks look like, spiders and tarantulas are terrifying. What do we get when Richisawesome from Deviantart combines the two together? Something truly terrifying enough to make us all want to toss our laptops out the window and run for the hills as soon as we see it. Kudos to Richisawesome for the grand levels of creativity here, but if there was ever a match made in hell that we all could’ve slept better at night if we didn’t see, it’s the combination of a tarantula and Venom.
13. Loki and Thor: Brotherly Love
Seeing superhero Thor guard the a** of supervillain Loki on their homeland of Asgard–how appropriate–is admittedly not on the same level of disturbing as most of the shocking entries on this list. However, what makes this disturbing is when we remember that Thor and Loki grew up as brothers. They spent a large bulk of their lives–well into adulthood–believing that they were blood brothers, and it’s been hinted in the films that the two still look at each other as brothers in some light. Don’t get us wrong; we have to give the artist Mdashes from Deviantart props for displaying some impressive craftsmanship here.
12. The Joker and Darth Vader
Some people like to praise The Joker and Darth Vader as two of the greatest supervillains in pop-culture history. Anyone who was hoping to see the two team up in some capacity probably wasn’t expecting it would be like this. One thing we could’ve all done without is seeing The Joker in a bikini, especially Princess Leia’s bikini. Princess Leia’s bikini has remained iconic over several decades, and many people think that it’s still one of the sexiest outfits in movie history. Those same people probably don’t share the same sentiment after seeing The Joker wear it. If nothing else, shoutout to Axel Medellin of Deviantart fame for capturing the character’s personalities perfectly, as well as scarring us for life.
There’s something just outright strange about seeing The Joker in Batman’s outfit. Nevermind how did he get a hold of Batman’s costume, to begin with–keep in mind that Batman wouldn’t let his archrival near his suit over his dead body–there’s just something that just looks unsettlingly off about seeing The Joker in Batman’s costume. It doesn’t help that this artwork makes The Joker look like Slenderman in a Batman outfit. Not to mention that from his posture to seeing the supervillain in his nemesis’s attire, it’s all just so, again, unsettling. Alexander Stepanchikov–who can be found at Artstation.com–made this one all the way from Moscow, Russia.
10. The Joker and Venom
We’ve seen a lot of Venom on this list and a lot of The Joker on this list as well. There’s a reason for that. The two are often highly regarded as two of the most disturbing, scary, and all-around menacing supervillains out of their respective comic-book branches: Marvel and DC Comics. The thought of them being in the same room, comic, story, panel, or image together leaves the door open for unlimited possibilities of sheer villainy. Andyskullcandy from Deviantart decided to open that door wide open and managed to make the most of his vision. This image being just as horrifying as a Joker/Venom pairing should be thanks to seeing these two stare at each other while sporting matching ugly mugs.
The idea of the symbiote is a completely horrifying concept to digest. Were it not confined solely to the world of Marvel Comics, the idea of a gooey creature invading, consuming, and corrupting the very essence of a human being has the making of a disturbing body horror film. Even without the big-screen treatment, the idea of the symbiote has made for some bone-chilling tales featuring supervillains like Venom and, as pictured above, Carnage. What makes this image–crafted by one Rolando Lopez–so disturbing is the fact that it emphasizes how a symbiote doesn’t just mentally corrupt the person hosting the creature. It also physically destroys everything that the person used to be. It’s a thought that makes the symbiote even scarier than it originally as.
8. Slender Man
The creepypasta subgenre of storytelling has received a lot of flak in the past, but if there’s anything that the genre has done that’s noteworthy, it’s giving birth to The Slender Man. The Slender Man has transitioned out of the obscure subgenre setting into mainstream entertainment (i.e. video games). The image and legacy of The Slender Man have spawned an entire life of its own. His slick imagery is especially haunting for children, which is evident from the real-life Waukesha, Wisconsin incident from 2014, which is why the entirely creepy Slender Man being in the childlike innocent setting of a little girl’s bedroom is so darn uncomfortable and uneasy to see.
7. Black Mask
Black Mask is one of Batman’s lesser-known villains, but he’s also one of the more frightening–frightening as a character and frightening in just his physical presence and appearance. For those unfamiliar with who Black Mask is, he’s a criminal mastermind and kingpin ruling beneath the underbelly of Gotham City. He began his reign of tyranny after being struck by a lightning bolt that caused him to collide headfirst into a tombstone. Perceiving the moment as an omen and calling for rebirth, he smashed his late father’s casket into pieces and molded it into a mask. The dark, gritty undertones of this image perfectly encapsulate the dark aura surrounding Black Mask’s character and upbringing.
6. DBZ Villains
More often than not, when a fan falls unapologetically in love with an anime or animated series (or, in some cases, film), it’s to the point that they want to see it adapted into the live-action format. More often than not, an animated character should never be adapted to live-action form. There’s a reason why those characters look so slick and perfect in animated form. It’s because it’s in animation. Things and characters that look good in animation don’t always look good in live-action form or, at the very least, look downright terrifying in live-action form. Just look at the two supervillains from Dragon Ball Z, Frieza and Majin Buu. Sure, they’re villains and probably need to look horrifying, but that doesn’t make them look any less scary-looking.
5. The Joker Cuts Himself
Arguably the most memorable and disturbing moments from The Dark Knight were the scenes where The Joker couldn’t wait to tell us just how he got those pretty little scars on his face. In one story–the one during the dinner-party scene–Joker claimed that his scars were self-inflicted. The very idea of a man being insane and unstable enough to take a razor and paint the inside of his mouth is a disturbing one to comprehend. The thought and implication are unsettling enough, but to actually see it as the act is depicted in this image made by Tovmauzer from Deviantart makes us squirm in our seats all the more. In fact, to be quite honest, the sickening image kind of makes our jaws hurt the more we look at it.
4. Harley Quinn
One of the most well-remembered posters to promote the movie The Dark Knight back in the day was a hazy poster depicting Heath Ledger‘s Joker character behind some kind of fogged up mirror while seemingly writing “Why So Serious?” in blood. Everyone who saw and remembers the poster likely still gets chills just thinking about it. The only thing that would’ve made the poster more creepy was if The Joker’s devoted spouse, Harley Quinn, took his place. Syluna Hirokashi from Deviantart found a way to use Harley Quinn’s model from the Batman Arkham games in order to parody that famous poster image. Like the poster before it, Hirokashi’s image looks insanely creepy.
3. Red Skull and Hitler
For obvious reasons, in light of recent events, the Nazi flag and Nazi imagery in itself has been a profoundly sensitive subject for the American public. We, as Americans, struggle to take a glance at anything Nazi-related without some sort of extreme emotional reaction from it. That’s why this image of Marvel supervillain Red Skull standing in supremacy alongside Adolf is so affecting for us. What makes this all the more powerful is the way that the image itself is framed. It makes Hitler and Red Skull especially look like they’re reigning supreme over a world engulfed with Nazi imagery. Even if one were to take Hitler and the comic book supervillain out of this equation, just the thought of a world where the Nazis reign supreme is pretty terrifying for most of us.
2. Green Goblin
Anyone who’s seen the classic Green Goblin look from the comics knows that it’s not the most intimidating look for a supervillain. His Power Ranger-like outfit from the 2002 Spider-Man film may be easy to criticize when looking at it in hindsight, but it’s still a lot more intimidating than what we originally got from the attire that was carried over from his very first appearance. In his original form, the Green Goblin looks more like an elf straight out of Santa’s workshop trying to be a baddie after someone accidentally spilled some green slime putty for children onto him. He never looked terrifying until we found this image. Whoever crafted it really emphasized the texture in Green Goblin’s ugly mug to really point out how scary-looking he can be.
1. Harley Quinn
Time to dive right back into the dark, dark rabbit hole of Austen Mengler again. We saw his disturbing Venom artwork earlier, but the artist doesn’t just constrain his talents to the Marvel medium. He also gets inspired by the characters of DC Comics and, seemingly, Tim Burton. There’s something strangely Burton-esque about the way Mengler drew and depicted Harley Quinn and her trusty minion dogs, Bud and Lou. We’re not sure if this was intentional on Mengler’s part or not, but Harley Quinn and her dogs are drawn as if they just popped out of Corpse Bride or The Nightmare Before Christmas. Intentional or not, it definitely works, and it looks unnerving to stare at.
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