Of all the archetypes, cliches, and tropes of 90s kids films, the bumbling villain is by far my favorite. Because of the stupid complaints of overprotective parents and silly religious groups, the studios had to find a way to make the evil characters in films less scary and more family-friendly. This was where the bumbling villain comes in. Although their motives are always the kidnapping, harm, or destruction of the main hero in the story, they never come off as threatening. Their unending ineptitude lets them constantly get outsmarted, outwitted, and outplayed. They are often being hit in the face or crotch and having to answer to their superiors for their inadequacy.
Out of respect for all of their hard work and gratitude for their hilarious antics, I decided to make a list of five of my favorite bumbling villains, for your reading pleasure.
Edgar “Eddie” Mauser, Norbert “Norby” LeBlaw and Victor “Veeko” Riley are the three moronic would-be kidnappers who disguise themselves as newspaper photographers in order to abduct the titular character of Baby’s Day Out, Baby Bink Crotwell, but their klutzy nature makes their criminal plans a bit difficult to carry out. Getting hit in the crotch, falling off of buildings, and being accosted by a gorilla is all in a day’s work for these three dimwitted dudes.
While more threatening in overall appearance than most of the characters on this list, Goldar is nonetheless incompetent. Although he is ballsy enough to face the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers by himself, he always ends up on the losing end of things and has failed miserably at carrying out both Rita Repulsa’s and Lord Zedd’s nefarious plots. Later on, he would pair with the even more inept Rito Revolto and the two of them become a comic duo of blundering, misfit monsters.
For some reason, these three dumbass surfer criminals are first in line to be hired to kidnap the 3 Ninjas. The main villain has an army of ninjas at his disposal, but he decides to go with these lamebrain stoner losers. Their one redeeming quality is that they slam a pizza in an old lady’s face, but that victory is short lived as they’re outsmarted by three kids who blatantly copy Home Alone and trip them up on jelly beans and ex-lax. What a bunch of nerds.
Much like Goldar, Bebop and Rocksteady sound like they’d be terrifying villains, in concept. Being an anthropomorphic warthog and rhinoceros, respectively, you’d think they’d have an ounce of badassery in their blood, but you’d be way off. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lucked out in the nemesis department when they came across these two lumbering buffoons. Often running into each other and knocking themselves out, these two were epic failures when it came to aiding the plans of Krang and Shredder.
Harry and Marv aka The Wet Bandits (and later, the Sticky Bandits) are the bumbling burglar antagonists of the first two Home Alone films. They’re robbers whose main motive is money, but they’re quite terrible at their job. Continually defeated in exaggerated, cartoonish ways by Kevin McAllister and his funhouse of booby traps, they were still determined to keep trying despite their excruciating injuries. Harry and Marv are the kings of slapstick physical comedy and deserve their number one spot on this list.