As long as there have been good guys in fiction, there have always been bad guys. I mean, a hero needs a villain to fight against, right? If not, what’s the hero supposed to do? No, there has to be this evil thing out courageous protector of good has to conquer to prove their mettle. But what’s more scary than one antagonist for our protagonist to fight? That would have to be an entire group of antagonists to take on!
Writers know this and this is why we have groups like the Decepticons from the Transformers, the Legion of Doom from DC, SPECTRE from the James Bond series, the Patriots from Metal Gear Solid, HYDRA from Marvel, and many more. Most of the time, these evil groups have awe-inspiring names and you can tell they are not to be trifled with.
Most of the time, anyway.
There are some instances when the ultimate evil corporation or group in a piece of fiction is just given a really silly name and that makes it difficult to really take them seriously. Sometimes, they can intentionally be given an incredibly unassuming name, which is part of the joke. However, there are also going to be some who have really dumb names, even though they probably thought it would strike fear in every innocent who hears it.
So, let’s go look at just five evil companies and groups who were, unfortunately, given names that’s kind of hard to take seriously.
Umbrella Corporation (from Resident Evil)
Not only have they been linked to various zombie outbreaks in the Resident Evil video games, Umbrella also almost wiped out the entire human race in the Resident Evil movie continuity! That means they’re twice as evil!
On the surface, the Umbrella Corporation is a company that makes cutting edge pharmaceutical products, such as medicines and beauty products. But that’s all a facade as their main product is creating various bioweapons, such as the T-Virus, which will turn living things into zombie-like beings as well as the Tyrant series of monstrous killing machines.
However, the name itself, Umbrella, just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. For one thing, what does an umbrella have to do with either making medicines or creating bioweapons? If they made, oh, I don’t know, parasols and rain gear, I would understand. It is explained in Resident Evil Village how Oswald Spencer, the man who established Umbrella, named the company based on the carvings he found with Mother Miranda so many years ago. Still, “Umbrella” is not necessarily a name that’s supposed to be the be-all, end-all of all that is evil, is it?
momcorp (from Futurama)
Yes, you’re supposed to not capitalize the letter “M” in the name… making it even less scary.
In Futurama, most of the world’s products and services are handled by some company owned by momcorp. Whether it be robot oil, dark matter crystals, ceiling fans, delivery services, killbots, eyePhones or even orphanage-grade toilet paper, you can thank momcorp for it. Heading all of its divisions is Carol Miller, the titular “Mom” in momcorp. She maintains a sweet and innocent image to the public, even going so far as to don a fat suit to make her look more, well, motherly.
While I do understand that having a really non-aggressive and friendly name is part of the joke, it’s still definitely not frightening, especially when you consider her to be one of the more major antagonists in the Futurama series.
Shadaloo (from Street Fighter)
In the Street Fighter universe, Shadaloo is the biggest and baddest criminal organization of the world. Led by the cruel M. Bison (or Vega, depending if you live in the United States or Japan), Shadaloo has their tentacles in numerous evil endeavors. Not only do they sell drugs and weapons to anyone who can afford them, they have also done some other dastardly deeds like kidnapping people and experimenting on them. Their last plan was to launch the Black Moons, orbiting satellites that have the power to destroy any electronic devices in their range.
While it does seem as if M. Bison has been taken out, it hasn’t been confirmed if Shadaloo itself has disbanded. It’s not even confirmed if Bison won’t be resurrected sometime in the future as he’s done so many times before. M. Bison may be a scary person, a tactical genius and a criminal mastermind but he certainly doesn’t have the smarts when it comes to naming his supposedly scary terrorist gang! That’s because, while Shadaloo is definitely a terrifying organization, it has such a silly name!
I get why some Street Fighter fans would prefer to call it Shadowlaw instead of its proper name because at least, Shadowlaw sounds rather intimidating. Shadoloo kinda sounds like a baby trying to say his first words, doesn’t it? Maybe Bison thought that’s how to properly pronounce Shadowlaw but it came out Shadaloo. Then nobody bothered to correct him because they were too scared to do so and Bison was too embarrassed to correct himself so the name stuck?
Circus of Crime (from Marvel comics)
While DC is more widely known to have much better villains than Marvel, that’s not to say Marvel is no slouch when it comes to naming their criminal organizations. You’ve got AIM, HYDRA, the Hand, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, the Sinister Six, the Hellfire Club and the Horsemen of the Apocalypse are just a few of some of the awesomely named evil groups Marvel has.
So, what’s with the Circus of Crime?
I do get the idea behind the team. Led by the Ringmaster, the Circus of Crime modus operandi is to rob their customers using the Ringmaster’s hypnotic ability. If ever they run afoul of any of the Marvel superheroes, the rest of the crew gets involved and all of their powers are circus themed. You have Bruno the Strongman who’s, well, strong. There’s the Human Cannonball who has the ability to… get shot from out of a cannon, I guess? There’s also Trick Shot, an expert with a bow and arrow, as well as the gymnastic team of the Great Gambonnos. There are more members but it’s safe to say all of them have some circus themed ability. Hence, the Circus of Crime.
Still, the name is just too whimsical to be of any threat, is it? I guess it’s because of the combination of the two main words. “Circus” is just too happy sounding and “crime” comes off as incredibly generic. You can’t really remove the word “circus” as it’s part of the group’s motif but they could change “crime” to something more dangerous sounding. Maybe “carnage” or “calamity” or maybe even “catastrophe” might work?
Ginyu Force (from Dragon Ball)
Their use of Super Sentai poses don’t help, either.
The Ginyu Force was an elite squad who work with the world conquering Freeza, one of the baddest enemies in Dragon Ball. The team is composed of Captain Ginyu, the flamboyant and narcissistic Jeice (second-in-command), the large but goofy Recoome, the quick and cocky Burter and the diminutive and psychic Guldo. Each member of the Ginyu Force was strong enough to conquer an entire planet by themselves but all of them were ultimately taken down by Vegeta and Goku.
The name sounds okay if you don’t understand Japanese. But if you know the language, Ginyu actually sounds like gyunyu, which translates to “cow’s milk” in English. So, basically, Vegeta and Goku fought the “cow’s milk force.” In fact, all of the Ginyu Force members’ names are a pun on a milk product. This isn’t really new in Dragon Ball as almost every character’s name is some kind of food pun. Still, “cow’s milk force” is definitely not frightening in the slightest!
Know any other nonthreatening names for evil groups? Let me know in the comments section below!