A while ago, I wrote a post called Rooting For The Bad Guy where I admired the evil that appears in TV and movie fiction.
As a follow up to that post I would like to offer to you my top ten movie bad guys. As a rule, I love movie villains, possibly more than the heroes themselves and many have made me cheer out loud, there evil and nasty ways triumphantly upsetting the status quo and spitting in the face of lawful and decent behaviour.
Without further ado, here are my top ten movie villains:
10. Lord Voldemort
Before you start laughing, yes I did enjoy the Harry Potter novels and movies. I realise that J.K.Rowling wrote them for kids but I found myself drawn into them on a day when I was off work sick. Mrs PM had left Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone next to the bed and I had nothing to read – so I went for it. And I loved it. The books, and films, steadily became darker and darker as they progressed – and in my eyes better and better.
Lord Voldemort is like a dark shadow luring throughout the story and as the tales progress becomes more sinister and more evil culminating in fantastic confrontation in the final book/film. He is evil personified and his appearance is quite disturbing given the nature of these so-called children’s films.
9. Emperor Commodus
I loved the Roman epics of old, movies like The Robe, Demetrius and the Gladiators, Ben Hur etc. and when Gladiator appeared, I was delighted that this genre had been modernised. The film remains one of my favourites. I particularly like Emperor Commodus, a twisted power hungry individual who murdered the family of the hero Maximum Decimus Meridius, murdered his own father and became the most powerful man in the world – the Emperor of Rome.
8. Darth Vader
As a kid, Darth Vader was the ultimate villain to me. Every box was ticked in the villain checklist. He was a fabulously powerful villain, dressed entirely in black with a deep booming voice and had the Dark Side of the Force at his fingertips. Had I had anything to do with the Star Wars franchise, I would have preserved his malevolence and not allowed him to succumb to the power of virtuosity as he did in Return of the Jedi. Darth Vader should have remained evil.
7. General Zod
Superman is the ultimate superhero and in order to conquer him, you need an equally powerful supervillain. Enter General Zod who appeared in Superman II and the new offering Man of Steel. General Zod is a power hungry psychopath whose only desire is to rule everything, a kind of superpowered dictator. The greatest thing about him is that he has all the powers that Superman possesses and can stand up against him on equal terms, unlike other more feeble nemeses such Lex Luthor.
6. The Terminator
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s original Terminator is a superb villain. Devoid of emotion, extremely resourceful and incredibly powerful he has one purpose and one purpose alone; to kill Sarah Connor. He feels no remorse and anybody or anything that stands in his way are crushed with maximum prejudice. I realise there have been a few other Terminators but the original one suited Arnie’s limited acting ability perfectly. Arnie at the time was built like a leviathan and his physique and general demeanour was perfect for the part of a relentless killing machine.
5. Hannibal Lecter
I read the book Red Dragon by Thomas Harris before The Silence of the Lambs hit the big screen and I regarded Hannibal Lecter as more of a monster than Francis Dolarhyde, the central villain in that book. Hannibal Lecter came into his own in the two sequels, The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal and Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of the psychopathic killer in the movie adaptations is phenomenal. What I particularly like about Hannibal Lecter is the fact that he is a brilliant psychiatrist as well as a psychotic murdering cannibal, and this gives him the edge and the ability to get into the minds of people. The way in which he kills Inspector Pazzi in the film Hannibal is extremely disturbing and is a truly magnificent piece of cinema.
4. Colonel Hans Landa
Inglourious Basterds is one of my all-time favourite films and the star of it for me is the multilingual, intelligent and extremely brutal Jew Hunter himself Colonel Hans Landa, played so brilliantly by Christoph Waltz. Landa is a ruthless Nazi whose job is to hunt Jews, a job he loves and does extremely well. The character is wonderful because as well as being completely detestable, there is a charm about him and a undercurrent of malevolent humour. While watching the film I always think “I should despise this guy – but actually I love him.” That’s what makes him so brilliant.
3. The Joker
When I refer to the Joker, I mean the character played by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. In the old batman series, the Joker was one of Batman’s most famous nemeses and in the first Batman movie, he was also played wonderfully by Jack Nicholson. Up to that point he was more of a humourous comedy character but in The Dark Knight, all of the humour was stripped away and the Joker became a totally evil, psychotic and very disturbing terrorist who was deviously clever and almost certainly totally deranged. The Dark Knight deserves all the plaudits it gets but without Heath Ledger’s Joker it wouldn’t have been such a great film.
2. Agent Smith
The star of the Matrix trilogy, for me at least, is Agent Smith, a computer generated artificial intelligence who detests humanity, referring to them as a plague for which he is the cure. By the end of the trilogy he has become as powerful as the hero, Neo and the movie’s finale is the ultimate confrontation between the two. Agent Smith is played by Hugo Weaving, who delivers the dialogue in the way you would imagine a predator speaking to its prey just before devouring it.
1. Khan Noonian Singh
Khan is not only the greatest Star Trek villain; he is my favourite movie villain. He first appeared in an episode of the original series of Star Trek and then resurfaced in my favourite Start Trek movie, The Wrath of Khan. Khan is a genetically engineered superhuman who blames Kirk for marooning him on a planet that becomes a wasteland after a planetary explosion, leaving Khan and his followers to survive on their own in an extremely hostile environment. He plans revenge with dire consequences for Kirk and his crew.
“I’ve done far worse than kill you. I’ve hurt you – and I wish to go on hurting you!”
Over to you, dear reader.
Who are your favourite movie villains?
Do you agree with any of mine?