Some movies can benefit from having a really BadAssVillain
, somebody so bad, so talented, so evil that you can't help but cheer when (s)he finally meets their doom, or can't help admitting a grudging respect should they win. Some examples of quality villains from the cinema listed below:
Of course, it's an all too common cinematic AntiPattern to hire a big-name, scenery-chewing actor to play the villain who then turns around and makes a fool of himself onscreen - see, for example, Ahnold in
Batman and Robin. Some of the best villains are those who are cast against type (for example, BillMurray? in
Mad Dog and Glory, or Wilford Brimley in
- Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal (Sir Anthony Hopkins)
- Dracula in various Hammer films (Christopher Lee)
- Frank in Once Upon a Time in the West (Henry Fonda)
- The cop in The Professional (Gary Oldman [See Note 1]) [This film released in Europe as Leon]
- The Sheriff of Nottingham (BasilRathbone? -- better swordsman and better lines than ErrolFlynn? [See Note 3])
- Cyberdyne Systems' T1000 in Terminator 2 (Robert Patrick)
- Even more so, Cyberdyne Systems' T100 in Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
- Pinhead in the Hellraiser series (Doug Bradley)
- Vizzini the Sicilian in ThePrincessBride (Wallace Shawn [See Note 2]) "Inconceivable!"
- Kaiser Sose in The Usual Suspects (actor's name withheld to prevent spoilage)
- DarthVader (primarily James Earl Jones) it's taking six movies to kill him off. Now that's evil!
- But he's only evil for 3.x of the movies. He's not so evil in 1 and 2, much of 3, and the end of 6. (Of course, he's bad in another way - the acting...)
- The Nazi soldier in Sophie's Choice.
- Agent Smith in TheMatrix series (Hugo Weaving [See Note 4])
- Hans Gruber in Die Hard (Alan Rickman [See Note 3])
- Frank Booth in Blue Velvet (Dennis Hopper)
- Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York (Daniel Day-Lewis)
- Donald Duck in "Mission Impossible" (Denzel Washington)
- Cardinal Richlieu in The Three Musketeers (Tim Curry [also famous for the voice of Captain Hook in Disney's Peter Pan and many other characterizations])
- Lex Luthor in the Superman series (Gene Hackman)
- The Joker in Batman (Jack Nicholson)
- Star Trek villains of note:
- Khan Noonian Singh in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Ricardo Montalban)
- General Chang in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country (Christopher Plummer [See Note 5])
- Vedek/Kai Wynn (Louise Fletcher) [Nurse Ratched in outer space. Brr.]
- Q in "Star Trek the Next Generation" (John DeLancie?)
- Though Q isn't really a villain...
- StarTrek, unfortunately, has an established AntiPattern of casting well-known (but not so well known that they don't need the work) scenery-chewers as villains in their movies; in an apparent attempt to recreate the magic of Khan in TWOK. It's only worked once - Christopher Plummer in TUC. Notable actors who have been embarrassing in the villain role include Christopher Lloyd in ST3, F. Murray Abraham in ST9, and (to a lesser extent) Tom Hardy in ST10 (though the last of these was so bad that Hardly was hardly noticeable).
- Vincenzo Coccotti in True Romance (Christopher Walken, who has been so good at being so bad)
- Roy Batty in BladeRunner [Rutger Hauer]
- Kurgan/Victor Kruger in Highlander [Clancy Brown] ("Happy Halloween ladies...")
- Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine, aka Darth Sidious, in the StarWars saga (Ian McDiarmid?); see below.
The various Disney animated flicks have produced a few noteworthy villains (and some poorly-acted ones as well); a few that stand out are:
- Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. (Eleanor Audley).
- Scar in The Lion King. (Jeremy Irons again)
- Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. (Tony Jay)
And a few noted comic villains
- Dark Helmet from Spaceballs (Rick Moranis). The funniest thing about Mel Brooks' Star Wars satire, by far. "Evil will always triumph over good, because good is dumb!"
- "Poo" from ZeekLand? Naaww -- AnonymousCoward
It seems clear to me from Harris' third book that Lecter is a Nietzschian "superman" made to stand up and walk around for our entertainment and education. -- KeithBraithwaite
- One wonders if Nietzsche ever considered the possibility of the Ubermensch dining on human liver, fava beans and a nice glass of Chianti.
I always felt that Lecter was Sherlock Holmes, without the Victorian restrictions. I thought the third book "spoiled" things a bit, by trying to explain him through his childhood. In the first two books he is believed (by the more thoughtful characters) to be just a random freak.
He's still randomly freaky in lots of directions. It's just in the particular matter of cannibalism that he had the high gloss put on his freakiness by a traumatic childhood. Your comparison with Holmes is very interesting.
Re Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber: Actually, I prefer JeremyIrons?
as Gruber's brother in the third Die Hard movie [Note: Die Hard With a Vengence
], though they're both good. -- MikeSmith
Aside: My personal favorite Bad Guy is not in movies, but books: Fred Saberhagen's Berserkers. In case you are uninitiated, these are (sometimes) planet-sized robots left over from an ancient war bent on destroying all life, everywhere. Anything living is a disease that needs to be eliminated. Only machines are good. Cool, eh? -- MartySchrader
What about Senator cum Emperor Palpatine (Ian M
cDiarmid)? Darth's just a lieutenant, and he wusses out in the end. Palpatine remains nasty bad to the core and all the way to the bitter end. (And Darth only got the #2 gig when Imperial lackey Grand Moff Tarkin - Vader's boss at the time - perished on the original Death Star. And Tarkin wasn't even a SithLord?
Grand Moff Tarkin was only "holding Vader's leash", per Princess Leia. Forget what you hear about G. Lucas not inspiring good acting. Ian McDiarmid's Emperor Palpatine is perfectly terrifying when he's pretending to be a snivelling Light Side wimp, and not Sith-ing out.
- If you watch A New Hope again, it should be obvious who is in charge on the Death Star, and who is second in command. Tarkin is clearly in command of the Death Star. Now obviously, Vader could kill Tarkin with a single thought (Tarkin is not schooled in the Force, and informs Vader that he's "all that's left of that ancient religion" - one wonders if Palpatine conceals his true nature from his minions), but Vader does appear to take orders from Tarkin.
- True, however, remember that the Sith are incredibly shadowy when they want to be. Although Tarkin gave the orders on the death star, that was all part of the emporer's plan. If Vader wanted control, all he had to do was assassinate Palpatine, just as Palpatine assassinated his mentor. Then Vader would have outranked Tarkin by a long shot. And, with few exceptions, the Sith prefer to manipulate via politics and economics over by overt use of their knowledge of the force. This is made abundantly clear in the first four episodes.
Agree. Emperor Palpatine is the villain of the StarWars
is the TragicHero?
- Gary Oldman as the villain in any movie - The Contender, Murder In The First, The Fifth Element - he's just a really, really good bad guy. (Lost in Space? maybe not any movie...) Ignoring for a moment the overall quality of the movie, actually his role is nicely augmented by the concept that they know he's evil, but they have to keep him around anyway. He portrays sociopathy well in the role, using the known good of others against them.
- Nope. Vizzini is a buffoon, whose death is so funny because he finds it inconceivable! (Seconded. Vizzini is so convinced of his superiority that his demise is predictable.) See BattleOfWits.
- Alan Rickman also played the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1991 version of Robin Hood, where he was a better swordsman than Kevin Costner's Robin of Locksley. "Well, at least I didn't use a spoon!" "Do you mind? We've just been married!"
- Hugo Weaving also played the elvish lord Elrond in The Lord of the Rings series. Really bad guy in three flicks, really good guy in three flicks. Balance. (Not to mention his role in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. Now there is balance!)
- Hard to believe this is the same guy who played Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music.
(some of these movie characters have permeated American social culture to this point)