So I was reading an article listing the 50 greatest movie villains of all time. While the villains list was ok for me, the heroes list was full of fail.
It got me to thinking what makes a good villain. There are plenty of kinds of villain, from your omnipotent overlord, through to supervillain, femme fatale, conman and down to the henchman or toadie.
I compiled my own list of top 10 movie villains.
- Darth Vader, from Star Wars
- Hanibal Lecter, from Silence of the Lambs
- Lord Sauron, from Lord of the Rings
- Roy Batty, from Blade Runner
- Keyser Soze, from The Usual Suspects
- John Doe, from Se7ven
- Hando, from Romper Stomper
- Alex De Large, from A Clockwork Orange
- The Terminator, from The Terminator
- Hans Gruber, from Die Hard.
A mixture of different villain types: Sauron is the all powerful, unseen Dark Lord of Mordor who wants to bring the entire world under his oppressive fist; the Terminator is a machine of singular purpose, he absolutely will not stop until you are dead; Roy Batty kills because he wants more life (don’t we all?) but then saves the life of he who was sent to kill him; Keyser Soze pulled the greatest trick of all by convincing the world that he didn’t exist.
It was a hard decision not to include Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars in the list, but I didn’t want to include two characters from one film or series. Indeed, Palpatines evil is soul deep. He convinces senates to do his will. He manipulates entire worlds to serve his own purposes. And he is central to the fall of the greatest hero of the Republic when he turns Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side. And he was played to perfection by Ian McDiarmid.
But Darth Vader heads my list for style and cultural impact besides his onscreen evildoing and eventual redemption by destroying his master, Palpatine, to save his son and bring freedom to the galaxy.