They say a hero is only as good as his villains, and there have been so many iconic film villains. That’s why today my good friend Akira Jeffers and I are picking our Top 5 Film Villains. It’s so hard to pick the top 5 villains. I’ve decided to try and focus on just how evil they are, the level of the acting performance, and how iconic they are in popular culture. For me if a villain can hit all those notes the. They are truly great. I have to mention some great villains that didn’t quite make my list; Roy Batty, Magneto (especially played by Fassbender), The Terminator, John Doe from Se7en, and Hans Landa, to name but a few.
- Shuggie: Hans Gruber (Die Hard) – This was Alan Rickman’s first film role and given how incredible his performance is in this film, that’s just ridiculous. Hans Gruber is a suave, interesting, and charismatic villain that helps elevate Die Hard to one of the greatest action films of all time. The only reason that he is not higher on this list is that his goals and evil deeds just aren’t in the same league as the rest of this list. He is essentially just a bank robber, all be it, the coolest robber in movie history.
- Akira: Scar (The Lion King) – Every 90’s child was quite literally scarred by this character if they watched Lion King. He is even scarier when you watch it as an adult because you truly see how evil he is. He is full of bitterness and jealousy that drives him to murder his brother. He emotionally manipulates young Simba into thinking that his father’s death was his fault and drives him away. His Loki like silver tongue, wit and prowess help him successfully usurp the Alpha lion position in the pride. As well as his use of hyenas as goons help him keeps the pride and those who oppose him in line.
- Shuggie: Anton Chigurh (No Country For Old Men) – When you consider that Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones play the other two leads in No Country, it’s even more impressive that Javier Bardem’s hitman who has to recover $2 Million Dollars, is the stand out character. His introduction is incredible and shows his cold and brutal character, but it is the gas station scene in which he shines the most. The way the tension in that scene build, in large part thanks to Bardem’s performance, but also the Coen’s writing of Chigurh’s character is just masterful. Chigurh is a villain fully deserving of a place on this list.
- Akira: Jigsaw (The Saw Franchise) – Now I’ll start by saying I am not a huge fan of the Saw franchise but Jigsaw has made it on here regardless. Lucky me, my boyfriend loves it and I’ve been subject to it over the past week. The reason Jigsaw makes it onto this list is that he exhibits some aspects of villainy but it is hard to put all villains into a box. He technically doesn’t murder people, as there is always a chance of them being able to survive the ordeal that they are put through, but if they do they will be mentally scarred. His games and rules are used to antagonise the victims, especially as they are kidnapped and drugged, wake up in a strange place and are then expected to comply to survive. Not to mention he takes an already mentally unstable woman, Amanda, puts her through hell and enlists her help. From what can only be Stockholm syndrome, she becomes his messed up protégé. One of the best things about Jigsaw is, you realise that you don’t have to like villains, though I usually do, for them to be a favourite.
- Shuggie: The Joker (The Dark Knight) – The Dark Knight is essentially a clash of ideologies. The Joker is trying to prove to Batman that people are inherently evil, but they hide this. And to be honest the Joker wins this. He succeeds in corrupting Harvey Dent and in doing so takes Gotham’s White Knight and proves that he is not good deep down. But of course we cannot talk about the Dark Knight’s Joker and not talk about Heath Ledger. It was one of the great film performances and deserves all the praise that has been heaped on it in the last 8 years and more.
- Akira: Xenomorph (Alien Franchise) – Many people are well versed with this creature, I had the unfortunate introduction at age 8. One of the main reasons that the Xenomorph is a good villain, beside EVERYTHING, is the inability to reason with it. Many villains you can gauge what they want or what they are trying to do and reason. Not this one. It is a machine! Large yet agile, acidic blood, and a tail that can pierce through a human like a f***ing kebab! (Deadpool reference). It follows two simple rules; hunt and breed, and sadly for Ripley and the crew in the original, humans are the prey and vessels. We know that it has few weaknesses, from the movie Alien Vs Predator, that Predators are it’s enemy and one of the few things that can stop them from breeding over and over and consuming everything in it’s path.
- Shuggie: Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs) – He may not appear on screen for most of the film, but Sir Anthony Hopkins portrayal of Thomas Harris’ serial killer was just perfect. The scenes between Hannibal and Clarice are so captivating and great to watch. As well as this the manor of Hannibal’s escape scene just illustrates how much of a villain this man is, despite the fact that we are kind of rooting for him. Not to mention the fact that he delivered two of the greatest lines in film history, including the classic “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”. Superbly creepy and villainous.
- Akira: Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars Episodes 1-6) – Star Wars had to make an appearance right? Another example of an emotionally manipulative bastard, he is one of the best villains due to his calculating behind the scenes trickery. Living a double life, as Darth Sidious and a Senator gaining power in politics, manipulating Padme in the senate, pushing his goons such as Dooku and General Grievous in the way of danger and taking the fall so that no one would suspect him. He takes advantage of Anakin who is the right amount of powerful but emotionally compromised and therefore easily to manipulate. These are traits of a good villain; he is able to fool everyone and work behind the scenes, always thinking ahead. The Senate, the Clone troopers and finding a powerful Jedi that he could turn to the dark side. Even after he has established his empire he still keeps himself out of the way, leaving Darth Vader in charge of the Death star plans. But he could not keep his puppet on his strings for long.
- Shuggie: Darth Vader (Star Wars: The Original Trilogy) – Is there any villain who has hit the iconic levels of Darth Vader. Just the sound of his breathing is all you need to be put immediately in mind. He probably has the best story arc of any villain ever, as he moves from an enjoyment of pure evil to one of the great redemptive characters. His design is so incredible; it’s so striking from that moment he steps through the door on Leia’s ship at the start of A New Hope. With James Earl Jones’ iconic voice work there’s no other choice for the top of this top 5 list.
- Akira: The Joker (The Dark Knight) – For those who know me this isn’t a big surprise. The Joker as a character ticks all the boxes for me. As much as I enjoyed Jack Nicholson’s Joker, Ledger’s is my favourite on screen so far. The way that he jumps onto the scene in The Dark Knight is what excites me the most. He seizes control pretty quickly, instills fear into an entire city, even the crime bosses. He is a man without a fixated motive other than chaos and antagonising the Batman. You think he is doing one thing, and then it turns out to be completely different. He seems erratic but also thinks ahead. It’s why I am so excited for Killing Joke, but also Suicide squad. He can quickly jump from jesting and joking around to holding a knife against your throat in a heartbeat. Best of all most of his rivals like to play Mr. J off as stupid, but he’s not. My Puddin’ is just crazy.