Everybody loves a good villain. When it comes down to it, a good villain is simply more fun — or at the very least, more memorable — than the hero. It’s why we remember Robert De Niro’s Al Capone more than Kevin Costner’s Elliott Ness in “The Untouchables,” or why Heath Ledger’s vicious Joker is forever burned into our minds. What’s the fun in doing good and saving the world when you can exude evil in style?
The definition of the “villain” in popular entertainment has changed considerably in the wake of what many call Golden Age of Television. Many shows, from “The Sopranos” to “Breaking Bad,” to “Game of Thrones” and “Hannibal,” seek to imbue their titular antiheroes with shades of ambiguity and sometimes — gasp — real human behavior. This is true in films as well — shades of good and evil are no longer painted in black and white, but in beguiling shades of grey. It’s why Anthony Hopkins‘ Hannibal Lecter — who, not surprisingly, places in this new video list from Cinefix of the Top 10 Movie Villains of all time — is powerful and certainly memorable, but also seems a bit hammy when compared to the most psychologically complex and ultimately more troubling portrait offered by Mads Mikkelsen in Bryan Fuller’s spectacular (and recently cancelled) “Hannibal.” And yet a villain is a villain: times change, but the roots of the movie rogue remain much the same. Some of cinema’s most memorable ones are sprinkled across this new list, and your favorite movie bad guy or girl is sure to be in there somewhere.
There’s some no-brainers here (Hannibal, Joker) as well as some old-school picks (The Wicked Witch from “The Wizard Of Oz“) and some just some straight-up left-field choices (as spooky as some fanboys no doubt consider Sauron, of “The Lord of the Rings” flicks, to be, I don’t know if he can honestly stand up there with the greats). Nevertheless, it’s a solid list — a sort of greatest hits collection throughout the decades of cinema’s most iconic troublemakers, or at least some of them. It’s also an interesting study in how the definition of “villainy” has changed over the years — just look at the fundamental differences between Jack Nicholson’s flashy, campy Joker, and Heath Ledger’s deadly-serious serial killer incarnation — and what that means in regards to popular culture.
What do you think? How does this list stack up when compared to your own? Who’s your favorite villain? Watch the video and let us know in the comments section below: