Since I am most obviously the Home team in said debate, I decided to fire the opening salvo against Porkchop. I proposed the debate when I, in a fit of wanting to watch good movies, watched two of my favorite movies in one day. Why are they my favorite? Simple; the villains are spectacular.
For me, one of the best things about a movie is the conflict, whether the movie is a comedy of any form, a suspenseful, horror thriller, or a bloody, action-packed adventure. One of the purest forms of conflict (while I do not believe it is the best plot line for movie entertainment) is between a perceived hero and villain. What makes a good conflict even better? A super sinister, well-written villain.
I do not want to go to much into the dynamic that exists in story-writing, where the goal in creating a good conflict is not having a a super evil villain do evil things only to just be thwarted by the hero in the knick of time. That is a super boring, non-interesting story that has been overdone as long as story-telling has existed itself. To quote a villain that will appear on this list, “This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren’t you, huh? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”
Kind of beautiful in its simplicity; the fact that a villain is simply doing this for the ‘shits and giggles’ of it all. No matter how hard the hero tries, the villain is always either a step ahead, or willing to accept his fate more so than the hero is willing to beyond his moral compass to end it. I’ll go more into the dynamics later per villain, and why they meant a lot to Pork and I. To me though, that quote provided above was the baseline for every villain, and helped guide me through this. I had a tough time justifying the addition of a villain that is just “evil for evil’s sake” or a “maniac madman”. I do believe that the actor’s portrayal of a character can unhinge my perception of a villain. I tried not to factor in sequels into my list, and tried to keep my list solely to my first impression. However, I could not let some elaborations of villains go unpunished (looking at you Barbarossa or Davy Jones from the Pirates of the Caribbean).
So, without further adieu: “Here we go.”
– Chucky (first seen in 1988 release of Child’s Play) – Chucky just sucks. He’s a cult classic, murdering doll that scared me as a child until I was about 12. I couldn’t even hear the name Chucky without screaming and feeling faint. In all honesty, I didn’t like the movies. I thought they had their funny moments, but, other than that, I’m not a fan. Chucky was ruthless and sinister as it gets. I mean, all he did was smile, laugh, and love killing people.
– The Collector (first seen in The Collector) – Growing up, this two film franchise was one of the scariest things I had ever seen. The Collector was deranged like Jigsaw, but a lot more hands on. Really the first film in the house is what made me think of the Collector as pure evil. It was like if Home Alone was made for a psychotic killer. It was a wild film, and one of the more evil characters I have faced. He had a creepy mask, too.
– Dr. Hannibal (Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, The Red Dragon) – One of the most famous of the villains, and one of my personal favorites, this was hard to rank him here. Depending on the film, Dr. Hannibal is a savior, a cannibal, a murderer, or a genius. In most of the movies, he was all of those at the same time. I loved the dichotomy of his internal character, and how he was able to portray his evil and intellect all at once.
– Calvin Candie (Django) – Honestly, I just threw this one in here because I loved Leo in this role. He was able to play a villain but seem so sinisterly innocent at times too. The way that Calvin was okay to Django but so horrible to the rest of the slaves in this movie made me sick. He was able to portray how a character like his would be in that day in age so well, it shook me to the core.
– Nazis (Schindler’s List, The Pianist, Saving Private Ryan) – This is kind of a cop-out, I know. However, one of my favorite time periods of history is the WWII era. All these movies occur then, and the Nazis are painted as the ideological villains they are. Schindler’s List and The Pianist show the horror of the Holocaust and the Warsaw Ghetto, and how truly evil the Nazis (and humans) can be to those they view as ‘sub-human’. In Saving Private Ryan, a particular Nazi begs and pleads to the group’s humane side. What does he do after? Leads more Nazis after them, and proceeds to help kill the men who spared his life. All in all, logic was very simple: despicable and truly evil people.
– The Predator (first seen in 1987 release of Predator) – This movie freaked me out because I knew all of these action heroes that were in this protagonist group. And what happens to this bad ass group of heroes? SPOILER: every single one died. A solitary, death machine-like hunter, that can be invisible, tore through this group and skinned them alive (LITERALLY). The clicking noises it makes while hunting still sends a shiver down my spin. Hunting for the thrill of the hunt, the Predator was a great villain because the sole purpose of him is to hunt and kill. Nothing else. There is no ulterior motive besides the thrill of the hunt, and having these amazing action heroes be viewed as no more than inferior prey to it is jarring.
– Bane (in the The Dark Knight Rises) – Tom Hardy’s Bane had a tough, tough, TOUGH job ahead of him trying to follow up Heath Ledger’s Joker. He rose to the occasion admirably, and was able to make himself not only viewed as a great villain in his own right, but has cemented himself as one of the better villains in my mind. Taking the moral, ideological purge stance, he was able to “make Gotham equal” while also doing something most villains cannot: he beat his archenemy (the hero) soundly. Bane was able to succeed while exuding an air of dominance and calmness that befit a man not mad with unquenchable rage, but a man with a plan and the will to carry it out. Bane showed how a man could carry out the ending of a hero solely by having one of the best plans a villain could have. While he lost because of cinema writing, he was still a great villain.
– Emperor Palpatine (first seen in Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi, elaborated on in Star Wars Prequels) – Emperor Palpatine was, upon first viewing, the evil that is typically painted upon in cinema: an evil, autocratic emperor that is all-powerful, all-knowing, and cruel.
THE ACTUAL TOP 5 LISTS
Porkchop’s Top 5 Baddies of All Time
5) Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter series) – My absolute favorite, but still lands at number 5. I love Harry Potter, and Voldemort is my mortal enemy. He has been trying to kill Harry since he was a legitimate infant. But failed to do so. Fam couldn’t kill a baby. But his intentions are pure evil. So he easily makes my list, but lands sat 5 because he couldn’t even kill baby H.
4) Jigsaw (first seen in Saw) – Jigsaw is pure unadulterated evil. A vigilante that torments the wicked and makes them come to terms with their demons. I love and hate him because although he wants people to accept their fate and to own up to their actions, he does so with impossible and disgusting tasks. He has no remorse for any of the people and the torture that he puts them in. As a villain he might be the most ruthless, but he lands number 4 on my list.
3) Darth Vader (first seen in Star Wars: A New Hope, present in the original trilogy, and expanded upon in the prequels) – Darth Vader is the essence of evil. He is a good person turned to the dark side. He controls people, choke slams people, and has possibly the greatest twist in a movie series of all time. People celebrate how evil he was and his asthmatic voice will haunt Jedi’s for all of eternity.
2) Thanos (first seen in Avengers: Infinity War) – Thanos is one of my more controversial villains. He’s a tyrant who, in his own mind, has good intentions. He believes that, by destroying half of the universe, he can save humanity. His epic strength and ability makes him an unstoppable force (for now) and lands him second on my top villains list.
1) Heath Ledger’s Joker (in The Dark Knight) – The Joker is one of the most quintessential villains in all of movie history. Health Ledger played this psychotic enigma to a tee. He ingrained himself in the role of the Joker, and was able to perform on the screen what others have dreamed of. He fully became the Joker. Watching him in The Dark Knight was chilling, and at times disturbing. It was acting perfection.
Buck’s Top 5 Baddies of All Time
5) Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter book and movie series) – The scariest villain I knew in the 2nd grade was the one I had read in the Harry Potter books. After watching the first movie? Boy was he cemented. His singular desire for immortality and power were unmatched, as his extent of power was never truly revealed besides in the horrible acts he committed. He was more of an educated dog to me, rapidly pursuing his own wants and wishes than truly exacting vengeance. After all, he was thwarted by three kids how many times, despite his army of followers and his own willingness to shed blood? For those sole reasons, I cannot have him any higher on my list.
4) Alien Xenomorph (Alien, Aliens, etc.) – The first alien movie genuinely scared the absolute piss outa me. No joke, I peed myself a little (just a lil squirt, not a fire hose) when the first person died in the movie due to the alien. I truly believe this movie, along with this “villain”, is why the horror genre can never truly grasp my attention. Sure a Jigsaw and those kind of mind-twisting “geniuses” can have you trying to think of ways to outmaneuver them (unsuccessfully), but they always had a purpose. The expansion of the Xenomorph is Aliens and other sequels only propels their truly horrific nature: a parasitic one. An enormous, silent, semi-intelligent parasite that has acid saliva, three mouths, and can blend in anywhere easily? Dealt with those nightmares for easily a week.
3) Thanos (first seen in Avengers: Infinity War) – We all have those friends that hold wildly ludicrous notions/ideas in their heads. Some believe the moon landing is a myth, others believe that Walt Disney is a floating head trying to control all media. However, almost everyone doesn’t believe the easiest way to solve overpopulation is through mass genocide, and no one is willing to go through the lengths in order to carry out such a monumental task. That’s why Thanos, even though he is a fairly recent movie villain, is able to grace my top 3. Super intelligent, super strong, and super determined, Thanos single-handedly beat an entire group of super heroes by himself through sheer will and determination. He sacrificed his daughter for his goals, and even took a lightning-infused ax to the chest in order to complete his task. The best part of his character arc was the fact that he knew he was going to be a villain to people, and yet he was okay with it. He was even patronizing to everyone, doing his best to explain why he was doing what he was doing. Hell, he told them how every time, and was completely okay with admitting when he was bested..but only for a moment. Sure his character has been built up to over the course of multiple movies, but which great villain hasn’t? After all, in his one onscreen appearance to date, he is regarded as one of the best written characters in cinema history. The other two I have above Thanos, of course, are ranked higher than him…
2) Heath Ledger’s Joker (in The Dark Knight) – A lot of you will be mad at me, I know. Many will consider this a snub, and I somewhat agree. This was a difficult thing to do, but I cannot, in my right mind, put someone so fresh and new (in regards to who is number one) at number 1. Heath Ledger’s Joker iteration may be the best ever, and he showed the power of mystique for developing menace. From the opening bank robbery scene to the final hanging ultimatum he gave Batman, he was absolutely astounding. Being in the movie for less than 30 minutes, he commanded the direction of the entire movie AND WE DIDN’T KNOW HIS ORIGIN (sorry Joaquin Phoenix, we don’t need your origin movie) OR HIS MOTIVES. His insanity is scripted, and not really true. His whole goal is just to break the Batman, and he doesn’t use well-thought out, meticulous plans. He starts something in motion, and adapts quickly to the chaos around him, painting his adaptations as the grand master plan itself. And let’s be honest, every scene he is present in, he is portrayed as solely being in the background, and then slowly commanding attention until BAM, he is now in control of everything. It took me well over a dozen watch-through’s to even finally grasp he is in the movie for less than 30 minutes, and even now I still don’t believe it. I hope to God no one attempts to play this iteration of the Joker again, because it clearly drove the person who played it insane. Maybe that is why this villain terrifies me, since the role called for one to dawn the mantle of insanity in order to fully enrapture the audience.
1) Darth Vader (first seen in Star Wars: A New Hope, present in the original trilogy, and expanded upon in the prequels, seen for a few scenes in Rogue One) – Darth Vader may be the most expanded upon villain in this ranking, and none of it was forced at all. Every movie he has been in has been well thought out in terms of developing his character arc as well as his evilness. The man enter our lives by casually walking over dead bodies of enemy troops and his own, not even looking around or caring to do so. Then we are greeted later by him…choking the captain of the ship while interrogating him until he dies? Then he murders his old master later on, and personally flies a fighter to try and end the rebellion? Then in the subsequent movie, while he is trying to lead an attack on a hidden rebel base, he force chokes an Admiral ON A DIFFERENT SHIP THAN HIS PERSONAL FLAGSHIP. We see throughout the movies how evil he is, and how he was willing to cut off his own son’s hand and try to kill him just for his son trying to save his friends. He’s not above hiring bounty hunters or contracting out dirty work to others, and will kill those who fail him. Not only is his viciousness on display, but his intelligence. Multiple times he demonstrates how he is able to outmaneuver his enemies, and is even willing to blow up an entire planet in order to destroy them. His background was handled poorly in the prequels, but expanded the depth of the character and his motivations. However, in Rogue One, his scenes sent chills down my spine for how well they were handled. He was not ruined like many of the new Disney Wars have done to other characters, but enhanced. His evil lair was brillant, and the hallway scene in the ship boarding legitimately sent a shiver down my spine. I actually believe Darth Vader is the best villain ever not because he is all-powerful or all-knowing, but because he is cold, calculating, and rational. His intelligence is paralleled only by his evilness, and that is saying something considering some of these villains are that way. No villain can beat Vader that’s currently in cinema right now, and I don’t see anyone unseating him from his throne atop this list.