Every good story needs a hero and a villain, and sometimes the villain becomes more memorable than the hero. Of course, in the new millennium, the very ethos of filmmaking has changed. Now we have the common man as the protagonist and everyday life as the backdrop. Gone are the days of larger-than-life, robust, near-invincible heroic figures that have one unfortunate fatal flaw. Despite the ever-increasing number of films that do away with the binaries of good and evil, it is undeniable that most moviegoers do look forward to films that promise the presence of a good ol’ Hollywood villain.
One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.
Hollywood villains have always kept us on the edge of our seats with their unpredictability and dynamism. On occasion, the villains have been conceived of in such a complex fashion that they far exceed the hero in terms of how well they are received and remembered. There is a saying – that Batman could never be a hero without having a Joker to drive him on. There are some Hollywood portraying villains of this order who have actually been entrusted with driving the plot and carrying the weight of the entire film on their acting abilities. Here’s a list of the top ten such villainous characters who have etched a permanent space for themselves in film history. You may not always agree or root for them, but they will leave an indelible mark on your consciousness.
While most of the villains mentioned below are of movies based on realism, some of the more beloved ones are from the world of fantasy and fiction.
10. Hannibal Lecter
The persona of the villain Hannibal Lecter has been appropriated for several films over the years, such as The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon, and Hannibal Rising. There has also been a widely acclaimed TV series based on this serial killer. Dr. Hannibal Lecter is a fictitious character who is a psychotic serial killer and cannibal, as he always eats his victims. This part of his personality is at odds with his impeccable genteel manners, and his choice of victims is often guided by those whose rudeness puts him off. His lack of emotionality, calm and collected veneer, and clear and quick thinking is such a contrast with his violent side that it is bound to send a chill down your spine.
9. Michael Corleone
The main character of the classic movie series The Godfather, Michael Corleone is one of the most dangerous and iconic villain characters in Hollywood history, even though he is sometimes glorified as heroic. In The Godfather, Michael Corleone succeeds Vito Corleone as the don of their Mafia family. Michael’s life starts out on a rather tragic and traumatic note through his participation in World War II and an assassination attempt on him. Disillusioned, he is forced to embrace the identity that he had been trying to escape and goes on to a future of clandestine deals and violence.
8. Jack Torrance
This character from the horror movie The Shining is a merciless psychotic killer. His descent into insanity and recurrent alcoholism and stranded career are presented as causes for his neurosis, which begs a degree of sympathy from the audience. However as the film proceeds and Jack even pursues his son Danny and wife Wendy to murder them, it becomes impossible to root for this figure. Jack’s madness coupled with his single minded need to kill makes him one of the most danger villains in the horror genre.
7. Lord Voldemort
Of course, this character needs no introduction. The stone cold ruthless murderer of the Harry Potter series who tried to kill a baby for his own power is much feared but memorable. Lord Voldemort’s physical appearance itself is horrific – with his pale white skin, hairlessness, and snake-like silts for a nose – as it mirrors his inner evil. He does not hesitate before killing off even his most trusted and loyal followers, and for this every moment that he appears on screen he commands undivided attention
6. The Joker
The Joker, the villain of the Batman series, has been immortalized several times on screen and most memorably by Heath Ledger. Recently this character was also portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix as a destitute man, driven to insanity by his social and personal circumstances and who goes off on a violent and uncontrolled killing spree. Even in earlier adaptations, there are multiple hints and backstories about Joker’s traumatic past which shaped his sociopathic behavior. Joker’s infamous laugh and clear-headedness make his personality all the more fearful.
5. Ernst Stavro Blofeld
One of the most classic Bond villains, Blofeld has made several appearances in numerous films, most recently in Spectre. A criminal mastermind, Blofeld has been held accountable for the widest range of punishable offences – starting from waging biological warfare to exhorting powerful governments for world domination. Blofeld’s classic move is to rule through fear and intimidation, and he does not hesitate before brutally killing anyone that stands in his way.
4. Hans Gruber
The Die Hard movie’s chief antagonist, Hans Gruber is primarily a thief who sieges Nakatomi Plaza to take a hostage and ask that his monetary demands be met. Gruber is known to have joined a radical group in his youth from which he is eventually expelled and he gathers a mass of followers to join his cause. An absolute mastermind and terrorist, Hans Gruber is one of the most compelling Hollywood villains to watch on screen.
3. Mr. Brooks
The eponymous character of the film Mr. Brooks is a wealthy and successful businessman who leads a double life as a bloodthirsty serial killer. There is a primary conflict in the character as he realizes he is addicted to the act of killing and tries to seek help for it, but he is unable to stop himself. As a serial killer who is addicted to the ritualism and rush of killing, he also has certain signature steps that he often follows before and after committing a murder.
Loki is Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most dangerous and classy villains. Witty, cal and bitter, Loki truly shines as one of the most remarkable villain characters in a series and cinematic universe which has its fair share of dangerous and memorable villains. Loki’s impeccable scheming undercut by his sharp intellect and sense of humor makes him one of a kind and truly one of the best villains in Hollywood history. Loki is also ironically one of the most beloved characters, and rightly so. He is a very odd sense of appeal (of course, the fact that Tom Hiddleston plays this figure being one of them), which is also perhaps a result of his relatability.
1. Darth Vader
This figure has become a cultural icon since the inception of The Star Wars series. Despite his dominant evil streak, Darth Vader also has a tragic side to it and he is also allowed to finally redeem himself towards the end. Darth Vader’s persona and appearance have both been inspirations to later generations of creators who derive from this character several layers of complexity and a twisted sensibility. It has been suggested that Darth Vader has borderline personality disorder due to a crisis regarding his own identity, which propels him further to cause several mass murders.