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Best Movie Villains
Rules: They have to be from movies originally, so the character cannot be from a book-to-movie adaptation, although comic book to movie is acceptable, given the insane number of differences between them. They have to be one single being- no organizations here. No ‘evil-just-because’. Sorry, Joker. And yes, there will be spoilers.
And so, in no particular order, let’s begin!
Darth Vader- Okay, I’m not talking about the guy from Episodes 1-3. That Anakin was a whiny, incompetent nuisance. I’m talking about the awesome cyborg with the mask from Episodes 4-6. He was amazing. First of all, he’s ruthless. He murders his inept underlings, orders the destruction of a planet, and kills his own (former) mentor, and he still isn’t ‘evil-for-no-reason’! Second of all, he’s smart. He can figure out the rebel plans fairly easily and makes for a fun villain to try and beat. And third, he’s powerful. Force choke, lightsaber skills, and he can operate pretty much any other weapon? Go, Darth Vader. That’s how you make a villain! Take some notes, YA authors; quit giving me Leck and President Snow.
All evilness established for Vader, you really can see a father/son bond between him and Luke. And the whole ‘No, I am your father’ line? Fantastic. Darth Vader is a super-iconic villain, even if he does turn good in the end.
Mystique- I might get some blowback for this, too, but I like the prequel/sequel new ones better than the originals. You can totally relate to Mystique there: a little blue orphan child that has to hide from the world because they’re terrified of her, because she’s different? If I had heartstrings, they’d be tugged on here (I am notoriously immune to sad books and movies). To make things worse for her, Charles Xavier is totally clueless. Mutant and proud! Except my sister hides herself all day, every day! That’s the reason she joined up with Magneto (who will also be making an appearance on this list)- because she was tired of hiding. Completely reasonable.
She also isn’t totally sadistic. Does she hurt people? Yes. Does she kill people? Yes. But does she enjoy it? She doesn’t seem to. For her, ridding Earth of an (obviously) inferior species is a necessary evil to protect the side that really matters: mutants. And you can kind of see her point. How many times do the X-Men or the Brotherhood have to fend off a load of government people who want to either register them or experiment on them? Pretty much every single movie.
Agent Smith- He’s from The Matrix, and since the other two movies in this trilogy were absolute failures, I will only review the Agent Smith from the first movie. Okay, so here’s the sort of backstory: Earth is ruled by machines, and the machines take their power from humans, who are basically in a coma for their entire lives while their energy is sucked out. During their lives, they believe they live in 1990s New York, but in reality, it’s just the Matrix- just a computer-created program that they believe is real. Agent Smith is a computer program as well, someone who looks for humans who have fled the Matrix. Occasionally, the people who have escaped go back into the Matrix to liberate others, and it’s Smith’s job to stop them. He’s like evil anti-spyware.
But the thing about Smith is that he’s almost funny in his evilness. He constantly refers to Neo (the protagonist) as ‘Mr. Anderson’, with this sort of emphasis on ‘ander’ that ends up being amusing in a good way. He also ends up with some of the best villain dialogue ever:
You're a plague and we are the cure.
Tell me, Mr. Anderson... what good is a phone call... if you're unable to speak?
Never send a human to do a machine's job.
Gotta love Agent Smith. He’s utterly emotionless, being a machine and all, yet still has this sort of dry humor that makes him a great antagonist and very entertaining to watch.
Sebastian Shaw- The Nazi scientist and mutant leader who can absorb energy from X-Men: First Class is a definite contender. He’s sadistic yet has a certain charisma that attracts his little band of twisted mutants. It’s him, a telepath, a teleporter, a guy with… tornado hands, and eventually, a dragonfly woman who spits fire against humanity and a six-member CIA mutant branch, and they come awfully close to winning. He first shows up as a scientist working in Auschwitz when he encounters Erik Lehnsherr, also known as young Magneto. Naturally, he’s fascinated by the boy’s powers and decides that he will help ‘unlock’ them… by torturing poor little Magneto and murdering his mother. Charming man, isn’t he?
Understandably, Magneto becomes his sworn enemy and goes on an epic quest of vengeance to find Shaw and kill him. But when the final conflict comes, Shaw does manage to convince him of something: humans are the enemy. Unfortunately for Shaw, he does not convince Magneto to spare his life, although he basically converts Magneto into someone exactly like him.
Loki- The Norse trickster god and the only Asgardian with sarcasm. Honestly, though, you kind of have to feel bad for him considering what a humongous jerk Odin is. He raises two sons, basically making sure that one will grow up to hate the other by saying that they were both meant to be kings. Really, Odin, you’re a terrible father. So Loki’s evil plan? Discredit Thor, Odin’s golden son, to convince Odin that he is the only one worthy of the throne. But to be honest, Loki’s totally right. Thor is a bratty war-monger who, before his earthly exile, would have been a terrible leader.
The thing that gets my attention is his sheer planning skill. His multidimensional plan in Thor 2 was pretty genius, you have to admit. Not to mention that he’s Odin now. Odin’s either dead or captured, and Loki’s masquerading as him on the throne of Asgard, scheming to do all sorts of twisted things… In Marvel’s TV show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., he sends down Lady Sif to capture and return an Asgardian named Lorelai who can control men with her voice. What plan do you have for Ragnarok, Loki?
Magneto- Yes, another X-Men character. What can I say? They have cool villains. The thing about Magneto is he’s totally justified in his actions. He grew up in Nazi Germany, watched his parents die, was tortured by a sadistic scientist (Shaw, who he thought was human), was almost blown up by humans who thought he was too dangerous, was locked up underneath the Pentagon, has been shot at/almost killed by humans multiple times, and has generally suffered a great deal because of humans. So can you blame him for wanting to get rid of people?
Magneto also has the charismatic thing going; he’s managed to attract a fair amount of mutants for his Brotherhood, and has been able to cause some massive damage to society. In addition to that, he gives really good speeches and is super-devoted. He gave up all of his friends (Charles Xavier and the X-Men) to stay true to his cause, and he even abandoned Raven because she was no longer part of his cause despite his attachment to her. He’s so complex and intelligent that he makes for a fun villain to watch.
Camerlengo Patrick McKenna- I admit, I did not see this one coming. I thought it was going to be that German cardinal, but no. Angels & Demons surprises me with this guy. So this movie is set in Vatican City, and focuses on a terrorist act against the city, and specifically, the Catholic Church. Four cardinals were kidnapped to be executed, an antimatter sample was stolen, and the kidnapper is leading the protagonist all over the city to try and save the cardinals before the antimatter is used as a bomb.
Over a philosophical disagreement, McKenna murders the Pope by tampering with his medication. Like that isn’t heinous enough, the Pope is his adoptive father, but since the Pope told him to do what is morally best for the Church no matter what, he takes that as a sign that the Pope is no longer fit to be the Pope. And… poisons him. Then, all in a plan to unite the Church again, he starts executing the cardinals under the guise of the Illuminati. Or rather, he hires an assassin to do so. End results are the same: three out of four of them, dead.
Through all of this, no one knows who hired the assassin. And just as this man is about to be declared Pope through act of adoration, seeing as he saved Vatican City from an antimatter explosion (to gain approval), the protagonist discovers his involvement with the murders and terrorism. Instead of arrest, McKenna commits suicide by burning himself to join God and his adoptive father, the Pope, in heaven. So say what you want about McKenna, but… he’s devout. He really believes in the Catholic Church, and isn’t afraid to do terrible things in the name of faith.
Villains That Don’t Live Up To The Hype
Almost Any Marvel Villain- Come on. Obadiah Stane, Ivan, the Mandarin, Malekith, Darren Cross, Laufey, Strucker, Blonsky (Abomination), Sitwell, Ronan, Thanos (so far), Nebula, Zola, and Hammer are all completely unsatisfactory villains, and to be honest, Ultron kind of is, too. Half of them are evil for no reason and the other half just make pitiful villains.
Jabba the Hutt- Carbonite, really? I get it, maybe Han makes nice wall décor, but really, Jabba. Not to mention that he tries to kill Luke in displays of grandeur instead of just shooting him like a smart crime boss and gets taken down by Leia with an iron chain. Self-defense, Jabba.
Blofeld- The entire SPECTRE movie disappointed me, but especially Blofeld. Quit playing games with Bond already and just kill him already! What kind of criminal leader are you if you play with all your targets instead of just finishing them off?
Zod- You, an uber-warrior, along with your entire team of uber-warriors, got taken out by one untrained young Superman. Enough said there.
Lex Luthor (Batman v. Superman)- I wanted to like this guy, but there was one glaringly obvious hole in his plan: he hates Superman because Superman is both stronger than he is and out of his control. So he creates a monster that’s stronger than he is, out of his control, and it can’t be reasoned with, either.
Venom- Okay, the third Spider-Man was a disaster anyway, but this wise-cracking guy covered in space goop didn’t help.
Kylo Ren- He’s basically a whiny space brat (hi, Anakin) who can’t even understand his grandfather’s entire legacy: Vader turned good in the end, buddy, sorry. And he also gets beat by a Jedi who just recently discovered Jedi powers. Yeah, Kylo, you’re not scary at all.