[dropcap size=small]E[/dropcap]very movie is incomplete unless there is at least one bad boy to root against. Indeed, villains are despised by everybody and nobody respects their agenda, but it’s a matter of fact that our babble about a movie always contains the character description of baddies. Crizic brings you a list of such ruthless, bad guys. Here are the 10 most iconic villains in Hollywood history:
10. Norman Bates (Psycho):
Psycho was a groundbreaking film in that it heralded the age of slasher films, but while its contribution to a genre in films might not be as appreciated, it’s antagonist gave us the chilling realization that our friendly neighbour could be a deceased-mother storing, cross dressing madman with a flair for the ultra-violent.
And with that unsettling realization, Norman Bates (played memorably by Anthony Perkins) etched himself into the collective conscious for decades to come.
‘I don’t kill people anymore.’
9. You-Know-Who. (Harry Potter franchise):
At number 9 is the one who should not be named, and quite possibly the most terrifying wizard of all time. When the Lord of the Rings released all those years back, beating Sauron in all round evilness seemed somewhat impossible. But You-Know-Who did it, and did it with snake-like charm.
You-Know-Who controls, tortures and kills with abandon, with people who oppose him either disappearing or suddenly dying; such activities of his leading to the premise of the Harry Potter series. Ralph Fiennes, with his natural gift for versatility, slips into the shoes of You-Know-Who and does complete justice to the role, non-existential nose et al.
From re-birthing and fracturing his soul into seven parts to making the entire wizarding world refrain from even speaking his name, lest he appear, You-Know-Who is exactly what the headmaster at the school of evil would aspire to be.
8. Freddy Kruger. (A Nightmare on Elm Street):
Child molester turned phantom, Freddy Kruger has blades for fingers, invades your dreams and kills you in your sleep. He manipulates, maims and generally kills for the heck of it. He terrified us then, he terrifies us now.
‘Welcome to my world, bitch.’
7. Jigsaw. (Saw franchise):
The antagonist of the critcally(the first three parts) and commercially sccessful Saw franchise, John Kramer or Jigsaw is manipulative, creative and extremely methodical, displaying an incredible obsession with trapping bad people in nightmarish situations and slowly unravelling the intricacies of their nature. Jigsaw knows people better than they know themselves, and he uses this to his advantage as he completely destroys lives and sadistically derives pleasure from watching people burn. (Or freeze. You know, whatever.)
With an incredible talent for messing with minds and a remarkable aptitude for inconceivable monstrosities, Jigsaw finds his place at number 7 on this list mouthing a quote like this,
‘Live or die, Jeff. Make your choice.’
6. Amon Goeth. (Schindler’s List):
There cannot be a top ten villains listing without a good old-fashioned Nazi in it. The first Nazi on this list(oops, spoiler alert. But you don’t need to be a genius to guess that.), Amon Goeth, played superbly by the ever versatile Ralph Fiennes(2 timer on this list.), from Schindler’s List finds his place at number six for the sheer cruelty and depth of evil he exudes. Here is a man who categorically believes in the extermination of a race, and amply demonstrates it when he uses Jews as target practice. He is tyrannical, with just the right touch of vulnerability.
In a memorable scene, he confronts his Jew maid in his cellar and after a brief exchange of conversation, almost looks vulnerable. Spielberg makes a profound statement on the nature of evil as Goeth’s eyes suddenly harden and he starts assaulting the maid.
From killing innocent children with headshots and exterminating Jews with maniacal glee, Amon Goeth is the pro-subscription of evil, as he demonstrates when he says,
‘I pardon you.’
5. Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds):
While Hans Landa isn’t as terrifying as other entries on this list, it doesn’t take much contemplation to come to the conclusion that he is just as evil as any of them, if not more. On number five for extraordinary charm more than anything else, Hans Landa was described by Quentin Tarantino as “his favorite character of all time”.
And for good reason. With a supernatural gift of gab, non-existent morals and an acuteness for opportunity, Hans Landa professes that the world is many things at once, and people who try to shackle themselves to a mould are fools. So he is something of a moderate Joker.
Played by Christoph Waltz, who got an Oscar for the role,Colonel Hans Landa de la SS might just be the smoothest-talking Nazi ever. With a disregard for human life that knows no bounds, Landa’s selfishness consumes Jewish lives, soldiers and by the end of the movie, The Third Reich itself.
Few villains can beat that. Or giggle like a child and say,
4. Anton Chigurh (No Country for Old Men):
The Coen Brothers are easily in the race to be the greatest directors of their generation with movies like The Big Lebowski and Fargo under their belt, so it was no surprise when they co-wrote and directed the brilliant ‘No Country for Old Men’, an existentially terrifying tale of a remorseless hitman and a hunter who runs into some money.
Played by the impeccable Javier Bardem, the antagonist Anton Chigurh steals the show as the methodical, ruthless hitman hired to take back the money. The film explored themes of conscience, coincidence and evil; and embodying everything that’s wrong (Or ‘different’, as the movie timelessly puts) with the world is Anton, who executes each of his victims without the slightest tinge of mercy, often leaving their fate completely up to chance(he flips a coin), making a profound moral statement in the process.
With a captive bolt pistol(!) for a murder weapon and originless evil in his eyes, Anton Chigurh stays with audiences long after they have watched the film and forces them to question their perceived structure of existence, all the while managing to quietly terrify everybody who watches him go about his usual business and say,
3. Darth Vader (Star Wars franchise):
When the first Star Wars movie came out, anyone with half a brain could predict that it was going to become one of the defining pop culture franchises of all time. What nobody could have predicted though was that this would be largely due to its antagonist rather than anything else, with all respect to the hallowed Lightsaber. Okay, maybe the lightsaber too.
Darth Vader was the classical case of good gone bad, but he was so with a lot of personality. At times, we found ourselves sympathizing with him in his rather vulnerale moments, and at times, horrified as he casually laid to waste innocent lives. In Darth Vader, we found the final manifestation of The Force gone corrupt and Pop Culture found its coolest manifestation of a facemask.
With his robotic voice, a thirst for power and his mastery of The Force, Darth Vader etched himself as a mainstay in pop culture with his memorable,
‘I’m your father.’
2. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs):
Anthony Hopkins gave the image of psychopaths in society a death blow when he portrayed the extremely intelligent, vicariously cruel and riveting character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. While his total screentime did not exceed half an hour, his depiction of Lecter was so profound and disturbing that a full two decades later, he is all we remember from the movie. That speaks for Hannibal’s place on this list by itself.
Lecter is probably the only villain whose words are more terrifying than his actions; and considering his actions, that’s saying a lot. Straddling the line between good(he helps Sterling catch Buffalo Bill) and evil(Having someone’s liver with beans and a glass of chianti, for example.), Lecter manages to extract a sense of awe and disgust from the audience with his methodical disregard for human life.
With hyper-perception, a taste for the corporeal and terrifying charisma, Hannibal The Cannibal deserves the number two spot for fundamentally changing the way we look at this sentence,
‘I am having an old friend for dinner.’
1. The Joker (The Dark Knight):
Joker was already a popular villain; owing to the influence of Batman as a cultural phenomenon, but was forever and irrevocably etched as the most maniacally sorted villain of all time by Heath Ledger playing the demented clown in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
With maniacal flicks of his tongue, horrifically charming glib and dialogues that will be repeated for decades to come, Ledger gave his character levels of maniacal sanity that will probably never be matched. An obvious inspiration for the role was Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter, but Ledger took the idea to another dimension playing the character whose only desire initially is to see the world burn, and later the chase game with Batman, casually disregarding the lives he simply destroys on his way. The Joker is simply put, chaos incarnate.
Ledger was one of the few methodical actors of his generation and many speculate his obsession with the role was primarily responsible for his death due to drug-related complications. Such dedication speaks for itself as Ledger later became one of the few people to be awarded a posthumous Oscar, let alone one for a comic book villain.
Today, Joker is as much of a cultural phenomenon as Batman himself is; giving us one of the greatest protagonist-antagonist relationships of all time. While deciding between Hannibal Lecter and Joker was a close call, there are few words that describe the mixture of power and mania Ledger exudes when he utters that dialogue of a lifetime,
‘Why so serious?’
And for that reason, The Joker finds his place at numero uno on this list.