my top ten favorite villains

villiansstory

Some villains.

Villains.  You’ve gotta hate them.  They’re sneaky, evil, horrid, clever, seemingly invincible (at times), hateful, manipulative, and just downright bad.  Still, there’s a certain fascination that hangs around many villains.  We might be rooting for the hero (at least, I hope we are!) but sometimes the baddies can be so smart, funny, and (in some cases) attractive, that we kind of hope that they get away in the end – or that they turn good (a villain/antagonist turned good guy is amazing, IMO).

Anyway, this is my list of my top ten favorite villains.  It’s not comprehensive, it’s a strictly personal list, but I had fun with it.  There’s five male and five female bad guys/girls because I like making things even.

// Ben Wade – ‘3:10 to Yuma’ //

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I wrote an entire post rhapsodizing about why this guy is my favorite villain of all time and having recently re-watched + loved ‘3:10’, I see no reason to change my opinion.  Just check out my post; it’ll be much more eloquent than anything I could scribble down here.

// Mother Gothel – ‘Tangled’ //

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Manipulative.  That’s the best word to describe Mother Gothel.  Over the past seven years since ‘Tangled’ was released in theaters (has it really been that long?) people have debated over whether or not Gothel actually loved Rapunzel somewhat or was simply using her all along.  I think the answer’s pretty obvious.  As soon as Rapunzel told Mother Gothel that she would never let her hair be exploited again, any pretense of affection on Mother Gothel’s part instantly vanished.  She’s a horrible woman…but a great villainess.

// Jim Moriarty – ‘Sherlock’ //

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Every girl who watches ‘Sherlock’ ends up falling for Moriarty sooner or later.  It’s a basic fact of life.  I think as soon as he showed up in ‘The Great Game’ (as himself, that is, not “Jim from work”) I became fascinated with him in that “you’re a despicable person, but still insanely clever/attractive” way.  It’s really weird. (I was so disappointed when BBC did the bait-and-switch thing in the very last episode with the flashback.  Even after Sherlock concludes Moriarty’s dead, you always wonder.)  His dedication to defeating Sherlock is a bit crazy – I mean, he commits suicide to gain the upper hand.  That is a serious super villain move.

// Solovet – Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins //

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If/when ‘they’ make a movie of the Underland Chronicles, Cate Blanchett NEEDS to play Solovet.

Worst mom of the century award goes to Solovet.  Easily.  She locks Hamnet away without light, without human contact, for a month and then expects him to still be her loyal little son?  Who does that? (I’m writing some fanfiction right now surrounding those events, so I’m more triggered about it than usual.)  I will say, however, that Solovet is the least villainous person on this list.  She’s more of an antagonist than a villain and I still do feel a little sad when she gets sacrificed for TGG (the greater good) near the end of the series.

// Zemo – ‘Captain America: Civil War’ //

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Um…I mostly included Zemo because he has a Tragic Backstory and he’s *cough* rather handsome and I’m rather tired of monstrous comic book villains.  Zemo’s normal compared to a bunch of Marvel and DC villains.  But I don’t particularly think he’s an epic villain, per se. (Though I will defend the brilliance of his plan.  Complexity of that sort amazes me.)

// Queen Levana – Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer //

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The Lunar gift is both fascinating and terrifying.  Can you imagine what the world would be like if people actually had that kind of power?  Levana is a master at manipulating bioelectricity, which makes her frightening and unpredictable.  She, too, has the typical Tragic Backstory but she’s also just plain evil and a little unhinged as well (that always helps).  Even when I read Fairest, which is Levana’s story, it didn’t really make me sympathize with her (though it was written from her POV) because she is so weird/creepy/heartless.

// Scarecrow – the Dark Knight trilogy //

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Speaking of weird and creepy…there’s plenty of weirdness and creepiness going on in Gotham and a lot of that is connected with Arkham Asylum and Jonathon Crane, AKA Scarecrow.  To be honest, my interest in Scarecrow may have more to do with the fact that I really, really like Cillian Murphy than any of Crane’s sterling qualities (I’M KIDDING), but there’s also something of a villain crush going on there as well.  One thing I find interesting in ‘Batman Begins’ is the power struggle.  Falcone thinks he’s so powerful and everything, but then he gets taken down by Crane who acts so superior and then R’as al Ghul sweeps into Gotham and takes over everything.  That being said, I put Scarecrow on the list (as opposed to R’as) because I find Scarecrow more interesting.

// Lina – ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ //

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One word that sums up Lina?  Nasty.  Or, rather, nastiness personified.  She’s deceived herself into believing that she and Don will eventually be together as a couple, so she gets Kathy fired and throws temper tantrums whenever she’s contradicted, and generally makes an idiot of herself.  She’s definitely one of those ‘love to hate’ villains and her downfall is exquisitely perfect.

// Ratigan – ‘The Great Mouse Detective’ //

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Look at that – another Sherlockian baddie!  Ratigan was my number one villain for the longest time and he’s still really high up on my list (just not on this list, ’cause I didn’t really rank anyone here except for my real number one).  One reason for Ratigan’s awesomeness is the fact that he gets TWO villain songs (I know I’ve said that before, but I still find it really, really cool).  He’s the perfect opponent and foil for Basil (in a similar way to how Moriarty and Sherlock are so evenly matched) and Vincent Price’s voice acting is a real treat.

// The Wicked Stepmother – ‘Cinderella’ //

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What is it with stepmothers being so evil?  Lady Tremaine is pretty much the epitome of evil stepmothers and Cate Blanchett brought her to life with biting accuracy. *shivers*

Do you spot any evil favorites on this list?  Who are some of your favorite villains?

Eva

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35 thoughts on “my top ten favorite villains

  1. Great list. Very interesting personalities, all of them. I also like the Scarecrow from the Dark Knight trilogy. My favourite cartoon villain is Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians. She is such a character. I also like Professor Snape from Harry Potter. He is not a strict villain there, but because he plays such an elusive role, he is more dangerous than strict baddies.

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  2. Haha, villains can be pretty cool. 😛
    I know most of these… I love how good villains seem to have a lot of depth and intrigue in their character. (And their motives, etc.)

    My favourites out of the ones I know on this list are Cillian Murphy – excuse me, Scarecrow (mostly for the same reason… what movies have you seen him in? I’ve seen him in the Batman trilogy (although I’ve only seen the first and last one) Inception, Dunkirk, In the Heart of the Sea… I think that’s all). JIM MORIARTY (meaning, off Sherlock, DUH)… I don’t know how he does it, but he’s so cool and amusing while being absolutely horrible at the same time. And the Wicked Stepmother. She was played to perfection by Cate Blanchett. 😀

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  3. Villains. Do not like.

    I don’t know why, but villains are just . . . “meh” for me, most of the time. I enjoy seeing them defeated; but I very rarely have any interest in their characters or personalities or backstories. There are a few exceptions, but as a rule, I just can’t make myself dig villains.

    I love impersonal antagonists, though. Like fire. Or winter. Or Death. “The Long Winter” is my favorite Little House book, precisely because it’s an epic, life-or-death struggle WITHOUT any sort of villain. There’s just the everlasting cold and snow and ice, and it’s so terrifying, because it’s literally inhuman. It won’t listen to you, it can’t even hear you. It’s ruthless because it’s impersonal. I love that.

    Same reason why I loved Death, in “The Book Thief”–he isn’t human, and he doesn’t have a choice. He HAS to take your soul when the time comes. He can’t do anything else.

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    • I like that take on Death. I hadn’t thought of that before- I always emphasized his human side in my mind.
      Are you saying Death is the antagonist? Because that would be a really cool concept to play with.

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    • What are some of the ‘few exceptions’? I’m curious. 🙂

      That’s an interesting idea! I’m pretty ‘meh’ about impersonal villains, personally, but it’s neat that you like them.

      Really wouldn’t call Death the villain of The Book Thief, though. 😛

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      • Exceptions? Hm. *thinks* I was really fascinated by General Veshiron in the “Ilyon Chronicles”–he was BAD, but he was also REAL, and he added a lot of spice to the story by being so horrible. That’s unusual for me. I also like some of the Doctor Who villains quite a lot, because they’ve got such interesting philosophical meanings. (For example, Eddie Connolly in “The Idiot’s Lantern,” who represents fear of change and self-righteous ignorance. Good stuff.)

        No, I agree, Death isn’t the villain. There is no villain, unless you count Hitler, and I don’t because he’s not a character in the story. But Death is absolutely the antagonist, because he’s the one Liesel is fighting all the way through the story. He’s not evil–he is, quite literally, “just doing his job”–but he is the #1 obstacle in the way of Liesel’s survival. And he’s the one who ultimately causes all her suffering (by taking her brother, her mom and dad, Hans and Rosa, and Rudy).

        And Liesel is very much aware that she’s fighting against Death. At the end, when she herself dies and they finally “meet,” it’s basically the meeting of two lifelong rivals. They respect each other, and they come to understand each other, but they’re still rivals.

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      • Those Doctor Who villains almost sound like symbols and not people – I guess you really are drawn to non-personal villains, eh? 🙂

        And YES to everything you said about The Book Thief.

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      • That’s a good way of putting it. Basically all the Doctor Who characters, except for the Doctor himself and his immediate companions, are heavily symbolic/allegorical. So yeah . . . I really AM drawn to non-personal villains, you’re right 🙂

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  4. Oh my, Cate Blanchett as Solovet would be PERFECT. I’m a little ashamed that I hadn’t thought of her before, since I’ve definitely fancasted the series.

    Also, Zemo is a great addition. I heard a lot of people didn’t like him,but he was the perfect villain for the story and MANIPULATION. I love that in a villain.

    I love Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events. He’s such a perfect antagonist for the Baudelaires since he’s the exact opposite of what they need.

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    • Thanks! I’ve spent wayyyyy too much time thinking up of dream casts for the Underland series – with input from my siblings as well. I’m thinking of doing an IMDb list with the casting choices I’ve come up with so far.

      THANK YOU. So few people appreciate Zemo – including my siblings. I loved his plan, though.

      Count Olaf is another great villain. (I’ve read books 1-9 in the series so far, so I don’t know of all his devious plans thus far, but quite a few of them anyway.)

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  5. What a fun list! I’m very fond of villains. They can be more well-rounded characters than the heroes sometimes. Mother Gothel is one of the most evil villains ever. That woman! Nasty, horrible person. We hates her, precious! Ben Wade and Lina Lamont are both delightful to watch. I did love reading your post about Ben Wade. Messala from the 1959 Ben-Hur makes my list of favorite villains.

    I do have to disagree with you about Moriarty though. Not every girl… LOL! Because I can’t stand the guy. Didn’t like him in any episode, never came to like even one tiny part of him, and I actively avoid re-watching episodes he’s in to avoid dealing with him. 😀

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    • I agree with you about the well-roundedness of villains. Sometimes if a movie is poor, the only thing I’ll truly like about it is the villain. Messala is an awesome antagonist! The brothers-turned-enemies thing cracks my heart a little whenever I watch the film. 😦

      Haha! I knew I was making a sweeping and inaccurate generalization. 😛 But MOST girls like him. 😉 I’ll bet you were cheering when he died, eh?

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  6. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m trying to get a novel series published. A complex villain can be very satisfying to write. Villains that are just plain evil can be fun too, especially when you write them doing especially evil things.

    Mother Gothel is definitely the smartest of the Disney Princess villains. And part of what makes her so great is the mystery around her. Like you said, there’s the question of does she care about Rapunzel or just the hair? There’s evidence going either way, but her primary motivation is clear. And she’s willing to do almost anything to make sure she gets her way.

    Most of the Marvel villains in the movies aren’t all that special – probably the MCU’s biggest weakness. Zemo is an interesting case of a seemingly normal guy who knows he doesn’t stand a chance in a direct fight, but is smart enough to tear the team apart from the shadows. And you not only know his motivations, but you can totally understand them.

    The scarecrow in Batman Begins is often overshadowed by the Joker in The Dark Knight, but he is a great villain. Just the right mix of creepy, smart, corrupt and slightly crazy.

    Ratigan – such a delightful villain.

    I didn’t like Disney’s live action Cinderella all that much, but I agree that the Stepmother is well done in it.

    Having not seen any of these other movies (or read the books you mentioned), I can’t really comment on the rest.

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    • I know you mentioned you were working on getting a book (or books) published, but I didn’t realize it was a series. What’s it about?

      After researching the DC universe more, I have to say that DC villains are – for the most part – more epic and super-villainy than Marvel villains. I hate, loathe, and despise Pierce from The Winter Soldier and the Red Skull sort of bores me, so Zemo it was (the Captain America movies make up the bulk of my Marvel movie viewing experiences). The villain in Ant Man isn’t that great either.

      The Joker is definitely the well-known Batman villain, but I think R’as and Scarecrow and Bane are all worthy opponents for Batman as well.

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      • The series I’m working on is basically James Bond with vampires and werewolves.

        The Marvel Universe does have some great villains, it’s just that the studio hasn’t been doing a very good job at portraying them. For example, Malekith from Thor: The Dark World is just plain boring. In the comics, he’s kind of like a mix between the Joker from Batman and a warlord. He’s pretty much in love with how evil he is. Whiplash from Iron Man 2, well … he’s an obscure villain in the comics so I don’t know why they went with him.

        So far, the only villains they’ve brought in that work well are Loki, Zemo (even if he’s very different in the comics) and to a lesser extent, Ultron. And Loki’s more of a morally ambiguous character than a straight up villain.

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      • And it’s much easier to be content with DC’s portrayal of Scarecrow, The Joker, Lex Luthor (from the Christopher Reeve Superman movies) than it is to be content with most of the MCU’s villains.

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  7. I really enjoyed this post! Villains are something that, I think, can easily be messed up and cliche, but if they’re done right, it can be amazing.
    I love Moriarty in Sherlock. That is to say, I hate him. Which is good, because he’s a villain. I agree, committing suicide to gain the upper hand was a masterpiece of strategy on his part. It’s really well done in my opinion. And Andrew Scott did an excellent job of being the villainous psycho.

    Anyways, thanks for the post!
    -Amaris

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