Who doesn't love a good villain? Without them who would give our heroes a reason for being? In the words of Ledger's Joker referring to Batman, "You complete me." A truly great and timeless villain challenges the hero; he knocks him down and forces him to overcome, despite the odds. A villain can be the hero's physical equal that challenges the hero with brute force or an intellectual mastermind pulling the strings from behind the scenes. Often times the villain can be the most fascinating character in a story, and it is those types of villains that become timeless. However, while constructing this list, I discovered that there are not as many truly great villains in the medium of film as one might think. Many classic villains are almost forces of nature bent on killing or destroying, like the Shark in Jaws or the Xenomorph in Alien, and while those are effective antagonists for what the film requires, my favorite villains are the ones with depth that make more than a simple opposing force. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, some of which are in this list. My criteria for this list are that the character must be featured in a film, the villain must be humanoid in appearance (monsters will have their own list), and my rankings are only including their appearances in film, not novels, television, ect. Antagonists who are anti-heroes to a degree still count since they are often the most complex and intriguing. Lastly, only one villains per franchise, although Fox's X-Men and Disney’s MCU count as two different franchises. Now, to quote the Joker: "And here we go!"
10: Doctor Octopus (Spider-Man 2)
Potentially an unpopular choice, Doctor Octopus is one of my favorite tragic villains. After a failed science experiment, mechanical arms with a malfunctioning microchip are graphed to Doctor Otto Octavius, thus driving him to madness. A central theme of Spider-Man 2 is about overcoming your inner struggles and Doctor Octopus' character arc reflects Spider-Man's journey in the film. Sure, very few others will agree with my choice, but he is a personal favorite of mine.
9: Dr. Hannibal Lecter
Some readers might wonder why Lector is not higher on the list, and while he is an undeniably classic villain, based on my experience with The Silence of the Lambs, he is not actually the main antagonist, despite being the best part of the film. With that said, Hannibal Lecter is exactly the type of intellectual antagonist that I enjoy watching. He manipulates the protagonist, Clarice Starling, in a way that does not make her seem gullible, to obtain what he desires. Everything in his plan falls into place in a way that is more believable than many other villains’ escapes.
8: Mrs. Bates
Often considered the first slasher film, Psycho is a classic masterpiece of suspense and thrills, and the antagonist, Mrs. Bates is one of the first film characters to show true insanity. If you have not seen the film, be sure to skip ahead because spoilers for the film are incoming. *Spoilers* If you have seen the film, you know that Norman Bates is the actual antagonist, and as to not spoil the classic twists, I included a misleading name. Anthony Perkins allows the audience a glimpse into the disturbed mind of Norman Bates with just his delivery of dialogue and mannerisms. I even wrote a paper comparing Psycho to a short-story I read for my college writing course. *End Spoilers*
What do you think of my choices? Please comment below and let me know.
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