The other day I got into a conversation about Commodus, the Emperor from Gladiator and how much I hated him. Now Joaquin Phoenix, the actor that played Commodus, is hated by me in every movie because of the great job he did as an actor in Gladiator. This got me thinking about the best villains ever in movies. Remember as you are reading this, I’m not a huge horror fan, so none of those bad guys will be on here. I’ll try give you why I think they are a great villain and also perhaps a scene that makes it them the best to hate. In no particular order, here they are:
• Magneto from X-Men (2000), X-2 (2003), X-Men: Last Stand (2006). The Ian McKellan version. This guy is a villain, that in a way you feel sorry for and understand why he feels the way he feels. He is right, in a way, with his mission for equality of the mutants, but then he takes it too far. He ends up becoming exactly what he originally starts out fighting and thus becomes the perfect villain to combat Professor X and X-Men. My favorite scene of his is in X-2 where the guard, who’d been injected with iron, comes into the all glass holding cell and Magneto senses the extra iron and extracts from the guard’s blood to escape.
• The Joker from Dark Knight Rises (2008). Heath Ledger made this part. The reason he is the villain is because he just doesn’t care about anyone or anything. He doesn’t even really care about himself. He just wants chaos. It is tough to decide my favorite scene with him, there are the times he is discussing how he got his scars or when he burns his pile of money in front of the crooks. Both are really good. However, his “magic trick” scene when he first introduces himself to the criminal underworld is so unexpected and so mean that it has to be his villain moment.
• Commodus from Gladiator (2000). I’ve already mentioned it, but he is a villain that I just hate. He just seems so slimy. Kills his own father, wants to have relations with his own sister, and doesn’t even give Maximus a chance in the arena. The ultimate scene though is when he does kill Marcus Aralias while crying that he never loved him. One of the best acting jobs ever I think.
• Gollum from the Lord of the Rings (2001,2002,2003). We all knew that LotR would make the list somehow. Sauron is the main villain in these movies, but one of his puppets is Gollum. The reason I put Gollum on the list, is like Magneto I feel sorry for him. I see that he was unsuspectingly caught in a web he couldn’t get out of and that despite his decline being his fault, I still want to see the good in him like Frodo. What makes him such a good villain though is that despite all Frodo does for him, he still backstabs him and ignores his “hobbit” side in favor the of the desire for the One Ring! Without a doubt, the best scene of Gollum is in the Two Towers when Smeagol convinces Gollum to go away – though we know he won’t be gone for long.
• Dr. Octavius in Spiderman 2 (2004). Doc Ock almost didn’t make my list, because I’m not a big fan of the baddies turning good right at the last instant. However, in this case I make an exception, because I think he is just a great bad guy. A good man, who combined with the death of his wife and his extra four arms, goes a bit crazy. My favorite scene is when he robs the bank and takes Aunt Em with him up the side of the building.
• Scar from The Lion King (1994). Scar is such a good bad guy…er, I mean, bad lion. He kills his own brother, attempts to kill his nephew, and lets the bad hyenas into the Pride! What I like best about him, is how they made him seem so extremely snooty and above everyone else. Just like you’d imagine a rich prince to be. The best scene with Scar is when Simba comes to see him for the first time in the movie and he tells him about the Elephant Graveyard.
• Lex Luthor from Superman (1978). Gene Hackman plays the perfect Lex Luthor, he is crazy full of himself, a genius with absolutely huge plans, and has complete disdain for the people that work around him. I think it is great how he lays out his plans to the dummies with him, they don’t get it, and it makes him furious. Then he even is willing to kill his girlfriends mom with the nuke. My favorite scene with him has to be where he and Superman have their discussion of what is going to happen with the nukes.
• Harry & Marv from Home Alone (1990). Okay, these guys aren’t exactly what you’d call the most evil villains ever, but I like them! They make being bad funny. They are about as horrible as can be when it comes to thieves, but they really want to beat the kid. My favorite scene is when Marv tries to go in through the basement and steps on the nails. Just laugh out loud funny!
• Owen Davian from Mission: Impossible III (2006). This may be the most controversial addition to this list, but I think he is an excellent bad guy. Being a bad guy is his business. It isn’t about chaos like the Joker or being a genius criminal like Luthor. He just wants to make money and be the best business bad guy ever. My favorite scene is when he first meets Ethan Hunt and says, “You have a wife...girlfriend? Because if you do, I'm gonna find her, whoever she is. I'm gonna hurt her. I'm gonna make her bleed, and cry, and call out your name. And then I'm gonna find you,and kill you right in front of her.” That is a real bad guy and someone you like to hate.
So that is my list, off the top of my head, who'd I miss?