So. Who's the best fictional villain of all time?
I know, it's impossible to answer, but it's a great conversation starter. In fact, next time you find yourself in an awkward silence with several people you have no idea what to say to, give it a shot; it's clutch.
What I love about this subject is that it gives us a reason to scroll through our internal Rolodexes of awesome movies and epic novels, a chance to remember and relive those characters. Pennywise the clown scared the sh*t out of me. I was twenty. I never looked at drains the same again.
But does scariness make a villain great? For some people. I put up the question to my FB crew last night in preparation for this blog and got so many novel, witty and contrasting answers that it made me think. What makes a villain great...to everybody? One of my best friends came up with a great line that I told him I was going to steal. Jesse DeStasio commented, "The real menace comes from having a part of us slightly agree with them [villain]." Isn't that true? Colonel Jessep from A Few Good Men comes to mind for me, but there are so many others.
Maybe it's because I was such a wuss when I was growing up (everything gave me nightmares) but I liked villains that were scary but...funny. One of my all time favorites is the Kurgan from The Highlander movie. He was this huge, scary-looking, predatory immortal who could only die if his head was cut off, but he was funny in a grotesque kind of way--leering and blunt. He had personality; I can still hear his deep, gravelly voice and I saw that movie several eons ago.
It was pointed out to me by Mr. DeStasio (he takes his movies seriously, even had a list of this very subject in his phone already to go) that the Kurgan's flaw is that we can't sympathize with him. Maybe so. But he's still one of my favorites.
Then you got your creepers. Javiar Bardem's character in No Country for Old Men anybody? He was good. Quintessential Darth Vader? Hans Gruber in Die Hard? Lord Foul in the Unbeliever series? I could fill three pages and I bet you could too, but there's a secret ingredient that they all have, an overlapping theme that ties them together. Ready for it? *drum roll*
They all evoke emotion.
They make us feel. Whether it be fear, anger, outrage, horror, fascination, dread--take your pick. Without emotion, a villain is just a car without an engine. A guitar without strings. Captain Crunch without the crunchberries. And that's no good.
Here's some of the votes I got last night:
- Frank Booth in Blue Velvet (never seen)
- The governor in The Walking Dead (I've only seen the first season)
- Maleficent in Maleficent
- Vincent in Collateral Damage (never saw)
- Smurf Cody in Animal Kingdom (never saw)
- Heath Ledger Joker in The Dark Knight (I saw this one!!)
- Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs
- Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter
- Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest
- Wicked Witch of the West Wizard of Oz
And of course, in keeping with the theme of Here Be Magic: Sauron
Feel free to add. :)
Afflicted with wanderlust at the age of seventeen, Steve has lived in seven states, served briefly in the U.S. Air Force as a Pararescue Trainee, and has a profound aversion to mint chocolate ice cream.
Author of the Last of the Shardyn trilogy:
Book I Drynn,
Book II Through the Black Veil
Book III Blood Sworn