They’re wicked and foul with the stench of 40,000 years. But what would movies be without them? While most are truly quite horrific, others are actually funny. But throughout the many years of cinematic history, one fact has always remained constant about movie villains… we love to hate them.
Heroes get all the hype, but deep down, we all love a good villain. I can take or leave the square-jawed boy scout, the do-gooder who gets the girl and saves the day; but the villain is a different kettle of genetically modified laser wielding fish altogether.
Funny Villain have more fun and get most of the best lines. Movie history is littered with fiendish foes, evil overlords and malevolent masterminds we loved to hate. The summer blockbuster is the perfect breeding ground for evildoers and this year’s pageant of box office behemoths provides rich pickings, from robots out for revenge to muggle-hating wizards.
Cinema is filled with memorable villains. Whether it’s the sardonic cheer of Gert Frobe’s Auric Goldfinger, or the sneering oiliness of Die Hard’s Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), the movies are full of superb, loveably evil performances. The hero may get the girl and save the world in most instances, but it’s the villain who gets most of the quotable lines.
It’s like the alignment of the planets. Occasionally, a great director, an exemplary script and a gifted actor will join together on the same project, creating the kind of unsettling performances that linger in the memory for years afterwards.
�Michael Mann’s 1986 adaptation of Thomas Harris’ novel Red Dragon was the first movie to bring cannibalistic academic Dr. Hannibal Lecter (in this instance spelled Lecktor due to rights issues) to the big screen.
�Robert De Niro chews both characters and scenery in a manic performance as Max Cady, an ex-convict who terrorises lawyer Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) for apparently failing to defend him effectively in court fourteen years earlier.
An indifferent and Funny movie villains can be threatening as a villain with an almost cartoon-like evil uniform like Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th. In The Matrix (1999), the army of ‘faceless’ agents are cold and emotionless and suggest an unbeatable threat with which the hero cannot reason or negotiate.
The all-powerful emotionless villain is portrayed excellently in the X-Files TV series by William B. Davis as the Cigarette Smoking Man. Throughout the series he is constantly in control of the heroes and any attempts to kill him are deemed self-destructive or futile. His power over the protagonists’ behaviour is linked to his role in the Syndicate, a mysterious organisation who seemingly are more powerful than the U.S. government.
On the opposite end of the scale are the villains that are emotive, excitable and with exaggerated personas as demonstrated by Heath Ledger’s villain in the most-recent Batman film, The Joker. The latest incarnation of the Clown Prince of Crime perfectly conveys his lack of empathy and almost-humorous contempt for human life. The most prominent aspect of The Joker is his colourful clothing and unusual physical appearance, with white face make-up, dyed green hair and smudged red lipstick.
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