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Old September 25th, 2005, 11:22 AM   #1
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The best villains, antagonsits that make the movie.

Who are the your favorite villians? I want to know the greats like Hanibal Lector, and the great ones I forget like the Rider of the Apocalypse in Raising Arizona.

There are many memorable villians. There are less memorable heros than villians. Without a villian there is no measure for the hero. In fact sometimes only the villian is worth remembering. Who beat Freddy Kruger, I don't remember. Everyone knows the shark but what was the sheriffs name in Jaws? Even the young boy, Josh, in Searching for Bobby Fisher had a great young opponent we remember even though he only has a few minutes on screen.

Who do you think are the best villians and why? I will start with my favorite. I absolutely love the Kurgen in Highlander. His brazen attitude, and his cocky disreguard for customs in general with his subtle manipulation of the people he deals with while at the same time not taking his situation lightly wins me over. With his style you know he will force a final all or nothing show-down. The was he goes about it will be a relentless rollercoaster of skirmishes. You love to hate him and hate to admit that you also admire him. For all the bad things he does, he doesn't have any bad traits. Hes not a coward, or stupid, or weak, etc. He simply has no compassion.

Pick your poison, name your villians, be it Lex Luther or the principle in Ferris Buelers Day Off.
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Old September 25th, 2005, 11:43 AM   #2
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Pennywise the clown from Stepehen King's "It".
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Old September 25th, 2005, 12:45 PM   #3
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Instead of merely rattling off names, how about people also state reasons why they thought the villain was effective. This could be a great learning exercise for us.
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Old September 25th, 2005, 05:31 PM   #4
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Sharon Stone in Catwoman.

Wait, did you say best or worst?
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Old September 25th, 2005, 07:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Loh
Instead of merely rattling off names, how about people also state reasons why they thought the villain was effective. This could be a great learning exercise for us.
I'll throw out, for the sake of argument, what I think is the chief characteristic of any memorable villain: exaltation. The villain erroneously overvalues some single thing over the greater harmony. He may overvalue his material desire and seek boundless riches, conquests over others; he may overvalue his sexual desire and become a voracious predator; or he may even overvalue his spiritual desire and seek perfection for himself, seek to become a saint, to become a god.

The seed of any evil is exaltation.

Someone above says that a villain lacks compassion. I'm not sure this is necessarily true--are exaltation and compassion mutually exclusive? If compassion is defined to include the object of the villain's tyranny, then I suppose it works, but we have seen many villains who show compassion for one thing but not another. So by way of counterexample, Dr. Lecter shows heroic compassion for the protagonist of The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, Agent Clarice Starling. But he exalts--he erroneously overvalues the importance of--the tone of the symphony orchestra to the point where he is willing to murder a less talented musician to improve the music. This is what makes him monstrous.

I think this definition is applicable to any cinematic or literary villain. Let's try it out.
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Old September 25th, 2005, 10:12 PM   #6
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Patrick Bateman in American Psycho

An excellent movie villain, and also the subject of the film itself, Bateman is a great villain because his motivations are not those of a sane mind. He doesn't commit the attrocities out of greed or hate, but rather out of some sub-conscious necessity. He doesn't require a hero to take him down - he's a strong enough character in and of himself to be both the villain and hero of the movie.


Tyler Durden in Fight Club

An atypical villain to say the least, but the above paragraph applies as well.

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Old September 25th, 2005, 10:44 PM   #7
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Old September 26th, 2005, 12:27 AM   #8
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Old September 26th, 2005, 12:12 PM   #9
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John Lithgow in Cliffhanger. Very cold, no mercy, calmly and cooly kills his girlfriend so he would be the only one to fly the helicopter.
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Old September 26th, 2005, 04:03 PM   #10
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Hans Gruber from Die Hard I. Cool, collected, stylish, always several steps ahead of everyone else. Definitely a study in exaltation.

Which brings up one of my pet peeves about movie villains - Lame death scenes which cheat the audience. Hans Gruber is an awesome villain, but his come uppance resulted in 5 seconds of falling out a building and SPLAT! Somebody that truly evil, deserves his own long, tortured journey to his final destiny.
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Old September 26th, 2005, 05:02 PM   #11
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Hans Gruber is indeed a great villain. He is an equal to the hero. Why would anyone write a villain who is actually weaker than the hero? There's no challenge. Story is about conflict. If there is no risk to the hero, then why bother watching to see the end? Note: this doesn't mean the exact mirror to the hero. The villain may have other qualities that make him a match in other areas. The last good Bond villain was Bond's former colleague in "Goldeneye". Why? Because both of them were physically and mentally well-matched. Contrast that with the every succeeding Bond villain where he usually faced two weaker villains.

A good villain also has to have qualities that obviously put him on the other side of the audience. Class is an easy one. The majority of filmgoers will not be rich elitists. Therefore making the villain a rich snob is an easy one. Too often though Hollywood pokes fun at people with different accents.

But also in some ways good villains also have something you can admire or want - it's just that the audience (and the hero) can't or won't cross the line. Think of the way Darth Vader disposes of all his underlings. Who hasn't at one point or another wished they could just reach out and crush someone's windpipe from a distance"? All the Bond villains who are rich supervillains have armies of henchmen, secret volcano headquarters and the power to bring nations to their knees.

Tom Roth in "Rob Roy" was another delicious villain because he seemed to take pleasure in every vile act he undertook. Incidentally, I remember women cheering in the audience when he got his comeuppance. This is after he matter of factly raped Roy's wife, brutalized Roy, terrorized his people and stole his gold. The added touch was that he did everything with a smile.

One thing a villain should have is an understandable motivation. For example, Dennis Hopper in "Speed" could have been just a mad man setting off bombs for no reason. But in fact he is a disgruntled former police who may have a justifiable beef with the department - but uses terrorist methods that put innocents at risk to get his way. Before he gets his commupance he has a brief moment of sympathy - that's when he discovers that the package he has done so much for is not filled with money. The look on his face and his exclamation: "my money!" tells a lot about his character.

What Hopper had is shared by Magwa in "Last of the Mohicans". The Wes Studi character begins the movie acting like any savage from older frontier pictures but halfway through the film he has a scene where his French ally asks him why he hates the English. Magwa then has a moment where he explains how the war between the whites destroyed his family, made him a slave, destroyed his people and stole his identity from him. And this is exactly the threat faced by the heroes in this film. In that moment Magwa turns the finger on the meaningless war between kings that is destroying life in colonial North America. This doesn't mean Magwa has a sympathetic cause, only that you can identify a real hurt in his past that made him into what he is today.

And of course he is an impressive figure: a leader, a strategist and a physical force.
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Old September 26th, 2005, 06:53 PM   #12
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Gary Oldman in Leon.

He is mean..
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Old September 26th, 2005, 07:52 PM   #13
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Some of my favorite/memorable villains? [I can think of at the moment] besides some of the previous mentioned...

Andy Robinson as "Scorpio" in the original "Dirty Harry." This guy is is a total sociopath. Watch the scene in the school bus with all the kids. Scary.

Willem Dafoe as "The Raven" in "Streets of Fire". Nice foil to our hero, Tom Cody. Tough talk and a great menacing look about him. It's a cartoon...but I love it.

Jack Nicholson in "The Shining"---the scene when Shelley Duvall is backing up the stairs waving a baseball bat and while Nicholson just rants and raves...

Some random ones off the top of my head..

Paul Reiser in "Aliens"...you really cheer when he finally get his due. Clarence Boddicker in "Robocop", Joauqin Phoenix as "Commodus" in "Gladiator"...
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Old September 26th, 2005, 08:13 PM   #14
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John,
You touched on some of my favorites but you never said why.

I love Jack Nicholson in the Shining as well as the Joker in Batman.

William Dafoe is great in Spiderman as well as many other films.

I love all the responses but I really love all the reponses with reasons why this villian tickles you.

I have not heard one fan fare for Fredie or Jason yet. They bore me but they are great villians. I presume this audience is beyond them. I have not heard anyone say the french insulters in the Holy Grial are the best. I want to be able to write the best villian ever based on this thread. So say who the best are and really make it known why.

This is for Dylan, heheheh, You have said you loved Tremors, so tell me why those worms are such a great villian. There must be a reason more than they make Rebba squeal.
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Old September 26th, 2005, 09:20 PM   #15
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I have to disagree about Commodus. I thought he was a weak villain. He was effete. There was no way he could stand up to a Maximus (which is why Maximus was drugged and wounded). Although he was flawed and had motivation behind his villainy - which adds dimensionality to his character - I don't think there was anything that raised him above a character you might despise. I despise cockroaches but I don't fear them. In short, he was missing 'respect'.

Compare Commodus to Tim Roth's Archie in Rob Roy. Archie is a dandy and at the beginning of the film even other characters despise him and think he is just a fop. But beneath his flounciness it turns out that he is a deadly swordsman. The interesting thing about the final battle between he and Rob Roy is that on the surface the usual hero-villain odds seem in favour of the hero. Rob Roy is a hulking highlander who outweighs and outreaches Archie. Usually it is the villain who is much larger. But once the fight is on it becomes obvious that Archie is the better, faster swordsman.
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