You can’t have a great hero without a great villain but you can have a great villain without the matching hero. Below I have listed the ten best villains in movie history and one thing that makes them so great is that even though they are completely evil, sometimes you don’t want them to lose. That’s how you know you’ve met a great movie villain is when you’re not sure whether you want them to go down or not.
1. Dr. Hannibal Lecter – Silence of the Lambs
Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter is so disturbed that even the FBI agent tasked with getting help from him is not immune. It’s in the way he speaks, the way he looks at you…as if he is sizing you up to be lunch, in Lecter’s case he probably is doing just that. There has never been a movie villain that affected me a deeply as Hannibal Lecter. He is the stuff of nightmares.
2. The Joker – Batman, The Dark Night
The Joker is far and away the best comic book villain ever. He’s laughs while he kills people, he’s maniacal and he simply wants to watch the world burn and we want to watch him do it.
3. Annie Wilkes – Misery
I’m not sure what mental disorder she has but she seems like a sweet, normal middle-aged house frau. Annie Wilkes is no such thing, she is the most sadistic nurse in movie history and that includes Nurse Ratchet! She tortures her favorite writer while holding him hostage to force him to bring her favorite character back to life. The mind games she plays and pain she inflicts is sheer terror.
4. Patrick Bateman – American Psycho
I’m not going to lie. I read American Psycho and this is one case where the movie is 1000 times better than the book and all of that is due to Christian Bale’s “Patrick Bateman”. He is completely and unapologetically insane and the tipoff is his love for Huey Lewis and The News. Just kidding…mostly. Patrick Bateman really enjoys killing and he does it creatively, he also loves good clothes and upscale restaurants. He is just your average, everyday psycho killer banker living the good life.
5. Darth Vader – Star Wars
Darth Vader the iconic bad guy who also made (literally) Luke Skywalker the iconic good guy. Vader is an evil, remorseless killer. Yes, he tries to redeem himself a bit at the end but can killing a worse guy than yourself really exonerate you from killing thousands if not millions of people? Nah.
6. Jack Torrence – The Shining
A flawed man who went mad likely because he was possessed by an evil entity though we don’t know for certain. We do know that he was deranged, he abused his family horribly and scared the crap out of everyone who watched him.
7. Hans Gruber – Die Hard
Hans was the best type of villain. First, he had a German accent and everyone knows that a foreign accent is a good start for a villain. He was smarter than everyone else, he was a greedy, soulless killer and he made an average Joe like John McClean into a hero. Yippee ki yay motherf*cker!
8. Magneto – X-Men
Magneto or Eric Lehnsherr is a mutant leader who survived the Holocaust whose goal is to protect other mutants from a similar fate as he had at the hands of normal humans. At times in his life Magneto was a superhero and others he was a villain. The complexity of Magneto and the fact that he isn’t 100% evil makes him one of the best villains in movie history.
9. Freddy Krueger – A Nightmare on Elm Street
Child killer and pedophile Freddy Krueger can kill children in their dreams…and he does. He is one of the scariest villains of all time and that makes him awesome.
10. Michael Corleone – The Godfather (1, 2 & 3)
Michael wrestled with it, he really did. He did not want to be a mobster like his father, he was different – he was a war hero. But when push came to shove, Michael couldn’t turn his back on his family. He got one wish though, he was not a mobster like his father, he was eviler and didn’t flinch when it came down to killing his own brother or other family members. His father was all about the family and Michael was all about power.