Villains [NOT 10/9/22]

Let’s talk about villains of literature, film and/or TV that stand out for you. Love them, hate them or pity them.

Or your idea of a villain might be more to do with the creator (JK Rowling come on down!) or certain producers (glares at Rick Berman, Dan & Dave (GOT) among others) of the work but still like the work?

No one really likes to be stuck in the role of the villain, but in the real world villainy as Obi-Wan Kenobi once proclaimed depends on “a certain point of view.” Based on the several conflicts I’ve had to deal with in my life I suspect I’ve been looked upon as Neil Young once sang “Don’t feel like Satan, but I am to them.”

What defines them as a villain for you? A facial scar? How they dress? Self serving? Vicious? Jealous of their abilities (I’ve been accused of that in real life which was met with my howling laughter)? Are they extremely good at what they do for the other side? (Like Rommel with war or Mitch McConnell with politics.) Do you like one dimensional mustache twirlers in stovepipe hats or does your taste go towards multi-dimensional evil with a particular set of skills?

As a writer of unpublished bad fiction, my personal preference is to write as a villain is someone who never sees themselves as a bad person because they are unaware or unwilling to recognize the harm they do despite the fact they claim to march with the angels. I can’t write a simple cartoon morality play (some say I can’t write period) with stock good and evil as I couldn’t stand those stories as a kid and I learned the awful truth in my young years that this world is not black and white but (more than 50) shades of grey.

My Top Villains
Karla (John Le Carre) – fiendishly skilled spy who seemed two steps ahead of the SIS.

Londo Mollari (Babylon 5) – a man who ambitions and desire to rebuild a fading empire brings personal and national tragedy

King Lear (William Shakespeare) – no fool like an old fool whose hubris shattered his kingdom and family albeit in a somewhat sympathetic/tragic way

Shylock (William Shakespeare) – one of the great speeches of stage asking who really is the bad guy?

Carter Burke (Aliens) – a man whose ambitions/greed blinded him to the danger he unleashed

Cathy Ames (East of Eden) – a woman who was blind to love and used her beauty as a weapon on the unsuspecting

Professor Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes) – the OG different darker side of the same coin

Captain Ahab (Moby Dick) – a man who is destroyed by his obsession for revenge

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8 Comments

  1. Bob Odenkirk in the TV show Fargo as Police Chief Oswalt was a great flawed villain.

    He stymied every effort of Alison Tolman’s Deputy Solverson to chase after Martin Freeman’s obviously guilty Lester Nygaard, despite all of her evidence, until the body count got too high to ignore.

    Oswalt finally admitted he endlessly roadblocked her because he couldn’t accept that the weak joke Lester he’d known since school could possibly have a dark side, and he didn’t want to believe such evil could exist.

    He’s a great example of how people who are seemingly good guys end up being complicit in bloody murder because they put wishful thinking above obvious facts and clear duty, and how it all ends up making things much worse.

  2. My favorite villain is the appropriately named Villanelle from Killing Eve. So beautiful, stylish, ruthless, and charming. I couldn’t help rooting for her in spite of her being a psychopathic assassin.

    The scariest for me was Killgrave from Jessica Jones. I think it was Tennant’s best work. He was terrifying.

  3. I find villains usually boring and much prefer anti-heroes. It makes for a more interesting story normally.

    Notable exception to that is Hans Landa (played brilliantly by Christoph Waltz) in Inglourious Basterds. Goddamn what a well-played villain.

     

  4. My current favorite villain is Caitlin, the right hand and hound of infernal Prince Sitri of Hell, in Craig Schaefer’s Daniel Faust. She lives by her own immoral code.

  5. For me, it has to be Liev Schreiber in Phantoms!!!

    The movie is TRASH, but Schreiber’s absolute *nailing* of his role as Deputy Wargle?

    That role made it impossible for me to watch ANY movie he was in, and *not* believe he was going to be the villain–for at least a decade after I first saw Phantoms.

    We ended up searching it out in 2001, after watching Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (because we HAD to see how bad & cheesy it must be!😉🤣), after catching this line (tbh, that, “Affleck, you da BOMB in Phantoms, yo!”  line from Jay is STILL one my roommates & I say sometimes!😆🤣)

    The movie was soooooooo bad!!!

    But Schreiber was SOOOOOO good at being the creep, that it didn’t MATTER who he was playing–i could NOT see him as that character!😂😂😂🤣🤣🤣

    My roommate back then and I watched Kate & Leopold so many times, she bought the movie…

    And EVERY time we watched it?

    I had a moment or two where I expected Stuart Besser to turn evil!🤣

    Schreiber is just sooooo good at being “the bad guy,” that it’s difficult to see him in *any* other way, when thatvwas your first experience watching him!!!

    And, honestly, Alan Cumming was another actor i had a HARD time seeing as anything other than a predator/creep, because the first role i saw him in, was as Sean in Circle of Friends.

    His character in that one was SUCH a creep–*and* an attempted rapist–which he played SO convincingly and with such smarm, that it was impossible to see him bring that smarm up in any other roles, and NOT be completely creeped out by him!😂🤣

    It wasn’t until he played Nightcrawler in X-men 2, and there was *no* smarm, only that deep, deep, sadness & loss, that I could see him as ANYTHING other than a creep!😉💖

    Of course, NOW I adore both actors, and will take a chance on pretty much ANY film either of them is in–because I KNOW they’re both *that* good at playing their roles!😉😁💖

     

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