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10 Coolest Movie Villains of All Time

August 7, 2018
6 min read

The world has been celebrating the good since the dawn of time. But had there not been bad to go up against the good, would the good have ever been surfaced? Likewise in cinemas, what good is a superhero without a smart villain? Had there not been the Joker, Bruce Wayne would be squandering his money in supercars and would have been termed as a prodigal son. So, let’s bring on the bad guys and give them a moment on the stage. Here is the list of smartest (and coolest) movie villains ever.

10. Catherine Tramell, ‘Basic Instinct’

Catherine Tramell is portrayed as author of best-selling crime novels. It is suggested that the modus operandi of her murders includes using her novels as alibis, as people then assumed she would never be foolish enough to execute a crime she herself wrote about. Catherine Tramell appears as a brilliant, charismatic narcissist, who manipulates everyone around her, largely for her own amusement and enjoys killing people.

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9. John Kramer, ‘Saw’

When death knocks at one’s door and he waits for it to embrace, probably the only thought that comes to mind that how well one has lived this life. But how many have truly understood the purpose of this life? John Kramer at his death bed, thinks of this and concludes that until put into adverse situations, no one truly values this life. And to inculcate this knowledge to value one’s life, he starts a something that becomes a mechanism to test one’s worth to live. While John eventually meets his death, but the legend of Jigsaw lives on.

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8. John Doe, ‘Se7en’

An unknown man, goes on a killing spree, over seven days. Each of his victims, were killed in a manner, which depicted the seven deadly biblical sins. And he thought he was purging the world from the evil, by being the messiah. He truly believed that his methods shall be puzzled, studied and followed forever. Setting the example, he didn’t even flinched when he evoked the wrath of Detective Mills by informing him about his final victim, for he had become the prey of envy. And what’s the American naming convention of the unknown ? It’s John Doe.

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7. Roy, ‘Primal Fear’

“I ca-can’t take it no more, Roy. You g-got to help me.” I said, “Shut your mouth you little girl! Grow up. Be a man. Take care of yourself.” A stuttering impish young alter boy , accused of killing a priest comes clean as the court of law finds him suffering from a split personality disorder. Boy, was it the ruse of the century? By the time, the lawyer gets to know there never was an Aaron, the game’s over. Ed Norton’s debut as Roy/Aaron fetched him a nomination for best supporting actor at the Academy Awards that year.

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6. Anton Chigurh, ‘No Country For Old Men’

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Chigurh kills without compassion or remorse, but always with deliberation. He is described as having his own set of morals, however twisted they may be. Anton Chigurh kills or tries to kill almost every person he meets. He sees himself as a hand of fate; an instrument who exacts what is supposed to happen upon those he sees accountable. He gives many of his victims he faces a chance to survive by making deals either personally, or by flipping coins in making decisions.

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5. Hans Landa, ‘Inglourious Basterds’

Egotistical and ambitious, Landa takes a great deal of pride in his reputation, lauding his nickname “the Jew hunter” and using it to compare himself to Reinhard Heydrich. When the tide of the war turns against the Nazis, he scoffs at it, alluding that his job is to find and capture people and the fact that they are Jews is of no consequence to him. Landa is cruel, highly intelligent, sadistic, opportunistic, relentless and ruthless but when needed, charming and polite. Landa is also an opportunistic sociopath, acting only out of pure self-interest.

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4. The Joker, ‘The Dark Knight’

The Joker is the archenemy of Batman and is said to be one of the most influential villains till date. He performs a series of robberies and murders and psychologically affects all the main characters of the film. Heath Ledger posthumously won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Joker, including several other international accolades. Ledger also garnered widespread critical acclaim, often critics claiming his acting was more “haunting”, “terrifying” and “sinister”, than Joker was thought before.

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3. Keyser Soze, ‘The Usual Suspects’

The origin story of Keyser Soze is relatively unknown as no one knows from where he came from or how he became the infamous over lord of the underworld. The legends say, that when threatened upon with his family’s life, he goes on killing first his family, then the people who threatened him, their families and even people who owed them money ! Almost mythically growing within the shadows, this man had the California police on their tows when they came to know about his infamy during an investigation of a mass murder on a boat. You don’t believe me?? Well, to quote Verbal Kint, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”. And like that, poof!

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2. Hannibal Lecter, ‘The Silence of the Lambs’

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Dr. Hannibal Lecter is the primary antagonist of the ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, played by Anthony Hopkins, who would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for the film and would turn Lecter into a cultural icon. He is a forensic psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer. As understood, he is a highly educated person and does not stand rudeness. He is described by Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) as “small, sleek, and in his hands and arms she saw wiry strength like her own”. During the course of the film, he seems to have a keen sense of smell and a rich eidetic memory and constructs a graphical memory interface for any scene, which he remembers for very long times. Lecter makes us stare in awe when he escapes imprisonment after a blood-soaked scene. It’s rare when a movie villain scares us more with his smartness than his actions!

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1. HAL 9000, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

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HAL 9000 is an artificial intelligence, which is the main antagonist of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, HAL being expanded as Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer. Voiced by Douglas Rain, HAL is never physically depicted, instead shown as a red television camera eye on equipments. It is capable of speech and facial recognition, realizing and producing emotional behaviours, automatic reasoning and playing chess, as have been shown in the film. Though being the only non-living character in our list, HAL is easily the smartest villain of all time.

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