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My 20 Favorite Movie Villains of All Time

Last week, I re-did my ranking of my twenty favorite movie heroes of all time. This week, I am doing my favorite movie villains. A hero makes a good movie. But a villain makes a great movie. Our villains are usually more interesting than our heroes. This was a much harder ranking to do, because there are a lot of great villains. I changed it a lot while actually writing it. So, with that said, here are my twenty favorite movie villains as of 2022. I also did the little power rankings thing that I did with my heroes comparing it to last year. Enjoy!

20. The Terminator (Terminator): New

The Terminator (specifically the T-800) is a great character. He appears in the first film as this merciless killing machine that will stop at nothing to kill Sarah Connor. He's legitimately terrifying, and Schwarzenegger's blank stare remains in your mind for hours after you watch The Terminator. His return as a hero in Terminator 2 advances his character so much farther than you would ever think. The evil killing machine that we saw in the first film learns humanity through John Connor. It's a great way to execute the character, and I am really sad that I can't put him higher.

19. Pennywise the Dancing Clown (It): -8

Utterly terrifying. Bill Skarsgard's Pennywise is one of the scariest creatures to ever grace the silver screen. His abnormal movements and creepy voice are just the tip of the iceberg. The idea of It is that he can shapeshift into your worst fear. Pennywise is literally your worst nightmare. That is such a great concept for a character, and it is executed to absolute perfection in both It movies. Nobody will ever be able to top the terror and dread that Bill Skarsgard brought to the screen as the titular clown.

18. Bane (The Dark Knight Rises): New

Some people don't really like Bane. I think he's awesome. He's a different villain than we had seen in the previous Dark Knight movies. Ra's al Ghul tests Batman by being wiser than he is. The Joker tests Batman by being crazier and smarter than he is. Bane is the only villain that can physically match Batman. He breaks Bruce Wayne. Literally. Bane snapping Batman's back makes him terrifying. He's so intimidating, and I love Tom Hardy's performance. His physique is great. Some people don't like the voice. I love the voice. I think it makes him sound scary as all hell. Bane is an underrated Batman villain, and I hope that we get to see him face off against Robert Pattinson at one point.

17. Agent Smith (The Matrix): New

I've only seen the first Matrix film, but Agent Smith was one of my favorite parts of the film. He's so organized and neat, which makes him standout. However, what really makes him pop is Hugo Weaving's iconic portrayal of the character. He does a great job of bringing what is essentially evil artificial intelligence to life. The voice is classic. The rigid movements and stilted dialogue is great. I love this character, and I am baffled that they recasted him in The Matrix Resurrections.

16. Tyler Durden (Fight Club): -3

I won't spoil Fight Club for you guys, but I will tell you that Tyler Durden is one crazy ass motherf**ker. He is so insane. But he's also so charming. He's so fun. He gives Edward Norton's character a life. He does all these absolutely wild things that are terrible, but he has a demented philosophy that makes sense. Of course, Brad Pitt is great in the role. He makes sure that Tyler is the most memorable part of Fight Club. He is an absolutely fantastic villain, and he always reminds me why I love Fight Club.

15. Two-Face (The Dark Knight): New

Two-Face is great because he's a hero for half of the movie. You see Harvey Dent. You see a good man that can end crime and corruption in Gotham City and finally allow Bruce to retire as Batman. And then the Joker ruins everything and creates the monster that is Two-Face. His fall to evil is tragic, and that's what makes him great. You understand why he turned into this horrible thing that is willing to kill children. And it makes it all the more upsetting when you rewatch The Dark Knight and see him as a good guy. His character arc is another reason why The Dark Knight is a perfect movie.

14. Joker (Joker): New

Another Batman villain that falls to the dark side, Arthur Fleck is one of the most disturbing characters to ever be put on film. He's tragic. We see him as a mentally ill loner that gets bullied on the streets of Gotham City. You're rooting for him to gain his confidence. But the way he gains his confidence is by becoming this twisted sociopath that is the Joker. It's such a tragic downfall that is done so well. Of course, Joaquin Phoenix gives an all-time performance here. I am skeptical of him returning in a sequel to Joker, but we're getting one, so I am holding out hope that they do not ruin the character.

13. Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter): -7

Voldemort dropped a bunch of spots, but that's just because there's a lot of great villains here. As I've said ad nauseam, Harry Potter has been a vital part of my childhood, and I remember being terrified of Voldemort at one point. He's gleefully evil and works as a perfect foil to Harry. I think his rivalry with Harry is probably my second or third favorite character rivalry ever. He's just so scary and is the cause of so much pain. When I rewatched the Harry Potter films last year, I didn't realize how much I hated him (in a good way). He's horrible. But that's the best kind of villain.

12. Erik Killmonger (Black Panther): -4

Killmonger is one of the best crafted villains ever. He's terrible. He's a killer. He is a morally wrong human being. But his end goal is not evil. His ways of going about it are terrible. But he is actually kind of trying to do the right thing. And that's very interesting. Alongside that, our heroes are responsible for him being the villain. If T'Chaka hadn't killed N'Jobu and abandoned Killmonger, there wouldn't be a problem. But our characters mistakes created a monster, and that makes him great. I love that he changes T'Challa's mind in the end of the film, and T'Challa honors him by opening Wakanda up to the rest of the world. He's a super complex and super good villain, and the kind we need more of in the MCU.

11. Green Goblin (Spider-Man): New

Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin is perhaps one of the craziest people to ever be put on screen. Norman Osborn is just not with it mentally. And when he's Green Goblin...holy s**t is he insane. He just goes balls off the walls nuts, with this evil cackle and merciless terrorism. He acts as a perfect enemy to Spider-Man in the original film, but then returns as a terrifying new adversary for Tom Holland's Spider-Man in No Way Home. I love how evil this character is. I love how scary he is. I don't think there will ever be a better Spider-Man villain. He's just that good.

10. Daniel Plainview (There Will Be Blood): New

Now, Plainview is the most questionable character on the list. Because he is the hero of There Will Be Blood for most of the film. However, when we get to the last third of the movie, he starts to go a little bit bananas. Daniel Day-Lewis gives my absolute favorite performance of all time in this movie as this greedy and cruel businessman that slowly becomes a power-hungry psychopath. That final scene of There Will Be Blood is utter insanity, and most of it is due to Daniel Day-Lewis and Daniel Plainview. I love this character. He's such a different type of villainous protagonist, and I really appreciate him for that.

9. Loki Laufeyson (Marvel Cinematic Universe): Same

Never mind. Loki is the most questionable character on this list. Because he is a hero now. Like, that's not even a question. But his turn to good is kind of what makes this character awesome. He starts off in Phase One as a full-fledged villain. He is fueled by his jealousy of Thor, which is relatable. After The Avengers, he goes through a lot of development. He's a protagonist in Dark World, but still kind of a villain. In Ragnarok, he becomes more of an anti-hero. All the way to sacrificing himself in Infinity War while trying to kill Thanos and save the universe. Of course, we have the Loki variant that appeared in the Loki show that we will see more of, but the original Loki is truly a great character.

8. Hans Gruber (Die Hard): +2

One of the most suave and charming villains of all time, Hans Gruber is great. He's not physically intimidating. He poses almost no threat to John McClane in terms of strength. But, boy, is he smart. He's a genius. And that can be scarier than any physical threat. He outsmarts everyone with this insane amount of intelligence. And I don't think he's crazy. I think he's evil, but I think he is actually sane. Sure, he kills without question and will gladly blow up a building full of people, but I actually think he is sane. I think he chooses to be evil because it benefits him. And that makes him very interesting.

7. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho): New

You want to talk about insane? Okay. Patrick Bateman is probably the craziest character in movies ever. Maybe tied with the Joker or Hannibal Lecter. But this dude is screwed up. On the surface, he's a greedy businessman that gets jealous of his co-workers' business cards and gets super rich doing basically nothing. But at night, he becomes the American Psycho...this mentally whacked serial killer that will violently murder with an axe while dancing along to Huey Lewis and the News. Christian Bale gives one of the greatest performances ever, and it is a crime that he was not nominated for an Oscar. I love this character. He's so funny and also just so insane. It's great.

6. Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars): -1

The main villain of the Star Wars franchise has to make this list. In every single Star Wars movie, Palpatine is the one pulling the strings. He manipulates an entire galaxy with the power of the Sith, taking over as Emperor and reigning through terror for years until he is seemingly killed by Darth Vader. He then returns from the shadows as Snoke. He is the embodiment of power and evil and all that is bad. Ian McDiarmid's creepy old man performance is great. This character is iconic for so many reasons, and it's hard to name all of them. But I love him.

5. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs): -1

Hannibal Lecter. The man, the myth, the legend. What makes Lecter so interesting is that he is a whacko. He's a cannibalistic serial killer that is in prison for his crimes. But he's not really an antagonist in The Silence of the Lambs. He helps Clarice Starling in finding Buffalo Bill. Now, he does it out of selfishness, but he's crafted in a way where you like him. You're rooting for a cannibal. You are rooting for an evil, evil man to succeed. That's great writing. Anthony Hopkins also gives one of the great performances of all time. He's so unsettling but also so charming at the same time. I love Hannibal Lecter. I actually read Red Dragon a few months ago, which is the novel that he first debuted in. He's much cooler in this movie.

4. Michael Myers (Halloween): +9

The character that jumped the most from last year, Michael Myers is the quintessential slasher villain. He is this faceless walking evil that simply kills. That simple premise for a character is way more effective than you'd ever expect. He's brutal. He's terrifying. And he's one of my favorites of all time. Seriously, he's just awesome. The mask is iconic. The blank stare is chilling. But the evil that he represents makes him so great. He is pure evil. There's nothing else to be said about him. And, apparently, pure evil will haunt my nightmares forever.

3. Thanos (Marvel Cinematic Universe): Same

Thanos is the perfect example of why the MCU is not just guilty pleasure entertainment. It's actually good. The writers of Infinity War had to make this big, purple alien that wants to destroy the universe compelling. They had to make you understand where he's coming from. And, somehow, someway, they do. Thanos' motivations make sense. His end goal is not as insane as it seems. Killing half the universe may not be the way to do it, but the viewer gets why he is doing what he's doing. Infinity War essentially acts as a character study of Thanos, and that's why he's one of the best villains ever. The effect that the snap has had on the MCU as a whole elevates him to number three.

2. Joker (The Dark Knight): Same

The Dark Knight is my favorite movie of all time. The Joker is my favorite part of The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan read the Batman comics and just understood what the Joker is. Plain and simple madness. He is just a man that wants to cause pain. He wants chaos. He wants to slowly tear Gotham apart. Why? Because it's fun. That is pure genius. He acts as a polar opposite to Batman, and that's why their rivalry is the greatest of all time. I love Heath Ledger. I love the multiple backstories. I love the character. He's essentially perfect. He's only beaten out by my favorite movie character of all time.

1. Darth Vader (Star Wars): Same

What else did you expect? Vader is the greatest film character of all time. Possibly the greatest fictional character of all time. While it may seem generic now, his tragic backstory and fall to the dark side is one of the most genius character arcs of all time. We see him in the prequels as a Jedi. He's good. Throughout the prequels, though, we see that Palpatine gets his hooks in him. And, by Revenge of the Sith, he's reeling him in. We see the birth of something different. Something evil. And Darth Vader is born. In the original trilogy, he appears as this intimidating and powerful Sith Lord that is revealed to be Luke Skywalker's father. In Return of the Jedi, we see that he kind of cares about Luke. It all culminates in the greatest character redemption ever. In his final moments, he turns back to the light to "kill" the Emperor and save the life of his son. That's powerful stuff. And besides that arc, everything about this character, from the suit to the breathing to the voice, is iconic. There's nothing I can say about Darth Vader that hasn't already been said. He's flawless. And he's the greatest movie villain of all time.


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