Sometimes, a hero makes a great movie. Sometimes, a hero makes a great villain. But not with these guys. These are the villains that make the heroes great. The villains who command the screen with their presence. All of these movies are great, and that is because of the great villains that they have. Here are my top 15 favorite movie villains of all time.
15. Michael Myers (Halloween)
Michael Myers may not have a ton of lines. Or any, for that matter. But he is absolutely the most memorable and the most horrifying of the faceless horror movie killers. He is the embodiment of evil. By never showing his true face and keeping it hidden behind that chilling mask, Michael Myers has been a frequent star of the Halloween movies as well as my nightmares.
14. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
Maybe eight years ago, I would've told you that Maleficent was my favorite movie villain of all time. That was when I was obsessed with Disney movies. That's not the case anymore, but Maleficent is still a great villain. The way she's drawn and the level of terror that she spreads in this movie contribute to her iconic appearance. She is easily the most memorable thing in Sleeping Beauty and is still making an impact on us today.
13. Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
Tyler Durden is an interesting villain. He is, for most of the film, a protagonist, or seemingly so. He is played to absolute perfection by Brad Pitt, who was in the full swing of things right around the time that he was in Fight Club. The reason Tyler is great is because he's such a likable character. Yes, he's a horrible person, but you aren't really paying attention to that because of how cool he is.
12. Scar (The Lion King)
Before Loki, the first evil brother was Scar. And he was one mean dude. Disney did something different with The Lion King by having the villain win...for a long time. Yes, Scar gets defeated at the end of the film, but he kills Mufasa and makes Simba run away for, like, a long time, because Simba is fully grown when he returns. He is such a coward and so disgusting that you do really hate him. He also provided us with one of the most heart-wrenching scenes as Simba finds Mufasa's dead body.
11. Pennywise (It)
Pennywise is absolutely terrifying. Michael Myers is scary because of the faceless killings that he does, but Pennywise is scary because of the enjoyment that he clearly gets out of eating kids. Bill Skarsgård nails this Joker-esc performance and gives the clown an insanely creepy personality. He is the most recognizable Stephen King villain and one of the most recognizable horror villains ever.
10. Hans Gruber (Die Hard)
Hans Gruber is a simple villain. He's a terrorist. He wants a ton of money. And he will stop at nothing to complete his goals. But when you throw him into Die Hard and cast Alan Rickman in this role, it changes the game. Suddenly, you have this imposing figure who is scarily intelligent and ruthless. Rickman's iconic drawling performance elevates Gruber into the top ten.
9. Loki (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
Loki is the most likable villain of all time. Yes, Tyler Durden is charismatic and charming, but Loki is just a blast to watch. He carries all the charm that Tyler does, but with this intensity that is dialed down after The Avengers. He does evolve into more of an anti-hero in the later movies, but he still does villainous things. Tom Hiddleston is great in this role, and I am excited for the Loki TV show just so we can get more of this character.
8. Erik Killmonger (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
You know what's better than a terrifying villain made up of a pure evil? A sympathetic villain that was made from our heroes. That's what Killmonger is. He is the Frankenstein of the MCU. Our heroes made a mistake and created a monster. The other thing that Killmonger does very well is his posthumous effect. The influence that he leaves on T'Challa causes him to change his viewpoint and open Wakanda to the rest of the world. This cements Killmonger as one of the most interesting and best villains of all time.
7. Kylo Ren (Star Wars)
The one consistent thing throughout the Star Wars sequel trilogy is Kylo Ren. He has a clear character arc. He is the main antagonist of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, but his turn to the light side is teased. They pay it off very well with his redemption in The Rise of Skywalker, and it works pretty well. His relationship with Rey is one of the most complex and intriguing hero-villain relationships. Adam Driver's insecure performance is fantastic, and it makes Kylo the best thing about the sequels.
6. Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter)
Out of all the villains on this list, I think Voldemort is the one that I hate the most. That's a good thing. His character is just vile. Everything he does is mortifying. He has a very scary look to him. And he is the perfect foil to our hero. Ralph Fiennes makes the character's voice and movements iconic and frightening, making him one of the greatest villains ever put to film.
5. Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars)
Since Darth Vader is so iconic, The Emperor often gets overshadowed, and people don't realize that he is truly the main villain of the Star Wars franchise. He's the one always pulling the strings. He is the Sith Lord behind the Clone Wars. He is the leader of the Empire. He's the one who created Snoke, who, in turn, is the leader of the First Order. Palpatine's shriveled look, evil cackle, Sith lightning, and infamous voice make him the first entry in the top 5.
4. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)
I really should've debated putting Lecter on this list. The reason? Hannibal Lecter is a protagonist in The Silence of the Lambs. He is this dreadful cannibal that is locked away in a special cell, but he helps Clarice track down Buffalo Bill. He also gets into her head as well as the audience's head many times. Anthony Hopkins' calm, collected portrayal of the character is pure gold. Lecter is not just one of the greatest villains of all time; he's one of the greatest characters of all time.
3. Thanos (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
People have Thanos lower on a lot of lists because of his character in Endgame. However, I don't think that Endgame undoes his complexity and his motivation that was established in Infinity War. It's hard to create an understandable motivation for a villain to want to decimate half the population of the universe. But, somehow, Marvel did it. Thanos' solution to this situation is twisted and wrong, but his motivations are correct. It makes him one of the most interesting villains ever, and the best one in the MCU.
2. The Joker (The Dark Knight)
On the complete flip side of Thanos, The Joker doesn't have any motivation. At all. He is just pure chaos. He enjoys killing. He enjoys blowing things up. Why? Because he's a psychopath. All he wants is to make life as hard as possible for as many people as possible. Especially Batman. He is the Yin to Batman's Yang. Heath Ledger's performance makes this Joker the best out of a series of fantastic portrayal's of the character. I do think that Jack Nicholson's Joker and Joaquin Phoenix's Joker are fabulous, too, but Heath Ledger's is one of the best villains ever.
1. Darth Vader (Star Wars)
Darth Vader is the single best movie character of all time. Everything about him is iconic. The breathing, the mask, the theme song, the voice, the strangely wise lines, the name, everything. A fallen hero was a cliche that Vader invented. His redemption is earned. No villain has ever been created and then had three movies devoted to showing his origin story. Everything about this character is executed perfectly, making him the best villain and best character ever.