We're nearing the end! Here are my best characters of 2022. This year was filled with fantastic characters. From different versions of past icons to new, emerging icons, 2022 had a bunch of great heroes and villains that we got to experience. This ranking was so fun to write, because there are so many fabulous things I get to talk about. Be sure to check out my worst characters of 2022 ranking and be on the lookout for just a few more rankings coming over the next two days.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR
Top Gun: Maverick Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Death on the Nile Terrifier 2
Thor: Love and Thunder
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
The Black Phone
Jane Foster (Thor: Love and Thunder)
Lo'ak (Avatar: The Way of Water)
Iceman (Top Gun: Maverick)
Tara Carpenter (Scream)
Miles Quaritch (Avatar: The Way of Water)
Namor (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)
Doctor Fate (Black Adam)
Gellert Grindelwald (Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore)
Scarlet Witch (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness)
Sammy Fabelman (The Fabelmans)
15. Hercule Poirot (Death on the Nile)
Kenneth Branagh has made a statement as Hercule Poirot. One of two iconic detectives that are active today, Agatha Christie’s French sleuth is easily the best part of Death on the Nile. He’s a great detective, but it also feels like he’s an actual character. While Sherlock Holmes and others sometimes just feel like puzzle-solvers, Poirot has an actual personality and feelings. He makes relationships with characters. He cares when something bad happens to them. That just makes him feel more like a person than just the one to solve the case.
14. Art the Clown (Terrifier 2)
Art the Clown has made his way into the horror villain hall of fame. Terrifier 2 takes him to the extreme. He's so funny while also being so brutal and so scary. I love how he finds all of his sadistic, disgusting acts just hilarious. He's elevated by the fact that he is entirely silent. When he's laughing, no sound comes out of his mouth. When he's scary, he makes no noise. That just makes him both funnier and scarier, and I absolutely love him.
13. Chef Julian Slowik (The Menu)
Chef Slowik was Ralph Fiennes's return to villainy, and I thought he was fantastic. He's so quirky and fun while also being a complete psychopath. I love how his entire life revolves around the menu and it working throughout the night. I don't think everything with his character comes together entirely, but he's so entertaining and so fun. Fiennes knows how to be really funny while being completely serious and psychotic, and that just elevates Chef to another level.
12. Gorr the God Butcher (Thor: Love and Thunder)
Gorr would be even higher on this list if he had more screentime, but he's still great with what we got. He has an incredibly tragic backstory that gives him a reason to hate the gods. It's understandable why he wants to destroy all deities. Christian Bale gives him a really creepy personality that just makes him intimidating every time he's on screen. He never entirely loses his sympathetic side, though, because you feel for him by the end. His pseudo-redemption is a great way to wrap up his character, and he cemented himself as one of the MCU's better villains.
11. Rose Cotter (Smile)
I was shocked by how much I liked this character. On the surface, Rose seems like the stereotypical crazy girl in horror movies, but she's much more layered than that. She serves as an exploration of trauma and mental illness. You are experiencing this horrifying thing with her, so you understand her side. But you understand it with all of her backstory, which just makes her all the more compelling. Great, surprising character that I absolutely adored.
10. The Grabber (The Black Phone)
Another new horror icon, Ethan Hawke's the Grabber made his debut as a nuanced, terrifying villain in The Black Phone. Hawke is so crazy as this character, and it just makes him all the more scary. There are times where he's almost likable and almost fun, but then you remember that he's a child killer and has kidnapped our main hero, and you are terrified again. He's a great example of balancing horror with everything else. Great little villain for a great little film.
9. Benoit Blanc (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery)
When I talked about Poirot, I said there were two iconic sleuths active today. Well, here is the other one, and I'd argue that he's a lot better than Poirot. Benoit Blanc is fabulous. He's got so much fun personality alongside his fantastic ability to solve cases. He was great in Knives Out, and I'd argue that he's better in Glass Onion. He just has more personality and more jokes in Glass Onion that just make him more likable and fun. He's also a legitimately good character that makes smart decisions that the audience doesn't see coming. I cannot wait to see more Blanc in the future. I love him.
8. Hangman (Top: Gun Maverick)
Hangman was essentially Maverick's Iceman, but done a little bit better. Glen Powell is charming and likable, but he has this asshole side to him that we see in his conflict with Rooster. You don't like him at first, because he does act as a bully-type character, but Rooster stands his ground and earns Hangman's respect. I love his banter with Maverick. I love his cockiness. And I love the fact that he's supportive of Rooster despite their conflict when he goes off to execute the mission. And, of course, he has a great final moment when he destroys a rogue plane that would've killed Maverick and Rooster. He was a fantastic addition to Top Gun: Maverick.
7. The Penguin (The Batman)
I was really excited to see Colin Farrell's Penguin, but I was actually surprised with how much I loved him. He isn't a major character, but he's absolutely a scene-stealer whenever he's on screen. Instead of making him nuts like Danny DeVito's Penguin, Farrell makes him an insecure mafia man that has a very short temper. He's a sleezebag, but he's a charming sleezebag, and you kind of like him at first. Throughout The Batman, you see spots open up for his rise to power, which we will see in his spin-off show that I cannot wait for. As of now, he was great in The Batman.
6. Naru (Prey)
Prey was one of the biggest surprises of the year, and part of that was Amber Midthunder's main character. Naru was an incredibly compelling protagonist for this movie. She's a female warrior that isn't allowed to hunt and isn't respected by the men of her tribe. She works very hard to earn the respect she deserves, but to no avail. However, she gets her chance to prove them all wrong when the Predator shows up. It kills all of the guys that were disrespecting her, because they tried to fight it with brute force, but she learns to defeat it by outsmarting it. She was such a fun character and a great protagonist for this movie.
5. Rooster (Top Gun: Maverick)
The son of Goose makes a bigger impact than his dad with a complex, layered outing in Top Gun: Maverick. Rooster's character is made by his relationship with Maverick. He is so angry towards Maverick for pulling his papers and not letting him advance in the ranks of Top Gun, and that weight carries with him throughout the entire movie. However, after Maverick goes down during the mission, Rooster is the one to abandon his route back to base and goes to save him despite all of their troubles. They mend their relationship through escaping the enemy base together. He was an incredible character that I hope we see more of in possible future Top Gun movies.
4. The Riddler (The Batman)
The Riddler was probably the character I was most excited to see in 2022. I absolutely love the character from the comics, and he'd never gotten a great screen adaptation. Well, we have one now. Paul Dano gives us a psychopath unlike any other. Inspired by the Zodiac Killer, this Riddler is a violent, insane version of the character that is absolutely terrifying. He is a major presence throughout the movie, and anytime he showed up on screen, my heart was pounding. He was such a great villain for this movie, and I really hope we see more of him in the future.
3. Shuri (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)
Our new Black Panther gets one of the most tragic journeys of any character this year. Shuri loses everything. She loses her brother, and to cope, she turns to her technology. When she refuses to help Namor in his war against the world, she pays the price and her mother is killed. Instead of turning to technology, she becomes angry. She becomes so angry that she sees Killmonger in the astral plane when she drinks the heart-shaped herb. He tells her to kill Namor and become this vengeful, angry version of the Black Panther. And she almost does. But then she remembers her mother and her brother and learns to be more like T'Challa than Killmonger. Fantastic. It was a perfect, cathartic way to extend her character without T'Challa.
2. Batman (The Batman)
The Batman was my most anticipated movie of the year. I have my problems with it, but there's no denying that it is full of awesome stuff. And the most awesome thing about it is our new Dark Knight. Robert Pattinson's Batman was incredible. In a lot of his movies, Batman gets sidelined for the villain. Not here. He was put front and center as the world's greatest detective. I love that they made him a detective in this movie. I also love that they give him a true character arc. He is "vengeance" at the beginning of the film. He fights out of anger and rage. He scares criminals, but he also scares citizens, too. By the end of the film, he has to learn to be a symbol of hope for the people of Gotham instead of being a symbol of fear. Ooh. That's beautiful. I love it. I cannot wait for more of this character in the future.
1. Maverick (Top Gun: Maverick)
I fell in love with this character after the first scene. I didn't really care for him in the first Top Gun, but Maverick builds on the story of that film and shows how Goose's death affects Maverick years later. When he returns to Top Gun as an instructor, he has to deal with teaching Goose's son. He's still the same old Maverick, but he's so nervous that he's going to lose one of his trainees like he lost Goose. It affects all of the decisions he makes, and that just makes him a complicated character that you really want to root for. He was amazing. He elevated Maverick to the film of the year.