Heroes can be a bit boring. They’re always doing the right thing, judging everyone else, and going out of their way to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. There is, however, something very compelling about a good villain (good is a relative term). They can get away with saying the darkly funny, morally questionable things that the writer can’t make anyone else say. The most interesting baddies reside in the moral grey area, making us question our society’s rules and conventions, and calling us out on our collective illogic. Of course we don’t agree with them (usually), but unlike the heroes, they can certainly be the source of some interesting discussions. Here are some of the fascinating villains who stole the spotlight from the heroes.
A large part of Loki’s charm is that he is played by Tom Hiddleston. Or maybe people love Tom Hiddleston because he plays Loki. It’s a new take on the age old question of the chicken or the egg. In any case, people the world over seem to prefer the sinisterly charming Loki to his hulking and vaguely thuggish brother Thor. If Loki said his famous “kneel before me” speech in real life, undoubtedly the earth would be his without a fight.
Ben was the very definition of a Machiavellian leader. He did whatever it took to achieve his goals, be they kidnapping pregnant women, murdering people, or moving entire islands. He is complex, manipulative, and just as much an enigma as Lost itself. Throughout the show, his goals become more aligned with our heroes’, but his unblinking stare, untrustworthy nature, and disregard for human life ensure that he is one villain we will never forget.
All due respect to Will Graham, Hannibal Lector makes the show (and, I assume, movies). He is cunning, remorseless, and smug in a way that is thrilling rather than irritating. We share a giant secret with him as we watch him walk amongst his unsuspecting colleagues, manipulating their unsuspecting actions, words, and even thoughts. He maintains almost perfect control of his environment at all times in ways that are artful and masterful. He dresses dashingly, is articulate and well-spoken, and can cook a beautiful meal. What’s not to love? You know, other than the psychopathic cannibalistic serial killer part.
Regina Mills/The Evil Queen
Regina has always been by far the most interesting character on Once Upon A Time. Before she established herself firmly as an anti-hero, she managed to be both a sympathetic and despicable villain. She’s ten times smarter than the heroes (the Charmings are quite possibly the dimmest characters to ever grace our TVs), sarcastic, funny, and has an amazing wardrobe. Even though she’s on Team Good Guys now, she makes the hard decisions and gets results by any means necessary, often saving the more squeamish heroes from their own self-righteous, limiting sense of morality.
Col. Hans Lander
Col. Hans Lander is one of the villains who is just plain evil. Unlike some of the others on this list, who often struggle with right and wrong and sometimes find redemption, he is purely, deliciously wicked. Christoph Waltz turned in one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen, bringing the perfect amount of sophisticated charm, deranged humor, and barely concealed savagery to the role. The colonel made the film, and he made it one that can be watched again and again.