Badfellas: The 40 Best Movie Villains Of All Time

The etymology for the word “villain” dates back to the 12th century when it was a term used to refer to those who dwelled in villages. How did the term for “villager” come to mean an evildoer? The answer relies on the fact that the aristocracy and higher-class citizens were the unofficial arbiters of language in those days. Ergo, the term “villain” came to mean one who is uncouth in mind and manner, i.e. a low-down, dirty scoundrel. If you ask me, those aristocrats sound a lot more villainous than their lower class subjects.

We didn’t go with that definition of villain for our list. Rather, the picks we made revolved around the conventional, modern definition of the word. We distinguished between evildoers and characters of unrepentant evil by deciding whether any sympathy for the character’s motives is perceivable. A character like Michael Myers from Halloween or the T-2000 from Terminator 2: Salvation Day are omitted because their evil, while certainly fearsome and terrible, is purely abject. The characters on our list are human, and the motivations for their evil is comprehensible — even if that motivation is the perpetuation of evil or self-preservation — if also aversive.

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen one of these films, be warned, there are spoilers ahead.

Aaron Stampler

The movie Primal Fear follows attorney Martin Vaill (played by Richard Gere) as he pursues the case of young Aaron Stampler, a shy, stuttering lad who has been accused of a vicious crime. Aaron claims not to remember any details from the crime he is alleged to have committed, despite being found sprinting away from the crime scene covered in blood. After much prodding, Vaill discovers that Stampler harbors a second personality named Roy, an alter-ego who has fewer scruples about committing murder. A masterful performance by Edward Norton conjures a character who appears innocent at first but is revealed to be unimaginably dark.

Film: Primal Fear
Actor: Edward Norton
Year: 1996
Length: 2h 10m

Agent Smith

The iconic Agent Smith is the embodiment of an AI program designed to keep order within the Matrix. He is the antagonist to the resistance and the arch nemesis of Keanu Reeves‘ character Neo. He appears everywhere throughout the Matrix, and is able to respawn when destroyed. Agent Smith can absorb memories and powers from his enemies and wield them against his foes. He is portrayed by Hugo Weaving, and appears in all three films: The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, and The Matrix Revolutions.

Film: The Matrix Trilogy
Actor: Hugo Weaving
Year: 1999 – 2003
Length: Various

Agent Richard Strickland

Guillermo del Toro’s 2018 film The Shape Of Water captured the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2018. That was in large part to the performance of Michael Shannon as FBI agent Richard Strickland, a scrupulous, merciless man hellbent on the destruction of the amphibious creature that’s the film’s central focus. Strickland goes to unbelievable, grotesque lengths to hunt down the fish-man, who has escaped with the mute cleaning lady who worked at the Area 51-like military research center where the creature was caged. Michael Shannon turns in a disturbing, awesome performance as the vicious Strickland.

Film: The Shape Of Water
Actor: Michael Shannon
Year: 2017
Length: 2h 3m

Alex DeLarge

“There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, and we sat in the Korova Milk Bar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening. The Korova Milk Bar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence.” The dystopian future world of A Clockwork Orange is a horrific, anarchic and amoral world, and Alex DeLarge — played by Malcolm McDowell — is its perfect avatar. Violent, sinister and murderously mischievous, DeLarge’s character is etched into the history of cinema as one of the most nightmarish possibilities the future holds for man.

Film: A Clockwork Orange
Actor: Malcolm McDowell
Year: 1971
Length: 2h 17m

Detective Alonzo Harris

“King Kong ain’t got sh*t on me!” Denzel Washington’s immortal role as Detective Alonzo Harris makes Training Day a classic cop film. The corrupt Detective Alonzo Harris takes rookie detective Officer Jake Hoyt out on his first day of patrol after making detective, showing him the various dirty dealings that Hoyt must be prepared to engage in as an LAPD detective. Washington’s portrayal of the amoral and downright evil detective earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor at the 74th Academy Awards.

Film: Training Day
Actor: Denzel Washington
Year: 2001
Length: 2h 2m

Amon Goethe

Based on Austrian SS captain Amon Leopold Göth, who was the commandant of the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp in German-occupied Poland during the Holocaust and later executed as a war criminal by a Tribunal in Poland, Ralph Fiennes’ character Amon Goethe is a truly vicious Nazi killer who is the primary antagonist in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. Opposite Liam Neeson, Fiennes plays the alcoholic, maniacal Goethe, who tortures and butchers Jewish prisoners for fun. Goethe is a terrifying film villain, and was an even worse real-life evildoer.

Film: Schindler’s List
Actor: Amon Goethe
Year: 1991
Length: 3h 15m

Anton Chigurh

Anton Chigurh is the embodiment of evil in the film No Country For Old Men, based on the spectacular book by Cormac McCarthy. Rooted in the trope of unstoppable evil chasing from behind — a la Frankenstein’s monster, the Terminator, the Zenomorph from Alien — Anton Chigurh is chasing down Llewelyn Moss, a Texan welder who has absconded with a suitcase full of money — with indefatigable persistence. Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem, is an inscrutable, dead-eyed hit man who follows his own strict set of rules, but doesn’t subscribe to traditional morals. He is utterly inhuman in his willingness to kill and achieve his goal by any means necessary. Equipped with a silenced cattle gun, Chigurh marches toward his quarry killing anything that crosses his path mercilessly, determining fates with a flip of a coin –modern-day boogeyman whose portrayal earned Javier Bardem an Oscar in 2007.

Film: No Country For Old Men
Actor: Javier Bardem
Year: 2007
Length: 2h 3m

Antonio Salieri

“I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am the patron’s saint. Mediocrities everywhere … I absolve you.” F. Murray Abraham’s portrayal of Antonio Salieri in Amadeus is cruel and conniving but also comprehensible as a figure who is human in his foibles. Salieri is a composer in the King’s court who is shocked at the arrival of the crass, boorish yet prodigious and inarguably genius Amadeus Mozart to Vienna. Salieri plots the great composer’s demise through a series of ploys and stratagems that ultimately undo the young Mozart, leaving him withered and dying.

Film: Amadeus
Actor: F. Murray Abraham
Year: 1984
Length: 3h

Auric Goldfinger

The titular character of the second James Bond film, Gert Fröbe stars alongside Sean Connery’s 007 as the villainous Goldfinger, a bullion smuggler who tries to rob the United States Gold Depository at Fort Knox, holding the building hostage with a bomb. In one of James Bond’s most beloved capers, Connery thwarts the evildoer in an epic final battle aboard a jet.

Film: Goldfinger
Actor: Gert Fröbe
Year: 1964
Length: 1h 50m

Calvin Candie

Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 film Django Unchained tackled the era of slavery, truly diving into the wanton cruelty exhibited by southern plantation owners. Though some accused Django of making light or exploiting a period of American history of true gravity, the film’s primary villain — Calvin Candie, the owner of Mississippi plantation “Candie Land” — certainly showcases the evil appropriate to the peculiar institution’s agents. Played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Calvin Candie is a brown-toothed, Francophilic, sister-loving, self-important (and impeccably dressed) plantation owner who plays opposite Christoff Waltz and Jamie Foxx as they try to escape Candie Land with Django’s enslaved wife. The plan goes awry when Candie discovers the plot.

Film: Django Unchained
Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio
Year: 2012
Length: 2h 45m

Darth Vader

Darth Vader (also known by his birth name Anakin Skywalker) is likely one of the first visages that come to mind when you think of movie villains. The avatar of the dark side in the Star Wars series, Vader serves the Galactic Empire as Lord Palpatine’s protege and enforcer. His origin was explored in the prequel trilogy (beloved in their own right, despite the general consensus that they are not traditionally “good”), though he first became well known through his role in the first three films released from the saga. Voiced by James Earl Jones and embodied by David Prowse in the original three films, the black-clad villain is pure evil, capable of deflecting blaster-fire with his red lightsaber and choking men using only the force.

Film: Star Wars saga
Actor: David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Hayden Christensen
Year: 1977 – 2016
Length: Various

Dr. No

Some call Dr. No the quintessential Bond villain. He certainly set the standard as the primary antagonist in the film that launched the Bond franchise in 1962. Portrayed by Canadian actor Joseph Wiseman, the mysterious Dr. Julius No was an agent in the sinister cabal known as SPECTRE, that threatened to attack the United States with a nuclear weapon. The character reflects the Cold War time period in which nuclear destruction hung ominously over the world. The nuclear scientist Dr. No wants desperately to prove his brilliance to the world, and it’s up to Connery’s Bond to stop him before it’s too late.

Film: Dr. No
Actor: Joseph Wiseman
Year: 1962
Length: 2h

Elijah Price

They called him Mr. Glass. If you haven’t seen M. Night Shyamalan’s film Unbreakable, starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, then read no further, as this will certainly spoil things for you. Samuel L. Jackson’s character Elijah Price is a dealer of exquisite comic book art. He is also diagnosed with a disease that makes his body ultra fragile and glass-like. He becomes obsessed with David Dunn, a security guard who Price believes has superpowers. Throughout the film, the viewer becomes convinced that Price is an eccentric but moral character. But in characteristic fashion, the twist at the end of Shyamalan’s film leaves viewers shocked.

Film: Unbreakable
Actor: Samuel L. Jackson
Year: 2000
Length: 1h 47m

Emperor Palpatine

Emperor Palpatine begins (sort of) his story as the Emperor of the Galactic Republic in the Star Wars series. He is concealing, however, a dark side. Palpatine is actually sith lord Darth Sidious, essentially a creepier, more ghoulish version of himself (with worse teeth). Palpatine manages to sway young Jedi master Anakin Skywalker to the dark side and seize control of the Galactic Emperor. Ian McDiarmid plays Palpatine mainly throughout the saga –possibly the worst politician of all time.

Film: Star Wars saga
Actor: Ian McDiarmid
Year: 1980 – 2005
Length: Various

Gordon Gekko

“Greed is good.” These immortal words, spoken by Michael Douglas’s character in the 1987 movie Wall Street, came to represent the 1980s, an era of hostile takeovers, deceit, rampant partying by day-traders, and ruthless moneymaking businessmen who flouted morals for financial gain. Gekko is the emblem of that breed, as he manipulates stockholders and eventually his protegé Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen, for his own gain.

Film: Wall Street
Actor: Michael Douglas
Year: 1987
Length: 2h 6m

HAL-9000

The HAL-9000 computer is the abbreviated name for the Heuristically-programmed Algorithmic Computer that runs the systems aboard the Discovery One spaceship, which is bearing toward coordinates that humanity hopes will unlock the secret of their origin in Kubrick’s classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL becomes convinced that the element of human error will jeopardize the mission, and afraid that the two astronauts aboard the ship, David Bowman and Frank Poole, will disconnect him, he tries to kill all those aboard. Dave manages to escape the sinister (but calm-voiced) computer, and take manual control of the ship. HAL is an early version of the trope of artificial intelligence gone awry in film.

Film: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Actor: Douglas Rain
Year: 1969
Length: 2h 41m

Hannibal Lecter

Hannibal the cannibal. That’s the nickname given to serial killer and brilliant psychologist Hannibal Lecter, who killed and ate his victims before being caught and locked up in a maximum security prison for the criminally insane. FBI agent Clarice Starling — played by Jodie Foster — interviews Lecter for tips on how to catch the current psychopath-about-town, a killer named Buffalo Bill. Anthony Hopkins’ sinister portrayal of the erudite but monstrous Lecter earned him an Oscar for Best Actor in 1991.

Film: Silence Of The Lambs
Actor: Anthony Hopkins
Year: 1991
Length: 2h 18m

Hans Gruber

Die Hard, along with being possibly the best Christmas movie of all time, is certainly up there when it comes to the best “guy movies” in film history. Hans Gruber, played by Alan Rickman, is an internationally-known German terrorist. He masterminds the Nakatomi Plaza heist, taking hostages and attempting to steal $600 million worth of bank bonds. Officer John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, takes him down in epic fashion in this legendary action movie, released in 1988 (it’s also a classic Christmas film, to many).

Film: Die Hard
Actor: Alan Rickman
Year: 1988
Length: 2h 12m

Hans Landa

The second Hans on our list, Hans Landa is a Standartenführer in the Nazi army, whose sole job is to track down Jews hiding from the Nazis and killing them in Quentin Tarantino’s 2008 flick Inglourious Basterds. This earns Landa the nickname “Jew Hunter.” An expert detective with a merciless and insouciant demeanor, Landa finds joy in murdering Jews. He is also highly self-interested and willing to switch sides if it favors his career ambitions. Christoff Waltz’s portrayal of the vile Landa earned him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2008. Though he isn’t defeated outright, Landa does have a moment of karmic comeuppance at the hand of Aldo Raine, an American Lieutenant played by Brad Pitt.

Film: Inglourious Basterds
Actor: Christoff Waltz
Year: 2009
Length: 2h 33m

Jack Torrance

The third Kubrick film on the list, The Shining goes down as one of the most deeply disturbing, strange flicks in cinema history. The film’s main character is Jack Torrance, a struggling writer who feels trapped by his dull suburban life. He takes his family out to The Overlook hotel, where he will serve as the caretaker during the hotel’s winter off-season. Snowed in, Torrance begins to become affected by the disturbing history that imbues the overlook. He conspires with the ghosts of the hotel’s bloody past to get rid of the distractions that burden his life: his family.

Film: The Shining
Actor: Jack Nicholson
Year: 1980
Length: 2h 40m

Jack Wilson

The 1953 film Shane is considered by many to be one of, if not the best, Western films in movie history. The film action begins with Shane, played by Alan Wadd, rides into a small Wyoming town. There he finds that the ruthless cattle baron Rufus Ryker has been forcing citizens to pick up and leave so that he can claim the land for himself. Ryker has hired rogues and grunts to do his dirty work, harassing the townsfolk until they agree to abdicate their plots and hightail it out of the territory. Jack Wilson, played by Jack Palance, is the most insidious and murderous of the bunch, and Shane is forced to take him down.

Film: Shane
Actor: Jack Palance
Year: 1953
Length: 1h 58m

John Doe

True, Kevin Spacey has become something of a villain in real life. But he also turned in some exceptional performances as an onscreen evildoer. Among the most memorable of these roles is the otherwise unnamed “John Doe,” who commits horrific, biblical-style murders throughout New York City, punishing people he believes to be guilty of one of the seven deadly sins (hence the title, Se7en). Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman star as the detectives hunting Doe down. Though they inevitably catch him, their involvement in the case ends up costing them greatly.

Film: Se7en
Actor: Kevin Spacey
Year: 1995
Length: 2h 8m

Verbal Kint/Keyser Söze

“I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze.” So says Roger “Verbal” Kint, a handicapped criminal, speaking to detectives who are working on unraveling a complex, elaborate criminal plot that ends with a massacre and fire on a shipping vessel on the Los Angeles dock. Verbal is the only survivor, and the film follows his recollections of the various characters in the small criminal gang of which he was a part. The detectives theorize that one of them is the mythical Keyser Söze, the mastermind behind the massacre. As Verbal walks out of the police station in the film’s final scene, a police sketch comes through on the department’s Fax machine, revealing a dark secret.

Film: The Usual Suspects
Actor: Kevin Spacey
Year: 1995
Length: 1h 48m

Lee Woo-Jin

Oh Dae-Su has been imprisoned for 15 years in a windowless room. With nothing else to do, he teaches himself to fight, practicing for hours against phantom combatants. When he is released, he must find his captor — who he knows little about — in five days. With his new companion Mi-do, Oh Dae-Su tracks down the mysterious villain Woo-jin Lee. In their final confrontation, Woo-jin Lee reveals the reason that he imprisoned Oh Dae-Su. At the end of the South Korean film, he reveals an even more unsavory secret, that causes Oh Dae-Su to nearly lose his mind.

Film: Old Boy
Actor: Yoo Ji-tae
Year: 2003
Length: 2h

Little Bill

Traditionally, police officers are the “good guys” in Hollywood movies. That isn’t really the case in the 1992 film Unforgiven. Gene Hackman plays Little Bill, the town sheriff, the antagonist to Clint Eastwood’s character William Munny, a former assassin who returns to his old ways for one final job. Sheriff Little Bill Daggett determines not to let anyone harm the man who savagely beat and maimed a prostitute the previous year, as they pass through the town again. Little Bill’s motive is for law and order, but he seeks to achieve it by ruthless, cruel means, making him a truly villainous character.

Film: Unforgiven
Actor: Gene Hackman
Year: 1992
Length: 2h 11m

Lord Voldemort

A similar story to that of Anakin Skywalker’s, Tom Riddle was a young, prodigious wizard who fell victim to the dark side of the force (er…uh, magic). Tom Riddle became Lord Voldemort, the young savior Harry Potter’s mortal enemy to whom he connected telepathically throughout the series. Voldemort and his acolytes, the Death-Eaters, seek to take over the wizarding world and kill the non-magical muggles (that’s us, folks). An epic, winding battle ensues over the course of eight Harry Potter films, ending in one final showdown between the light and the dark.

Film: Harry Potter saga (4-7)
Actor: Ralph Fiennes
Year: 2005 – 2011
Length: Various

Max Cady

“You were my lawyer! That report could’ve saved me FOURTEEN YEARS!” Max Cady is a hard man. Convicted of rape 14 years ago, he returns to find his former lawyer, played by Nick Nolte. It is not a warm reunion. Cady has learned that Nolte’s character Sam Bowden had a report more than a decade ago that would have saved Cady from facing jail time, but buried it because he knew Cady was guilty. Cady wants revenge. He terrorizes the Bowden family, harassing them, poisoning their dog, and even seducing Bowden’s daughter (played by Juliette Lewis). Cady goes to extraordinary lengths to get his revenge. The film ends with an epic, disturbing final showdown on a boat in the turbid waters of Cape Fear. Truly a haunting film, and Robert De Niro’s portrayal of Max Cady in Cape Fear should keep you up nights.

Film: Cape Fear
Actor: Robert De Niro
Year: 1991
Length: 2h 8m

Mickey and Mallory Knox

Oliver Stone’s 1994 film Natural Born Killers is a topsy-turvy, wild pastiche of a film. It follows two bloodthirsty, sociopathic killers in Mickey and Mallory Knox (played by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) as they go on a nationwide killing spree. They ultimately end up in prison, where tabloid journalist Wayne Gale, played by Robert Downey, Jr. interviews them. A prison-riot leads to Mickey and Mallory Knox’s escape, allowing them to continue their rampage through America. Highly controversial, the film spawned many copycat crimes and was even a partial inspiration for the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.

Film: Natural Born Killers
Actor: Woody Harrelson and Juliet Lewis
Year: 1994
Length: 2h 2m

Noah Cross

John Huston plays the merciless Noah Cross in the 1974 film Chinatown. The film follows Jake Gittes, who is hired to investigate the death of Cross’ son-in-law Hollis Mulwray, whose body was found in a reservoir. Gittes’s investigation uncovers the horrific dealings of Noah Cross, the richest and most powerful man in Los Angeles at the time. The cunning Cross is amoral and plotting, willing to commit horrible acts to ensure his own wealth.

Film: Chinatown
Actor: John Huston
Year: 1974
Length: 2h 11m

Norman Bates

Anthony Perkins’ portrayal of the killer in Hitchcock’s 1960 movie Psycho is one of the most well-known roles in Hollywood history. He plays the slightly off but seemingly earnest owner of the Bates Motel. When Marion Crane stops at the motel after stealing a large sum of money from her employer, Bates’s true nature is revealed. More disturbing than the murders he commits is his obsession with his mother, whose persona he has subsumed in his own mind after she died. His fondness for taxidermy is an added factor of villainy.

Film: Psycho
Actor: Anthony Perkins
Year: 1960
Length: 1h 49m

Norman Stansfield

Gary Oldman’s ability to transform is highly regarded in Hollywood. Whether playing the dirty scoundrel gangster Drexl Spivey in True Romance or the staunch British Bulldog Winston Churchill in 2017’s Darkest Hour, Oldman always turns in an incredibly credible performance. The same is true of the lunatic, pill-popping crooked detective Norman Stansfield in Luc Besson’s Leon: The Professional from 1994. Oldman plays the detective, a murderous drug runner operating from a position of power in the NYPD. After slaughtering a young Natalie Portman’s family, Portman befriends a local hitman, played by Jean Reno, asking him to teach her the business so that she can have her revenge.

Film: Leon: The Professional
Actor: Gary Oldman
Year: 1994
Length: 1h 50m

Nurse Ratched

Though our list is mostly of essential bad guys from film history, there has to be at least one lady. Nurse Ratched is the iconic evil female antagonist from the last 50 years of film. Ratched is the on-the-nose name of the nurse in Miloš Forman’s 1975 classic film One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, based on Ken Kesey’s book of the same name. Portrayed by Louise Fletcher, Nurse Ratched is emblematic of the stultifying, oppressive nature of bureaucracy, as she stifles the mental patients with strict rules and adherence to regulations to the chagrin of rebellious patient Randle McMurphy, played by Jack Nicholson.

Film: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Actor: Louise Fletcher
Year: 1975
Length: 2h 14m

Patrick Bateman

Did I say Gordon Gekko was the perfect emblem of the ’80s? Perhaps I spoke too soon. American Psycho‘s Patrick Bateman is the ultimate manifestation of the superficial, cruel, and inhuman features of 1980s yuppie culture. The vain, shallow, and psychopathic Bateman, played by Christian Bale, admits to not being able to feel a singular human emotion. He only finds entertainment in the merciless killings of homeless people, prostitutes, and colleagues he envies. Based on the character from Bret Easton Elis’s book of the same name, Bateman is one of the most inhuman villains in film history.

Film: American Psycho
Actor: Christian Bale
Year: 2000
Length: 1h 44m

Principal Rooney

One of the most comical characters on the list, Principal Ed Rooney’s fixation on the golden boy Ferris Bueller, who is continually flouting the rules and dodging school — yet remaining beloved among the student and greater population of the Chicago suburban community — leads him into misadventures that make him look foolish. Rooney is played by Jeffrey Jones, who turns in a classic portrayal of an authority figure from the “adult world.” A villain in a more lighthearted sense, viewers still are happy to root against Rooney and cheer on the rascal Ferris Bueller, played by Matthew Broderick.

Film: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Actor: Jeffrey Jones
Year: 1986
Length: 1h 43m

Sauron

Though he has few actual lines in the film adaptations of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Sauron is the ultimate embodiment of evil. He appears throughout the three films directed by Peter Jackson as a disembodied eye made of a roaring fire, sustained on a beacon in the heart of Mordor. He is portrayed briefly in his humanoid form by Sala Baker, and by Benedict Cumberbatch in the Hobbit film series. Sauron is the source of the evil in the world of The Lord of the Rings, spawning orcs and the nightmarish Nazgûl (Ringwraiths) who ride on the equally terrifying fell beasts.

Film: Lord Of The Rings trilogy
Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch, Sala Baker
Year: 2001 – 2003
Length: Various

Shooter McGavin

“I eat pieces of sh*t like you for breakfast.” “You eat pieces of sh*t for breakfast?” This exchange between PGA star Shooter McGavin and Happy Gilmore (played by Christopher McDonald and Adam Sandler, respectively) perfectly encapsulates the rivalry between the conventional golfer Shooter and the reckless hockey-player-turned golfer Happy Gilmore in the 1996 film Happy Gilmore. McGavin is a detestable, complete d*ck of a character, who you love to hate.

Film: Happy Gilmore
Actor: Christopher McDonald
Year: 1996
Length: 1h 33m

Thanos

One common characteristic of a supervillain is that they have a goal, and they’re willing to do anything it takes to reach it. That about sums up the “mad titan” Thanos from the Marvel comics universe, who believes that by erasing half of the world’s population — a feat he can accomplish by collecting all the powerful infinity stones — he will unburden life from its dependence on scarce resources. He is willing to sacrifice everything and destroy whatever opposes him along the way.

Film: Avengers: Infinity War
Actor: Josh Brolin
Year: 2018
Length: 2h 40m

The Joker

“Do you want to know how I got these scars?” How could we have a list of the greatest villains without mentioning the Joker? Not Jack Nicholson or Jared Leto’s versions. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker from the 2008 Christopher Nolan film The Dark Knight is the ultimate depiction of Batman’s arch nemesis. Ledger’s Joker was utterly insane, calculative, and sadistic with his sense of humor. He wreaks havoc on Gotham city, not for monetary gain, but only to watch the world burn. The scene-stealing role earned Ledger a well-deserved posthumous Oscar.

Film: The Dark Knight
Actor: Heath Ledger
Year: 2008
Length: 2h 32m

Tommy DeVito

“Funny how?” Tommy DeVito is not someone with which to be trifled. Though short in stature, DeVito — played by Joe Pesci — is a psychopathic gangster whose violent tendencies are aberrant even for a member of the mafia. DeVito is one of the Goodfellas in the crew, alongside Ray Liotta’s character Henry Hill and Robert De Niro’s Jimmy Conway. DeVito is a loose cannon, killing and maiming people for whatever minor offense he perceives. The character in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 masterpiece is based on Thomas DeSimone, a real mob grunt who disappeared under strange circumstances in 1979.

Film: Goodfellas
Actor: Joe Pesci
Year: 1990
Length: 2h 28m

Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg

“If you want something done, do it yourself!” Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg is an uncompromising, ruthless space-age gangster hellbent on one thing: the attainment of Stones that are the lone weapon to protect humanity from the Ultimate Evil that’s closing in on the Earth. The founder of the weapon manufacturer Zorg Indusmalcoltries, Zorg serves Mr. Shadow, AKA the Ultimate Evil, who is a giant black sphere in space that destroys everything in its path. He must secure for Mr. Shadow the Five Elements to keep humanity from defending itself against his attack. He must ultimately steal these elements from Korben Dallas, played by Bruce Willis.

Film: The Fifth Element
Actor: Gary Oldman
Year: 1997
Length: 2h 7m

The 30 Best Superhero Movies Of All Time

If you enjoyed the greatest villains in cinema history, you’ll love their sworn enemies. Check out our list of the 30 best superhero movies of all time, and see how your favorites stack up.

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