You know, we spend a lot of time with our heroes and our heroines. We watch them battle against the universe, against circumstances, against bad guys and even against themselves. But the real nature of a hero is only revealed when put into direct opposition with the villain of the piece. In fact, some of the greatest heroes were made great because of the villains they fought. The darkness they battled against and in some cases, nearly succumbed to.
Arguably, my criteria for best villain are not going to be yours. To me, the best villains are memorable and literally take on a life of their own. Some villains are so deliciously evil and tortured that you may even find yourself rooting for them a time or two. Some villains, you want to redeem and others you want to smother as infants.
We root for the hero or the heroine, but we need the villain to be as powerful and real a character in the role of their nemesis as we need the hero to be strong and purposeful. The villain must be a darkness that the hero has to overcome; they must push the hero to the edge and sometimes, push them off. My nominees for best villains are:
In Julie Garwood’s Killjoy, Jilly Delaney is the mother to Avery and a walking, talking, breathing sociopath in the truest sense of the word. She manipulates, she destroys and she enjoys it. She has no moral or ethical compass telling her it is wrong. As the story unfolds and Jilly’s madness is made plain, the hairs on my body were standing up.
The quintessential villain of the Batman universe, The Joker is utterly insane. He kills and enjoys doing it. He is the chaotic madness to Batman’s order and justice. The Joker has taken many victims over the years including shooting Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) in the back and leaving her paralyzed.
Like any true boogeyman, Voldemort is more terrifying as the “He Who Must Not Be Named”, but the more we learn about him through Harry’s eyes, the more we begin to pity him. In the end, Voldemort’s reign of terror is brought to an end, but the price is incredibly steep.
Iago is Othello’s man. He is his most trusted advisor and arguably, his closest friend. It is his absolute destruction of said friend’s faith and trust in his wife, driving Othello to murder the woman he loves that one must wonder if Iago was meant to be that much of a sociopath or what?
Cruella de Vil
The woman butchers puppies. Enough said.
I wasn’t going to list Lex here, but ultimately the character as portrayed on Smallville won my heart. In the comics, Luthor’s madness was that of a man in total control. He was the Batman of villains, brilliant and terrible all at once. In the show, Luthor is utterly human and utterly flawed and you can’t help but wonder, what if … in so many places, would it have turned out differently?
Moriarty was the ultimate foil to the ultimate detective. He is the forerunner to many of the modern villains who use their minds over their muscles.
What villains are your favorites?