Following speculation that Josh Brolin’s villainous Thanos could soon return to the MCU, many Reddit users have been spurred into discussions surrounding the best villains in cinema history. Although plenty of movie fans claim that the best villains are those that have a glint of humanity to them, it can be just as thrilling and entertaining when a movie’s villain is totally unlikable and completely beyond redemption.
Over the years, there have been several movies that have gotten the concept of a detestable villain right, and Reddit users have recently shared their thoughts about which cinematic antagonists they struggled to empathize with the most.
11/11 Calvin Candie – Django Unchained (2012)
Django Unchained is often cited as one of Quentin Tarantino’s best films, and that’s primarily due to the number of well-written and expertly-developed characters that he creates for this story. One of these is Calvin Candie, played unforgettably by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Candie is a complete embodiment of evil, exploiting anybody that he considers lesser than himself for social and financial gain. Reddit user fortheloveofconflict describes Candie as a “true villain”, which is totally fair considering how the film presents his beliefs toward the slave trade.
10/11 Alonzo Harris – Training Day (2001)
Denzel Washington delivers one of his best-ever performances as Alonzo Harris in Training Day, a corrupt narcotics officer who uses unethical methods to advance in his career and won’t hesitate to take anybody down who stands in his way – he shows no empathy or remorse at all, which is why so many fans detest the character.
Reddit user ghstrcn37 claims that a fictional character has “never deserved their comeuppance more”, which proves just how much audiences were rooting for his downfall. Thanks to a razor-sharp script and a complex lead performance, Training Day remains one of the best movies of Washington’s career.
9/11 Tommy DeVito – Goodfellas (1990)
Jo Pesci’s performance as Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas immediately proved that the actor was capable of presenting such force and power that audiences had never really seen from him before. He completely steals the show whenever he appears, showcasing the cold demeanor of a truly evil man, emotionlessly murderous, violent, and accustomed to brutality.
Much of why Goodfellas is such a critically-acclaimed film comes down to Tommy’s character, as his illogical decision-making is often why the story advances so quickly and dangerously. Reddit user floppedyaya describes the character as an “absolute monster.” As his viciousness gets worse and worse as the film goes on, it becomes impossible to see this character becoming redeemable.
8/11 Harry Powell – The Night Of The Hunter (1955)
At almost 70 years old, The Night of the Hunter is one of the most iconic and widely-referenced thriller movies ever made, practically setting the foundations for the genre as it’s understood today. The film’s narrative is propelled forward by Powell’s character, who coldheartedly marries the widow of a criminal in search of stolen money.
Reddit user heffalumpglory believes that “Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter” provides one of the most dislikable and most unconventional villain performances ever, which actually means that he did a great job. It’s thanks to his complete detestability that the film works so well, constantly framing him as a selfish man with no limits regarding how far he’ll go to win.
7/11 Sean Nokes – Sleepers (1996)
It’s thanks to the film’s incredible ability to connect with its audience that Sleepers is widely considered one of the best crime thrillers of the 1990s, and the film’s antagonist Sean Nokes is just one example of how it does this so well. Through both the writing and Kevin Bacon’s performance, the character is especially engineered to get under the audience’s skin.
Reddit user happydaytripper1269 claims that they “hate” Bacon’s character, but exactly in the way that the film intended. He’s supposed to represent everything that’s wrong with the American justice system, specifically commenting on the abuse of power that’s so prevalent in this corner of society.
6/11 Percy Wetmore – The Green Mile (1999)
As an author, Stephen King has become famous over the years for his ability to write some of the most complex, interesting villains ever. His novel upon which The Green Mile is based is no different, with the antagonist of Percy Wetmore being one of the story’s most frustrating (but compelling) aspects.
The Green Mile is a tale about morality and repentance, so a character like Wetmore is hugely necessary for exploring the opposite side of the coin, constantly valuing himself over moral absolutes. Redditor _caseybecker_ was the one to suggest “Percy in The Green Mile”, representing just how hated this character is supposed to be by audiences.
5/11 Commodus – Gladiator (2000)
Joaquin Phoenix has proven on multiple occasions that he’s one of the most versatile actors of his generation, but it’s perhaps his role as Commodus in Gladiator that represents his most obvious transformation. The character is driven by hatred and selfishness, which makes him impossible to root for.
Reddit user the_king_of_spades suggests that Commodus is one of the most unlikable characters ever written thanks to his pure selfishness and lack of compassion: “I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy and relieved when I’ve seen a villain die,” they claim. They’re completely right, and Commodus’ death at the end of the film actually serves as somewhat of a happy ending, despite the many tragedies in the story.
4/11 Dolores Umbridge – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
There are so many antagonists that appear throughout the Harry Potter franchise, but it’s Dolores Umbridge that many fans take issue with the most. Her personal goals and politics were the antithesis of moral good, espousing values that would not be out of place in the world’s worst regimes such as her love of purebloods, belief in corporal punishment and methods of upholding false propaganda.
Umbridge showed no remorse for her actions, even going as far as torturing a student in order to assert her dominance and power. Reddit user rcomian cites Umbridge’s “mix of sadism and authoritarianism” as the reason that she’s so unlikable, a sentiment that’s shared with thousands of Potter fans all over the globe.
3/11 Warden Norton – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
There are several reasons that The Shawshank Redemption is often called the greatest film of all time, but the most obvious is the movie’s unwavering commitment to character. All of the characters in the film are perfectly written, each with their own separate journey that they undergo throughout the narrative.
Norton, the prison warden, acts as a complete foil to Andy Dufresne – though Dufresne is the one imprisoned, it’s Norton whose behavior is more aggressive and immoral, which raises plenty of interesting questions about law and criminality. Redditor itsmebarfyman392 displays Norton’s insulting nature with one of his most famous quotes: “how can you be so obtuse?” The reason Norton is so reviled is due to his character being a representation of what’s broken in the justice system, something that still rings true with audiences decades later.
2/11 Amon Göth – Schindler’s List (1993)
Schindler’s List might be one of Spielberg’s longest and most thematically-dense films to date, but the core story is actually a very simple one. It’s a true story about good and evil, detailing the lengths that one man went to to save the lives of hundreds of Jewish people. In this story, Nazi officer Göth is a perfect embodiment of evil.
His actions are driven only out of hatred and ambition, which immediately sets the character up as somebody for the audience to dislike, and Fiennes’ arrogant performance adheres to this ideal perfectly, representing the absolute horror that took place in Nazi Germany. Redditor greg0_reddit refers to “Ralph Fiennes as Amon Göth” as one of the least likable villain performances ever, which proves that Fiennes has done his job perfectly. The reason he can be seen as one of the, if not the, most unlikable villains of all time is down to the fact that the performance is steeped in reality, making the character that much more horrific than any fictional villain.
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