Content Warning: The following article contains spoilers for all movies mentioned.Villains are an essential part of any movie. They can be charismatic, ambiguous or downright bad – the villain can make or break a movie. Darth Vader can be considered the greatest villain of all time for a plethora of reasons, namely his looks, his iconic voice, his immense strength, and his unrelenting rage.
However, the Emperor was the driving force behind Vader’s actions, in addition to ruling with an iron fist. So, in the great pantheon of villains, who had the most evil, messed up, and cruel plan? From the Emperor’s galactic domination to more localized evil, like John Doe (Kevin Spacey) in Se7frit’s a good thing these villains only exist on the big screen.
Amy Dunne – ‘Gone Girl’ (2014)
On their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne (Rosamund pike) suddenly disappears and leaves her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) as the prime suspect in missing girl. Their marriage had been on the rocks, with both losing their jobs during the recession and then moving from New York to Missouri to support Nick’s mother. Amy leaves behind evidence of a struggle, leading the police to believe that Nick murdered her.
Not only that, but Amy falsifies several things in their lives, she fabricates entries in her diary, she befriends their neighbor and lies to him about Nick’s temper, among other things. Nick deduces her plan and manages to convince her to come home by pleading on live television, winning Amy’s heart. When she finally returns, she guilts him into staying in the marriage by imbibing Nick’s sperm from a fertility clinic.
John Doe – ‘Se7en’ (1995)
In Se7frdetective Somerset (Morgan FREEMAN) will soon be retired, until he is partnered with new Detective Mills (brad pitt) as they unravel an increasingly complex homicide case. It quickly turns into a serial killer hunt. The crimes they come across in the film are all related to the seven deadly sins. They find gluttony, laziness, greed, lust and pride. Detectives find evidence that these crimes were planned long in advance.
After an unsuccessful attempt to capture the suspect, John Doe (Kevin Spacey) shows up at the police station and turns himself in, telling Mills and Somerset that he will show them the two remaining murders. Doe had a box delivered to the site, containing Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow), Mills wife, leader, and declaring himself envious of their marriage. Mills kills Doe, becoming angry, and Doe’s plan is over.
Ra’s al Ghul & Scarecrow – ‘Batman Begins’ (2005)
Ra’s al-Ghul (Liam Neeson) is that of Batman (Christian Balelisten)) equal in intelligence and combat, and he is also immortal due to the effects of the Lazarus Pit. Ra’s, who had trained Bruce in the League of Shadows as Henri Ducard, reappears to tell him his true plan: to destroy Gotham and reset the City, a task the League has accomplished throughout history.
In batman beginsHe plans to use Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) fear the toxin and spread it throughout the city and effectively destroy it from within, as the citizens attack and destroy each other. This is Ra’s way of resetting a city he believes is beyond recovery. He also reveals that he was behind Gotham’s economic recession, which incidentally caused the murder of Bruce’s parents.
The Joker – ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)
The Joker (health book) keeps saying he has no plan in The black Knight, but it actually does, and it’s pretty extensive. Basically, paraphrasing what Batman says to him at the end, he just wants everyone to fall to his level and prove that deep down everyone is as screwed up as he is.
He partially succeeds, though the civilians and prisoners both choose not to blow themselves up on the ferry, he gets Gotham’s “White Knight” DA Harvey Dent (aaron eckart), to become the villain he was sworn to fight in Gotham, blowing off half of his face and also killing his fiancée, Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). He upset the city and also against Batman in the process.
Skynet – ‘Terminator’ Franchise (1984)
Skynet is a villain that doesn’t actually show up in the movies until Hi Terminator (2009), although he is the main antagonist of the series and responsible for all the events that take place. The AI that becomes self-aware arms humanity after trying to stop it, causing “Judgement Day” and leading to John Connor and the formation of The Resistance.
Skynet is also responsible for sending the Terminators back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), and later John Connor, to try to prevent his defeat at his hands. Matt Smith ends up playing its physical manifestation in Terminator Genisys (2015).
Richmond Valentine – ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ (2014)
In Kingsman: The Secret ServiceValentine (Samuel L. Jackson) is the founder and namesake of the infamous Valentine Corporation, which is a tech company that uses the promises of free internet, cellular service, and Wi-Fi by giving away their phones.
In reality, Valentine plans to use his free technology, primarily phone SIM cards, now in the hands of a large population, to turn humans into barbaric, rabid animals. He sends humans back to the Dark Ages and, ideally for him, wipes them out entirely to create a new world.
Auric Goldfinger – ‘Goldfinger’ (1964)
Auric Golden Finger (Gert Fröbe) is one of the most memorable Bond villains of all time. His plan in The golden finger is part of that legacy, it’s downright diabolical. He spent 15 years on his master plan, which involves detonating an atomic bomb that resides at Fort Knox, which also holds the US gold reserve.
With the gold radioactive for decades, its gold will rise in value and send America into an economic spiral. Along with his long term plan, he also intends to use nerve gas to kill the thousands of soldiers stationed at Knox using nerve gas.
Lex Luthor – ‘Superman’ (1978)
Luthor (Hackman Gene) is that of Superman (Christopher Reeves) the greatest enemy. His plan in the original Superman the film is not about taking over the world, but rather about starting an evil real estate adventure. He plans to detonate a bomb in the infamous San Andreas Rift, plunging the entire West Coast into the ocean.
Thus, Luthor could control the “new” west coast. His plan would, and did, result in the deaths of millions of people. Not totally world domination, but it’s the flippancy with which he plans to do it that makes him so bad.
Ozymandias – ‘Guardians’ (2009)
Adrian Veidt (Matthew Goode) is the smartest man in the world and his idol is Alexander the Great. Veidt joined a group of superheroes in the 1950s and was called Ozymandias in watchmen. In the comics, his plan is to create a giant squid-like creature and drop it off in New York, killing millions. This storyline continues in the HBO miniseries of the same name.
In the 2009 superhero film by Zack Snyder, he bombs NYC, ending the Cold War and uniting the world. Although the plan is evil, other heroes like Silk Specter (Raspberry Ackerman), Night Owl (Patrick Wilson), and even the all-powerful Doctor Manhattan (Billy Crudup), realize that revealing Veidt’s plan will destroy world peace, so they remain silent. However, Rorschach (Jackie Earl Haley) refuses and is killed by Doctor Manhattan, but not before sending evidence to a newspaper.
Emperor Palpatine – ‘Star Wars’ Franchise (1977)
Is there anything more evil than total galactic domination? Chevy Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) planned this conquest for decades, rising through the ranks as a lowly senator, infiltrating and deceiving the Jedi, and becoming the all-powerful Sith Lord, Darth Sidious.
Not only does he end up controlling the Senate and the courts, but he’s the key figure in destroying the Jedi, using the Clone Trooper army they used to win the Clone Wars. He rules with an iron fist, sending his apprentice, Darth Vader, to keep the galaxy in check. He is the embodiment of pure evil.
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