Villains have come in all shapes and sizes over the past century, displaying the very best of bad. They have permeated the very best of the films that have astonished and amazed us over the past fifteen years and are sometimes only matched by their depth and complexity. These offered the actors to display great performances along with it, a few have even earned a couple of Oscars as an award for their villainy. Here are some of the very best villains to come out of the 21st Century.
20. Koba (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)
Having served as the anti-hero in 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Koba transformed into a ruthless and vengeful antagonist for the 2014 sequel. The ape endured tortuous experimentation at the hands of humans that generated a deep rooted loathing for them, and left him sadistic, violent and aggressive.
While the protagonist of the series, Caesar, is willing to forgive the humans despite his own pain at their hands, Koba only wishes to exact revenge out of hatred, this places him as the perfect counterpart and a ruthless flip side to the ape society.
19. Commodus (Gladiator)
Some villains are simply so vile and disgusting that you support the hero simply because they are against them.
The fact that in Gladiator Maximus is already a compelling character on his own only makes Commodus’ actions against him more repulsive for the audience. His corrupt, devious and abusive nature are shown in every one of his schemes as he murders dozens in cold blood, including his own father, and the way that he flaunts his wealth and power make him so much more reviling.
18. Bill (Kill Bill)
Not the only appearance of a Tarantino villain on this list, few enemies have ever been as implied to and advertised throughout their movie as Bill in the bloody, two part revenge epic.
As Uma Thurman’s Bride powers through opponent after adversary on her quest, Bill manifests in the minds of viewers, building suspense and gaining infamy over a final showdown and explanation for his horrific actions. When the Bride finally gets there, he states that he ‘overreacted’. That says it all about his villainy.
17. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)
Whether Patrick Bateman is actually as villainous as some may think depends upon how literally you take the story of American Psycho. Bateman is either a man who escapes his bland lifestyle by fantasising over brutally murdering people, or he is a man who literally brutally murders people.
The acts of violence are obviously horrifying, but what’s worse is that Bateman fits into his suave, stockbroker lifestyle so perfectly that one can imagine him continuing his disturbing actions (or visions) forever, an unspeakable evil hidden behind the perfect mask.
16. Vincent (Collateral)
Tom Cruise is not known for portraying villains, rather a confident and cocksure hero that is given a touch of modesty by the end.
But he is great as the ruthless hitman of Michael Mann’s thriller, exuding an alien quality that distances him from the rest of the world, making him seem more like an efficient machine than mere flesh and blood. The intensity and focused nature of the performance generates a menacing quality that few antagonists have matched.
15. Captain Vidal (Pan’s Labyrinth)
Of all the dark fantasy creatures on display in Guillermo Del Toro’s supernatural drama, the most horrific monster of them all is the sadistic and vile Captain Vidal
The nature in which he treats captured prisoners, his underlings and even his wife and step daughter is gut wrenchingly evil, and his grotesque brutality is only shadowed by his fascist beliefs and utter belief in the regime he serves, as well as his own importance in the system. Vidal acts as a genuine and constant threat throughout the movie and it becomes completely impossible to empathise with such a vile man.
14. Woo Jin Lee (Oldboy)
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of a truly haunting villain is their ability to disgust you. Not just with their sensibilities and twisted morals, but when all else fails their ability to induce literal revulsion on a primal level can cause you to instantly wish for them to be stamped out of existence.
Woo Jin Lee perfectly exemplifies this revulsion through his acts of evil, I won’t divulge any of them at the risk of spoiling this Korean film’s final twist. But those who have seen it will fully understand why its main antagonist is on this list.
13. Voldemort (Harry Potter Franchise)
To put it in simple terms, Lord Voldemort is a manifestation of pure evil. Fuelled by an inherent hatred and prejudice for all non-magical beings, his goal is one of segregation and subjugation and what makes it all the more compelling is how he acts as a flip side to Harry Potter himself, both sharing a similar upbringing, unaware of their true identity for most of their childhood.
Not only is his physical presence intimidating and unnerving, but his malicious and merciless behaviour makes him truly terrifying.
12. Loki (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
There have been many great comic book villains on the big screen over the 21st Century like Spider-Man 2’s Doc Ock or the X-Men’s Magneto, but perhaps the best has to be the god of mischief himself.
The fact that he grows up in others’ greatness makes Loki somewhat sympathetic, and his charisma turns him into an immensely likable bad guy, but Marvel rarely make a misstep in reminding us of his malevolence as he kills long time characters nonchalantly, gloats in the hero’s defeat and repeatedly rejects the chance of redemption, betrays and deceives everyone he can on the way.
11. Alonzo Harris (Training Day)
Denzel Washington rarely plays a straight up bad guy, maybe an anti-hero or a morally torn crusader, but rarely a complete villain. However his turn as a corrupt narcotics officer is one of cinema’s most reviled.
He lures you, and rookie Ethan Hawke, in as a cop that merely bends the rules when necessary, but both soon realise that he is consolidating his power to manipulate each side of the law simultaneously. His cool conduct at the start is only equaled by his sheer brutality as he sets up drug deals, forges police raids, covers up murders and tries to keep all the assets for himself.