Originally Posted by WarBlade
I'm not sure what you mean. I said a few MORE than 30.
3. General Zod (Superman I, II)
Played by: Terence Stamp
Kneel before Zod! Another one of cinema’s classic villains. Stamp revolutionized the role of movie comic book villain by playing Zod completely straight and as a serious and deadly threat, after decades of the villain just being there to chew scenery and ham it up as much as possible as comic relief. (like Hackman’s Luthor opposite him in the same movies, or all the 1966 Batman villains.) There’s a little bit of camp and humor from the aliens with all the “Planet Houston” stuff, but for the most part, Zod means business. The battle scenes between Zod’s crew and Superman look dated now, but they were was amazing back in the day. Superman I is a great movie, mostly because of the origin story. While Hackman’s Luthor was funny and entertaining, the movie lacked the presence of a true, threatening villain. Superman II (while it has its own flaws – stange editing because of the whole Richard Donner firing business) fulfills that void by introducing Zod as a serious threat. He’s every bit Superman’s equal in the power department, except he has two other Kryptonians to do his bidding. He’s completely soulless and intimidating….oh, and did I mention that he actually succeeds in taking over the world for a little while? “Kneel Before Zod” has become a classic line in American pop culture. Zod in the comics before 1980 pretty much had the same story as the movie one, but the movie fleshed out the character and his origins a little bit more. Since then, his movie origins have been canonized into the comics, and most portrayals of the character take from Stamp’s. This portrayal made General Zod the only Superman villain the average person could name other than Luthor, and helped seal his status as one of Superman’s foremost enemies.
2. The Joker (The Dark Knight, 2008)
Played by: Heath Ledger
What can I say about this role that you haven’t already read 1000 times in the last week? It’s perfect. The (lack of) origin, the terror, the fact that he does so many awesome things, the fact that he can be absolutely hilarious and yet absolutely terrifying in a realistic way the next moment. Having him recount his origins, falsely, was a stroke of genius. For all his awesome antics, hilarious lines, horrifyingly realistic scenes, I think the best part of the character is his speeches about his world view. You’re horrified by what he says and thinks, but at the same time mesmerized, and you can’t help but to see his point in certain ways. My favorite two scenes in the film are the ones where he talks to Batman in the interrogation room and when he talks to Two-Face in the hospital. In the first scene, Batman starts out by attacking him, but then he stops and starts to become slowly seduced by all the interesting things the Joker is saying, about how they’re two peas in a pod and different from the rest of the world….before he comes to his senses and continues to beat the Joker up. You can tell that he beats him extra hard, because he agreed with what he said to a certain degree, and he’s trying to disassociate himself from that. Absolutely brilliant moment. And then in the Dent scene, you start to believe him about the whole “I’m just a dog chasing cars who does stuff randomly, everyone else is a schemer…” (and Dent certainly does.) Only after the movie is over did I realize…hey, wait a minute, the Joker came up with several very elaborate schemes and plans! And then I thought to myself…was he just lying to Dent, or is he so insane that he actually doesn’t realize (or thinks himself immune to the fact) that he makes more elaborate plans than the people he’s accusing? Wonderful dialogue, fantastic script, fantastic performance that gets better the more I think about it.
So, why not number 1?
Well, it easily could have been. In most early drafts of this list, I had it as number one. But the truth is….while this portrayal went above and beyond all expectations… it’s not that hard to create a great Joker.
He’s a very interesting character, one of the greatest villains of all time…but while what he says is deep, he himself is not that deep of a character. You don’t need to explain anything that he does, the whole point of the character is that he does whatever he wants, randomly, all the time, so the screenwriters can have him do anything they want without any explanation. You don’t need him to show emotions, because he doesn’t have any true emotions, and you don’t need to show other sides of his character. Look at it this way: EVERY SINGLE major adaptation of the character (Romero, Nicholson, Hamill in animation, Ledger) has been WIDELY praised and considered fantastic. Hell, there are a lot of fan made movies who are widely praised for creating great Jokers. And yet, all of them are completely different, do different things, have different motivations. I’ve read that actors consider it very easy to play a sociopath, and showing emotions and feelings is what is truly difficult. That’s why my number one villain is number one, despite being in films that aren't nearly as good as Dark Knight.
1. Magneto (X-Men 1-III)
Played by: Ian McKellen
Magneto is one of the most complicated villains in all of comics (and I don’t mean because of all the reconning and all the clone/alternate timeline/alternate dimension crap that the X-comics tend to get involved in.) A tragic character with plausible motivations and origins, awe-inspiring powers, the capacity to commit horrible deeds yet retain several heroic qualities. Charles Xavier’s greatest enemy, and yet his best friend and the only one who understands him. Partially based on Malcolm X, a spokesman for a huge fragment of mutant kind, tactical genius, one of the most feared and respected men in the Marvel universe, and in most people’s opinion one of the greatest comic book characters of all time. Adapting him into movie form would truly be a daunting task, but Ian McKellen and Brian Singer were up for it, and did it with flying colors. Magneto and Professor X are easily the greatest parts of the two films, and the two characters done the most justice. Their relationship is portrayed wonderfully, such as when they play chess together – you can really see that these two are best friends at heart despite all the fighting and killing stuff. Magneto’s relationship as a sometime ally, sometime villain is on display to perfection in the films, and McKellen’s performance is fantastic and elevates the other actors on the screen. His relationship with the other characters is fantastic too – his snide dismissal of Logan as an animal as he toys with Logan’s metal body, his somewhat flirtatious respect for Mystique, his temptation of Pyro to the dark side. Other than the dumb moment where he abandons Mystique, Magneto is one of the few characters who even comes off very well in the mostly terrible X-Men 3. In fact, X3 actually adds to the depth of the character, by showing the great flashback where he partners with Charles, showing him being absolutely agonized while he watches Charles die, and then when he snaps at Pyro for speaking ill of him. He also continues to show off his incredible power when he moves the Golden Gate bridge. (Other than Magneto and Beast, I still hate that freaking movie) Of course, the only major difference between this Magneto and the comics one is that this Magneto is a senior citizen – but that makes sense, because he needed to be a Holocaust survivor, and the reason he’s not an old man in the comics despite being a survivor is because of some nonsensical early storyline in which he turned into a baby and then re-aged to be 30 something (seriously.) I’m not sure if I like the idea of his own spinoff movie, but the first three X-movies should be commended for taking such a drastic and hard to adapt character, and portraying him wonderfully on screen. They had the biggest challenge of any character adaptation, and they were up to it. Magneto has so many different layers, and is such a hard villain to pull off, and that’s why I put him above Ledger’s Joker. X-Men 3 sucks, and the first two movies can’t hold a candle to Dark Knight, but I still think this is the best villain portrayal of all time because it stayed faithful to a classic, complicated character over the course of three different films.