If you're discussing great movies, a lot depends on the villain.
A hero with no competition is boring. A rivalry with no rival is no fun at all. The bigger the threat, the bigger the triumph.
A fantastic movie can make our lives better, and the fantastic ones often need a superstar villain
So what makes a great villain?
It's not how powerful he/she/it is. For example, the villains in Suicide Squad could destroy the whole world and that movie was still not good.
For a villain to be great, he/she/it needs charisma.
We need to be riveted when the villain is onscreen. We need to be sad when the villain scenes are over.
A great villain, in fact, may actually make you kind of root for him/her/it, even though it's completely wrong to do so.
Villains also have be extremely good at their craft. It should always appear that, this time, the hero won't be able to pull this one out.
Last, a great villain should make the movie completely re-watchable. If you were changing the channel and this villain's scene was on, you would definitely stop everything you're doing and watch that scene.
So here are the categories: 1) Charisma; 2) Powerfulness (not necessarily beat-you-up powerfulness); 3) Watchability. Each villain will be given a score of 1-10 in each category and totals will be given at the end.
That being said, here are the greatest villains of all time:
(Netflix shows are included. How could they not be?)
But first, here are the almost-winners.
Anton Chigurh, No Country For Old Men. This might be the scariest villain of all time. But he didn't make the list due to charisma. He's so scary and so evil that I don't really want to watch his scenes again. If No Country was on and I saw Anton, I would probably turn off the TV and go cry in a closet. For that reason, he doesn't make the cut.
Agent Smith, The Matrix. The words, "Mr. Anderson!" will probably be burned in my head for the rest of my life. He had charisma, was basically unbeatable, and is completely re-watchable. He deserves to be on the list. What about the sequels, though? That's the tough part. Agent Smith became more tedious as the Matrix sequels got worse and worse. That's the only reason he missed the list.
The Top Three List:
3 tie. Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs. "What does he do, this man you seek?" He scares the crap out of me! But he also makes me want to stay and hear more. You can't get more charismatic than that.
Powerfulness: 6 Yes, he was extremely intelligent and he killed Miggs with only his words. But he was in prison. To be in prison, you have to be caught. If he was caught, then how powerful is he? I know he got out, but I still feel like people could catch him again.
Watchability: 10 (Love your suit.)
3 tie. Hans Gruber, Die Hard. Lest we forget, Bruce Willis wasn't an action star before Die Hard. He was David Addison. Die Hard changed all that forever. Why was Die Hard so good? Yes, there was plenty of action. But really, the reason for Die Hard's eternal greatness was Hans Gruber.
Charisma: 10 (If you don't believe me, then you won't be joining us for the rest of your life.)
Powerfulness: 6 He was super smart, but no fighting skills or long term plans. And he was foiled by a barefoot cop.
Watchability: 10 (I'm going to count to three...)
2. Moriarty, Sherlock (TV series). Sir Arthur's Conan Doyle's Moriarty was always intimidating. Anyone who masterminds a world-wide criminal network is a worthy foe. But when we finally got to meet Andrew Scott's Moriarty? Holy crapoly.
Charisma: 10 (there were a lot of layers to this Moriarty, and then makes him so intriguing. He's weak but not really. He's silly but not really. He'll let you live, but not really. It's magnificent).
Powerfulness: 9 (there was the feeling that you're only alive because Moriarty wanted it that way. He could take you out at any time and there's nowhere you could run. He will burn you. He will burn the heart out of you. No one could ever beat him--except maybe Sherlock).
Watchability: 8.5 (his early-season Sherlock scenes are clearly an easy 10, but the way the show used him in the most recent season took a little bloom off the rose; thus the 9.5 rating)
1. The Joker, The Dark Knight. The Joker has been around for years, and there's a reason the character was immensely popular, even when the Joker was a cartoon. But then Heath Ledger walked into our lives, and showed us a magic trick.
Charisma: 10 (he looks crazy but talks like a genius; and he has a different origin story each time, which only adds to the mystique).
Powerfulness: 8 (he's a criminal mastermind, no doubt about it; but his opening plan in the movie's first scene, while awesome, is probably overly complicated; points off for that)
Watchability: 10 (everything he does is must-see TV; you're sad when he's gone and he steals every scene; he makes The Dark Knight a classic)
My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.