Movie villains are a touchy subject. Some people root for them, and some people root against them. It’s easy for most morons to come to an agreement about the greatest movie villains of all time. Darth Vader, the Nazis in pretty much everything (though I rooted FOR them in “The Sound of Music”), the Alien, the Predator, Khan, Keyser Soze, everyone from England – I could go on and on. What we’re more interested in is the most underrated villains of all time. The guys who flew under the radar. The guys who will make you say, “Oh right!” when you read this list and realize you’d forgotten about these awesome performances.
#5 – Max Von Sydow as Ming the Merciless (Flash Gordon – 1980)
For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, please wander into traffic. Ming the Merciless is just that – merciless. In the OPENING CREDITS he decides to destroy Earth because he’s bored. BORED. Never mind that he’s an emperor on his home world of Mongo (they like candy) with riches, servants, slaves, a mad posse, and a fleet of concubines. All of that wealth, power, and sex isn’t enough for Ming. When Ming gets bored, he destroys planets. #baller
#4 – Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes (Misery – 1990)
You might argue that Annie Wilkes isn’t underrated. You’d also be wrong. Broads who play villains don’t get the due they sometimes deserve unless, of course, they play a witch. Even then it’s usually relegated to “The Wizard of Oz” or all those broads in “Sex and the City”. You can’t honestly say that you have thought about this woman once since you saw “Misery”. Annie was a classic psychopath and, quite frankly, even worse in the book. Remember that scene where she takes a sledgehammer and hobbles James Caan? Yeah? In the book she cuts his feet off. What a bitch.
#3 – Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor (The Superman films)
“You’ve never heard of Lex Luthor? The greatest criminal mind of our time?” Hackman’s performance as Lex is awesome. He’s easy to forget as a movie villain because you like him so much. In the original Superman he decides he want to own a bunch of beachfront property so he buys up most of the California desert. Then he steals missiles from the military and shoots them into the San Andreas fault, trying to collapse the coastline of California and make his desert the new beach. What a dick! In the sequel he gives up Superman and, basically, the world just so he can have Australia. Lex loves his real estate and will stop at nothing to get it. Let’s not forget that it was Lex who figured out that kryptonite would kill Superman. Oh, and anyone who repeatedly goes toe to toe with Superman just for the hell of it has balls of solid brass.
#2 – Julius J. Carry III as Sho’ Nuff (The Last Dragon – 1985)
This dude. This dude right here. His name is Sho’ Nuff for crying out loud. He wanders the streets of mid-80’s Harlem in a ridiculous Shogun costume, disrupts every building he enters (pizza joint, movie theater, etc.), and all the while he’s looking to beat the hell out of a teenage boy. Apparently lil’ Leroy is the only thing keeping Sho’ Nuff from the ultimate ranks of martial artistry, called “The Glow”. No one could be this ridiculous without being a total evil badass.
#1 – Richard Dawson as Damon Killian (The Running Man – 1987)
Damon Killian is a prick, hands down. Richard Dawson was kind of a prick anyway, so playing Killian probably wasn’t much of a stretch. When he first appears in the film he gets bumped into by an elderly janitor and tells his assistant to fire him. He runs the network with ruthless efficiency and will do anything for ratings, including frame an innocent man for the murder of hundreds of unarmed civilians. The best part? He does it all on live television. Damon Killian doesn’t care about your rules.
There you have it. Think we’re wrong? Doubtful, but if for some reason you want to see if you can do better by all means, give it a shot. We’ll be waiting.