Villains are the movie characters we love to hate, but they wouldn’t be very good at their job if they were easy to catch. The best movie villains are also charismatic, strangely likeable and highly skilled negotiators.
They may always lose out in the end but the most captivating villains manage to put on an awesome show beforehand. Here’s a look at eight movie villains who showed the best negotiation skills and almost talked their way out of their demise.
1. The Joker, Batman
Whilst Jack Nicholson’s Joker was for a long time the only Joker worth talking about, Heath Ledger’s portrayal in The Dark Knight brought us a villain to really sink our teeth into. The demonic character has tormented Batman his whole life, giving him a major edge over the superhero.
The Joker in The Dark Knight commented that he could never kill Batman because he would have nothing left to do. And that of course goes both ways – he knows that Batman can never kill him either. The Joker manages to turn people to his dark side and his intelligence is what attracts people to the character.
2. Jareth, The Goblin King in Labyrinth
Anyone who grew up during the eighties will remember David Bowie as the Goblin King in Labyrinth. After kidnapping the protagonist’s baby brother, he leads her through a surreal maze which she has to negotiate in order to rescue her brother. Jareth very nearly convinces her to stay with him forever, but in the end she shows her lack of fear and Jareth understands that he has been defeated and lets her take the baby home.
3. Jadis, The White Witch in The Lion
The Witch and The Wardrobe Her negotiation skills do rest hugely upon her providing young Edmund with copious amounts of Turkish Delight but it certainly does the trick for a while. Edmund, enchanted by Jadis and the promise of becoming a Prince (with a never-ending supply of Turkish Delight), even plots to bring her his own sisters and brother. Jadis gets very close but loses out to good old Aslan in the end and her 1000 years of terror come to an end.
4. Hal 900, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Hal 900 is an awesome and unparalleled villain. Representing the fear that technology will one day usurp our own intelligence, Hal is a unique villain. Hal is the spaceship’s computer, who is all-knowing and all-trusting but not expected to possess human characteristics such as anger, fear and jealousy. Hal lulls the astronauts into a false sense of security and it takes them a while to realise that he is in fact a villain. Hal then tries to kill both astronauts but loses out in the end when they manage to disconnect him. Thankfully- humans do win out over technology in the end.
5. Ernst Blofeld, James Bond Films
Ernst is the original evil genius. Many characters that have come later were based on or inspired by him, most notably Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies. Ernst is the head honcho of SPECTRE, a criminal organisation. This genius of a character manages to keep going for six whole Bond films, making him Bond’s longest-serving nemesis. The iconic villain was often filmed from behind, creepily stroking his white cat.
6. Keyser Soze, The Usual Suspects
One of the cleverest villains ever, Keyser Soze manages to cover up his criminal identity by pretending to be the petty criminal Verbal Kint. This was one of Kevin Spacey’s best roles and the length this villain went to stay hidden was incredible. The end of the film does see him walk away but his identity is not known. We can only assume he will, of course, get caught in the end.
7. Hans Gruber, Diehard
As smooth and articulate villains go, this one is up there. It’s the audience he negotiates with as his character is so addictive we almost fall for him ourselves. This is one of Alan Rickman’s most enchanting parts but in the end he loses out to Bruce Willis as cop John McClane in one of Willis’s most unforgettable performances.
8. Dudley Smith, LA Confidential
Some of the best villains are those we don’t discover till the end of the film and this is true of Captain Dudley Smith, played by James Cromwell. No one sees it coming when it’s the cop, which is how this villain manages to get so far.
Traditionally, the villain never wins and the hero always does, but as cinema breaks more and more boundaries we can expect to see many of these smooth-talking villains actually win one day, or at least not lose till the sequel. From The Dark Knight to Hal 900 and Ernst Blofeld, the captivating villain will always be a huge part of movie culture. In fact, these films really wouldn’t be the same without them. What good is a dumb, predictable villain, after all?