Fav bad guys in popular media


#1

I’m doing some game-related “research” on the subject of supervillains and bad guys in games but also other popular media: which ones do you like best or find most interesting and for what reasons?

Some of my favs:

  • Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII). They gave him an interesting (and extremely long, I remember one story-sequence mid-game (after Midgar in Kalm) going on for close to an hour without much gameplay) backstory connecting him to the main hero and a great introduction and music in the original game.
  • Thrawn (Star Wars books and comics). I always found the idea that he often beats his enemies by relating their culture to expected priorities and dominant tactical responses interesting and kinda fitting for an antagonist to the universalist Jedi in the Star Wars setting. That he was the only non-human in a high Empire position made him even more interesting and menacing without him even doing anything.
  • The Joker (DC universe). I know many people like the comics and animations better - I don’t know the comics, but like most of the animations and like the portrayal of him in the Dark Knight series and the most recent movie.
  • Since @White_Noise mentioned it in another thread, I have to add that I also really liked the antagonist in the Portal games. That was extremely well done.

#2

Wintermute (Neuromancer) and Project 2501 (Ghost in the Shell, original animated movie): neither strictly speaking are “villains” but rather antagonists that are “machines” that seem to understand humans very well and are able to manipulate them to get what they want. That’s an oversimplification, of course.

In a similar vein I’ve always found the Borg a fascinating villains as well (also very much loving what they’ve done with the Borg in the Picard series but that is a side note).

Any villain that helps us question what it is to be human in an interesting and entertaining way is <3


#3

Kefka from FFVi (or 3) is the best villain ever.


#4

I have to agree that the Joker is definitely one of my favorites. Any villain who knows to fear the IRS is a villain I can get on board with.

I’d also say Darth Vader is pretty good. He’s been around 40 years and can still be plenty menacing (the end of Rogue One manages to put him in a new, even more terrifying light to start off Episode 4). And, more than most villains, I think he really makes you question yourself what with the surprise reveal of him being Luke’s father and all.

I’m also a big fan of Professor Fate from The Great Race. He’s an over the top turn of the century snakeoil salesman and showman with a little bit of Wiley Coyote thrown in. Just an old-hollywood real-life cartoon villain.


#5

Lex Luthor because he actually becomes president.

Darkseid cause he is supes equal.

Agent Smith because hugo weaving is a better actor.

Ganondorf in legend of zelda.


#6

I just want to throw in my favorite Joker is Jack Nicholson no disrespect to Heath Ledger because god damn…but Nicholson and Keaton on the screen together…and honestly who at the time knew? Keaton was kinda goofy comedian who started doing drama.

For me that was an early hit for super hero movies that were able to maintain a bit of the goofiness that is some times inherent in a comic book and add some real life grit. I still feel like that now old Batman movie stands up against the Dark Knight on its own merits and not just nostalgia.


#7

Thanos cause he was a bad guy trying to save the universe even though what he was doing was fucked up.

He matched the hulk…and beat thor.
But If it was after wandavision thanos would have been totally pwned by wanda.


#8

Thanks for all the bad guys!
Def agree with a lot of choices hehe!

Cybernetic or AI villains like the Borg, the Reapers in the Mass Effect universe or Omnius (IIRC) in the Dune universe or Deadalus-Icarus-Helios in the original Deus Ex are also always interesting.

Vader was def impressive. Trying to rescue people from the dark side or people suddenly switching sides is also an interesting kinda recurring theme in the SW universe, I remember in the Kotor Games…

Spoilers

…you turned out to be a bad guy, but like before you lost your memory IIRC and in the second one of your companions turned out to be the bad girl. And of course some similar things happening in the latest movies (I liked that Palpatine-Skywalker stuff).

Kefka was great, too. Kinda similar to the Joker in a few aspects, but very limited backstory.

Gonna check out Wintermute!

@bfk completely agree about Thanos! But can you say what you like about Darkseid, Agent Smith and Ganondorf? Is it just that they were very powerful or was there something more or else to them?


#9

Is Omnius in the original six Frank Herbert books? I’ve read them all but it was ages ago and in particular I don’t remember the last two as well. I know the butlerian jihad is brought up a few times but I don’t remember a thinking machine villain.


#10

Agent smith was the matrix antithesis to cancel out neo…also hugo weaving was like drama…and Keanu was like sup bra…a combo of johnny Utah and bill from bill and ted…

It’s like agent smith was infected by neo and matrix molded/upgraded smith who got infected with neos code. Like neo is the reset button…and smith is to keep neo in check so that neo doesnt take over and help humans defeat the machines.

Ganondorf…embodiment of the triforce of power binary bad guy destined to be in constant struggle with the hero of time link and links reincarnation who is also the embodiment of the triforce of courage. He is fun to play as in super smash brothers.

Darkseid his ultimate goal is obtain the anti life equation…also smarter than lex luthor… other than doomsday who is just a neandrathal killing brute machine darkseid can match superman in strength…also omega beams that follow the target.

With Luthor and supes there is also a level male to male competition in other terms he tries to cockfight with superman.


#11

Yeah, I think Omnius is exclusively from the prequels written by other authors, the “Butlerian Jihad” trilogy specifically. It’s very different from the original Dune series, but gave it a lot of interesting additional background imho. There are some other machine-type villains in there that were interesting, including the titans and an AI “scientist” thingy…


#12

I dunno, I didn’t really think much of Ganondorf when playing Zelda or Darkseid when watching the DC animations. For me, they both felt empty and lifeless for the lack of a really interesting backstory, more like an abstract force than a living antagonist. I mostly like DC villains better than those in the Marvel universe, but Thanos was a much more interesting villain than Darkseid imho, because there was some backstory that made him a bit human and some motivation for what he was doing.

Of course, that’s just my view or current preference - more abstract enemies def can be fun, too. I always loved how they introduced the shadows in Babylon 5, for instance. There was some backstory, but the shadows were basically portrayed as just some abstract force of chaos. However, they had a great spider-like design and I loved it when you saw some shadow ships on some monitor and some crew member slowly whispering in awe “…the shadows…”


#13

Totally just rewatched most of Babylon 5. Love that show.


#14

Darkseid isnt that abstract…even though his goal is to eliminate free will and reshape it into his own image…he has a son Orion who was raised by the rival new gods…orion actively fights against his father because darkseid is evil…

But darkseid to me is like any historical conqueror like attila the hun, Alexander the great, julius caesar, etc…


#15

Have been doing some more research into DC villains by watching the old Batman movies and some more animations. That Joker def was an interesting take on the character, too. And I have to say, the animated version of Bane in the Harley Quinn series was funny with “The Pit talent show” and similar stuff:

And I really enjoyed these singing henchmen: