Summer is a time for heroes, be they young men stopping the Decepticon takeover or an average guy infused with adamantium claws and wicked sideburns. But everyone knows it's the villains who have the most fun. While heroes weigh the importance of great responsibility and great power and save orphans from burning buildings, villains are blowing up cars and taunting the love interest and eluding the police.
So here's to the top 10 villains of the summer, the guys, corporations and one woman who personified evil, or at least gave the main characters a whole lot of trouble. From smiling Nazis to pretty young girls to multinational corporations, all these villains made their movies what they were, and in some cases, were the best part. Heroism will never go out of style, but these guys can make villainy look pretty darn appealing.
Best in Show
Played by Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds
Quite possibly the villain of the decade, really. Hans Landa is the kind of Nazi who smiles right before he shoots you in the face, who changes allegiances and ideals to suit what's convenient, who gets away with nearly anything-- and has you rooting for him in the process. And Waltz has so much fun in the role, drawing out all the best lines and establishing great rapport with everyone from Brad Pitt to the random French farmer, that he might be the first Nazi in history you'd like to have a drink with. Milk, of course.
Best Supernatural Villain
Played by Lorna Raver in Drag Me to Hell
Pure, ancient rage, Mrs. Ganush is all the scarier because of her single-minded desire for revenge against someone who really didn't do anything all that wrong. No offense to Ms. Raver, but she might be the ugliest character of the summer, from the crooked rotten teeth in her mouth to all the substances that come pouring out of it. And even though she's not alive for most of the film, she's one villain who's even more effective as a villain once she's in her coffin.
Best Corporate Villain
As seen in District 9
There's evil corporate entities, and then there's evil corporate entities that will happily kill someone in order to harvest their hybrid alien-human DNA. Almost literally faceless-- very few MNU agent get enough screen time to be recognizable-- and classically evil, MNU is a traditional sci-fi bureaucracy villain with a new global economy twist. Plus, they're willing to put dweebs like Wikus van der Merwe in positions of power-- who thought that was a good idea?
Best Foul-Mouthed Villain, Teen Category
Played by Daryl Sabara in World's Greatest Dad
All teenagers are snot-nosed monsters, but none are as awful as Kyle, the petulant, foul-mouthed son of Lance Clayton, a dad who will do pretty much anything for his kid. He's not a classic villain, really, but a big malevolent storm cloud who dominates the first half of the film with his incessant porn-surfing and name-calling. And as played by Sabara you might start feeling empathy for him-- which will make you feel even ickier.
Best Foul-Mouthed Villain, Adult Category
Played by Peter Capaldi in In the Loop
Not a villain, you say, but a genius of curse words and the most entertaining part of the film? Then I suggest you tangle through the last 10 minutes of the movie and look into exactly who causes the war in the end. Yes he's brilliant and hilarious and the best part of an already perfect movie, but he's probably second only to Hans Landa for crimes against humanity.
Best Age-Is-Just-A-Number Villain
Voiced by Christopher Plummer in Up
Nothing's harder than losing faith in your childhood heroes, but that goes double for when you're in your 70s and locked in hand-to-hand combat with the man who inspired you and your wife to take to the skies. Muntz is a bit of a cipher in a movie full of richly developed characters, but he earns every old-man-backache gag and shouted command to his army of dogs. And what has ever been more threatening in a Pixar movie than him knocking the skulls off that shelf?
Best All-Grown-Up Villain
Played by Tom Felton in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
He's been relegated to the sidelines for most of the Harry Potter
films, but in Half-Blood Prince
he step into the lead villain spotlight, skulking around Hogwarts with his secret plan and eventually pointing his wand at the most powerful wizard in the world. It helps that Felton is up to the challenge, and provides Draco with equal amounts of the pathos, rage and fear that Rowling always gave Draco in the books.
Best Space Villain
Played by Eric Bana in Star Trek
He's the victim of a crowded script that didn't have time to give the villain enough motivation, but Bana made the most of Nero, injecting a bit of humor ("Hello, Christopher. I'm Nero") and some killer interrogation skills to provide a foe that you at least believe could give the brash young James T. Kirk pause. Extra points to Bana to being virtually unrecognizable under all those facial tattoos, a marquee name willing to cede attention to the unknowns in the lead.
Best Real-Life Villain
As seen in The Cove
Even though it's a documentary, The Cove
is more like a caper movie, in which a team of intrepid divers and animal activists attempt to expose the brutal murder of dolphins happening in a Japanese fishing town. The reasons for the dolphin slaughter are myriad and well-explained in the movie, but it's a simple fact that the Japanese fishing industry tacitly condones the practice for one reason: money. It's a corporate villain so awful it could only be true.
Best Title Character Villain
Played by Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer
The movie goes a lot easier on Summer than many breakup stories, but the girl with the icy blue eyes is most definitely the villain here, putting our hero Tom through all kinds of pain-- if only because he was too self-obsessed to understand her at all. No matter how much empathy you may have for her in the end, she's still a stand-in for everyone who ever broke our hearts.