Memorable Villains

For the past few weeks we have been re-watching The Legend of Kora. If you are not familiar with it, it is the follow up to Avatar: The Last Airbender.  In Book 1 one of the series (each season is called a Book), the main villain is Amon.

During the original airing, when you had to wait a week for each episode you thought, how will this turn out. Watching it a second time, you are still gripped by what is happening even though you know the ending. 

My son Gabe was still nervous watching the show a 2nd time, because how much it gripped him. He asked why are the good villains in movies only. This started me to think about what other villains were memorable and kept you gripped during a book, TV show, or a movie.

I think this is a hard question because everyone will have a list of who is the best villain. Just do a Google search and you can see how many lists come up. There are famous villains and memorable. Famous villains are ones that everyone knows. Memorable ones are those who remain strong and live up to their names.

When I started writing this I was trying to think of villains that start strong and remain strong till the end. There are some that I thought, they are great, but then realized they had faults. One example is the Borg in Star Trek. Great the first two times they appeared, then they lost their edge.

Here are some selected villains that I feel are memorable and try to explain why I feel they are memorable. 

1) Amon (The Legend of Kora): I am starting with Amon, since he was the reason for this post. When you watch the series, Amon is not out in front, he is slowly brought in. As he is brought into the story, you start to see the danger he poses to Republic City and the benders. Each episode adds a layer to him, until the final few episodes when you wonder how will he be stopped. His character never becomes weak or water downed, he is strong until the end. One other item I liked he is given a chance to do something Avatar Korra early on, but he does not. Granted you can't kill the hero, but it is written in a way that feels natural, and builds more upon his grand scheme.

2) Hans Gruber (Die Hard): There times when a villain does not have to extend over different stories, you can have a strong villain in a self contained story. Hans Grueber is one of the best for a one off villain. I will say that Alan Rickman's performance is most of the reason why. Here you have a villain with plan, then it starts to go wrong due to an unforeseen element. He never looses control. and is willing to take matters into his own hands. The scene with him and Takagi shows him being straight forward on what he wants and willing to get his hands bloodied. 

3) Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs): This is an example of Villain who is great, but I feel is watered down over time. I tried to avoid choosing someone like this, but you can just watch Silence to see how great his is. Without a doubt, Silence of the Lambs sets up Lecter as the perfect brilliant villain, who has his own goal. He is able to use others to achieve what he wants, without them knowing it. I had read the book, and thought it was good, the movie adds upon this with Anthony Hopkins acting skills, which is why he deserved the Oscar for it. The only other book/film in the series I thought was decent was Red Dragon. Currently if you say Hannibal Lecter, it is Silence that you remember.

4) Grand Admiral Thrwan (Heir to the Empire; Dark Force Rising; The Last Command): A lot of people might say who. Unless you are into Star Wars, it won't know who he is. If you say, was he in the movies, the answer is no. Back in 1991 when Bantam decided to release new stories set nine years after the last movie, a villain was needed. Thrawn was the villain. He was a brilliant tactician who was trying to restore the Empire. During the course of the Thrawn Trilogy he was one step ahead of the heroes. Timothy Zhan who wrote the books, had created a strong enemy who knew when to cut out when there was no victory. How The Last Command ended I thought at the time was a cop-out. When looking back, in a way it was the only logical way to defeat this master mind.

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