A hero, as they say, is only as good as their villain. It sounds pretty good, in theory. Shame it’s bullshit. While a hero can rarely eclipse their villain, the level of quality between protagonist and nemesis doesn’t always find a peaceful balance – there are plenty of instances where the villain outshines and outright upstages the guy we’re supposed to be rooting for. Except in fantasy, of course. Then it fucking never happens. Realtalk, this was originally supposed to be a Top 10 list – until I realized that I couldn’t even get ten characters on this list without compromising the integrity of either the genre, or the quality of the characters I included. So I whittled it down, trimmed the fat, and I now present to you my Top 5 Villains in Fantasy. From: The Underworld franchise Portrayed by: Bill Nighy “UNDERWORLD WASN’T FANTASY, THIS LIST ALREADY SUCKS.” Firstly; don’t be rude. Secondly; the first, second, and fourth movies weren’t fantasy – but Underworld 3, the only film in which Viktor was the main villain, was set deep enough into the past that I consider it fantasy. They wore armor, they used swords, they lived in castles, they abused peasants, yadda yadda yadda. I don’t consider this one to be reaching at all. Anyway, while Viktor wasn’t entirely flawless as a character he was definitely an entertaining villain. Domineering yet cultured, don’t let his seeming inability to properly drink from a cup fool you – if you were on his good side, he seemed like a pretty cool dude. In the third film he showed a surprising amount of tenderness, willingness to compromise, even love… but his kindness had limits. But let’s all be completely honest here. While I enjoyed Viktor’s nuanced personality and how seemingly amiable he was able to be, the thing that puts him on this list is his presence-uh. When he comes on-screen it’s not entirely obvious that you aren’t actually looking at a millennium-old vampyre elder. The way he walks and moves, his voice, the way he inexplicably adds “-uh” to certain words for dramatic effect, it’s just an outright stupendous performance. His eyes are cold as Hell and filled with pure, superior, malice. No matter who else was present, Viktor was at the center of any room he was in. Some Villainous Shit He Said: “I should have crushed you under my heel the day you were born.” “Your incompetence is becoming most… taxing.” “You are a credit to your race. Do you know how to remain so? Keep your eyes on the ground.” From: Dungeons and Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness Portrayed by: Barry Aird I’m well aware of the fact that all of the Dungeons and Dragon movies sucked. I should be the authority on it, as I’ve reviewed all goddamn three of them, and the cartoon to boot. But just because I’m vocally… not a fan, of the films, doesn’t mean I’m not willing to acknowledge when they get something right. Now, none of the three movies had an even halfway-decent main villain, but the third film, Book of Vile Darkness, had several side villains to choose from. While most of them were laughable and one-dimensional, and one was super-hot, there was another who was by far the most sinister presence in any D&D flick – Bezz, the Vermin Lord. Transcending “best villain” in the franchise, Bezz is outright the best character. He has all the best lines (even if some of them don’t… ahem, belong to him), does all the coolest stuff, gives the best performance, and is just by far the most enjoyable. He also has some interesting, if possibly inaccurate, advice on catching raccoons, so add “helpful” to his list of accomplishments. I have a weakness for villains who are evil for evil’s sake, and Bezz is exactly that. He’s not motivated by greed, anger, revenge, or anything like that. He serves no master. And he wasn’t even “raised that way” – by game mechanic standards, he couldn’t even be a Vermin Lord unless he started out as a druid, even the worst of which are noble woodland protectors. Bezz is just evil. He’s wise, corrosive, even sassy from time to time, and every one of his actions seems to be entirely driven by a deeply-ingrained desire to make everyone around him suffer. He’s bad to the bone, and can spit up bugs to boot. Some Villainous Shit He Said: “Terror… is the most valuable weapon. Is it in your heart, to be terrible?” “Sometimes it is better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you are a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.” (This one is actually plagiarized, but at least he has good taste in quotes!) Akordia: “Are you mocking me?” Bezz: “Yes.” From: Legend Portrayed by: Tim Curry Next to Willow and Labyrinth, Legend may have been one of the very first fantasy movies I ever saw. Starring a very young Tom Cruise, this foray into a dark fairy fantasy was a damn impressive accomplishment for its time. It had terrific sets, a simple but vibrant story, some fun characters, and most importantly, one of the best villains to ever grace the screen. The Lord of Darkness was an enormous, hooved, horned, greatsword-wielding titan that suspiciously resembled Satan in both name and appearance, and holy shit was he a big pile of fun. Tim Curry brought as much ham as he could muster for this role, and by the time he was done, all that beautiful scenery had been chomped into rubble by his performance. Now, while he was evil (quite evil, actually), this character barely even comes off that way. Given his appearance, that’s a hell of an accomplishment. Charming and even funny at times, Darkness doesn’t even so much act amiable as he just… is. His rumbling voice, theatric arm-flailing, and overall bizarre demeanor is the perfect balance of world-ending evil and lovable camp… not that all of his charm can’t come tumbling down when he gets serious. A being of apocalyptic power that you wouldn’t mind giving a hug if he asked for it. Some Villainous Shit He Said: “Oh, Mother Night! Fold your dark arms about me. Protect me in your black embrace. I sit alone, an impotent exile, whilst this form, this presence, returns to torment me!” “We are all animals, m’lady.” “I require the solace of the shadows and the dark of the night. Sunshine is my destroyer.” (I am having an extremely hard time restricting this to just three quotes. Seriously, there are dozens of great ones.) From: The Hobbit trilogy Portrayed by: Manu Bennett We all knew a Lord of the Rings character was going to pop up somewhere, here, what with the Middle-Earth films being some of the best and most beloved fantasy movies ever made (I say this completely objectively, too). There was an issue with these films, though, in that the majority of their villains were nebulous, non-active, mere puppets, or just not all that scary. Then, in the (however flawed) follow-up trilogy of Hobbit movies, they broke the mould with Azog the Defiler, also known as The Pale Orc. This guy is an absolute beast and by far my favorite of the Middle-Earth villains. He’s not content to simply stand by and wait, isn’t content to serve without question. He doesn’t suffer an idiot to live but nor is he unnecessarily cruel to his underlings. He’s powerful, he’s commanding, he’s brutal, and he has some damn good posture for an orc. It’s actually been theorized that he’s some form of genetic throwback to his elven roots, which makes him even more fascinating and kick-ass. There’s also something else I need to mention about him, but it requires spoilers. If you’ve not seen Battle of the Five Armies and plan to, skip ahead to the next image. Spoilers in 3… 2… 1… He fucking kills everyone. There’s nothing incompetent about this guy – between being an organized and efficient leader, a tactical planner, and an all-out up-front badass, Azog kills multiple main characters, including Thorin. Yeah, that’s right: all of his villain-talk about killing so-and-so and destroying such-and-such, none of it is just empty talk the way it’s been with so many villains before him. He says he’s gonna butcher the dwarf king, he does butcher the dwarf king. Kills the fuck out of his cousins too. Also worth noting is that standard orcish troops under his leadership and organization were able to take a brutal fight to an army of both elves and dwarves, and didn’t seem to be coming out on the losing end of things. The Pale Orc was smart, tough, had an incredibly commanding presence, and did not make empty threats. Some Villainous Shit He Said “Do you smell it? The scent of fear? I remember your father reeked of it, Thorin son of Thrain.” “Drink their blood!” “No. The Beast stands guard. We will kill them on the road.” From: Legend of the Seeker Portrayed by: Craig Parker Legend of the Seeker seems to be a show that people either love or hate. It depends largely on how associated they were with the books the show was based on, and obviously, to each their own. That said, I loved the show, and it’s my list so nyeeeehhh, I can add its main villain if I want! And nobody can stop me! Except the editors I guess, but we all know they’re too chicken to remove the entire final entry in a Top 5 list out of personal preference. Anyway – Lord Darken Rahl is the kind of awesome villain that makes you want to be a villain. He’s got cool clothes, court wizards, a castle, and a small army of leather-clad lesbians. Clearly this guy’s got his shit together. While he became a more secondary threat during the (sadly short-lived) show’s second season, he was utterly implacable in the first. Both a badass with a sword and a prodigy with sorcery, Rahl rarely ever had to even enter combat if he didn’t want to – he used his mind, always staying several steps ahead of the Seeker’s little fellowship. His demeanor was cold as ice, but with brief instances of impulse or sensitivity to make you wonder just what made this man the way he is now. And while his past is hinted at, the decadent Lord Rahl always remained a bit of a mystery in the long run. A puzzle that was too cool to ever truly unveil. He was a great villain of a great show, and to my taste, he definitely deserves this spot as the greatest fantasy villain ever… not that the competition is all that stiff. Some Villainous Shit He Said: [After revealing that he murdered her infant son long ago] “Oh, Cara… does that make you sad?” “I’d like to see how this little fairy tale ends.” “Haven’t fear for your daughter, my highness. She’ll grow up around the finest jewels – as a slave in the mines of Apinasea.” So that’s my Top 5 Fantasy Villains! Think there’s someone I missed on this list? I bet you do! But I’ve already finished writing it! So too damn bad! Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related 2 Responses Shawn EH January 20, 2015 I should get Legend. At the time it was a bad Ridley Scott. But in retrospect, it probably qualifies as one of the good ones at this point. Log in to Reply Alex Wolfe January 24, 2015 You really should! It was a bit on the quirky side but I really loved it, in spite of Tom Cruise Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.