What good is a movie without a villain? The last decade gave us some outstanding movies that contained complex and charismatic villains. From tyrannical alien warlords, to straight-up psychotic humans, the list of movie villains is just endless. Now that the decade is over, I believe now would be the perfect time to go over the top twelve movie villains of the decade. For this list, the villain had to debut in a movie from 2010 to 2019, and yes, I will be including villains from animated movies.
Prepare yourselves, movie fans, because it’s time to reveal the top twelve movie villains of the decade. Can I get an evil laugh for a drum roll?
12. Erik Killmonger (Black Panther)
The first movie villain to kick off the list is one of the best villains of the MCU. Erik Killmonger was a young boy when his father was killed by Black Panther’s father. Instead of bringing him home to Wakanda, Black Panther’s father left him to discover his father’s corpse. By doing this, he inadvertently created a villain hellbent on revenge. Killmonger was a physical challenge to Black Panther, but he brought up some valid points. If Wakanda has the technology to help the world, then why do they refuse to share it?
Killmonger should’ve been taken prisoner in the end, but he was killed off. This threw a lot of possible character development out the window, but his death meant something. His actions inclined Black Panther to open Wakanda’s borders to refugees and share their advanced technology. He may have been extreme with his methods, but his legacy is likely to bring good. There was also that emotional scene with his father that just makes it impossible to not feel for him.
11. Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear (Toy Story 3)
This pink, strawberry-scented teddy bear is adorable to look at, but is actually quite sinister. When Andy’s toys first arrive at Sunnyside Daycare, he initially appears as the kind-hearted caretaker. This facade is broken once he turns Buzz Lightyear into his personal jailor, as he reveals that the daycare is his prison. Lotso is soon revealed to be a rage-driven villain, losing all positive qualities he had when he discovered that his previous owner, Daisy, replaced him. He is a villain with a tragic backstory and was given a failed redemption arc, making him more villainous. These kind of villains have been seen before, but come on, this guy’s a pink teddy bear. How many evil pink teddy bears have we seen in movies before? Just this one, and it was good enough.
10. Calvin J. Candie (Django Unchained)
It’s pretty rare that Leonardo DiCaprio plays a villain, but his portrayal of Calvin J. Candie was phenomenal. Only DiCaprio can make a slave owner so charming and yet so despicable at the same time. His presence dominates the screen with his over-the-top looks and Southern accent, not to mention his pompous mannerisms. He makes money by forcing slaves to fight to the death, even feeding one to the dogs when he refuses to continue fighting. Not only does he make money off of it, he enjoys watching it too. As a typical slaver, he should’ve been easy to hate, but DiCaprio’s performance just brings a special kind of charm to him that makes him a love to hate kind of villain.
9. Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)
Yes, Heath Ledger’s Joker dominated the big screen two decades ago, but another Batman villain stole the show in the last decade. In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman was challenged by Bane, a menacing brute of a villain. What separates him from other beef cake villains is that he was a master strategist and a cunning manipulator. He managed to take control of Gotham, presented himself as a revolutionary, and stripped the rich of their power. All of this was a part of his plan to destroy Gotham once and for all. Although it was later revealed the plan to destroy Gotham wasn’t completely his, he still made everything happen. On top of that, he effortlessly beat Batman in a fight and broke his back, something no other villain has ever done. Sure, you can make fun of his voice, but he’s capable of crushing your larynx like a twig.
Bane might not have been as charismatic as Heath Ledger’s Joker, but he was twice as intimidating. No other villain put Batman through physical pain like he did and forced him to fight harder than he ever thought possible.
8. Amy (Gone Girl)
Many movies tried the violent wife plot, but it’s pretty one-dimensional at this point. That’s why Amy from Gone Girl is so intriguing. After discovering her husband is cheating on her, she concocts an elaborate scheme to have him convicted of her murder. While she nearly succeeds, her plan backfires and she eventually decides to return home to him. However, she fools the public into believing that she was kidnapped by an ex-boyfriend, who she murdered to cover her tracks. On top of this, she manipulates her husband into staying with her after she reveals that she is pregnant. Amy is the kind of villain that excels in manipulation. She was capable of coming up with a diabolical plan and even when that was foiled, she bounced back with another one. This caused her to actually avoid punishment and win. Talk about toxic relationships.
7. Terence Fletcher (Whiplash)
Music teacher, Terence Fletcher, is about as unique as it gets for a villain. He has no desire to take over the world or even kill anyone, he just wants to push his students to be the best they can be. Why is this bad? Well, his teaching methods are pretty extreme. He physically and verbally abuses his students for the slightest mistakes, even indirectly causing one to commit suicide. When Miles Teller’s character gets him fired, Fletcher gets his revenge by humiliating him off stage at a concert. Teller’s character backfires his plan on him, but they end up having a mutual respect for each other.
Fletcher has some brutal methods, but he had his reasons, which were actually understandable. His discussion with Teller’s character proves that the best of us need to be pushed in order to the best we can be and the movie’s ending showed exactly that. Did he push things too far? Well, he was certainly abusive and vulgar, but his methods did strengthen the resolve of Teller’s character. Maybe his class just wasn’t for everyone.
6. Arthur Fleck (Joker)
After Jared Leto failed to bring a menacing Joker back to the big screen, the role went to Joaquin Phoenix. This version of Joker was different, since he had an actual name and backstory. He was a mentally ill loner that was slowly being broken down by society. This character is one of pure tragedy, trying very hard to do good, but ultimately gave in to his violent inclinations. Arthur Fleck’s descent to villainy could have been prevented, but society’s maltreatment of him caused him to snap. When he fully embraced his dark side, he became the Joker we all know and fear. Props to Phoenix and that scary laugh.
5. Holly Jones (Prisoners)
Another crazy female villain from the decade is Holly Jones from Prisoners. Her backstory is tragic, but her crimes are unspeakable. She and her husband would kidnap children for their “war against God” so they can avenger their deceased son. They also wanted to make vengeful monsters out of the traumatized parents, which they succeeded with Hugh Jackman’s character. Even her “nephew” was a kid she once abducted and used him to help her steal other children. You have to be a special kind of evil to abuse children, and Holly Jones fits the bill. She got her comeuppance in the end, but she trapped Hugh Jackman’s character in a place he might not of escaped from. We’ll never know if we was rescued, but that just makes us hate her even more.
4. Pennywise (It and It Chapter Two)
Joker was the evil, killer clown from two decades ago that dominated the big screen. He’s a very memorable villain, but Pennywise the dancing clown is a supernatural version of him. Unlike Joker, he has many powers that make him very hard to defeat. He preys on children, making their worst fears come to life and devours them. Pennywise is a creature that relies on fear for power and will scare the daylights out of you before killing you. Once you see that red balloon, get ready to face your worst nightmares.
3. Kylo Ren (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker)
It was easy for Kylo Ren to come off as a Darth Vader rip-off, but he proved to be the exact opposite. Debuting in The Force Awakens, this villain was shown to be conflicted internally, aspiring to be more like Darth Vader than Luke. When it was revealed that he was actually Ben Solo, the son of Han and Leia, it set up a great character arc. Han confronted him in an attempt to redeem him, but Kylo ran his lightsaber through him. Darth Vader was evil, but the path to his villainy started with the death of his mother. Kylo Ren murdered his own father in cold blood. It’s pretty hard to redeem someone after that, but he managed to find his way back to the light in Rise of Skywalker. Despite that, we can never forgive him for ridding Star Wars of Han Solo.
2. Loki (The Avengers and Thor Franchise)
Villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe tend to not stick around, but Loki just wouldn’t go away. Even when he was “killed” in the second Thor movie, he was revealed to still be alive and even dethroned Odin. His most villainous moments were during the first Thor movie and The Avengers, serving as the main antagonist of both films. Loki inadvertently brought The Avengers together, acting as the cunning schemer which serves true to his title. Loki is the God of Mischief, making him the perfect villain to act behind the scenes and cause chaos. Although he found redemption in the end, his charismatic role as a villain is just impossible to forget. He will forever be remembered as the first big bad of the MCU.
1. Thanos (The Avengers Franchise)
The number one movie villain of the decade goes to The Mad Titan, Thanos. Thanos debuted in 2012’s The Avengers, but his appearance was brief. His subsequent appearances were pretty underwhelming, as he spent most of his time sitting on his chair, then getting up from it. However, when he decided to pursue the infinity stones for himself in Avengers: Infinity War, the results were beyond surprising. Thanos immediately showed his dominance as a villain in the opening scene, beating up Thor, The Hulk, and killing Heimdall and Loki. He slowly acquired the rest of the stones by single-handedly defeating The Avengers and The Guardians of the Galaxy. Even with Thor’s axe embedded in his chest, he wiped out half the universe with a snap of his fingers.
Thanos wasn’t completely intimidating and callous, as Gamora was his Achilles Heel. The scene where he sacrificed her in order to obtain the soul stone proved that there was a heart somewhere in there. He also believed he was the hero of his own story, telling everyone that wiping out half the universe would bring balance. He was more than a one-dimensional villain and on top of all of that, he actually won. That’s right, he accomplished is goal and caused the deaths of some major characters, including Iron Man and Black Widow. How many other villains can top that? In time, maybe the MCU can top Thanos, but this villain was one of a kind. Thanos will remain as the MCU’s best villain and because of his actions and development, the best movie villain of the decade.
That was one tough list to make. A decade leaves many villains to choose from, but these baddies shook me to the core. If the next decade can top these villains, it’ll be quite the achievement. What other movie villains of the decade do you like?