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The Anatomy of the Villian

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DC Heroes Vs Villain

Throughout books and movies alike, every hero needs a villain to be their counterpart. It’s not easy creating a villain, many villainous backstories can be complicated, with writers needing to justify the villain’s view on why they need to change the world in some way. Throughout history, audience members have seen some iconic villains come and go throughout the book and movie scene. There are even some lessons to be learned from the twisted views that some great writing has created for “the bad guy.” However, the best villains are the ones who leave the audience wondering what side they’re rooting for; sympathy may even be granted to the villain in opposition to the hero. For this list, the Hawk Herald tried to comprise a list of the best villains, ranked from worst to best. 

Honorable Mention:

Although it was not able to crack the top five, The Wicked Witch of the West is an iconic villain in her own right. With the creation of her character coming from the original The Wizard of Oz written by L. Frank Baum in 1900, it has long lived past its iconic book inception with multiple film adaptations taking the book on, as well as several actors portraying this iconic witch. Margaret Hamilton made an iconic performance of the character in 1939, and the impact has been felt as recently as 2013 with Disney’s live adaptation putting Mila Kunis in the role. But no matter the actor, it’s the role that made them. With the witch’s iconic green skin, pointy nose, black hat, and broom, its appearance and origins from the book are still iconic today, making it an honorable mention on this list. 

The Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) on the roof of a cottage. She then throws a ball of fire at the Scarecrow. (Insomnia Cured Here)

5.

Micheal Myers slots into fifth place, making him the first and only horror villain that makes this list. Knowing that the list needed someone from the horror genre, Micheal Mayers fits the build in terms of longevity and his iconic appearance. The slasher genre can always be hard to pinpoint if it has any fear that is truly invoked into the audience, however, Myers appearance is iconic with his jumpsuit and white mask flush over his undiscoverable face. This, paired with his standard kitchen knife, makes for a memorable appearance. Being known for his appearances in the Halloween movie franchise, Myers appeared in all except one, making his longevity a factor as well. Combining this with his iconic outfit, he rounds out the five spot on this list.  

Someone dressed up as Micheal Myers (digboston).

 4.

Few comic villains have had more success and notoriety than The Joker, who is easily one of the most recognizable comic villains. One could argue that The Joker is one reason D.C has kept its notoriety in the last couple of years, with the recent success seen by their rivals Marvel. Despite many changes to the D.C universe, The Joker has stayed in constant popularity. With dozens upon dozens of excellent animated adaptations, The Joker is very versatile in his ability to be portrayed a certain way. Paired with his famous face makeup, he makes for a chilling villain and an interesting backstory. This backstory is covered in an exceptional way with Joaquin Phoenix delivering a masterful performance of a solo movie about this villain. However, it would be impossible to mention masterful performances without mentioning Heath Ledger’s depiction of the villain in The Dark Knight. Ledger’s adaptation brought out a more violent, brutally wicked side that left audiences encapsulated with the villain today, despite the film being released over 15 years ago.

The Joker statue at the Phoenix Comicon in Phoenix, Arizona. (Gage Skidmore)

3.

Recency bias is something that is consistently grappled with when comparing things from the past and today. The Hawk Herald tried to take this into account and not fall into this trap, however, it’s hard not to put Thanos on this list. He completely reshaped the MCU, making Marvel explode in even more popularity. To put what that means into perspective, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame were two films that grossed over 2 billions dollars following their releases. Despite the box office demonstrating how popular the movies are, a deeper dive into Thanos’ character is needed to truly determine whether he deserves to make the list. Audience members like when our hero is meant with true adversity and Thanos is by far the biggest challenge the Avengers have ever faced. With the franchise pulling characters from all MCU films, and the film-writers unafraid to kill-off beloved characters, Thanos quickly became known for being the most powerful villain the MCU has created. What also puts Thanos at number three is how the popularity of Marvel has fallen since. Despite consistent efforts from the screen-writers to produce another film as enrapturing as Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, no movie villain has met the threshold that Thanos established.

Infinity War drawing of Thanos (thephoenixprod)

2.

Dealing with Harry Potter is always a divisive topic for some people; despite the immense popularity of the franchise when the movies and books were coming out, some people who weren’t there to experience the releases don’t give the Harry Potter series the same love as older fans do. It’s important to look at this from a book perspective first. J.K Rowling’s concept for Voldemort — formally Tom Riddle — is truly an amazing depiction of a villain. Throughout the first couple of books, Voldemort is severely hyped up, but not in an annoying way, rather through ominous fear that lives throughout the wizarding world. Although this fear is covered and smothered by wizards, once Harry is brought into the fold, the fear of Voldemort returns. Rowling does a great job giving the villain depth in her later books, as Harry knows he will have to face Voldemort in battle. Throughout the series, Harry learns about his enemy’s past, which Rowling provides with a rich history and an interesting backstory. As for the film adaptation, although some of the earlier portrayals of Voldemort are limited by the storyline and technology of the time, Ralph Fiennes’s portrayal is quite good and leaves the audience fearful of what might happen to Harry and his friends.     

Picture of Voldemort in Order of the Phoenix (longplay)

1.

After a long-awaited, suspenseful build-up, The Hawk Herald’s number one villain is none other than the chosen one himself, Darth Vader. To be clear, the whole arc of Darth Vader fits into this decision, including Anakin’s transformation into the villainous character. George Lucas carefully crafted this villain. In early movies like A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back, we see the intimidating side of Darth Vader; he provides the imposing feeling of an antagonist, and George Lucas embraces this, making Vader formidable and a threat, proving him menacing. This makes Vader’s decision in the completed trilogy movie Return of the Jedi, more amazing. As an audience member, we get to see a full transformation as Vader is redeemed by his son Luke. It also cannot be overstated the work Lucas did at crafting Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader, Revenge of the Sith, in which Hayden Christenson plays an ailing Anakin who has been warped by Emperor Palpatine. The character has everything that encapsulates a villain, which is why it’s number one on the list.        

Darth Vader, authentic life-size replica statue. (Ricky Brigante)
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About the Contributor
Julian Zolenski, Staff Writer
Julian Zolenski is a Senior at Forest Hills Eastern. This is his second year being on the Hawk Herald Staff. Julian enjoys a number of different things about his busy life including working as a line cook, playing with his dog, and hanging out with his friends. Right now Julian has a dream of being a Sports Commentator. He intends to accomplish this goal by majoring in Broadcast Journalism in his college future. Julian knows this is a lofty goal, but he will not let anything stop him from accomplishing it.   
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