A hero is as good as the villain makes him be. They shape the story, they rule the narrative, riding on which the hero comes and saves the day. So the badder the villain, the better the story becomes.
While great villains have always been part of our pop culture, the emergence of streaming services has led to better, more interesting storytelling, thus making the villains of this decade stronger than anything we’ve seen before.
The origins of Joker have always remained a mystery until Joaquin Phoenix decided to play him as a man plagued by the cruelty of the society he lived in.
And in doing so, he gave us a character that wasn’t the chaotic evil we were accustomed to but one created by us, one who was us, thus making him the criminal the society deserved.
Furthermore, Phoenix’s portrayal of pain and vulnerability made his Joker approachable to the viewers to an extent that deep down we ended up justifying his actions.
It can be difficult to play a character whose motivations were well known amongst masses, decades before it was even conceivable to have someone portray him in a live-action film.
Bu Josh Brolin did so with elegance and a certain sense of maturity that the character demanded. In Infinity War, we saw him a tired war veteran at the end of his long journey, which unfortunately meant the end of half the universe.
In Endgame, Thanos was more of the Warlord we knew from the comics, the Mad Titan who fought and nearly defeated the Avengers at their strongest. In the end, we got a villain that was worth every one of those frustrating post-credit scenes for a rather entertaining decade.
Loki died as a hero. But make no mistake, for all his charm, he tried to kill his brother multiple times and tried to rule Earth through war.
But that is not what made him special. It was his conflicted relationship with his family, his brother and more specifically his destiny. Due to this, Loki still remains one of the better-written characters in superhero movies.
4. Sumitra Bagrecha
In a role that was the complete opposite of her on-screen image, Juhi Chawla brought evil to life with her character, Sumitra Bagrecha. What was truly terrifying in her portrayal was that, despite being a fictional character, the apathy and cruetly she displayed felt eerily similar to how many of our politicians behave like in reality.
What truly terrified us in her portrayal was that, despite being a work of fiction, the apathy she displayed felt eerily similar to how many of our elected leaders project in real life.
It took The Walking Dead a few good seasons to realise that they needed to play their biggest card from the comics if the show had to maintain that fear of man in a story about zombies.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan started playing Negan with the flamboyance of boxer who knew his opponent had gassed out. All he needed was a couple of good hits like it was just another day.
Although his character has since developed into a more diverse persona, the brutal murders of Glenn and Abraham will always put him on any list concerning the proverbial bad guys.
6. Joffrey Baratheon
Arguably Cersei would have been a far better-suited name on this list, but she had more facets to her character. Her love for her children was legendary.
Joffrey, on the other hand, plainly speaking was a fucking piece of shit. The sheer hate Jack Gleeson’s character received during his time on the show and the joy we felt after his death, makes him one of the more formidable names on this list.
7. Amy Elliott Dunne
Portrayals of characters like Amy from Gone Girl can often go haywire and find themselves catering to sexist stereotypes. But director David Fincher’s version of the book did a marvellous job skipping over those hurdles.
With Amy, actor Rosamund Pike gave us a layered performance, a truly complex and frightening character determined to play the long game and bait the important things in life in an attempt to achieve everything.
8. Calvin Candie
Much like Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained was also a revenge fantasy drama. But while Basterds had the exceptional Christoph Waltz playing a deeply unsettling and unpredictable Hans Landa…
Django Unchained almost lulls you to believe that deep down Di Caprio’s Calvin Candie was a decent person.
That is until all the bets are off and out comes centuries of deep-seated racism and that Southern savagery we had all heard of.
9. The Armitage Family (Get Out)
The Armitage Family is where racism gets more twisted than it already was. They appear normal to the naked eye, except perhaps with a bit of white guilt and an urge to tell black folks that they voted for Obama.
But it’s their mad scientist plan to take over black bodies and give them the consciousness of old white people was a modern form of slavery, so to speak, making them some of the most despicable people on the list.
10. Khurram Meer
As Khurram Meer (based on Hamlet’s Claudius), Kay Kay Menon’s character wasn’t the traditional evil in sense.
Menon portrayed a man whose villainy was deeply rooted in greed and ambition, thus appearing rather harmless to the layman.
There is no role that Tabu wasn’t born to play. To slightly misquote Cameron Tucker from Modern Family, ‘Tabu could play Batman and still be the right choice’.
Tabu portrays Simi with the exact amount of seriousness required for a comedy such as Andhadun, making her the perfect foil to Ayushmann Khurana’s mild-mannered conman.
12. Ramadhir Singh
One could possibly make comparisons if there were any other character in Indian cinema to compare it to.
But making his movie acting debut, Tigmanshu Dhulia latched on to his character unlike anything ever seen before. Ramadhir was shrewd, ruthless and unlike every other character in the series, he wasn’t burdened with hubris, making him the almost invincible.
13. Pablo Escobar
From gaining the required weight to going to school in Colombia, Brazilian actor Wager Moura gave us the best version of the notorious Pablo Escobar (sorry Xavier Bardem). Often fictionalised, Narcos focussed on the life and work of Escobar, with him as the focal point in the story.
Whatever the actions of the other characters, they were all but reactions to what Escobar did. Narcos managed to humanise Escobar and in doing so, kept us hooked to his personal life, making us empathise with the man.
14. Hannibal Lecter
The legendary Dr Lecter has always been a great villain. But what stood out with Mad Mikkelsen’s portrayal of the cannibalistic serial killer is the finesse he did it with.
He inhabited all of Sir Anthony Hopkins maturity without losing the sense of adventure of a young Hannibal, making him far more exciting to watch.
15. Raoul Silva (Skyfall)
As a former MI6 Agent, Raoul Silva, played by Xavier Bardem, was the perfect antithesis to Daniel Craig’s James Bond.
He was, in a manner of speaking, a James Bond from Bizzaro world, something Bond had been on the verge of becoming for a long time.
16. Amma ji
On the face of it, Satbir (Darshan Kumar) may appear as the main villain, but it was actually Amma Ji played by Deepti Naval who orchestrated both the crimes…
… the honour killing of her own family members, and the subsequent murder of Meera (Anushka Sharma). Amma ji’s character revelation comes as a massive shock, if nothing else at a time in the film, where the viewer sees a glimmer of light, only for it to be rudely taken away.
If there are any other villains you need us to have on this list, le us know.