Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by the folks at the Broke and the Bookish. Each week has a different theme where participants try to come up with ten things to fit the theme.
This week’s topic is All About the Villains. I’m going to talk about ten awesome villains. Most of them are from books, and I’ve limited myself to two villains from comic books, because otherwise this whole list might just be comic book villains with the majority of them coming from Batman’s rogue’s gallery.
Also, SPOILER ALERT for His Dark Materials and Watchmen.
Morgoth Bauglir (Silmarillion)
What’s scarier than a shape-shifting Dark Lord with the Nazgul, an Army of Orcs and the One Ring at his command? His boss.
Looking at power alone, Morgoth probably eats Sauron for breakfast. Morgoth is a Vala, one of the few beings involved with the creation of Ea while Sauron is a Maia, servants to the Valar. Morgoth was the one who first bred Orcs, in his old fortress of Utumno. He later used them as his bulk of his forces when he moved to Angband. The Balrogs served him. The Werewolves served him. He had other creatures like the great black dragon Ancalagon and the vampire Thuringwethil under his command.
He fought with many great Elf Lords like Feanor and Fingolfin and Great Man like Hurin and his children. He was only defeated when Earendil when to the Undying Lands to persuade the other Valar to aid them in their battle. He was chained and cast into the Timeless Void, bidding for his time to return to Ea once more.
James Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes)
The book Moriarty sucks. Okay, that might be exaggerating, but compared with most of his modern portrayals, his role in the books was very, very small. He died in his very first appearance, bringing Sherlock with him over the Reichenbach Falls. And then he was mentioned in the Valley of Fear and a few other short stories where he’s never seen and only his influence is felt.
What makes Moriarty is so impressive is because his opposing force, Sherlock, is so impressive and Moriarty is said to be able to go toe to toe with him. An anti-Sherlock, if you will. And from there Moriarty became a vital part of the Sherlock lore. And his modern portrayals are far, far better than those found in the original books by Arthur Conan Doyle. I really love him in BBC’s Sherlock, can’t wait for Season 4 in 2017.
Voldemort (Harry Potter)
I thought about including Umbridge, but as much as I HATE her, Voldemort is definitely the more awesome villain in the series.
His high, cold voice coupled with his long, thin fingers made him very physically recognizable, not to mention the reptilian look and cat slit pupils. His knowledge of the Dark Arts plus his ability to infiltrate the ranks of the Ministry makes him a very terrifying villain, sometimes working behind the scenes so the general public is not aware of his return. His reign of terror alongside his Death Eaters and the fear of his name cements his place as one of the best literary villains ever.
I think that Magneto is one of the most interesting villains in the world of comics, in that he’s arguably not really a villain at all. Magneto fights for the rights of the mutants because he knows the suffering of the minority first hand, having lived through the Holocaust. Though his methods are questionable, his intentions have always been good. One of the lines from X-Men: First Class really summarized him for me: “I’ve been at the mercy of men just following orders. Never again.” Never again being one of the slogans of the Jewish Defense League. I’ve actually thought about writing a fan fiction of Magneto with vignettes from his childhood and adolescence ala Superman: American Alien, with a focus on the events turning him to who he is, focusing on “never again”. I’ll probably never get to that, but I still think it’s a neat idea.
Hannibal Lecter (Hannibal Lecter)
Disclaimer, I’ve never read the books but I really love the character of Hannibal Lecter. Unlike Dark Lords like Voldemort or Sauron, you wouldn’t know what Hannibal is when you look at him. In fact, he’s every bit the charming gentlemen. Someone you would respect and invite over for dinner, not be the dinner of. He’s smart too, very smart and can manipulate people easily. And the scariest thing about Hannibal is that you could be in daily contact with someone like him and not even realize it.
Ozymandias from Watchmen is in many ways similar to Magneto. He fights for what is good in his eyes, but the way he goes about it is not exactly good. In an effort to save the world, he fakes an alien invasion in New York, hoping to unite the United States and the Soviet Union. He monologues his plan to the other Watchmen and when they ask him when he plans to put the plan into action, he answers with “I did it thirty five minutes ago.”
Marisa Coulter (His Dark Materials)
This villainess from His Dark Materials is so corrupted that even the angel that unseats the Almighty refers to her as a cess-pit of moral filth. Outwardly, she is ever the charming lady of high society and a loyal servant of the church. However, she has a third layer to her too. Her love for her daughter who she ends up sacrificing her life to save. And that golden monkey daemon of hers just strike such a cruel image.
Tywin Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire)
Tywin is probably only considered a villain through certain points of view, though most of the key point of view characters in the novel would consider him a villain. The Starks, the Targaryens and the Martells. But all he does, he does for the Lannisters. He schemes and fights his way to the top of the food chain. A great success, considering the condition Casterley Rock was in when he inherited it. His father was not the most capable of rulers. His only weakness is perhaps is refusal to acknowledge the abilities of his son, Tyrion because he sees the death of his wife in him. And that weakness ultimately lead to his downfall.
Long John Silver (Treasure Island)
Long John Silver is arguably the central character of Treasure Island. At least he’s the coolest to me when I was a kid. He’s not like the other pirates. He doesn’t get himself drunk, preferring only to sell rum. He pretends to be a cook to join the voyage, even though he’s one of the most feared pirate of the sea. Even Flint feared him. He starts off as a well-mannered, hardworking member of the fleet before turning the crew against Hawkins and the others. He’s cunning and manipulative. A truly capable villain.
The Forsaken (Wheel of Time)
The Forsaken are a group of Aes Sedai who defected and joined the Dark One in the War of Power. Thirteen of the greatest were sealed in his prison with him and as the seals weaken, the Forsaken came out to play with the world of the Wheel of Time. The thirteen of them are colorful characters, each with their own goals and motivation, as likely to scheme against each other as against the good guys. Three in particular, I found, very interesting.
Ishamael (the guy with the fiery face), the Betrayer of Hope is the most powerful of the thirteen. He was once a scholar and theorized that the battle between the Dragon and the Dark One has occurred millions of time with each turn of the wheel. In this, he sees that the cycle will keep on continuing forever until time itself ended or until the Dark One succeeds, so he throws in his lot with the latter.
Lanfear (lady in white), Daughter of the Night, is the only Forsaken to name herself. All this mess with the Dark One was her fault, as she sought to gain more power and prestige, drilling a hole into what she thought was a great source of power, and inadvertently opening the way to the Dark One’s prison. Her complicated romantic relationship with the Dragon is one of the highlights of the series as she still attempts to manipulate him and potential defeat the Dark One and rule the world together.
And finally Demandred (guy in the top left), who is highly underused in the series. His backstory can basically be summed up as a sore loser. If not for the Dragon, Demandred would be the greatest Aes Sedai of his time, the most powerful and accomplished of his generation, but he could never match the glory of the Dragon, except on the battlefield, and it turned him bitter. And when the Dragon was selected as the Commander in Chief, it was the last straw for him. In another world, in another time, Demandred could have been the greatest champion of the Light. Instead, because of the Dragon, Demandred defected and almost destroyed the world alongside the other Forsaken.
That is my list of Ten Awesome Villains! Awesome is pretty subjective, but I tried my best to fit in the AWESOMEST of the lot. Have you read about any of them? What do you think? Are there any other villains you think are awesome too? Let me know in the comments down below 🙂