15 Best Realistic Movie Villains, Ranked for 2022 (2023)

Who is the best movie villain of all time? There are a number of lists that include The Joker, Darth Vader, Freddy Krueger, and Nurse Ratched, but we wanted to make a list that wasn’t so… disparate.

In this list, we’re going to give you a list of the best realistic movie villains. These are the people that make your skin crawl because they might be sitting next to you on the subway or behind you in the grocery line, especially if you notice them buying fava beans in bulk.

Best Movie Villains Of All Time

Criteria for our best movie villain list

For our list of the best movie villains of all time, we had to make some hard decisions. We like lists here at StudioBinder, and that includes lists for the best horror movie villain and the best super-villains, so we decided to omit these types of movie villains from this particular list.

We based our movie villains and antagonists on a few things. The first of the criteria was that these villains had to have the ability to actually exist, which is why you won’t find Darth Vader on here. We looked at dialogue, performance, actions, and how well the villain's overall demeanor was able to instill fear and stress while you watch the movie play out.

This is all reliant on the competency of the filmmaking team which is why we used these criteria to help create our list of the best villains.

Best Movie Antagonists

15. Snatch |Brick Top (2000)

Played By: Alan Ford

If you’ve ever seen the film, you’ll know that Brick Top is a seriously creepy and oddly charismatic movie villain. He has a few awesome monologues, one on the definition of ‘nemesis’ as well as a few scenes where he uses a pack of dogs to torture his adversaries.

Brick Top | Snatch

The reason he makes our list of the best movie villains is partly because of the great lines of dialogue, partly because of Alan Ford’s clever performance, but also because he constantly makes you concerned that he’ll feed the heroes to a pile of trained disposal pigs.

Fictional Villains

14. John Doe |Se7en (1995)

Played By: Kevin Spacey

John Doe is a great movie antagonist, but one of the reasons he doesn’t break the top 10 best movie villains of all time is due to his lack of screen time. The performance mixed with his deeds are “great,” but he doesn’t actually show his face until the last 30 minutes of the movie.

John Doe | Se7en

It’s true that an unseen villain can often be the scariest type, and John Doe’s string of thought provoking and gruesome murders add to this movie villain’s cachet. We just wish we got to see more of him.

Famous Villains In History

13. Scorpio | Dirty Harry (1971)

Played By: Andy Robinson

Scorpio was the movie representation of San Francisco's infamous Zodiac killer, which is sort of fitting that Scorpio lands next to a Fincher villain on our best movie villains list. Scorpio is a great antagonist partly due to his silence while he carries out many of his worst deeds.

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Scorpio | Dirty Harry

Scorpio not only preys on children but also uses the media and his rights as a US citizen to shield himself from justice. What makes someone more evil than exploiting a system meant for our protection? Not much, which is why he makes out list of the best movie antagonists.

List Of Villains

12. Cpt. Vidal |Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Played By: Sergi Lopez

Captain Vidal is one of the best movie villains because he’s accountable to virtually no one. Like most fascists he has his own warped sense of pride, duty, and value system that legitimizes his horrendous acts.

Captain Vidal | Pan’s Labyrinth

One of the other reasons Captain Vidal is one of the best movie villains of all time is because he is surrounded by good people. When lighting a film, cinematographers are always thinking about contrast, but it’s important for screenwriters to see how narrative contrast can improve their screenplays and help to prop up the importance of their villains.

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Greatest Movie Villains

11. Li’l Z’e | City of God (2002)

Played By: Leandro Firmino

One of the best things about Li’l Z’e in City of God is how we get to follow him around as a young man. You gain a much more complete picture of the character, and this makes him even more unlikable. Why?

Li’l Z’e | City of God

Usually, seeing a character turn bad would provide context and thus empathy, but because we know how hard the residents of the City of God have it, his actions seem to be a sick betrayal rather than a rational turn.

Top Movie Villains

10. Anton Chigurh | No Country for Old Men (2007)

Played By: Javier Bardem

Anton Chigurh is one of the best movie villains because he is clever, determined, and almost clinical. He also seems to be the type of villain you might actually run into, whereas many of the other realistic antagonists on this ranked list seem specific and therefore avoidable.

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Anton Chigurh | No Country for Old Men

The Coen Brothers often have great villains, but many are bumbling idiots that entertain but don’t necessarily create the same dread that Anton Chigurh is able to produce. Bardem’s performance is also pretty stellar.

Villain Characters

9. Bill “The Butcher” Cutting | Gangs of New York (2002)

Played By: Daniel Day-Lewis

Bill Cutting has so much going for him as a movie villain. Scorsese does bad guys well, but the mixture of intelligence, capability, and a grand philosophy is what makes Bill “The Butcher” so compelling.

Bill “The Butcher” Cutting | Gangs of New York

He has a respectful side to him, a code of ethics, which is why his bad deeds hold so much more weight, and seem more calculated. He’s also very charismatic and a leader of men, which can be quite terrifying.

Top Villains

8. Hans Gruber | Die Hard (1988)

Played By: Alan Rickman

Hans Gruber is a fun movie villain to watch, and he uses his wit, charm, and German efficiency to carry out a highly organized bank robbery until an arrogant and foul mouthed American uses improvisation, reckless abandon, and sloppy instincts to tear everything to the ground.

Hans Gruber | Die Hard

This is part of the reason why Die Hard is such a fun movie to watch, and why is resonated with American viewers in 1988. Hans is devious, quick on his feet, and Alan Rickman gives an awesome performance.

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Villain Movies

7. Alonzo Harris | Training Day (2001)

Played By: Denzel Washington

Alonzo Harris is a different kind of movie villain. He’s a master manipulator, and someone who uses his power and position to exploit the goodness of others for his own gain. He’s sworn to protect citizens, but instead uses his power and influence to corrupt society from within.

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Alonzo Harris | Training Day

One of the best things about Alonzo as a movie villain is that he's likable. He is charismatic, makes a lot of really compelling arguments, and uses his sense of empathy to keep himself above suspicion. This is all due to a great screenplay, great direction, and a really great performance.

Evil Villains

6. Stansfield | The Professional(1994)

Played By: Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman is one of the best actors to ever play a villain. He’s also pretty good at playing just about anything else, but if you have Gary Oldman as the villain in your movie, you’ve got a pretty great movie.

Stansfield | Leon: The Professional

Stansfield is the type of character that makes your skin crawl. He's also giddy. He takes joy while he carries out his evil acts, and this helps to make him extra creepy. Stansfield is a truly unique movie villain.

Greatest Villains Of All Time

5. Commodus | Gladiator (2000)

Played By: Joaquin Phoenix

Commodus os one of the best movie villains of all time because he’s a historical figure, but also because he’s an impetuous child at heart. His wrath and anger is born out of a self made victim narrative, where he is entitled to the throne of Rome and his father’s approval.

Commodus | Gladiator

The logic of his actions, at least with regard to his status and Caesar, make him a really great antagonist. You’d be pissed if your dad gave the throne to someone else. The thing that is NOT relatable, but still adds to his character, is his sexual infatuation with his own sister. Weaving together relatable and abhorrent behavior creates robust characters.

Best Villains Of All Time

4. SS Col. Hans Landa | Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Played By: Christoph Waltz

Hans must be a really perfect name for a great movie villain because this is the second on our list. Col. Landa is also a Nazi, which probably adds a bit to his score on our ranked list of the best movie villains.

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Hans Landa | Inglourious Basterds

Landa is funny, charming, kind, complementary, clever, rational — in short he is super well adjusted. He is a pleasure to watch on screen, even when he’s carrying out terrible actions and lording his power over others. He is a bird of prey, toying with his food before feeding it to his clamoring hatchlings — the secret Nazi domestic police known as the SS.

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Famous Villains

3. Amon Goeth | Schindler’s List (1993)

Played By: Ralph Fiennes

Amon Goeth is the second Nazi on our list, but Amon also has a unique quality to his character in that he was a real person. Now, that’s not why he makes the list of the best movie villains, but it may be one of the reasons why he was well-conceived, well-written, and well-performed.

Amon Goeth | Schindler’s List

Amon is a very possible villain, and has his moments where he is funny in a very depraved way. He seems to alternate between a form of twisted logic and an arbitrary barbarism that resembles a young boy burning ants with a magnifying glass. He’s a really great movie villain to watch.

Best Movie Villains

2. Max Cady | Cape Fear (1991)

Played By: Robert De Niro

Max Cady is a great movie villain because he sort of defies expectations. He seems like a classic backwoods fool, but in fact is a highly intelligent conjurer of psychological dread. He always seems to be one step ahead.

Max Cady | Cape Fear

Max Cady is also a great antagonist because he uses the indiscretions and negligence of his target as a dormant poison, something voluntarily introduced into one’s own system soon catalyzed by Cady’s cunning. Alliteration aside, Max is a plausible villain you shouldn’t ignore.

Best Villains

1. Hannibal Lecter | The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Played By: Anthony Hopkins

The recipe that made Hannibal Lecter’s character is too good to miss. He is capable, intelligent, manipulative, candid, cagey, well researched, six steps ahead, and really charming. He is likable because there is a somewhat justifiable rationale for who he chooses as targets and why.

Hannibal Lecter | The Silence of the Lambs

The dialogue, filmmaking, and performance all combined to create one of the creepiest characters around, especially when you find yourself rooting for his escape. He brings that same excellence to following films in Hannibal and Red Dragon, both of which are worth the watch.

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What do you think of our list? Do you have someone you think we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments. If you make a compelling case, we might just revise our list and add your submission.

Up Next

Every James Bond Film Ranked

Make sure to check out our other lists on our blog. Next up is all of the James Bond movies ranked worst to best. They’re all great, but we touch on the absolute best 007 films so you know which to watch first.

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FAQs

Who is the best villain in 2022? ›

12 Of The Best Villains Of 2022 So Far
  • Scarlet Witch — Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. ...
  • Pearl — X. ...
  • Goff — Peacemaker. ...
  • Harmony Cobel — Severance. ...
  • Darth Vader — Obi-Wan Kenobi. ...
  • The Riddler — The Batman. ...
  • Jobu Tupaki — Everything Everywhere All at Once. ...
  • Vecna — Stranger Things. He is the one who broke the world.
7 Aug 2022

Who is the No 1 villain in the world? ›

Villains
RankVillainFilm
1Hannibal LecterThe Silence of the Lambs
2Norman BatesPsycho
3Darth VaderThe Empire Strikes Back
4The Wicked Witch of the WestThe Wizard of Oz
19 more rows

Who is the greatest villain ever created? ›

Darth Vader has also become even more popular to audiences than the heroes of the Star Wars universe, which is one of the many reasons that we have named him the greatest villain of all time.

Who is the No 1 villain in India? ›

India. There's a lot to be said about Amrish Puri, who is and will always be remembered as one of Bollywood's favorite Hindi movie villains in more than just one movie!

Who is the most powerful movie villain? ›

The 10 Most Powerful Fantasy Movie Villains, Ranked
  • 6/10 Maleficent: Maleficent (& Sleeping Beauty)
  • 5/10 Ravenna: Snow White & The Huntsman.
  • 4/10 Loki: Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • 3/10 Sauron: Lord Of The Rings.
  • 2/10 Lorde Voldemort: Harry Potter.
  • 1/10 Thanos: Avengers (& Guardians Of The Galaxy)
28 Apr 2021

Who is the No 1 villain in Marvel? ›

1. Thanos (Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame)

Which villain has more fans? ›

Loki. There's perhaps no villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far who has a larger fan following than Loki.

Who is the coolest villain? ›

Note: James Bond villains and Disney-animated villains are not included.
  1. Darth Vader ("Star Wars" trilogy)
  2. The Joker ("The Dark Knight") ...
  3. Anton Chigurh ("No Country For Old Men") ...
  4. Hannibal Lecter ("Silence of the Lambs" franchise) ...
  5. The Shark ("Jaws") ...
  6. Amon Goeth ("Schindler's List") ...
  7. Terminator ("Terminator" franchise) ...
19 Aug 2022

Who is the baddest villain in Disney? ›

Based on our research, the evilest Disney supervillain of all time is Scar. His greed and jealousy turned him into a ruthless murderer. Scar even killed his own family just to have power and the throne. The part where he killed Mufasa, the Lion King, is one iconic scene.

Who is the world best hero? ›

Top 50 Greatest Heroes and Villains
RankHeroes
1.Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird
2.Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark
3.James Bond, Dr. No
4.Rick Blaine, Casablanca
46 more rows

Who is the greatest movie hero of all time? ›

The Greatest Movie Heroes of All Time
  • Ellen Ripley.
  • Rocky Balboa.
  • Clarice Starling.
  • Will Kane.
  • Rick Blaine.
  • James Bond.
  • Indiana Jones.
  • Atticus Finch.
19 Dec 2021

Who is the highest paid villain in India? ›

Main antagonist Mogambo from Shekhar Kapur's Mr. India (1987) played by Puri, is considered as one of greatest villains of all time in Indian Cinema,it was reported that he received a salary of ₹10 million (US$771,890.82), making him the highest-paid Indian villain actor of all time.

Who is the best villain of all time in Bollywood? ›

1. Amrish Puri: Though the Indian film industry spans over 100 years, it is still not too difficult to choose the villain who can be crowned as Numero Uno. It is none other than Amrish Puri a.k.a Mogambo who has starred in over 400 films.

Who is the famous villain in Bollywood? ›

Gabbar Singh (Sholay)

He is undoubtedly one of the most famous villains from Bollywood.

Who is the most badass movie character? ›

Most badass characters
RankAverage ratingName
198.6Mike Ehrmantraut (Better Call Saul)
298.5Daryl Dixon (The Walking Dead)
398.3Toph Beifong (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
498.2Westley (The Princess Bride)
21 more rows
15 Jul 2022

Who is the most menacing villain? ›

  • Godzilla. He has been a villain for many movies and killed at least 10,000 people in his rampage in the original movie. ...
  • Sauron. He is a villain that has killed many and is extremely powerful and badass. ...
  • Hela. She is literally the goddess of death. ...
  • Darth Sidious. He is extremely powerful. ...
  • Killmonger. ...
  • Joker (Heath Ledger)

Who is Avengers most powerful enemy? ›

Thanos has been a constant thorn in the side of the Marvel Universe ever since - and that extends into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where Thanos repeated his Infinity Gauntlet scheme to devastating effect in Avengers: Infinity War (opens in new tab) and Avengers: Endgame (opens in new tab).

Who is stronger than Thanos? ›

Thanos isn't a cosmic being; instead, he's just another mortal who's very hard to kill. Therefore, Korvac is someone who is stronger than Thanos and sits above him in the pecking order.

Can Shang Chi beat Ironman? ›

So while Shang-Chi can perhaps handle Iron Man one-on-one, it's naturally going to be a lot tougher if he has to fight an assembled team of some of the Marvel Universe's greatest heroes.

Who is the next MCU villain? ›

Kang the Conqueror seems to be the MCU's next main villain, but the Beyonder could take Thanos' place as the big bad of the franchise in Phase 5.

Who will be the next villain in Avengers? ›

The most obvious answer to who will replace Thanos in the MCU is Kang the Conqueror. One of his variants, He Who Remains, was introduced in Loki played by Jonathan Majors, and he is set to reprise the role in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, making his place in the MCU's future a certainty.

Who is the best MCU villain? ›

Zemo has, other than maybe arguably Thanos, the best plan of any villain in any MCU movie—and that's why he succeeds. His greatest ability, really, is self-awareness; he knows he alone can't hurt the Avengrers, but that they can hurt one another.

Are all villains evil? ›

So while, yes, the dictionary definition of the word villain includes the terms cruel and evil, connotatively in fiction, a villain can be a villain without being an evil or cruel person.

Why villains are the best? ›

Villains are realistic.

Good guys are often portrayed in movies as nearly perfect, and it's hard to relate to them. We all have our own imperfections and a dark side. So, villains are often more realistic than good guys are. At the same time, modern antagonists aren't 100% evil.

Who is the oldest Disney villain? ›

Hades is presumably the oldest of the Disney Villains, being an immortal god. Mother Gothel from Tangled, while she's not immortal, is presumably the oldest human Disney Villain.

What is a female villain called? ›

Definition of villainess

: a woman who is a villain.

What is a good villain boy name? ›

The most popular villainous baby names
  • Dexter: 19,940. Dexter is unquestionably the most popular baby name inspired by a villain. ...
  • Lucius: 2,647. A common baby name choice for parents who prefer villains to heroes is Lucius. ...
  • Loki: 2,183.
9 Nov 2021

Who is a true hero? ›

The dictionary defines "hero" as "a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his or her brave deeds and noble qualities." Heroes come in many forms in life, ranging from one's family and friends to athletes to movie stars. A person's heroes can change over time.

Who is the real hero in World? ›

On Sept. 26, 1983, real-life hero Stanislav Petrov singlehandedly prevented a worldwide nuclear war when he followed his gut and chose to ignore a missile alarm.

What a hero is not? ›

A hero is not meant to be a sacrifice. The sacrifice part of heroism is incidental, a by-product of taking action to aid others. Sacrificing one's own life or well-being is not the goal of a hero; it just sometimes happens to those willing to make a stand.

Who is Marvel's face? ›

Why Spider-Man? Spider-Man has literally been the symbol for Marvel, the comics company the same way Mickey Mouse has been the symbol for Disney. If you bought Marvel Comics in the 70s or 80s, chances are Spider-Man was on the cover somewhere even if it wasn't a Spider-Man comic.

Is Thanos the best villain of all time? ›

Thanos was the main threat in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, and also played an important role in films like Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers. These are the worst things that Thanos has done, proving that he is the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Is Joker the best villain? ›

The Joker is one of the most well-known villains in fiction and it's arguable that he's one of the greatest. The Joker may not have world-ending superpowers but his insanity, unpredictability, and ruthless imagination make him the kind of bad guy that no one wants to face.

Who are some heroes in real life? ›

American Heroes
  • John Adams. Susan B. Anthony. ...
  • Daniel Boone. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Henry Clay.
  • Davy Crockett. Frederick Douglass. Amelia Earhart.
  • Benjamin Franklin. Billy Graham. ...
  • Thomas Jefferson. Martin Luther King, Jr. ...
  • Douglas MacArthur. Dolley Madison. ...
  • Christa McAuliffe. Audie Murphy. ...
  • Ronald Regan. Jackie Robinson.

Is Joker the best villain? ›

The Joker is one of the most well-known villains in fiction and it's arguable that he's one of the greatest. The Joker may not have world-ending superpowers but his insanity, unpredictability, and ruthless imagination make him the kind of bad guy that no one wants to face.

Is Thanos a villain? ›

Thanos is a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He was created by writer-artist Jim Starlin, and first appeared in The Invincible Iron Man #55 (cover date February 1973).

Are all villains evil? ›

So while, yes, the dictionary definition of the word villain includes the terms cruel and evil, connotatively in fiction, a villain can be a villain without being an evil or cruel person.

Why is Joker a villain? ›

He is the agent of chaos, and he needs no other reason, Joker sees the world as one cruel joke, with corrupt authority figures as its head. He holds no one and nothing dear and that leaves him with no weakness, he simply has no reason, not cross every line there is; he does whatever amuses him.

Who defeated Emperor Joker? ›

However Superman's powerful will allowed him to fight off Emperor Joker's influence enough to make contact with the weakened Mxyzptlk, who along with a less-powerful Spectre, encouraged Superman to work out the weakness of Emperor Joker before the mad clown destroyed reality due to his misuse of Mxyzptlk's power, as ...

Is Joker the scariest villain? ›

The Joker has been DC's most frightening and changeable villains for over 80 years. Some versions, of course, are more disturbing than others. The Joker is one of DC's most iconic villains. He's known for being the most frightening villain in Gotham, a monster like few others.

Why is Joker rated R? ›

Joker is rated R by the MPAA for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images.

Who is Thanos wife? ›

Created by writer/artist Jim Starlin, the character first appeared in Strange Tales #180 (June 1975). Gamora is the adopted daughter of Thanos, and the last of her species.
...
Gamora
PartnershipsPeter Quill (Star-Lord), Adam Warlock
Notable aliasesRequiem The Most Dangerous Woman in the Universe Bambi Long
10 more rows

Is Loki evil or good? ›

Loki is considered a trickster god, known for being neither fully good nor evil since his main aim was always to create chaos. Despite his father being a giant, he is still counted a member of the Aesir—a tribe of deities including Odin, Frigg, Tyr, and Thor.

How old is Thor? ›

After Thor encounters the Guardians of the Galaxy in a pivotal moment, he begins explaining how many foes he's fought over the years. To help illustrate his point more clearly, he reveals that he is 1,500 years old.

What is a misunderstood villain called? ›

Obliviously Evil is a subtrope (despite the name) when a character doesn't have the malevolent intent to really be considered an evil person but causes serious harm anyway because they don't understand that what they're doing is wrong.

What is the Joker's real name? ›

He also revealed his real name: Jack Napier. Napier spent all of his efforts revealing how Batman's false heroics actually only lead to greater corruption in Gotham City. He worked diligently to save Gotham from its turmoil until the effects of the pills finally wore off, and he became The Joker once again.

Who is Marvel's Joker? ›

Who is the Marvel version of the Joker? It's green goblin. For those who say green goblin is not similar to joker, they don't get it. Green Goblin is marvel's version of joker for many reasons.

Who was Batman's first villain? ›

Alfred Stryker: The first villain Batman ever encountered.

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