April Fools Special: Top 10 Movie Tricksters
All Fools Day is upon us, and I have to say I am disappointed that it has fallen on a Sunday. We have been robbed of the opportunity to torment our fellow workers. What we can do instead is enjoy the day on the couch, watching some of cinema’s best tricksters spinning their webs of lies…
NB: Yes, there are spoilers in this article. Specifically there are spoilers for ‘The Usual Suspects’ – so if you’re one of my film students best not read further until we’ve watched it on Monday.
10. Bugs Bunny
Easily the most delightful character on this list, the Wascally Wabbit is often depicted as the victim of the piece yet through cunning and his tricksy nature it’s his pursuers who find themselves flattened, cooked, shot and blown up. Not that Bugs ever wields a weapon, he uses his confidence and sleights of hand to fool his opponent into turning the tables on themselves. Regardless of the situation, Bugs Bunny remains cool, collected and in charge with a knowing wink given to the audience.
9. The Joker
Not the anarchy driven version by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, who is more of a blunt instrument than a subtle knife, but the classic version brought to life by Ceaser Romero, Jack Nicholson and Mark Hamill. The Joker is more than a criminal, and he isn’t a con-man. He proudly announces his intention to play the role of a trickster through his appearance and purple suits, yet still manages to pull the wool over peoples eyes. He’s the Faustian devil you never want to make a deal with because even when it sounds straight-forward he’ll have a few extra cards up his sleeve. Even when you shake on the deal you never know if there’s a deadly hand buzzer waiting for you.
8. The Mask
The character of Stanley Ipkiss is not known for causing mischief – the entry on this list belongs solely to the titular Mask. Carrying the sole of the trickster God Loki is turns its wearing into a super-powered being with the sole purpose of causing mayhem. The best trick that the Mask manages to pull is finding a new victim to control. After being rescued from the river by Ipkiss the poor banker, against his best intentions, somehow always winds up needed to resort to the powers of the Mask time and time again.
7. Capt. Jack Sparrow
It’s obvious to all that Capt. Jack Sparrow is often up to no good. What is less obvious is how much is intentional by the dastardly pirate. More often than not Jack stumbles his way through one situation into the next, but always with a knowing smile and wink that suggests that his bumbling is more of an act that an accident. It’s also never clear which hand he’s betting on – only that he seems to be playing with a stacked deck. In the fourth regrettable outing we often saw Jack setting up his over-the-top escapes…it was more fun when we never knew for sure.
Few characters are as well equipped for mischief as Mystique. A mutant as part of the X-Men universe Mystique, or Raven Darkholme, has the unique ability to change her appearance at will and perfectly mimic another person. In her later role as a member of the Brother of Mutants this talent was used for infiltration and deception but that isn’t to say that she didn’t like to have fun with it. Changing into a little girl and the President in order to wind up a prison guard is just one of the examples of how Mystique can use her powers to meddle with people’s minds.
5. John Doe
Like all good tricksters of lore, John Doe had a wicked sense of humour. Not only did he perpetrate a string of horrific murders based on an obsession with the seven deadly sins, his ultimate plan was to turn the tables on his pursuers and manipulate them into his game. Putting the Jigsaw Killer to shame with his mind games, John Doe surrendered himself to police for the sole purpose of driving one of them to murder him. An man driven by evil with the mind of a trickster.
4. Jareth – King of the Goblins
Needless to say, Jareth is one of the most iconic characters from 1980’s cinema. Played with a double dosing of flair by glam rocker David Bowie in what many women assure me is a pair of pleasingly tight pants, Jareth pulls plenty of mind games on Jennifer Connelly’s babysitter when he steals away her little brother. His mind-bending form of manipulation continues as she must find her way through the trap laden labyrinth to claim him back. His ultimate skill? Dance Magic.
This is kinda a given, being the God of Mischief and all that jazz. Loki is the slightly deranged half brother of Norse God Thor and has become his enemy. Whilst Thor has strength and charisma on his side, Loki has a sharp and conniving mind that he uses to bait and trap his brother. Not that that’s all he has at his disposal…with the powers of illusion and able to shift reality to suit his will. Everything an ultimate prankster needs to cause mayhem.
The devil has appeared in cinema many times over, in many different forms. Sometimes the traditional red, horned demon to the human shaped lord of deception and even (in one spectacularly retarded incident) played by Elizabeth Hurley. His technique may differ, but one thing remains consistent – he likes to trick people. His approach has included threats, manipulation, ironic punishment and basic conning to get what he wants. More often than not, he’s awesome while he does it. He would’ve made the top of the list if it wasn’t for…
1. Keyser Soze
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” Keyser Soze bases his entire criminal organisation and reputation on the notion that he doesn’t really exist. Known to everyone who is linked to the underworld not one person knows if he really exists or if he’s just a myth created to scare people. The legend states that he would do what the other people were unwilling to do, even murdering his own family so his rivals could no longer use them as hostages and then going to ground. Since then he has maintained his status as a legend and manipulated others to do his bidding. The scope of his ability to control those around him easily nails him the top spot on this list.