Five Villains Who Won
All of us who have ever; seen a movie or read a book or anything of the sort in our lives; know the archetype by now. The villain of the sotry commits some kind of heinous act, forcing the hero to step up and stop the baddie ensuring that everyone lives happily ever after. But sometimes, rarely, the villain of the story is the one who comes out on top. BE WARNED SPOILERS ARE AHEAD.
Stanley Kowalski (A Streetcar Named Desire): Legendary playwright, Tennessee Williams cemented his status in theater history by developing complex characters allowing his audiences to become invested in the realistic people he brought to life before them. In one of his acclaimed plays he introduced audiences to the narcissistic, aggressive, domineering misogynist, Stanley Kowalski. A Streetcar Named Desire follows the instant feud which arises when, Kowalski is forced to deal with his free spirited sister-in-law, who is his opposite in every way. His new houseguest, brings out his worst qualities and the audience watches as he devolves from an almost egalitarian figure into a monster. The brilliance in Kowalski lies in the fact that in the midst of his horrible actions, he has brief moments where he endears himself to the audience, if only for a few seconds. In the end, audiences may have to fight the sense of injustice when instead of getting his comeuppance, Kowalski is allowed to continue on with his wife and newborn son as Blanche is forced to deal with the “kindness of strangers”.
BOB (Twin Peaks): In the early 1990’s FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper was called to the small Pacific Northwest town of Twin Peaks to investigate the murder of Laura Palmer. It probably did not occur to the eccentric agent, that he was about to do battle with a mysterious and transcendental evil who haunted the strange town known only as, BOB. Throughout the run of the cult classic series, Twin Peaks, Agent Cooper navigated his way through; unusual dreams and bizarre townspeople and never came close to discovering the secrets that this mysterious entity possessed. According to legend, series creator David Lynch, was inspired to create this wicked imp when set designer Frank Silva accidentally ended up in a shot, and his unique look begged for him to be part of the show. Fans of the series were shocked when the series came to an end and their protagonist was trapped in the Black Lodge while BOB roamed free, closing out the beloved show with his now classic rant.
Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs & Hannibal): The authorities should have known that even a cell in a deep dungeon-like basement, would not be able to contain a person like the brilliant and cold-blooded Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Even casual filmgoers are familiar with this cannibalistic killer and felt a tinge of fear in every frame where is cold unblinking eyes stared at them. Whether he is played by Anthony Hopkins or more recently by Mads Mikkelsen, the good doctor is able to use his fierce intellect to ensure he always comes out on top, even when law enforcement has him right where they want him. In his most famous cinematic outing, Lecter did not hesitate in playing Clarice Starling like a fiddle until the time was right and he was able to escape prison in one of the most famous scene in film history. On the small screen anyone who watched the season finale of Hannibal watched in shock as the careful plan the heroes had formulated all season fell apart and they were left in a bloody mess. Perhaps Lecter’s greatest strength as a villain is the fact that he can manipulate the viewing audience as easily as the characters he deals with. In fact in the before-mentioned season finale, it was difficulty not feel a bit of sympathy for the serial killer as he escaped into the rain feeling betrayed by his closest friend.
Lord Summerisle (The Wicker Man): One of greatest films not just in the history of horror of in the history of British cinema as a whole. Sadly The Wicker Man is overlooked far too often, even by lovers of scary films. In the trail of a missing girl, devout Christian, Sergeant Howie, finds himself as a fish out of water on a remote island which still practices ancient pagan rituals. At the center of it all is Lord Summerisle, played by one of the finest and most villainous actors of all time, Sir Christopher Lee. The film unfolds with an aura of dread lingering in each frame until the barn burner (no pun intended…OK a little pun intended) climax. In a barbaric ritual Lord Summerisle condemns Howie to be a burned sacrifice within the infamous Wicker Man, due to the inspector’s faith and position in society. Viewers are bound to be haunted in the final moments of the picture as Lord Summerisle simply ignores his victim’s pleas for mercy as he leads his people in an old hymn.
Keyser Soze (The Usual Suspects): When a con man is arrested for his connection in a fire he drops a bomb shell on the investigators. In Bryan Singer’s film debut, The Usual Suspects, small time con man Verbal Kint regales law enforcement with the lurid tale of Keyser Soze, a powerful crime lord who is not to be trifled with. As the story leading up to the fire unfolds, the audience is hooked on every little detail of this neo-noir masterpiece. The ending of this film, when the identity of Soze is revealed still stands as one of the greatest plot twists in film history, and one which will stick with audiences long after the movie ends.