Let's face it, your the hero of your movie is only as good as your villain is bad. If you've got an amazing, swashbuckling, ass-kicking hero who faces off against someone wimpy, it just feels like you had an amazing appetizer and a lackluster main course. We want villains that we love to hate, not villains that we hate to love, and once we find them, we don't want to let go of them so easily. Just look at how much Darth Vader has dominated the world of villainy. He was in four of the six Star Wars movies, and is still pretty much the poster-boy for awesome villains.
But what about the villains who could have joined him? There's a whole slew of sub-villains who weren't given enough screen time, or were killed off too easily. Villains who deserve to roam the hallowed halls of the bad guys and girls club. We dedicate this Cinematical Seven to those who could have been great, but are instead relegated to the ranks of the Almost Perfect Villains Club.
Speaking of Star Wars, Did this guy get a bad rap or what? He a Dark Lord of the Sith for pete's sake, yet he hardly talks, zips around on a scooter, and gets killed at the end of the only movie he appears in. He does kill Obi Wan's mentor, sure, but why not keep him around for later? He looked scary and cool at the same time, and wielded very cool double-ended saber. Plus, Ray Park did a kickass job playing him and making those fight scenes look amazing. Unfortunately, one chop to the midsection and he was never heard from again. Darth Vader went on to become a legend, but Darth Maul only became "that guy with the red face and the horns," and no one is rushing to make a movie about his origins. The Star Wars saga actually has a plethora of great villains we would like to see more of: Jabba the Hutt, Grand Moff Tarkin, Boba Fett, IG-88, and more.
The Bride of Frankenstein
This hit me in the fact last weekend at a Halloween party and is a spoiler if you haven't seen the movie: The Bride of Frankenstein is hardly in the movie of the same name at all. She's literally onscreen for about three minutes, and then she (apparently) meets her demise at the hands of Frankenstein himself. Don't get me wrong, this is a terrific movie, and should really be seen to be appreciated. It's just that she is so deliciously evil (and hot) that you want her to stick around. She could bend men to her will and wreak havoc throughout the land. It just doesn't fit her to have a roof cave in on her head mere seconds after she's come to life. Look at how much screen time Frankenstein gets, both in his own movie, and this one ... despite the fact that it's called The Bride of Frankenstein. Grrr, indeed. No wonder she's so angry.
Belloq was one of the coolest bad guys ever, and we only get him for part of one movie. He was created to be the darker version of Indiana Jones, and even Belloq knows he's the bad guy. In Raiders of the Lost Ark he says to Indy, "I am but a shadowy reflection of you. It would take only a nudge to make you like me. To push you out of the light." He's been a rival to Indy for years, and they've clearly known each other a long time. In the novels it was revealed that they met each other in graduate school, and he was set to appear in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles where they would be shown as friends in their 20s, yet he's gone at the end of this movie. Blown to bits. Never to return. We would have liked to seem him narrowly escape death, only to thwart Indy again and again. Now we just have Raiders to remember him by. Still, he does have a pretty spectacular death scene.
The Wicked Witch of the East
Talk about no screen time, this poor villain is only shown as a pair of legs with feet that curl up and retract under the house that's landed on her. All you really know about her is that she had a snazzy taste in stockings, and a vengeful sister. It's too bad you don't get to see more of her, especially since she was responsible for the creation of the Tin Man, but the closest you get is seeing her point of view as Dorothy's house crushes her. Talk about a bad day, she was probably just minding her own business, being evil, when suddenly an entire domicile squashes her flat. You hear all about how bad she was, and all the Munchkins come out to celebrate her death in song, yet we're robbed of seeing her in action. At least she had a delightfully evil sister.
Gary Oldman is a great villain. Just check him out in The Professional for one of the best scene-chewing performances by any villain in a movie. His delivery of "EVERYONE!" is a classic. He's been a terrific villain many times, and while Zorg in The Fifth Element is a great villain, he sucks because they don't give him anything to do. There's no faceoff with Bruce Willis in the movie, and all he does is coordinate things from afar for the most part., In the end, he just gets his ass blown up. So, he's a good example of a great villain with nothing to do. Of course, this is ignoring the entirety of Mr. Shadow, the ominous, evil dark cloud that Zorg reports to. But even after seeing the movie several times we're still not sure if he's supposed to be pure evil, some sort of overlord, or what. So, Gary Oldman wins the prize.
Goldfinger is the best James Bond movie ever made. Don't even try to argue with me on this one. A megalomaniac who wants to irradiate the entire U.S. gold supply so the value of his own gold will go up? Amazing gadgets, including that awesome Aston Martin? Hot girls covered in gold paint? Then of course, there's Obbjob. He's superior to Bond in bare-handed brawling, can crush golf balls in his bare hands, is immense, and most awesome of all, uses a razor-rimmed bowler hat as his weapon of choice. Why did they bring Jaws back a million times and not give us more Oddjob? Harold Sakata looked as impassable as a brick wall when he played this role, and while his death at the hands of Bond is cunning, it doesn't mean that we don't miss him. This impassable foe should have been resurrected and tossed and Bond from time to time. We don't actually know that he died, right? Maybe he was only stunned.
The Hunter in Bambi
We wanted this villain more, just so Bambi could get some serious payback. He did kill his mother, after all. Of course, it's a Disney film, and Bambi would just end up saving the hunter's life and teaching him a valuable lesson about the frailty of life or something. Still, in our imagination, Bambi grows to young adulthood, and then decides to seek his revenge. He sharpens his antlers to razor points, then tracks down the man who wronger him. Following his scent to a hunting lodge, inside he's faced with the horrors of dozens of mounted heads of other animals. Including his mother. The soundtracks turns ominous, and Bambi turns to face The Hunter, who stands in the doorway with a rifle. There's a brief but tense battle, and Bambi runs the man up against the wall, impaling him. That's justice, right there.