15 Best Villain Introductions In Movie History
The hero is the one that usually gets all the glory and love from the audiences, but they would be nothing without a good villain to make them suffer and make their life miserable. And in some cases, people even begin to root for the villain. That’s why they say that everyone loves a great villain.
A great villain needs to have a shocking introduction, something that will let us know what our protagonist is facing. Some villains are evil monsters that seek destruction or revenge. But other villains are plain average persons at first sight, and still, a great introduction can bring chills to the audience. The first time a villain appears in a movie should leave a mark on the audience, and let you know what you’re in for. The ominous appearance of a villain can come in many ways, and they are as varied as the villains themselves. Even if the villain is incapable of speech, it should let us know their intentions. It creates the setting for the rest of the hardships to be faced in the movies.
Having said all that, it’s clear to see why a great villain is nothing without an incredible presentation or entrance. So to honor these scenes we’ve made a list of the 15 best villain introductions in movie history.
15 Most Iconic Villain Introductions In Movie History
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the 15 most iconic villain introductions in movie history.
15. Syndrome – The Incredibles (2004)
After some political issues arise, the superheroes of America are basically forced to lay low and act like normal people. Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, two of the best superheroes, are now married and have an average, boring, and quiet, family life. That’s when a new opportunity appears for Mr. Incredible to get back into his heroic days, as he’s offered a job to find out why some ex-heroes have disappeared. While on this mission he finds the man behind the disappearances, and it’s no other than an old fan of his, that just wanted to be his sidekick. As Mr. Incredible rejected him countless times, rage grew within him and led him to become a supervillain.
Syndrome’s first scene is threatening and makes the hero reflect on the mistakes of his past. This is incredible as it turns the hero back into a human, and shows us all that everyone can make mistakes, even someone as strong as Mr. Incredible. Syndrome has everything that makes a villain great, he has a great origin story, an evil plan, and most importantly, he’s willing to do everything it takes to see it through.
14. Judge Frollo – The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Staying in the animation style of films, Judge Frollo is one of the evilest, and greatest villains seen in a Disney movie. The introduction of judge Frollo takes place in the song that opens the movie, The Bells of Notre Dame. The song tells of the tale when judge Frollo mercilessly chases a group of gypsies to capture them. But as a mother with a baby in arms escapes he personally chases her up the stairs of Notre Dame. There he takes the baby away from the woman and pushes her back and kills her. As he holds the hunchback baby he even calls it a monster, and is set to send it “back to hell, where it belongs”.
The character is merciless, cruel, dark and an embodiment of power and control itself. Frollo is one of those villains that firmly believes he’s acting rightfully. He believes he’s pure and just, and that his judgment is the only one that matters.
13. Pennywise – It: Part One (2017)
The 2017 adaptation of It was a massive success, and it’s mostly because of how emblematic the villain is. Pennywise the dancing clown is quite literally the embodiment of fear itself. It even transforms and adapts to make anyone who sees it tremble and shake in fear.
The character introduction also serves as the first scene of the movie. During a storm, a kid is playing with a paper boat, as the boat follows the stream of the rain in the street. The kid follows the boat until it gets into the dark sewage. An eerie-looking clown appears inside the sewer from the darkness to “help” the little kid. The crazy voice, the evil music, the unsettling fake friendliness, and the tension of this scene is simply amazing. It literally introduces itself a few moments before literally devouring the kid. It’s one of the evilest villains and it shows us that from the very beginning of the film. It’s a shocking way to set the mood for the rest of the film.
12. Don Logan – Sexy Beast (2000)
Directed by Jonathan Glazer (Under The Skin), Sexy Beast tells a story about Gal (Ray Winston), an ex-safecracker who is now enjoying his retirement in Spain together with his wife Deedee and two best friends (Aitch and Jackie). But their lives will soon change with the arrival of dangerous psychopath Don Logan (played brilliantly by Ben Kingsley) who is sent to bring Gal back home to London for one last heist.
From the first moment his name is mentioned, even before Logan appears, Glazer successfully builds tension and makes us wait in anticipation to see why are Gal and his friends so terrified when they learn that Logan is arriving to Spain. And once Logan appears it is clear why – Ben Kingsley, known for playing more gentle roles, is absolutely menacing and terrifying making everyone around him scared and shrinking before his menacing presence. One more iconic introduction for an excellent villain.
11. Predator – Predator (1987)
One of the most iconic villains of all time had an equally iconic introduction. Directed by great John McTiernan (Die Hard, Die Hard With Vengeance, Last Action Hero) and starring one of the greatest action heroes of all time, Predator was an excellent action SF in which a group of skilled and experienced mercenaries is taken one by one by an unknown threat after successfully completing the latest mission.
One of the reasons why Predator made our list is because his appearance is gradually revealed – as he’s using a cloaking device we don’t see him in its entirety until the end of the movie. All we know is that our protagonists are facing something or someone invisible, extremely strong and dangerous. An intriguing introduction to one of the best villains of all time.
10. Raoul Silva – Skyfall (2012)
Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, 1917) and released on the 50th anniversary of the series is one of the most successful Bond movies in history. And it’s not hard to see why when you take a look at all the players involved. One of the best parts of that movie was Javier Bardem’s villain Raoul Silva, one of the best and most memorable villains in the series.
The first time we see him in the movie is in a scene where Bond is captured by the bad guys and tied to a chair. Silva comes down in an elevator and calmly delivers his monologue about rats and mothers while slowly walking towards Bond. One of the best villains and introductions in the Bond series.
9. Anton Chigurh – No Country For Old Men (2007)
After a couple of disappointing movies in the early 2000s (Intolerable Cruelty, The Ladykillers), the Coen brothers returned in the big style with this adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name. One of the best things in No Country For Old Men was creepy killer Anton Chigurh played by Javier Bardem. He was so convincing and menacing in the role that he received a considerable amount of praise for his performance and won Best Supporting Actor Academy Award.
His introduction scene in which he murders a police officer (while handcuffed) with that disturbing look on his face convinced us this is a dangerous psychopath you don’t want to mess with. A terrific introduction for a villain. “What’s the most you ever lost on a coin toss?” scene was equally memorable.
8. John Doe – Se7en (1995)
Our pick for the best movie about serial killers, David Fincher’s Seven tells a story about two detectives, a rookie (Pitt) and a veteran (Freeman), who are hunting a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives. We’re introduced to the killer at the end of the movie and although he is only 10 or 15 minutes in the movie, with his calm presence, Spacey managed to present one of the more memorable psychopaths.
Spacey’s involvement was actually kept in secret so his appearance really surprised the audience – after committing all these horrible crimes Spacey’s John Doe calmly walks into the police station covered in blood and surrenders himself to detectives Mills and Somerset.
7. Hannibal Lecter – The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter is one of the most memorable and iconic villains of all time. Hopkins first played him in Jonathan Demme’s Academy Award-winning The Silence of the Lambs, one of the best movies about serial killers, and with only 20 and something minutes of screen time, he managed to leave a lasting impression and even got the Oscar for Best Actor.
His introduction in the movie, when FBI agent Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster) visits him to get some information on Buffalo Bill, is equally memorable and disturbing with his tale of livers, fava beans, and Chianti. By the way, did you know that Jodie Foster was terrified of Anthony Hopkins and never spoke to him until the last day of filming?
6. Jaws – Jaws (1975)
Steven Spielberg delivered a movie with a villain we barely even get to see, but that still scared the shit out of us and kept many generations of moviegoers from going to the deep waters. We barely even see the shark, mostly due to technical issues in the making of the film, but the fin rising in the sea and near the beach was more than enough.
The introduction of the shark shows us the point of view as it takes on prey. The fact that we don’t get to see the animal makes it even scarier, as it plants a natural fear. One of the most well-known fears among humans, the fear of the unknown. The iconic music that goes with the shark, the effects, and the violent attacks are things that are forever carved into the memory of film lovers all over the world. With this movie, Spielberg created a summer blockbuster and scared many generations away from the ocean.
5. Xenomorph – Alien (1979)
Villains don’t need to talk, and the Xenomorph is a great example of this. In the year 1979 Ridley Scott delivered his masterpiece, Alien. The Xenomorph is mostly silent (at least in terms of words) villain. But it’s not just an ordinary villain, as the Xenomorph is a full-blown monster.
The creature made its first appearance literally cracking open the chest of one of the crew members of the Nostromo while they were peacefully having dinner. This is the birth of the Xenomorph that will proceed to hunt them down. A fun fact about this movie is that most of the actors on set at that scene didn’t know the alien would literally bust the chest of the other character. Countless shows and movies have made their own version of the iconic chestburster xenomorph scene, but none can beat the original.
4. Terminator –Terminator (1984)
In the year 1984 then unknown director James Cameron (Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Aliens, True Lies, The Abyss, Avatar, Titanic) gave us one of the best and most legendary movies about the threat of technology. The Terminator is an incredible film that made history and has been copied countless times ever since it was released. Besides being one of the best and most terrifying villains of all time, the first appearance of Terminator is unforgettable and shows us just how tough and dangerous Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character is.
Schwarzenegger’s T800 travels back in time and arrives in a thunder crash in a deserted alleyway. The first time we see him, he’s bare naked in a crouching position. As the smoke fades he gets a clear view of the whole city – he just arrived and his mission to find and kill John Connor has begun. He walks away from the scene and meets a group of punks and kills them without breaking a sweat. At the time audience didn’t know he’s a robot posing as a human and this scene indicated this is not a regular killer but an unstoppable cold-blooded killing machine, quite literally. By the way, did you know that Arnold Schwarzenegger went into a restaurant during a break in full Terminator makeup with a missing eye?
3. The Joker – The Dark Knight (2008)
Heath Ledger’s Joker is without a doubt one of the most popular interpretations of the character, and it’s also one of the best. He gave life to an eerie and disturbing rendition of Batman’s greatest foe. The first movie in the trilogy actually ends with a small hint of the Joker appearing in Gotham city, but it’s in The Dark Knight that things go crazy.
Once again the scene is also the first one in the movie, and it kicks off with a bank robbery. This is no normal bank, this is what they call a “mob bank”, where the thugs and big fish of crime in Gotham keep their money. The plan even involves the member killing the other members of their team as they finish their role to cut on shares. The madness, tension, and movement of the camera show us just how dangerous and unpredictable the Joker is. And it’s part of the reasons why he’s one of the greatest villains in the history of cinema. By the way, did you know that there are only two characters in history for which two different actors have won an Academy Awards and one of them is actually Joker? Or that Michael Caine was so frightened by Heath Ledger’s Joker that he forgot to say his lines?
2. Darth Vader – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Probably the most legendary villain of all time, and one of the most popular characters ever created. Darth Vader’s introduction scene is a perfect way of summing up the character.
As the stormtroopers just finished off shooting some rebels in their own ship, the smoke covers the hallway. The ominous music plays as the stormtroopers gather back into position on the sides of the door. As the doors open we hear the legendary breathing sound, and the tall armored figure appears, the dark cape, the emblematic helmet – Lord Vader enters the room. And in just a matter of seconds, he becomes one of the greatest and one of the most memorable villains in science fiction history.
1. Colonel Hans Landa – Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Quentin Tarantino has written some amazing characters in his career, but Hans Landa (exceptionally played by Christoph Waltz) is probably one of his best creations. Not only that but in my humble opinion, it is one of the best and most unique characters of all time. Colonel Landa is a Nazi detective nicknamed The Jew Hunter, and his introduction is also the introduction of the film itself. This scene is a slow, and quiet interrogation of a French family that’s hiding Jews from the Nazis.
Even though most of the scene is slow-paced, the tension it builds, the setting it creates, the dialogues, the acting, and even the camera movements are a masterpiece. Landa is a calm and collected villain, and you could even say he is friendly, nice, and pleasant until he shows his real face. And that’s what makes him an incredible villain and even more dangerous. This character is truly what drives the entire movie, and this scene is the perfect kick to start an amazing film and perfectly captures the essence of his personality. Every interaction with him is so full of tension like for example a restaurant scene in which he’s interviewing young Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent) whose family he killed at the beginning of the movie. Christoph Waltz deservedly won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
And we came to the end of our list. Do you agree with us? What are the best villain introductions in movie history in your opinion?
- 20 Facts You Didn’t Know About Quentin Tarantino
- Most Terrifying Or Unsettling Movie Lines Uttered By a Villain
- Christopher Nolan’s Movies Ranked From Worst To Best
- 100 Strangest Or Interesting Movie Facts That Will Blow Your Mind
- What is your favorite movie about serial killers?
- Different Actors Who Won an Oscar For The Same Role
- 25 Interesting Facts About Steven Spielberg
- 30 Greatest Movies With Numbers In The Title