The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Top Twenty Animated Villains.

I love animated villains. Love them. And since I've done my Top Twenty Favorite Movies lists. Top Twenty Cartoons. And Top Twenty Movies That Pissed Me Off. I'm doing a list of my Top Twenty Favorite Villains.

20. Dr. Octopus (The Spectacular Spider-Man)
Yeah, you'd piss yourself too

The mad scientist is a great archetype, and Dr. Octopus is as classic a representation of that archetype as they come. He is also the disgruntled employee. We've all had that job. We've all worked for that asshole boss. Well, Ock snapped and decided he wasn't going to take it anymore, and that others would grovel before him. He formed two versions of the Sinister Six, became a player in the underworld as the Master Planner, and even tried to take over the world.

All that, and his coffee mug says "EVIL GENIUS." How can you not love him?

"Dr. Octopus Is an Evil Genius"

19. Dr. Mrs. The Monarch (The Venture Bros.)

Is it weird that the voice is now sexy too?

Well, I love a badass, supervillainess. She is smart, deadly, sexy (I swear, I don't even notice her voice anymore), and if she wanted to, she could rule the Guild of Calamitous Intent all by herself (Sorry, David Bowie). But, she doesn't want that.

Also, she's the reason her husband is not dead yet. ;)

18. Shockwave (Transformers Animated)

It's the quiet, nerdy guys you need to watch out for

Okay, I loved Generation One Shockwave... in the comic books. There he was Evil Spock. A creature dictated by logic, and one day logic dictated that he would be a superior leader than Megatron, and he overthrew Megatron and took command. He spent more time leading the Decepticons in the comics than Megatron did. So, in comparison, the cartoon version who did nothing but act as a glorified janitor for Cybertron in Megatron's absence and kissed his ass did nothing for me. A loyal Shockwave held no interest for me.

Until "Animated" came along, proving that concept is nothing and execution is everything. Once again, Shockwave is stationed on Cybertron. But this time on an Autobot controlled Cybertron as a spy, under the alias and identity of Longarm Prime... chief of Autobot Intelligence. Okay... if you haven't seen the show, just imagine how much damage Shockwave could do in that position. And he did. He was a key piece in a plan to invade Cybertron from within, and when that didn't work, and his cover was about to get blown, he nearly assassinated Autobot leader, Ultra Magnus, stole his hammer (which is a POWERFUL weapon), and continued to do his master's bidding, nearly bringing them to victory. Hardcore.

I did enjoy that Corey Burton reprised the voice. In fact, the reason we got Shockwave at all was because they had Corey there already as Megatron and Ratchet, and he wanted to play Shockwave again.

17. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

I'd hit it, and so would you

My favorite Disney movie villain. She's got it all. A great look, powerful magic, a great, sinister voice. And she turned into a dragon. Her only real flaw is that she needs new minions. But, if there is any villain that represents Disney at its most evil, it's Maleficent. There's a reason that she is leading the villains in the "Kingdom Hearts" series.

16. The Shredder (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

Um, you do know you could cut someone, right?

Okay, if you're a badass, evil, powerful ninja. You shouldn't be the whiny bitch husband to a pink brain that dresses up as an obese, gay, fat man. Thank god Peter Laird and his team brought us this, this... monster in the 2003 series. He was very scary, and whenever he appeared, you never knew if the characters would survive unscathed. Despite being a little, red slug, Ch'rell was one to fear.

And the fact that the Turtles never defeated him in battle adds to his resume.

Not All Shredders Are Created Equal

15. Thailog (Gargoyles)

Taking Oedpial complex to a whole new level

I know a lot of people hate this guy. But I love him. Deliciously evil, and Keith David's performance gives him gravitas most villains would pay good money for. Intelligent, cunning, treacherous, and almost always in control. He'd rank higher if he had more than three episodes. But the comic books are helping, and I look forward to seeing what he does next.

Thailog Is a Creepy Bastard

14. Princess Azula (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

If you'd hit it, you belong on "To Catch a Predator"

You know how they say many great geniuses are insane? That's Princess Azula. One could say she accomplished a lot at a very young age, and was definitely a prodigy. But make no mistake, her brilliance was fueled by the same insecurities and fear of her father as her brother, Zuko's. Notice that the final blow that cracked her was when Fire Lord Ozai told her she would not be accompanying him on his mission to burn down the Earth Kingdom. But, all that aside, she provided Aang and his companions with more trouble than anyone else, and terrified everyone around her.

The Fire Lord And His Wacky Family

13. Darkseid (DCAU)

He killed Jack Kirby. On screen!

If Superman were evil, he'd be Darkseid. Now, I've always been a Marvel guy, but Marvel doesn't have a villain like this. They tried with Thanos, but Thanos is a cheap imitation, his creator even admitted as such. If DC has a Hell, it is Apokolips. If they have a Devil, it is Darkseid. Pretty impressive considering the presence of Lucifer Morningstar in the DCAU.

12. Ra's al Ghul (DCAU)

Liam Neeson, eat your heart out

If the Joker is Batman's greatest local threat, Ra's al Ghul is the threat that forces Batman to step onto a much larger stage. The tragedy here being that these two want the same thing, to bring about order and protect the world. Ra's al Ghul just seeks to do so by any means necessary, and will kill millions to do it. Another tragedy being that he could easily have become another father figure to Batman were he a decent person. David Warner was perfect.

11. Tombstone (The Spectacular Spider-Man)

I wonder if he ever bit his tongue

Possibly one of the best make-overs ever given to an established character. Weisman and his team did for Tombstone what Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett did for Mr. Freeze. Gone is the illiterate, petty thug. We get a true crime lord. What's more, unlike the Kingpin in the 90s cartoon, he's allowed to actually be a crime lord. He carries himself well, never speaks in a manner to implicate himself (really subtle for a kid's show). And he's just cool, and badass. Possibly Kevin Michael Richardson's best performance.

Tombstone Lives Up To His Name

10. Vicious (Cowboy Bebop)

Emo much?

Cold, calculating, and a brutal killer. Ambitious. He's rarely seen, and he rarely speaks. But, damn. When he shows up, death follows in his wake. There is just something so creepy about him. His very presence makes his subordinates tremble. His very name is one of the few things to get the cool Spike Spiegal to complete lose his temper. Perhaps my favorite animated gangster. Sorry, Dracon.

9. Megatron (Transformers: Animated)

Get used to this, Starscream. He's not putting up with your bullshit this time

One of only two Megatrons worth writing about. As cunning and manipulative as his "Beast Wars" counterpart, and much better Decepticon warlord than G1 Megatron. This is the Megatron that should be the namesake of "Beast Wars" Megatron. Cruel, calculating, always has a plan, and knows how to roll with the punches. And, unlike some other Megatrons, this one does not suffer traitors. At all. Yes, I did approve of his zero tolerance for Starscream policy. Corey Burton was chilling in the role... bringing a level of charisma to the character that many great tyrants possessed.

Comparing G1 Megatron to Animated Megatron is like comparing Skeletor to David Xanatos.

Animated Megatron Is the Great Communicator

8. The Monarch (The Venture Bros)

I don't want to know what they use "the puppet" for

If I can have only one comedic villain on my list, this is the one. The Monarch is every single supervillain cliche there is completely dissected and subverted to show us all just how sad and pathetic these people really are. I just love him.

The Monarch Is a Case Worth Studying

7. Phaeton (ExoSquad)

Godwin's Law? What's Godwin's Law?

Quite possibly the closest you will ever see to an animated Adolf Hitler. Phaeton not only left a body count, but on screen genocide of normal human beings. Intelligent, cold, ruthless, and, in the end, insane. Phaeton hits close to him in that, he may have been grown in a test tube by humans, but he embodies the worst traits of mankind. And he did it all on screen too.

The Daily Show: A Relatively Closer Look - Hitler Reference

And now, I enter... The Sinister Six! ::Maniacal laughter::

6. Megatron (Beast Wars)

Best Megatron ever. Yessss

Ah, yesss. A classic. The first, great character to be named Megatron. Unfortunately, there have only been two truly great Megatrons in the entire mythos (I already mentioned the other one). This one was clever, crafty, manipulative, and slick. He accomplished more than his predecessor with a lot less, and was always fun to watch. David Kaye just oozed evil in this role. Yesss.

"Beast Wars" Megatron Had the Worst Luck

5. Griffith (Berserk)

So, he's going to sacrifice his friends and turn into a winged lipstick monster.

If I had to pick the most evil character in animation, ever... it would be Griffith. So ambitious, so charismatic. You don't think he's the bad guy. Her certainly doesn't think so. He's loved and respected by his soldiers. He looks like a Galahad-ish hero. So pure. But then, he starts assassinating his political rivals, attempts to become King of Midland, is tortured and mutilated, and finally sacrifices the troops who love him to demons so he can become a member of the God Hand, and then rapes his most loyal soldier, Caska in front of Guts (our protagonist). Now, that's evil.

Griffith Is... Just See For Yourself

4. The Green Goblin ("The Spectacular Spider-Man")

World's Greatest Dad, and if you disagree, you're a petulant, ungrateful child!

One word, wow... just... wow. A magnificent bastard and a complete monster, whether he's the Green Goblin or Norman Osborn. Steve Blum was deliciously evil and maniacal as the Goblin and Alan Rachins was cold and cruel as Norman. Whether he's belittling his son, Harry, in front of his friends, or twisting his ankle to frame him... you know Joan Crawford is taking inspiration from him. I loved Sean Galloway's re-design of the character. A very iconic adaptation.

The Green Goblin Is a Magnificent Bastard

3. The Joker (DCAU)

Uh oh, Luke's gone to the dark side.

Do I need to say why? Perfect, absolutely perfect. And just like Steve Blum as the Goblin, you'd never know this was Mark Hamill.

2. David Xanatos

Women love him and men want to be him. Or is it the other way around?

Another terrific villain. While he's been imitated since then, there was never an animated villain quite like him before. Jonathan Frakes was terrific at making him cool and suave. Quite possibly the most intelligent animated villain ever. They didn't name the "Xanatos Gambit" after him for no reason. Often imitated but never duplicated. He wasn't so much evil as he was amoral, and very often his own fans don't quite know what to make of him, even when they know what he is capable of.

David Xanatos Is a Badass

1. Demona (Gargoyles)

She's not bad, she's just drawn that way. Er, no, she is bad.

As if you expected it to be anybody else... ;)

Demona is just such a three dimensional and fascinating character. A very rich and deep history there. A great character design, and Marina Sirtis was just awesome in the role. I don't think she's been replicated since then. Her story has the depth of a Shakespearan tragedy, and she did it all to herself. She's a genocidal Lady Macbeth... almost literally.

And she's powerful also. Adept at modern technology, and skilled at the art of ancient magicks. Her goal is nothing less than the complete destruction of humanity, and all because she can't cope with the fact that it's her fault her clan got massacred.

Yes, she is my all time favorite villain in any genre. Possibly within the realm of fiction. Brilliantly conceived, brilliantly developed, brilliantly portrayed. I hope that we one day get to see more of her.

She is humanity's worst enemy, but more than that, she is her own worst enemy. She is Demona.

Demona Is a Bitch


  1. Very nice list Greg but come on now, we all know Ock deserves a higher spot the that. ;)

  2. In recent issues of the manga its implied that Griffith eats souls (im guessing its probably to help maintain his new body in the human realm... though that may no longer be necessarily with the coming of Fantasia and all that), that adds a new twist to his evilness.

    Hes such a bastard, hes got practically the whole world thinking hes this Jesus like savior person, the pope and those guys are proclaiming his as the hawk of light and all that, its just sick.

  3. Oohh.. so glad yiu put my queen, Demona on first. With G1 Megtaron, I think he's part of 80's campy cartoon villains.