The Life & Times of an Auteur.

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top Twenty Five Movie Villains

Another video, another re-working of an old list. Yes, like all human beings, I can be fickle. But I also gave myself new criteria for this one, and like my list of animated villains, I ignored the ones who made their first appearances in a comic book.

25. The Phantasm

"Mask of the Phantasm" is still my choice for best Batman movie of all time. A big part of the reason for that is its villain, the Phantasm. A shadowy figure from Bruce Wayne's past who is now targeting Gotham City's most infamous crime lords. While I'm not all that concerned about spoiling a movie that came out in 1993, for the benefit of those of you who have not seen it I'll keep a lid on it.

24. Grand Moff Tarkin

The only "Star Wars" villain you will see on this list. Darth Vader was ruined by a poor showing in "Return of the Jedi" long before the prequels were a gleam in anybody's eye, and the Emperor was too stupid to win. Grand Moff Tarkin classes the joint up with a cold efficiency and subtle brutality as only Peter Cushing could deliver. Even in a galaxy far, far away... Tarkin's menace feels real.

23. Galvatron

Galvatron is on here partly for nostalgia. He endeared himself to me by brutally and quickly killing Starscream proving himself to be superior to his "past life." He then went on to fight for his freedom after being enslaved by a chaos god, before being utterly broken. Throw in a great design, a cool transformation and a terrific vocal performance by Leonard Nimoy when he's not being directed by Michael Bay and you have a memorable Decepticon warlord. The season of the cartoon show set after the movie made him even more memorable.

22. Tom Powers

The central message of this movie is that crime doesn't pay. This is a movie that has been remade and duplicated a thousand times over. It was made in 1931, so it might be old hat, but it's legacy is very important. James Cagney plays our villain protagonist who belittles his law abiding brother, is spoiled by his elderly, doting mother (think Aunt May on steroids) and learns the hard way that crime doesn't pay, and ends with one of cinema's most legendary closing shots. Plus, who doesn't love the scene where Tom Powers shoves a grapefruit in his girlfriend's face? According to Cagney, Mae Clarke's ex-husband had the grapefruit scene timed, and would buy a ticket just before that scene went onscreen, go enjoy the scene, leave, then come back during the next show just in time to see only that scene again.

21. Bill

The titular character of "Kill Bill," was the deadliest assassin in the world. Brilliantly written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, with a quiet understated performance by the late David Carradine. While he speaks more often than he takes action, it's this character's mind that makes him dangerous. Very few people can bring so much subtle menace to making their four year old daughter a sandwich, but Bill did. Suave and charming, he really was a snake charmer.

20. Professor Ratigan

Professor Ratigan is definitely one of Disney's most underrated villains in one of Disney's most underrated movies. But, honestly, fuck those people who underrate him, he's my second favorite in the entire Disney canon. He is, arguably, the greatest depiction of Professor James Moriarty ever put to film... and he's voiced by the legendary Vincent Price. How do you get better than that? His character design is awesome, the airs he puts on are awesome. A savage low-life thug who puts on a false front of upper class sophistication. There is a part of me that wonders if Ratigan is also an allegory for the self-loathing Jew. Over the centuries, the Jewish people were often equated with rats... Hans Landa talks about this in "Inglourious Basterds" in one scene. Ratigan hates it when people call him a rat, he even has one of his henchmen killed for it. I'm not going to accuse Disney of antisemiticism there, and it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the character, but it's just something I took away from the movie.

19. The Witch King of Angmar

The Terminator was scary because it was a killing machine that would not stop until it accomplished its mission. Now imagine you have nine of them... riding on either horses or winged Fell Beasts. Now imagine their leader is being fueled in power by an evil demigod. The Witch King of Angmar is the second most evil being in Middle Earth. A cruel sorcerer and unstoppable warrior. He is capable of leading a small squad of troops on a tiny mission, or being general of vast armies. Fear is his greatest weapon... it emanates from him and all in service of his dark master.

18. Jimmy Conway

First off, a bit of trivia. Jimmy Conway was based on real life gangster, Jimmy "The Gent" Burke, and my grandfather says he knew him. Based on a true story, "Goodfellas" is one of the greatest films ever made, and Robert De Niro may as well have been playing himself, he slipped into this guy's skin so well. De Niro reportedly visited the real Burke to get pointers on how to play him, and it shows. Everything about this guy feels authentic, and the acting is so powerful you can tell what he's thinking without him saying a thing... my favorite instance being when he makes the decision to kill off most of his gang while smoking a cigarette at the bar.

17. Norman Bates

No one can deny that Alfred Hitchcock was the master of suspense and the master of cinema, and through Norman Bates, he set the stage for every legendary movie psycho. Be it Hannibal Lecter or John Doe, without Bates, we wouldn't have gotten any of this. And how does Bates stack up all these decades later? He holds up as well as anybody does. He is the classic movie psychopath, and his twist is still shocking even all these decades later.

16. The Shark

What is "Jaws" about? If you dig down to find the core truth of the film, it is about a man getting over his fear of the water. Well, what personifies aquaphobia better than a monstrous killer shark? Plus, for most of the movie you did not see the shark... it may as well have been the water killing these people. This was not the original plan, Spielberg wanted the shark visible more earlier on, but the mechanical shark apparently didn't agree with the ice cold sea water, and worked maybe 15% of the time. Well, let's count ourselves lucky for this, less is more.

15. Hans Landa

Nazis are easy to include on a list like this, but Christoph Waltz's performance as Hans Landa won him a much deserved Oscar. The French called him the Jew Hunter, and he was very good at his job. Whether he is subtly intimidating a farmer to betray the Jews he is hiding. And the most ironic part of this, he never considered himself a Nazi, or even hated Jews. From his point of view, he just understood how the world worked. When the time came to betray Nazi Germany, he did it in a heartbeat, and not out of any humanity, but because he always acted in his own self interest.

14. Saruman the White

I love this guy. He may be your standard evil wizard, but he is in many ways the original evil wizard. Or at least early enough to help define the archetype before it became a cliche. This is the guy who was great once but fell into darkness and evil under the influence of the Dark Lord Sauron. In many ways, you can look to him to get a sense of what happened to Sauron himself thousands of years prior. Saruman was powerful, he was cunning, but his greatest power was his voice... and as such, Christopher Lee was cast perfectly, and you can tell he loved every moment.

13. Antonio Salieri

This guy is just the personification of jealousy, and F. Murray Abraham played that to a tee. Now, I know that historically there is a rumor that says he confessed to the murder of Mozart on his death bed. Is it true? We'll never know. But it made for a delicious rumor and a delicious story. A story about mediocrity, jealousy, and the quest for an undeserved immortality. The thing that has come out of this is that Salieri's operas and music are being played in the 21st century. People would likely never have heard of Salieri had F. Murray Abraham not done such a brilliant job in portraying him. One might wonder, however, if it is better to be remembered as a villain for all time, or be forgotten to everyone but the historians.

12. Jack Torrance

This one is another legendary performance from Jack Nicholson. You all know it, even if you haven't seen the movie, you know it. We spend an entire movie watching Jack slowly go insane. While the "Here's Johnny" scene has been parodied over and over again, my favorite scene has to be when his wife, Shelley Duvall discovers what he's been writing for the past several months, and that confrontation where he does nothing but yell at her makes my body hairs stand up to this day.

11. Hans Gruber

Hans has got to be the greatest action villain of all time. He's the perfect counterpart to our hero, John McClane. Whereas McClane is your typical foul mouthed, rugged blue-collar every man, Hans is a classically educated, sophisticated, suave, polite European dressed in a suit that must cost thousands. He's smart, manipulative, and always in control of everything... except that Irish-American running around in the building's vents. Often imitated but never duplicated.

10. The Alien

The Alien (or the xenomorph, if you prefer) is my favorite movie monster of all time. Ridley Scott and H.R. Giger really hit upon many of our most primal fears when they dreamed this thing up. The Alien is, for all intents and purposes the personification of rape. Just look at the thing. It's phallic and feminine at the same time, and it's very smart. Just watching this thing stalk and murder the crew members of the Nostromo, it was clearly alien. It's made even scarier if you watch the Director's Cut, and you find out what it was really doing to its victims. Ash was right when he called it the perfect life form.

9. Norman Stansfield

This character has got to be my all time favorite character portrayed by Gary Oldman. I don't even know where I should start. Stansfield is a corrupt Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent who employs a holder (Michael Badalucco) to store cocaine in his residence. When Stansfield learns that the holder has been stealing some of the drugs for himself, he and his henchmen gun down the man's entire family, with the exception of 12-year old Mathilda, and he does so in the most over the top, hammiest scene ever. While this might make one groan in most other movies, here it's downright terrifying. He gets even more terrifying when Mathilda, meaning to kill him, is found by her in the men's room of the DEA building and in one of the most terrifying scenes, with a gun pointed at her, he asks if she likes life, and after an entire movie of being creepy monotone, she tears up and says yes. He replies that this is good because he takes no pleasure taking a life from someone who doesn't care about it. Yeah.

8. Hannibal Lecter

This guy is so iconic that he's become a cliche. Everyone tries to copy Hannibal Lecter. Even Mark Millar's run on "Marvel Knights Spider-Man" paid homage to him when Norman Osborn was in his prison cell and Spidey came around for information trying to locate his missing Aunt May. But he became iconic for a reason, he was like nothing cinema had ever seen before. He was a highly intelligent, witty, charming cannibal who just had a way of staring into your soul like a laser beam. Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for this role, and it was well earned. Is the character realistic? Not at all, despite being the most iconic villain in the movie, Buffalo Bill feels a lot more real. Does that detract from Lecter? Hardly. A cinematic villain for the cinematic medium.

7. Maleficent

Out of all the films in Disney's canon, Maleficent is the best. Sometimes less is more, and I don't want or need Maleficent to be anything but the Mistress of All Evil. I am not looking forward to this new movie starring Angelina Jolie. I think it is a mistake. But, Jolie aside, Maleficent knows what she is and is the epitome of spiteful evil. Now, I'm not saying it's bad to reveal the details of a villain's backstory. Sometimes it works for the character and sometimes it doesn't. Recently I got into an argument about this with somebody and they cited the "Gargoyles" multi-parter "City of Stone" for going into Demona's past and revealing her story, and used that as the reason why doing the same for Maleficent is a swell idea. I argued that Demona is the on-going main villain of a serialized television series and that her past and what made her what she is are questions introduced early on, and we got those questions answered after less than a year. There was no such thing for Maleficent, and nobody asked these questions the movie itself did not present in the entire fifty-three years since the movie made it's debut in 1959!

6. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow

Ah, the original dynamic duo. Sometimes we, as Americans, revere our criminals. I'm not saying we should, but we do. Bonnie and Clyde are a testament to this. Bank robbers, murderers and yest they're practically folk heroes now. Arthur Penn's 1967 film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway might sympathy events, but it perpetuates their legend. They might be thieves and murderers, but they were also the subject of one of cinema's greatest love stories of all time.

5. Tamora

I love this character. I first encountered her in the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival's production of "Titus Andronicus" back in 1999 where she was played by Nance Williamson. The play captivated me, so naturally Julie Taymor's production had a lot to live up to in my eyes... and again I was captivated by this Shakespearan Queen of Evil as portrayed by Jessica Lange. Tamora is a vengeful mother and the former queen of the goths, who was defeated by Roman general Titus Andronicus and dragged back to Rome in chains alongside her three sons. On the way, Titus sacrificed one of her sons to Jupiter... and his own family would soon pay for it. Once in Rome, Tamora proceeds to marry Emperor Saturninus; encourages her two surviving sons to assault, rape and mutilate Titus' daughter, Lavinia, during a hunt where her tongue is cut out and her hands are severed and replaced with tree branches; has two of Titus' sons framed for murder and has them arrested and promises to release them if Titus will cut off his own hand and send it to the emperor only to return his two sons' severed heads. And that's just for starters! Tamora did everything she could to give me a Midsummer Night's Nightmare and god bless her for it.

4. William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting

Daniel Day-Lewis is one of my all time favorite actors. I've been told I have a man-crush on him. I'm willing to admit to that, and he brought us a great antagonist in Bill the Butcher, a gangster and political leader... talk about a dangerous combination. A racist and a xenophobe who wraps himself in the flag representing an evil undercurrent of this country which has never gone away. The dark side of patriotism personified. But, at the same time, he did have a sense of honor, if twisted. The man he respected the most was his enemy, Priest Vallon. Yes, once a year he celebrated his victory over him, but he mourned at the same time... paid tribute to him... hung his portrait on his mantle. That's what was so tragic about it, were it not for their prejudices, they wouldn't have been enemies and ultimately, everything they did was insignificant. I think in a way, he knew his way of doing things was coming to an end and he even accepted it, but he was still determined to go down fighting.

3. Sauron

When I hear the word "evil" nobody personifies it as perfectly as the Dark Lord Sauron. A maiar spirit who gave himself over to evil itself, you can view him as a demigod... as a fallen angel... but Sauron is pure evil. Cruelty, malice, a will to subjugate all life. He has thousands of followers at his command, who worship him as their god-king. Those he cannot seduce to evil (as he did with Saruman), he'll drive insane (as he did with Denethor). His very gaze can cause despair as he sees all within his tower. The One Ring is merely an extension of Sauron... and all who possess it will be destroyed from within as it seeks to find its way back to the hand of its master. Sauron was originally motivated by a love of order as he sees free will as chaotic and seeks to enslave all life on Earth before looking at his creator and showing him what he has done to all of creation. The two most iconic symbols of his power are the Great Eye, seeing all there is to see; and Barad-dur, an impossibly high tower held up by Sauron's will alone... in the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie. He may not be the embodiment of all evil, but Sauron is truly evil's greatest servant.

2. Amon Göeth

This might just be Ralph Fiennes' greatest performance of all time. He was so scary that when one of the surviving Jews saved by Oskar Schindler visited the set, she nearly fainted in fear when she saw him. Aside from that, let me leave you with this quote: "I would like so much to reach out to you and touch you in your loneliness. What would it be like, I wonder? What would be wrong with that? I realize that you are not a person in the strictest sense of the word, but, um, maybe you're right about that too. Maybe what's wrong, it's not us, it's this... I mean, when they compare you to vermin, to rodents and to lice. I just, uh, you make a good point. You make a very good point. Is this the face of a rat? Are these the eyes of a rat? "Hath not a Jew eyes?" I feel for you Helen." [leaning forward to kiss her] "No, I don't think so. You Jewish bitch, you nearly talked me into it, didn't you?"

1. Michael Corleone

Wow. Where do I start? We all go through a phase where we're embarrassed or ashamed or just flat out hate our families. While Michael never hated his family, it was clear early on that he wanted to pursue a life apart from the family business. But fate and circumstances interfered and Michael not only was forced into the family business, but he soon became the head of the family... and it soon destroyed any semblance of the life he could have otherwise had. From war hero to brutal criminal to losing his family all culminating in the murder of his brother. Michael Corleone became exactly what he tried hard not to become.

"It's not personal, it's just business." While that was true most of the time, a lot of the time he was just kidding himself. It was the greatest performance of Al Pacino's career, and the greatest film Francis Ford Coppola has ever directed. To this day, everything stands the test of time and it will continue to do so for generations beyond.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The So-Called Curse

Am I shocked that "Young Justice" got axed? No. Truthfully, I've known this was coming for a while. Behind the scenes knowledge or not, the writing was on the wall ever since "Beware the Batman" and "Teen Titans Go" were announced; The DC Nation is a one hour block, where did you all think those two new shows were going?  I haven't watched "Green Lantern" but my condolences to the fans of that show show as well, and to the very talented Mr. Josh Keaton.

However, what I would like to talk about is this so-called curse that the internet says Greg Weisman has. Yes, I've made the joke once or twice myself. "Young Justice": Cancelled after two seasons. "The Spectacular Spider-Man": Cancelled after two seasons. "W.I.T.C.H.": Cancelled after two seasons. "Gargoyles": Cancelled after two seasons.* What does this all mean?

There are no such things as curses. There IS however such things as idiot crack head TV execs who decide what gets aired and what doesn't by who sucks their dick more… assholes.

There's always the next show. Maybe it will be another comic book property. Maybe it will be that "Gargoyles" spin-off that I've been pining to get for over a decade now. Maybe it will be something completely original. Like all good things, it'll likely get taken from us prematurely as well. Not because of any curse, but... see the last paragraph. But for now, we have seven more episodes of "Young Justice Invasion" still coming, and a library of shows and comics to revisit.

* "The Goliath Chronicles" totally doesn't count.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Top Twenty-Five Comic Book Villains

As a follow up to my Top Twenty-Five Animated Villains entry. And remember, these are my personal favorites.

25. Ultron

What can I say about Ultron? Evil robots tend to be a dime a dozen, and I'm not even counting Decepticons in this. But Ultron is one of the few greats. An android programmed to think, learn, grow, and it became sentient. It views humanity as flawed and seeks to destroy us, and yet its become far more human than it would ever admit to. Ultron is and always has been chilling.

24. The Mandarin

Iron Man's archenemy, and at the same time, a remnant from the embarrassing age of the yellow peril. But despite his racist origins, the Mandarin has endured as Tony Stark's most dangerous enemy, and has recently been updated by Matt Fraction and brought into the 21st century. I look forward to seeing Sir Ben Kingsley's portrayal of him in "Iron Man 3".

23. Shari

Every other character on this list predates her, and she has only a handful of comic book appearances so far. But she intrigues me. There's a nice sense of mystery about her that has catapulted her to my twenty-third favorite comic book villain. Now, other villains that appear in the "Gargoyles" comic book are better villains and have earned a spot on this list over her, but they were first introduced in the animated series, and I did not think it would be fair to include them in this list. Still, while most of us have probably correctly guessed Shari's identity, the more intriguing mystery is why is she doing all of this? Why did the Illuminati assign her to be Thailog's new executive assistant? She clearly outranks him. What exactly is going on. I hope that eventually we'll get the answers. Either way, Shari remains an original and intriguing character.

22. The Kingpin

Quite possibly the most iconic mobster in all of comics, and the most feared. Ironically, his rise to power would have been impossible if the superheroes like Spider-Man, Daredevil, and other crime fighters didn't bring down so many old school mafiosos. Naturally, the underworld needed a leader who could match them, and we got Wilson Fisk. Publicly, he's a spice trader and philanthropist, but in reality he's a dangerous criminal mastermind. His resources are almost unlimited, and he's got supervillains on his payroll as well as a network so vast, Karen Page selling Daredevil's real name in Mexico reached him in a matter of hours. He has since proceeded to make Daredevil's life a living Hell.

21. Karai

Ah yes, the leader of the Foot. Or the Shredder's adopted daughter depending on which continuity you follow. She intrigues me, especially in a medium where strong female villains are rare. Her sense of honor is as strong as her ruthlessness, and under the right circumstances she can be more dangerous than the Shredder ever was.

20. Adrien Veidt

What is the goal of a superhero? They want to save the world. But is beating up supervillains and fighting bank robbers really going to make a difference? Adrian Veidt believed he could save the world, and did with a very dark, but coldly logical methodology. Was he right? No sane person would agree. But he is a shining example of what could happen if Superman decided he wasn't doing enough.

19. Scarecrow

I've always felt that Batman had one of the best rogues galleries in comic books, and the Scarecrow has long been a favorite of mine. As Batman exists to strike fear into the hearts of criminals, Dr. Jonathan Crane, as the Scarecrow, strikes fear into innocent people for his own ends. I've always preferred him to characters like Killer Croc, Bane, and the Penguin.

18. Madame Hydra

Sometimes she's called Viper but to me, she'll always be Madame Hydra. If Baron Strucker and the Red Skull are Nazis, Madame Hydra is the ultimate nihilist. She wants to see society collapse, and is willing to work with Neo-Nazis to do it. She is so ruthless that even the Red Skull thought she was too insane to work with. She's the current leader of HYDRA after she manipulated Norman Osborn into helping her rebuild the organization... yes, she manipulated one of Marvel's best chessmasters. This girl is a force to be reckoned with and I can't wait to see what's next for her.

17. Vandal Savage

I suppose when you're fifty-thousand years old, you can say that you know what's best for humanity and have it carry at least a little more weight. This guy is one of my favorite DC villains. He's intelligent, ruthless, and while he lacks superpowers, he is powerful enough to fight even Batman hand-to-hand. My favorite version of him is the defacto leader of The Light in "Young Justice". He despises the Justice League because he sees them as calcifying humanity's evolution and plans to speed up the process.

16. Red Skull

What happens when Adolf Hitler, while berating his generals, says he could take an ordinary bellhop at a hotel and turn him into a better Nazi than they? You get the Red Skull. Quite possibly the most evil villain in Marvel's pantheon of supervillainy. The Skull is someone most other supervillains won't work with because of his Nazi past. Of course, he has abandoned National Socialism in general because he is driven by hate. Pure, unbridled hate. I think he's back now as a clone who is a full-fledged Nazi again, and he carved out Charles Xavier's brain, but I'm not reading that crap. Still, given the character's rich history, he deserves his place on this list.

15. Darkseid

If you exit the realm of Vertigo, Darkseid, ruler of Apokolips is, quite possibly, the DC Universe's version of Satan. Hundreds of thousands of years old, and evil beyond measure. Marvel Comics doesn't have anyone like this, although they once made an attempt with Thanos. Darkseid commands legions and rules through fear. The entire universe fears him, and, more than that, he was the one creature who forced Batman to break his unbreakable vow... Batman kills him. Or at least mortally wounds him. I don't know what's happening in the new Fifty-Two and I don't care.

14. Mystique

Mother (or father) of Nightcrawler, foster-mother of Rogue, terrorist, and shape-shifter. But more than that, I tend to think that Raven Darkholme is less about an agenda and more about fucking with everyone around her and getting away with it. She is older than she appears, far older, and has been around for many turning points in mutant history. Unlike Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister, she has been used to great affect, and she always makes things personal.

13. Two-Face

Harvey here was flipping coins decades before Anton Chigurh. The best friend turned enemy motif is very popular in the realm of storytelling. Two-Face isn't the first on this list to fill the "enemy mine" trope, and he won't be the last. But Two-Face isn't just a faceless (pardon the pun) character filling in a cliche, he's also one of Batman's greatest enemies. Depending on who you ask, he'd rank right below the Joker. Now, the one thing that would improve the character for me is that I wish we had a sense of who Harvey Dent was before his disfigurement. He was Bruce Wayne's best friend, but we never saw much of their friendship to my recollection. It's an avenue I hope we see get explored some day.

12. Talia al Ghul

Talia al Ghul has always been a favorite of mine, but it was the last decade that really cemented it. For years she was struggling between choosing between her love for Batman and her loyalty towards her father (he's coming, btw), and in a medium where most female villains eventually reform, I was pleased that Talia was taken in a different direction. She is now no longer in love with Batman, and Grant Morrison has proven her to be even more dangerous than her father when she was revealed to be the mastermind behind Leviathan. Not to mention her mothering Damian Wayne has permanently cemented her connection to the Bat-Family. Talia al Ghul, I salute you.

11. The Hobgoblin

Oh what a tangled web we weave. Roderick Kingsley is a great villain. Just how great? He managed to survive editorial incompetence. For years, he tormented Spider-Man and made him second guess everyone around him. No one knew who he was. No one. And Kingsley made damn sure no one would find out. Whether he got his callow twin brother, Daniel to pose as him in public, or whether he used his brainwashed dupes to appear in costume, the Hobgoblin covered his tracks. And he got away with it, and is in retirement on a tropical island with no extradition treaty with the U.S.. Also, unlike the Green Goblin, the Hobgoblin was stone cold sane. Michael Corleone in a costume.

10. Baron Zemo

Former Nazi scientist, rival of the Red Skull and founder of the Masters of Evil. Baron Zemo is almost as great a monster as the Red Skull. He was so hated by the German people for experiments he performed on them that he took to wearing the mask to protect his family. His son has proudly continued the tradition by leading the Masters of Evil, founding the Thunderbolts and still making Captain America's life a nightmare. Plus he made Captain America cry, and for that he's earned his spot on this list.

9. Ra's al Ghul

His very name means "the demon's head." Six hundred years old, and a skilled enough alchemist to extend his life, Ra's al Ghul is Batman to the nth degree. Like Batman, he also strives to bring order... but through tyrannical means and genocide. Ra's is a great villain because he forces Batman out of Gotham City and their entire world is their chessboard. Not to mention Ra's has a beautiful daughter that he wants Batman to marry. If things were different, Ra's al Ghul could have easily become Batman's surrogate father.

8. Dr. Octopus

I was tempted to post a picture of Spider-Man here. The mad scientist is a timeless archetype, but few of them are as interesting as Otto Octavius. Few other villains personify the trope of science run amok. A brilliant scientist but a troll of a human being. His tentacles are as iconic as they are deadly. He formed the Sinister Six, he nearly nuked Manhattan just because he was pissed off, he tried to seize control of the underworld, and he has been a thorn in Spider-Man's side since the beginning of the webhead's career. He'd be the most likely suspect to peg as Spidey's arch-nemesis... if someone else hadn't come along.

7. Loki

Foster brother of Thor, and Norse God of Lies. Loki has but one goal, to bring about Ragnarok. And to piss off Thor while he's at it. My favorite story about Loki was J. Michael Stracsynski's where he was re-incarnated possessing the body of Thor's great love, Sif. And he made the most of it... also using the truth as his weapon rather than lies, he was able to depose Thor and has become the architect of the Siege of Asgard. In 1963, the Avengers assembled to battle Loki and the movies have successfully followed suit, where Loki was perfectly portrayed by the great Tom Hiddleston.

6 (66). Lucifer Morningstar

He's the Devil. 'Nuff said.

... okay, I'll say more. Lucifer is everything Mephisto should be. Clever, cunning, scheming, and the ultimate rebel. He gave up the throne of Hell and handed the key to Dream of the Endless just to screw with him. He created his own existence so Yahweh would no longer have the monopoly on creation with only one rule, worship nothing. Ultimately, he's a conceited prick rebelling against his conceited father. As David Easterman, a character who sees himself as a victim of Lucifer, puts it: "when the devil wants you to do something, he doesn't lie at all. He tells you the exact, literal truth. And he lets you find your own way to hell"

5. Griffith

Where the hell do I begin? Griffith is, very possibly, the most evil character I have encountered in the realm of fiction... aside from Morgoth and Sauron. Griffith is what happens when ambition festers and grows like a disease. Not that ambition is a bad thing, but Griffith took it to a whole new level. He grew up poor, formed his own mercenary hand, and became the champion of Midland with his eyes on marrying the princess and becoming King. What went wrong? He allowed himself to get personally attached to his favorite toy, a soldier named Guts. He lost it all, got tortured for a year, crippled, his tongue got cut out and then he sacrificed the troops and friends who loved him so he could be reborn as Femto, the fifth and final member of the God Hand before raping Caska (his most fanatically loyal and devoted follower, and Guts' love) in front of Guts while she was pregnant, infecting her fetus to eventually create a vessel for him to return to Earth in. Now he's in the process of conquering humanity as a seemingly ordained messianic figure... the Hawk of Light. His story is not over yet, but Griffith is the ultimate wolf in sheep's clothing. Especially since we go through what Guts goes through as all of this is revealed.

4. Dr. Doom

If this were a less subjective list, Doom would be #1. But I love the character anyway. The archetypical supervillain, and definitely the biggest gun in Marvel's pantheon of villainy. Doom is arrogant beyond all measure, and as smart as anyone you'll ever meet. He is so prideful he always keeps his word... as he interprets it. Ruler of the tiny nation of Latveria, and recognized by the world abroad... his enemies can't just send him to prison. But more than that is his fascinating backstory, and his desire to save his mother's soul from Mephisto and bring peace to the world... under his iron rule. Doom might be the leader the world needs. If we were willing to part with our freedom. But he'll always set that aside because he cannot live with the fact that just for one moment, Reed Richards was smarter than him.

3. The Joker

While Loki may be the archetypal evil trickster, the Joker, dare I say it, runs rings around him. Like Doom before him, if this were less subjective, Joker would be a contender for the #1 spot. A homicidal maniac who can make you laugh before he sticks a knife in you. The most dangerously unpredictable villain in the realm of comics, and Batman's arch-nemesis. His past is unknown, as he always changes his story... but it doesn't matter, because we have evil personified in the face of this cruel clown. As long as Batman exists, there will be a Joker... at this point they are a yin and yang and one cannot exist without the other.

2. Magneto

Thank Kirby for Claremont, or the Master of Magnetism might never have made this list. Magneto is the villain you can't help but agree with. A survivor of the Holocaust, and a victim of bigotry, Max Eisenhardt will stop at nothing to prevent a second Holocaust from taking place. In the process he has lost friends, alienated his children, and has become the boogieman that humans use to justify their fear of mutants. If that irony wasn't enough, Magneto walks a fine line between being a mutant Malcolm X, and becoming that which he hates most... a mutant Adolf Hitler.  Remember how I said that Doom was at the top of Marvel's supervillain pantheon? Well, Magneto would easily challenge him for that spot, and some might say he's long ago won it. And for good reason. Magneto has a great, compelling story that you can understand and relate to. He has creative and innovative powers. And there are so many stories you can tell about him, from the big grand epics, to the intimate character studies.

1. The Green Goblin

Yes, Norman Osborn is my favorite villain in all of comics. The guy is an undeniable bastard. A terrible father. Some like to blame the accident that gave him super strength for the monster he became, but the evil was always there. Unlike others, Norman wasn't a good man gone bad, he was a bad man gone nuts. As smart as he is insane, the Green Goblin is the monster that walks among us. Norman Osborn is the mask he wears to blend in with us. Power hungry beyond measure, and obsessed with destroying Spider-Man... just killing him is not enough. The Goblin makes it personal... all of Spider-Man's family and friends are fair games and as long as the Goblin lives, they may as well have bulls-eyes painted on them. Recently, Norman Osborn succeeded in becoming the most powerful man in the world, and he wielded that power to haunt anyone who would oppose him, but then took a big fall. He was brought back in a story that was an insult to the character (even if it did make Madame Hydra look good), but I hope the character takes a long rest soon. But he seems to be on the verge of returning soon, only the Spider-Man he'll likely face the next time we see him is not the one he, or any of us, know.

Also, the Goblin holds the distinct honor of ending the Silver Age of comic books. When he killed Gwen Stacy, he killed the genre's innocence as well. Suddenly heroes could fail, people were mortal. No one was safe. He ushered in a new age and forced comic books to grow up with their fans. I have no doubt he'll haunt the pages of Marvel Comics long after I've gone to the grave.