[The following list contains MAJOR SPOILERS; YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!]
Way back in 2020, I wrote:
I firmly believe that a villain is only fully realized at the instant of his own demise: does he accept death with quiet dignity (Blade Runner’s Roy Batty, Batman Begins’ Ra’s al Ghul)… or does he greet it with maniacal laughter (The Dark Knight’s Joker, A View to a Kill’s Max Zorin)?
Since I already published a post ranking my favorite antagonists of 2022, I figured it was only proper to create a follow-up list celebrating the year’s most memorable villain deaths. Spoilers below, obviously.
The Grabber (The Black Phone): Led into a hastily assembled trap by protagonist Finney, this sadistic serial killer is beaten, battered, and strangled before finally having his neck broken by his most recent abductee’s “mint arm.” And all the while, the ghostly voices of his previous victims taunt him through the receiver of the eponymous haunted telephone—an appropriately ignoble end to the depraved child murderer’s career.
Jean Jacket (Nope): After pursuing Keke Palmer’s Emerald Haywood to Jupiter’s Claim, Jordan Peele’s techno-organic UFO is coaxed into swallowing a massive balloon in the shape of the theme park’s mascot. Betrayed by its own instincts, the creature is torn to shreds when the inflatable meal bursts inside of its digestive tract—a fittingly explosive finale.
Fjölnir (The Northman): Following a prolonged duel in the heart of an active volcano (during which both participants are completely nude), this bloodthirsty Viking warlord plunges his sword into his vengeful nephew’s chest at the exact same instant his own head is lopped off. It’s like a Frank Frazetta painting brought to life—badass.
Mr. Scrooge (Violent Night): Having discovered that the interloper sabotaging his multimillion-dollar heist is, in fact, the genuine Santa Claus, John Leguizamo’s psychotic mercenary resolves to permanently cancel Christmas by butchering the jolly old elf. Fortunately, his belief replenishes the disillusioned toymaker’s holiday magic, enabling Saint Nick to teleport up a nearby chimney in the form of a glittering dust could—with the decidedly more solid madman in tow. Needless to say, what little remains of the unrepentantly naughty criminal is significantly smaller when it emerges at the top of the narrow structure.
The Feral Predator (Prey): Slowly sinking into a pit of quicksand, this hulking alien hunter draws his magnetic bolt-thrower—unaware that his cunning quarry has positioned him directly in the path of his own targeting device. As soon as he pulls the trigger, the laser-guided projectile swerves straight into his skull—spectacularly punctuating the Rasputin level of physical abuse that he suffered in the preceding brawl.