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My Five Favorite Movie Villains of 2022

Updated: Jan 2, 2023

[The following list contains MAJOR SPOILERS; YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!]

  • De Guiche (Cyrano): A pompous, foppish aristocrat that wields his wealth and influence like a blunt instrument, Ben Mendelsohn’s De Guiche adds a delicious complication to the love triangle that drives Cyrano’s conflict. As far as he’s concerned, romance doesn’t exist; sexual relationships are all about power and control. This philosophy essentially positions him as the witty, strong-willed Roxanne’s antithesis—making his lecherous obsession with her all the more unsettling. His show-stopping song, “What I Deserve”, is a chilling ode to male entitlement and toxic masculinity.

  • Namor (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever): Regal. Machiavellian. Sexy as hell. Marvel’s original antihero is as complex and compelling on the big screen as he’s always been on the page: physically imposing yet deviously manipulative, temperamental yet sensitive, vindictive yet honorable. While he favors shock and awe tactics, absolutely devastating Wakanda’s forces in every skirmish, the leader of Talokan is also a cunning strategist and shrewd diplomat; even his eventual “defeat” ultimately benefits his empire—exactly as he orchestrated.

  • Miles Quaritch (Avatar: The Way of Water): Gleefully sadistic and unabashedly egomaniacal, the resurrected Colonel Miles Quaritch is machismo and bravado incarnate—a brutish jarhead with delusions of grandeur. His quest to avenge his own death at the hands of Jake Sully and Neytiri is motivated primarily by wounded pride; indeed, when he learns that his hated foe managed to tame his flying mount without the aid of sedatives, he becomes determined to mimic the feat—an act of petty one-upmanship that reveals everything the audience needs to know about his character.

  • AJ Gilbride (Barbarian): What makes Justin Long’s unrepentant rapist so disturbing is that there’s nothing especially remarkable about his particular brand of evil; he’s simply an enormous douchebag, selfish and utterly devoid of empathy. Worst of all, he’s completely self-aware, frequently apologizing for his morally repugnant behavior and promising to change his wicked ways. Whenever an opportunity for redemption arises, however, he consistently rejects it—which makes his grisly, gory demise delightfully cathartic.

  • Miles Bron (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery): The killer at the center of Benoit Blanc’s latest murder mystery could easily have been a shallow sendup of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs; fortunately, Rian Johnson’s sharp script and Edward Norton’s savvy performance elevate the otherwise broad caricature. This New Age tech bro may be the dimmest bulb in any given room, but he’s charming, charismatic, and confident enough to inspire loyalty and obedience among his followers and hangers-on. He’s the personification of capitalism gone awry, living proof that you don’t need to be intelligent or industrious to become a billionaire—just conniving, manipulative, and ruthlessly pragmatic.

Honorable Mentions

  • Magenta (Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero): A scathing parody of author Akira Toriyama’s experiences with editorial interference—and a hilariously ineffectual antagonist to boot.

  • Corey Cunningham (Halloween Ends): A meditation on the cyclical, self-perpetuating nature of alienation and violence; this unjustly persecuted youth's gradual corruption is heartbreakingly tragic.

  • The Grabber (The Black Phone): The perfect marriage between an iconic design (courtesy of Tom Savini) and a captivating performance (courtesy of Ethan Hawke); leaves an indelible impression with minimal screen time.

  • The Podestá (Pinocchio): The model conformist—unwaveringly jingoistic, mindlessly subservient, and incapable of independent thought. He'd be pitiful... were he not such an abusive, tyrannical, fascist piece of trash.

  • Colonel Tom Parker (Elvis): This Mephistophelian trickster enriches the rather predictable biopic surrounding him; I don’t know what the hell Tom Hanks is smoking nowadays, but it is imperative that Hollywood keeps him supplied.

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