Year In Review: The Bestest and Baddest Villains of 2011

As we all sit here at Reject HQ, gathered around an absurdly long, but incredibly imposing, table discussing what to do with the nuclear missiles we just “creatively appropriated” from a breakaway Russian republic, it occurs to us that 2011 was a great year to be bad. For every boring, dopey, goody-good hero that popped up on the silver screen, there was a brilliant, super cool, woefully misunderstood villain doing everything he/she/it could to thwart the zero hero at every turn.

So when Supreme Commander #1, better known to the world (and those pesky Avengers so they’ll stop blasting our lair) as Neil Miller, issued an official order (delivered by a specially-trained, fire-breathing, gun-toting alligator who lives in the moat) to construct a supersonic death ray…that assignment went to Kate “Femme Fatale” Erbland. But then I got asked to do this list of the 20 Best Villains of 2011, a decided promotion from my usual position as sinister cocktail-fetcher and cleaner of the diabolical gutters.

Voldemort (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2)

*SPOILER ALERT* The ultimate lizard-faced, petulant man-child, Tom Riddle, had his final showdown with little Harry Potter this year. That Voldemort just got exponentially more dickish as the franchise drew to a close, as he destroyed a goodly portion of Hogwarts, killed nearly all your favorite ancillary characters, and even took down Hans Gruber. Hans. Gruber!

Professor Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows)

Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty are as inextricable as fried food platters and heartburn. In Guy Ritchie’s mildly-anticipated sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Jared Harris stepped into the shoes of this classic foil and absolutely nailed it. It takes a great deal of skill to put cocksure cocky cock Robert Downey, Jr. in his place.

Red Skull (Captain America: The First Avenger)

You have to admire Red Skull. On top of plotting his own world domination under the nose of, and then in fearless defiance of, Adolf Hitler’s quest for world domination, he also manages to battle Marvel’s most jingoistic pretty boy and look damn fine in a suit all despite suffering from the worst sunburn anyone has ever known.

Loki (Thor)

There was once a time when the greatest crime Loki, the Norse god of mischief, ever committed was supplying rubber-faced Jim Carrey with a wooden mask and subjecting all of us to one of the worst films of the 90s; no small trespass to be sure. But when Marvel finally produced a big-budget, big-screen version of Thor, Loki proved he could wreak havoc with the best of them. He proved it so well that the good folks at the Society for the Prevention of Diminishing Returns invited him back to be the villain in The Avengers.

Shen (Kung Fu Panda 2)

Gary Oldman is one of those actors who, for many years, was utterly chameleon-like in his complete submersion into his various colorful roles. In fact, there are people to this day who have no idea what Gary Oldman actually looks like. Thankfully, Kung Fu Panda 2 finally cleared up the speculation when they boldly revealed that Gary Oldman is in fact a CG peacock. As the sinister Shen, he helped Kung Fu Panda 2 excel not only as a family film, but as an action movie as well.

Goddamn Aliens (Super 8, Attack the Block, Battle L.A., Transformers 3, The Thing, The Darkest Hour, Cowboys & Aliens)

2011 was a tremendously bad year for intergalactic diplomatic relations. We could not go a month without our planet being besieged, attacked, or otherwise picked on by goddamn aliens. They tried killing us in the 70s (Super 8) and they tried killing us in the old west (Cowboys & Aliens). They tried destroying the London projects (Attack the Block) and they tried to level L.A. They sent giant, obnoxious robots, shape-shifting insidious CG blobs, and even invisible, wattage-sucking absurdities. Seriously, whoever has been flaming The Rest of the Universe on their blog, please apologize.

Sex (Shame)

Not all villains are tangible beings. Michael Fassbender proved that sex addition and the subsequent feelings of, wait for it, shame it fosters are just as crippling as having Magneto punch you in the balls while you’re trying to get your rocks off. Also, Fassbender played Magneto…we’ll get there.

Albert Brooks (Drive)

Ryan Gosling may have been the hipster hero of the year in the, admittedly sensational, Drive, but his skills behind the wheel, his proficiency for choosing super cool jackets, and his mastering of looking hot while chewing on a toothpick were matched beautifully by Albert Brooks’ pesky inclination toward vicious murdering. The final showdown of the two is an epic struggle of bloodletting and wills worthy of Akira Kurosawa. Still not as funny as his dad.

The Accountant (Drive Angry)

Is there anything not to like about Drive Angry? Shut up, internet, I wasn’t asking you. As Nicolas Cage hilariously sleepwalks through another whacked-out script he clearly didn’t read, William Fichtner has the audacity to wholeheartedly commit to an even more ridiculous role. As “The Accountant” he keeps turning up on Cage’s trail spouting staccato quips of brillance and moving like he’s contanstly on the verge of a Saturday Night Fever dance number.

Rose McGowan (Conan the Barbarian)

To be fair, Rose McGowan has never had to travel very far to land smack dab in the middle of Creepytown, but in this year’s remake of Conan the Barbarian, she takes it to a whole new, shower-requiring level. Not only does she boast the fairest complexion since Powder became a fulltime blogger, but her normally charming bloodlust is elevated to a degree completely beyond the pale (as again is her skin), and she has this suggested propensity toward incest. She should change her name to Rose McEWWWan.

Brian Salisbury has been a film critic and internet gadfly for six years. He is the co-host of FSR's Junkfood Cinema podcast and the co-founder of OneOfUs.Net. Brian is a cult film and exploitation buff who loves everything from Charlie Chaplin to Charlie Bronson.

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