Welcome back to the Movie Villain Death Match! We're going to truncate these last couple of rounds to wrap up the whole shebang this week.
Both of the below polls will close tonight at 11:59 CT. The final two competitors will go head-to-head tomorrow, and we'll announce the ultimate baddie on Wednesday!
Darth Vader, The STAR WARS Franchise
Darth is the last man standing from the original Sinister Sixteen, and last week he beat No Country for Old Men's Anton Chigurh in what was originally a very close match and ended in a landslide. Vader scored 75.57% (3,263 votes) to Chigurh's 24.43% (1,055 votes).
Sure, he’s a victim of oversaturation, and he’s been mimicked and parodied thousands of times even by the subsequent films in the series (everyone tilt their heads back and scream together “Noooo!”), but there’s no question that ol’ pasty Darth is one of the great villains of all time. He’s so menacing and imposing that in his first film he completely manages to overshadow Grand Moff Tarkin's evil -- and that’s a guy who casually orders the death of two billion people.
Darth Vader is the figurehead you get when you want to rule absolutely. In presence and in voice he’s unmatched, even with his asthma. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty -- although he can kill you without even touching you. He’s a master of both ship and lightsaber combat. If you fail him he has no use for you and there are plenty of people who can fill your spot, so you don’t dare mess up. Of course, he’s not such a bad guy once you get to know him… it’s just a shame we did. (Alex Riviello)
The Xenomorph, ALIEN
You barely see the alien in ALIEN, but the glimpses you catch of HR Giger’s biomechanical design are enough to forever lodge the mysterious Xenomorph in our nightmares. A psychosexual horror from beyond the stars, the Xenomorph doesn’t have a backstory or a plan -- it’s just killing the crew of the Nostromo because that’s what it does. It represents a primal urge for violence and sexual domination (it shoves its tube down your throat and makes you a host for its spawn) that exposes humanity’s essential weakness. While the humans on the ship have surrounded themselves with high tech and metal, they can’t keep themselves safe from a beast that uses only its own body -- including its blood! -- as a weapon. Slavering fangs, razor claws, an articulated tail that looks like a spine ripped from a giant’s back and a huge, penis-shaped head define the indelible silhouette of this classic monster. Future instalments of the franchise would bring dozens upon dozens of Xenomorphs to the screen, but they were never as scary as this first time, when one lone monster turned a vast spaceship into its own spook house. (Devin Faraci)
Which of these assholes has earned your respect?
HAL 9000, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
The Heuristically programmed Algorithmic computer in Stanley Kubrick’s film and Arthur C. Clarke’s novels is all unhelpful placidity, the final word controlling the spacecraft Discovery 1. HAL exhibits no personality, no humanity, no compassion -- and no true evil, either. HAL is villainous in the absence of emotion, in its obdurate devotion to its programming in the face of certain doom. HAL represents both our fears of the heights to which technology can soar and then plummet, and our frustration when our laptop freezes for no goddamn reason when we’re in the middle of something important. (Meredith Borders)
The Joker, The BATMAN Franchise
Few characters, let alone villains, have the generational connection that The Joker does. Every era has its Joker, representing cultural, societal and psychological philosophies. From the camp and kitsch of Romero’s harlequin to the sheer irony of Luke Skywalker’s heroic voice squealed and high-pitched, interpreting his performers is as important as reading into his incarnations themselves. For two concurrent, bordering generations, we look to Nicholson and Ledger as the paramount Jokers. The casting of Nicholson, an icon, a representative not only of pop culture, but of intimidating talent, gave us confidence. Jack’s Joker begins as a man, with a story, with a visage that’s as recognizable as any. He’s comforting, a rhythm and cadence that allows us to lull. By contrast, Ledger is a mystery. While we can’t argue Nicholson’s influence, even over twenty years ago, Ledger was to some a heartthrob, an up-and-comer, an early example of the current drive toward emotional, melancholy leading men. His Joker is an enigma, a man with no past, only theatrical, melodramatic lies. They are both representatives of their respective ages. Jack projects power, a suaveness, the Age of The Power Suit, the Yuppie. He is a man bred from Counter Culture only to have found success later as an Archetype. He didn’t sell out. He bought in. The gangster became the businessman. Heath is broken, a mess, ostensibly asking for our sympathy as he works out his madness, playing on our modern compassion, the requirement of tolerance, even against our better judgment. He beseeches us for equality, regardless of the circumstances. He’s kind of whiny. We can’t deny The Joker as a foil, the unhinged, unexpected insanity against the systematic pragmatism of Batman. That dynamic depends on every successful Joker being able to identify exactly what practicality he must wage against for his time. As a result, while the conflict and mania of Bruce/Batman may be fluid, the real progression, the true mirror of our state, is The Joker. (Noah Segan)
Which jerk's the bigger jerk?
Meet us back here the same time tomorrow for the very last bout, when we'll be down to THE FINAL TWO!