Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.
I’m continuing my Halloween celebrations by continuing to talk about villains. When you think of awesome baddies, who comes to mind? Maleficent? Sauron? President Snow? Those are excellent choices. But what comes to mind when you think of underrated villains? This list contains villains we don’t talk about who, for one reason or another, should be taken seriously if they ever existed in our world. They could be from video games, books, movies, and more. They could also have silly reasons for being on the countdown, hence the number 12 villain:
#12: Victoria from Twilight
Honestly, the only reason I put her on this list is because she wants to destroy the most hated literary character of all time. Had she succeeded, we’d applaud her for it. And…that’s it. I’ve got nothing else. Next!
#11: Pennywise from It
I know a lot of people are afraid of clowns (hence the absence of a photo), but I put him pretty low on the list. He has dozens of chances to kill the main characters, and he doesn’t take advantage of any of them. When he finally does try to kill them, they’ve already figured out how to destroy him. The reason I’m talking about him is that, while he’s not frightening in practice, he’s terrifying in theory. This is the kind of killer who could pop up out of nowhere and turn himself into anything. And what’s worse, he can be invisible. Imagine how awful it would be if there’s someone hunting your child and you can’t see him.
#10: Hugo from Norna; or, the Witch’s Curse
This time, I don’t have a photo here because there isn’t one that exists. Sad excuse, but it’s true.
Anyway, if you’re familiar with Louisa May Alcott’s background, you might know that she wrote plays when she was young that she and her sisters would perform. One of the plays she co-wrote with one of her sisters was Norna; or, the Witch’s Curse. It’s enjoyably corny. The logic is off, the dialogue is over-the-top, and the characters are cliché to the point where it’s both annoying and hilarious. But the character that stood out to me is Hugo the bandit, whom the real villain—Count Rodolpho—hires to assassinate one of the heroes. But in an unexpected twist, Hugo returns to Rodolpho’s castle and demands more money if Rodolpho doesn’t want it known that he killed his own wife and conspired to kill her brother.
Good grief! That’s diabolical! Agree to take part in an evil plot and get paid for it, and then go back and demand more money to keep it secret! Why don’t the main characters worry about this guy? Rodolpho is psychotic, of course, but Hugo is the real threat in the story.
#9: Van Pelt from Jumanji
You wouldn’t think that Van Pelt would be freaky, considering the fact that he’s the only human from a game of angry monkeys and giant spiders. But while the other creatures don’t care who they kill, Van Pelt’s only target is Robin Williams. Seriously, what did Williams ever do to you? Okay, he didn’t always appear in good movies, but he always gave good performances! Why would you want to kill the most charming icon of comedy?
#8: Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean
I love Jack Sparrow, but darn it, give me Barbossa! This guy is so disgustingly evil that it’s awesome. He’s always one step ahead of everyone, and whenever there’s a setback, he’s always prepared to fight through it. Geoffrey Rush’s performance as Barbossa was phenomenal. He was born to be an evil pirate, and he enjoys every breath of it.
#7: Fairy Godmother from Shrek 2
I always suspected someone from Cinderella outside the stepfamily was evil, but I never guessed it’d be the fairy godmother. She gives people what they think they want without considering what they need, and she doesn’t care. Heck, she’ll give it to you even if you don’t want it because it’s what she wants. She has no morals, no limits, and no empathy whatsoever.
#6: The murderesses from Chicago
The musical Chicago has a song called “Cell Block Tango,” where the women sing about the men they punished for pushing them too far. When you get down to it, the song appeals to human instinct rather than human morals. Take a look at some of these lyrics:
“If they used us and they abused us/how could you tell us that we were wrong?”
“If you’d have been there, if you’d have seen it/I betcha you would have done the same”
#5: Ramses from Prince of Egypt
This is another sympathetic villain from another underrated work of art. In this retelling of the Exodus story, the main antagonist is Moses’s brother. They both have opposing views and opposing duties, but at the same time, they value their relationship with one another. Ramses wasn’t born evil; he was just raised with a twisted view of the world thanks to the expectations of his father. He wants to be a powerful ruler, but he feels he has to persecute the Hebrews in order to achieve his goal of building a better kingdom. His life is the perfect tragedy, and that’s what made him the perfect antagonist.
#4: Syndrome from The Incredibles
The best way to summarize his villainy is to take a look at his to-do list.
1: Become inexplicably wealthy
2: Use that wealth to create a lair and powerful robots
3: Murder every superhero in the world with the robots
4: Update and recreate the robots if a hero takes one down
5: When all the heroes are gone, send the strongest robot out to wreak havoc
6: Take out the robot yourself, save the world, and become a hero
#3: Thrax from Osmosis Jones
In the movie, Thrax is a representation of the scarlet fever. And his goal isn’t just to kill for pleasure; his goal is to become famous from killing. All he wants is to be the fastest-killing illness the world has ever known, and he won’t stop killing people even when he gets it.
#2: Umbridge from Harry Potter
I could punch this witch in the face, I hate her so much. Voldemort is the main antagonist of Harry Potter, but Umbridge is truly a sadist who shows off the dark side of politics. She does so many horrible things and justifies it with her social position. For example, when she gives you detention, she’ll make you write lines using a quill that carves into your skin and writes with your blood. And if you show any sign of pain, what’s her response?
“You know, deep down, you deserve to be punished.”
She’s so evil that even JK Rowling, the creator of her, can’t stand her. In an interview you can see here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnb-XIZwbY0&index=16&list=FLzYLqDvrB2c-8DAPOSyVsrQ), she says she finds her behavior “the most revolting in life.” And given some of the other baddies Rowling created in Harry Potter, that’s saying a lot.
#1: Xehanort from Kingdom Hearts
A wise guy from Disney once claimed that “Knowledge…is the real power.” If that’s the case, everyone should be afraid of Xehanort if he existed in real life. There’s a lot to his story and character, but the two things that set him apart from other villains is that a) he’s motivated by a thirst for knowledge, and b) he’ll go further than anyone to see his plan through. To put his plan simply, he wants to start a war to answer a question about the human heart and to create a new world. But what makes him truly terrifying is that he’s virtually unstoppable. Even if you kill him, he’ll find a way to come back from the dead to see his dream become a reality. And if that doesn’t earn him the title of “most underrated villain,” I don’t know what will.
While I’m sure there are plenty of other underrated villains in the world of storytelling, these are the ones we wouldn’t want to exist in our world. Whether it’s a bandit who would backstab a villain for more money, a woman who gives you everything without caring if it’s good for you or not, or a genius who wants to start a war, these are definitely baddies who deserve a little more appreciation.
Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”
PS: If you’re wondering why I had a photo of Yzma and Kronk at the top of this list, it’s because they’re my honorable mentions.