Every narrative requires conflict, and when it comes to blockbuster films, the best way to fulfill that requirement is with a scene-stealing antagonist. While some villains are adversaries of powerful superheroes, others are characters hell-bent on causing as much harm as possible. It’s self-evident that a villain has outshone the hero when they receive more media attention. Few people can recall the names of the teenagers in films like “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” but everyone is familiar with Freddy Kreuger. Other film franchises, such as “Halloween,” feature recurring heroes, like Laurie Strode, but it’s clear that fans are far more invested in Michael Myers’ backstory. Apart from horror films, there are numerous examples of villains who are adored by fans almost as much as the hero, if not more. These three are arguably the best ones.
While “The Dark Knight” is a film about Batman, there is no doubt that The Joker stole the show. He’s predictable and chaotic, considerably more fascinating than the film’s gravely-voiced depiction of DC’s famed hero. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the character was reckless, making him a difficult adversary for Batman to defeat. It’s refreshing to see a villain in a superhero film pose a genuine threat to the hero, as protagonists frequently appear to be overpowered.
Harry Potter’s entire story is centered on the assassination of his parents by a powerful wizard named Lord Voldemort. Voldemort and Harry Potter remained connected after Voldemort was unable to cast a killing curse on Harry. While Harry Potter is the protagonist of the story, he lacks Voldemort’s history, having been only 11 years old in the first film. Voldemort is shrouded in mystery, and viewers learn only fragments of his past and how he came to choose a dark path in life throughout the series. Harry Potter would not have been nearly as influential in the wizarding world without Voldemort.
“The Terminator” is a science fiction film about a cyborg who travels back in time to assassinate a woman named Sarah Connor before she gives birth to a child who will spark a future revolution against cyborgs. Sarah Connor is shielded from the T-800 in this film by a guy called Kyle Reese. Unsurprisingly, the T-800 is the film’s most important character, given the film’s title. While the majority of the focus is on Sarah Connor, the T-800 steals the show. The Terminator does transform into a hero in the sequel, but this almost always happens to popular antagonists like him.