Friday, June 25, 2010

Favorite Villains of All Time with Rebecca Baumann of Dirty Sexy Books

Bad Boys Rule!  My Favorite Villains of All Time
By Rebecca Baumann of Dirty Sexy Books

Hardly anybody takes the time to build up a really good villain anymore.  It’s a lost art form, and I didn’t realize there was a dearth in bad guy greatness until Heather brought up the idea of doing a guest post about my favorite villains.

Then I started listing them, and I only got to three.

That’s pathetic!  A truly menacing enemy is the cornerstone of most fantasies, and a lot of romances too, so you’d think I’d have heaps of baddies to choose from, but not so.  Most series writers cycle in new bad guys for each installment, like changing out the paper targets at a practice range.  They pin up somebody new for the hero/heroine to blow away, but it’s kind of a shame, because it’s rare to have a really satisfying relationship with someone I can love to hate.

So here they are… a short list of my three favorite villains.

1) I’ve got two words for you.  Baby powder.

If you’re a fan of J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, you’re having an ‘oh yeah’ moment right now, because the villains in her on-going paranormal romance epic (‘series’ is too tame a word for what Ward’s constructed), all smell like baby powder.  They are known as Lessers, and their sickly sweet odor is just one of the details that makes these albino bad guys stand out.  They’re not obvious monsters, and on the surface they even seem benign, but these heartless, soulless beings are pure evil, and they creep me out!  The only thing about them that pleases me is that they’re impotent (ha ha, no sex for you), but I can’t wait for the brothers to slice and dice these guys to bits.


Photo Caption: Alright, there aren’t any pictures of Lessers, but Paul Bettany’s turn as Silas in The Da Vinci Code is the closest I can get.  Just imagine that he smells like baby powder all over.  Ick.

2) This next one is so famous, he’s practically in the Boogeyman club.  I’m talking about Lord Voldemort from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  The Dark Lord was an ever-present menace throughout the entire series, but Rowling really brought him to life when she shared parts of his tragic childhood.  It wasn’t an excuse, or even an explanation for why he became such an evil guy, but my hatred for Voldemort was tempered with pity too.  If you only watch the films and have never read the books, then you’re missing out on a lot of the nuances that I’m talking about, and you’ll have to take my word for it.  Voldemort is much more than just a simple caricature, and Rowling knew that Harry would only be as great as his greatest foe.


Photo Caption: Geez, it looks like Ralph Fiennes is auditioning for a role as a Lesser, but this is how the Harry Potter movie crew pictures Lord Voldemort.  I always thought he had glowing red eyes, but perhaps that’s my overactive imagination making him even more demonic.  The snake-like nose is a nice touch.


3) I’ve saved the best for last.  The ultimate villain of all time is Mr. “I am your father.”  You may be wondering how I’ve slipped Darth Vader into a list of favorite book villains, but there are a whole bunch of Star Wars novels out there, so I say he counts.  Have I read those books?  No, I’m going off the movies alone, but it’s enough.  That black masked visage is more recognizable around the world than our last five Presidents combined, I’ll wager.  Vader is the iconic epitome of bad guys everywhere, and I can only hope that someone somewhere is dreaming up a villain who can top him.


Photo Caption: I’m going to go on record stating that I pretty much hated the three latest Star Wars movies, although seeing how Anakin got stuffed into the Vader suit was interesting.  Nothing can compete with the originals.


As I close out my list, it occurs to me that I’ve chosen male villains only.  I’m wracking my brain for a really good female example, and I’m coming up blank.  Unless you want to count the ultimate female villain in history - the hapless Eve who gets humanity booted from the Garden of Eden.  What do you know?  It turns out that a woman trumps them all.

Great post Rebecca! Be sure to check out her blog - Dirty Sexy Books - she does great reviews and very entertaining book news and book related posts.

35 comments:

SandyG265 said...

The only female villian I can think of is Lilith

Bella said...

OOH Lilith ... are we talking the Supernatural TV series here? She is creepy! Especially since she insists on taking a little girl form the entire time :o

AmeliaS. said...

My brain takes me back to the movie Willow and the evil queen Bavmorda. She was just plain awful.

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

@Sandy and Bella - I need to watch the Supernatural series - I feel like I'm the only one who hasn't!

@Amelia - good call with Bavmorda - she was pretty horrible.

Kindlelicious said...

I thought Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction and Rebecca Demornay from The Hand That Rocks the Cradle were truly terrifying.

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

@Kindlelicious - I forgot about Glenn Close - she is truly scary and so is Rebecca Demornay!

Rebecca @ DSB said...

Excellent nominations to the sisterhood of evil ladies, but I still can't think of a powerhouse female villain in a long-running literary series who has attained any kind of fame. I suppose it's fruitless to search for somebody who can go head-to-head with Harry Potter's Lord Voldemort, but I find it interesting that society has a hard time with female villains. They feel strange and unnatural, and it goes against the stereotype of women as nurturers. Bad women are doubly bad somehow, because they've betrayed their programming, like a gerbil mommy who eats her own babies (ICK!).

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

@Rebecca - love that comparison bad women = "a gerbil mommy who eats her own babies" LOL. I 'mwracking my brain for evil women book characters and not coming up with anything! I feel like alot of the "heroes" in pnr have already gone through the "evil woman betrayal" which makes them suspicious of other women (usually the heroine) but we usually don't get to read about the evil woman part...

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

I took the question to twitter and there were some good suggestions from @FantasyDreamer -Fiona from Original Sin by Allison Brennan,Dorothea & Hekatah from the Black Jewels trilogy, and Artemis from the Dark-Hunter series - all books I haven't read yet - maybe I'm reading the wrong books for finding a female villian. I thought of Michaela from Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series but I don't know if she is a true villian or just a b*tch? Is there a difference?

Smash Attack! said...

Fun post! I agree with the lessers, and that picture is a perfect representation!

Pamela "SpazP" said...

Artemis (Artie) is a cruel cruel Villian in the ongoing Dark-Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. This is one of my most favorite series of all time.

Pamela "SpazP" said...

I haz more!
Victoria in the 1st 3 bks of Twilight series.
Marmee Noir of the Anita Blake series (Laurell K Hamilton)

Jacquelyn Wheeler said...

A few spring to mind: Mrs. Coulter in His Dark Materials, and Sarah in Summon the Keeper. Step-mothers make popular villains in fairy tales (Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty), and speaking of fairy tales, don't forget the Sea Witch in Little Mermaid. Morgana was a classic female villain in Excalibur. And Mia in the Light of Asteria series is turning into a pretty good villain. Maybe one of my all-time favorites, though, is Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Gives me chills just thinking about her!

dreamsandspeculation said...

You know, it amuses me that our taste in villains is polar opposite. Still, a very interesting post, Rebecca! :)

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

The Lessers? Ha! Baby powder AND emasculated! What a combination! I was thinking of them as the least villainous villains!

My very favorite villain? Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty - oh...she has the best lines in the entire story! She is so deliciously wicked! And I agree with Jacquelyn - Morgana in Excalibur - a movie which also has one of the best sex scenes of all time, and Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - OMG!
And of course, The Reavers in Firefly - I quake when I hear that word!

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

@SmashAttack &Julia- The Lessers totally creep me out - will never think of baby powder the same ;)

@Pamela - I forgot about Victoria - sparkly and evil ;)

@Jacquelyn- great classical villians references - I totally forgot about Morgana and she is repeated in so many books!

@D&S - thx for stopping by! What's some of your top villian picks?

schmoobrain said...

Have you read the Kushiel Books by Jacqueline Carey? Melisande Shahrizai is a hot and wicked villain!

Also, Cruella De Ville, I don't think anyone's mentioned her

Kindlelicious said...

Artemis is an excellent suggestion! Totally forgot about her! Grrrr...I HATE her!

Staceyb said...

Darroc in the Fever series is a great villian, along with those dark fae princes.

What about the wicked stepmother and step sisters in Cinderella and that witchy step-mother in Snow White?

Jeanne said...

I don't think I saw Annie from Misery by Stephen King. I know it's not a series, but she popped in my mind.

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

@schmoobrain I haven't read the Kushiel books yet but I hear they're great so I bet the villian is pretty "great" as well :) Cruella is a great villian - it gets me all riled up when she goes after those poor puppies!

@Stacy B-oh good call with the fever series - I agree about Darroc and the princes - I hate it when Mac gets caught!

@Jeanne - I bet Stephen King does a great villian!

@Kindlelicious - another series I gotta read :)

Missie said...

Great post. Though I do think the Lessers are kind of useless. LOL

Dani said...

What about Jane from the Volturi? Her blasé attitude when she's inflicting pain is creapy.
Cruella is the worst of all. Poor puppies... I don't know why, but I always think about Angelina Jolie when I picture Cruella...
I don't think the lessers are all that bad, but The Omega... He's creapy all right..

Rebecca @ DSB said...

So far I've seen two good additions, and both female villains that I overlooked.

@Pamela - Yep, Artemis is certainly a worthy opponent, although her role in the Dark-Hunter series doesn't really come to light until Acheron, but boy, did I want to kill that woman.

@Schmoobrain - I totally forgot about Melisande in the Kushiel Legacy series! She's unbelievable, and what's with the weird relationship she has with Phedre? It's the only time I've read about a victim being so attracted to their enemy. It's kind of bizarre, but the whole series requires an open mind.

Dot S. said...

Good picks, Rebecca. Those Lessers and that Omega are really vile. Voldemort and Vader have to top villian lists, h-m-m they both start with a "V", does that mean anything?
My fave, truly disgusting villian is Jabril from D.B. Reynolds book of the same name.

WonderBunny said...

I think Asmodeus from Mike Carey's Felix Caster series can be a pretty scary villain.

The book Wolf of Winter by Paula Volsky (old fantasy book) has a creepy villain in it.

I can't remember the vampires name in The Strain but he strikes me as a scary villain also.

Very interesting post. I can't think of any female villains but give me a little longer and I might come up with one.

Rae (In The Forest) said...

You got an award: http://intheforestbookreviews.blogspot.com/

Smokinhotbooks said...

The female villain that comes to my mind is:

Lorena Bobbit (I know she is real life and not book made up, but seriously she has to be mentioned for cutting her hub's wee wee off


PS I can't help but breathe through my hands and say "Luke, I am your father" to my employees. They must really hate me by now.

Abigail [All Things Urban Fantasy] said...

There really aren't enough good villains...too bad. This is a good start, but instead of Voldemorte, the Harry Potter character that was truly evil for me was Umbridge. I hated her with a white hot passion. Ditto with Seanchan sul'dam from the Wheel of Time.

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

@Dani- Jane is super creepy -Victoria and her make good twilight villains!

@Dot-I agree about Jabril -he is truly vile!

@WB -Some good additions -Its definitely hard to think of the female equivalent

@Rae-thanks!

@KC-LOL-your poor co-workers!

@Abigail-ugh I was not a fan of Umbrdge either!

Jen D. said...

Great post Rebecca. It's interesting that there's a lack of villains in books today. This might not be relevant but, I remember seeing or having seen several animated movies with plenty of wicked witches, evil queens and nasty step-sisters and step-mothers. Maybe that's just an old school mentality that people don't use in books anymore...

Rebecca @ DSB said...

@Jen D. - I think you've got a good point there. I think fairy tales were one-dimensional in that the good guy had to overcome the bad guy, and all was well. Nowadays the good guy must overcome some personal issue in addition to beating the bad guy. I'm thinking of Sherlock Holmes here, and his battle with Moriarty, but he also had to fight his own personal demons - cocaine, loneliness, etc - which in many ways were far more treacherous foes.

Stella (Ex Libris) said...

It is interesting how usually the most creepy villains are men, isn't it? The female villains that come to my mind are mostly the evil witches and evil stepmoms in fairy tales. I still shudder when I think of the villain fairy in the Disney Sleeping Beauty, she gave my nightmares! when Sleeping Beauty is hypnotized by that eerie green light and you can only see her eyes and there is this very suspenseful music, eeek!

But I don't agree: why would Eve be evil? She took the apple, she was curious for knowledge, or naive and innocent enough to be persuaded, but why do men always make women be the bad guy? Come on, if Eve didn't give the apple to adam and ate it herself, I'm sure Adam wouldn't have wanted to be left out and would have asked for a bite! ;-)

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

@Stella- lol...love your point about Eve!

Rebecca @ DSB said...

@Stella - Well, I'm not inclined to be too harsh on Eve either. Who're we kidding? Adam would have misbehaved sooner or later, but it's the lady who takes the blame for getting humanity kicked out of the Garden. She's also the one who earned all women painful childbirths, right? We may not think of her as a typical villain, but she's definitely been villainized for the past several thousand years.

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