Star Trek Into Darkness voyages into cinemas this week and once again another talented British actor is filling the shoes of dastardly villain.
Benedict Cumberbatch lays havoc upon Star Fleet and only James T Kirk and his Enterprise crew can stop him. The likes of Alan Rickman (Die Hard, Robin Hood), Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) and Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter, Schindler’s List ) regularly top other lists but we wanted to celebrate some alternative choices.
Lena Headey as Madeline Madrigal aka Ma-Ma
There’s a real shortage of villainous British female characters in cinema these days, Rachel Weisz was gloriously wicked in Oz the Great and the Powerful but she’s got nothing on Ma-Ma. Last year’s rather brilliant Dredd was criminally overlooked on release which suggests a sad fact that there’s no mass market for grown up violent comic book movies. Game of Thrones star Lena Headey gives an impulsive performance as drug baroness Ma-Ma who has peddled her product Slo-Mo on the population of Mega-City One. The plot might have been very close to The Raid but that didn’t stop Dredd being tremendously entertaining or Headey scene stealing her way through the movie.
“Somewhere in this block are two judges. I want them dead. Until I get what I want the block is locked down.”
Tom Hardy as Bane
Proving to be Batman’s physical superior this iconic character was brought to hulking life by Tom Hardy for The Dark Knight Rises. Despite having most of his face hidden behind a mask the brutal nature of Bane exudes through Hardy’s imposing performance that’s so good it nearly erased what director Joel Schumacher did with Bane in Batman and Robin.
Some people found the voice of Bane off putting and at times difficult to understand, regardless of any minor gripes Hardy is a far more menacing here than his performance in Star Trek Nemesis.
“The shadows betray you, because they belong to me!”
Bill Nighy as Viktor
His role in the bloated Pirates of the Caribbean sequels were easily the highlight of parts 2 and 3, but his chilling turn as elder vampire Viktor in the Underworld movies sees the usually cheery chap get in touch with his dark side to captivating effect.
Despite the popularity of the Underworld films they are usually greeted with negative reviews from critics, this hasn’t stopped the producers from attracting a wealth noted British actors including Michael Sheen, Derek Jacobi and Charles Dance all of whom add an air of class to an otherwise routine action/horror movie. Clearly playing a vampire appeals to lovies as well.
“I did what was necessary to protect the species! As I am forced to do yet again!”
Sir Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin – Perhaps a controversial choice as Iron Man 3 has only just been released, but there is no escaping his powerful performance as Tony Stark’s latest adversary. Sexy Beast won him an Academy Award nomination for his gleefully unhinged portrayal as Don Logan which is arguably one of his finest moments, nonetheless Kingsley’s take on The Mandarin is undeniably impressive.
Hardcore fans have been less than pleased with the treatment of the character in the movie, but the revelation about his character adds another dimension to his performance. Who would have thought the man who once played Gandhi could be so delightfully evil.
“I’m gonna offer the choice: do you want an empty life, or a meaningful death?”
Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman
Long before he donned a cap and cowl to save Gotham City, Christian Bale bulked up to play narcissistic (and psychotic) investment banker Patrick Bateman. Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Ewan McGregor, Edward Norton and Leonardo DiCaprio were all linked to the role at some stage but in the end Bale secured the part.
Bale is on fine form and offers a tour de force of insanity turning Bateman into a twisted screen icon of sorts, we’ve never been able to listen to Huey Lewis and the News in the same way ever since. The irony of a British actor playing the title role just adds another twisted layer to Mary Hanon’s sinfully enjoyable black comedy.
“I have to return some videotapes”
Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan
Although this is a British film series and James Bond has saved the world from the evil schemes of criminals from all over the planet, few have been as formidable as rouge 00 agent Alec Trevelyan. Unlike the previous larger than life villains from the classic era Trevelyan is modern bad guy for the modern Bond, at least by the mid 1990s standards.
Goldeneye marked Pierce Brosnan’s first mission in the role and the first Bond movie in six years, it’s also the first time director Martin Campbell successfully introduced a new 007 as he went onto helm Casino Royale.
“So, what’s the choice, James? Two targets – time enough for one shot: the girl or the mission?”
Terence Stamp as General Zod
Few actors could get away with wearing a silly outfit and be taken seriously as a superhuman villain, Terence Stamp is one of those few and the world kneeled before him as General Zod. Leading the trio of Kryptonian prisoners (one of whom is British actress Sarah Douglas), Zod’s arrogance and hatred for Superman makes him a deadly foe.
Widely regarded as one of the most faithful cinematic translations of a comic book villain Terence Stamp is spellbinding. Michael Shannon’s takes on the role in this summer’s Man of Steel and Stamp has already given his seal of approval “I’m expecting him to be wonderful, because it is a wonderful part.”
“Come to me, Superman! I defy you! Come and kneel before Zod! Zod!”
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Another Marvel bad boy to be portrayed by a Brit, living up to his name as the god of mischief he brings a playful charm to the character. He might not be Thor’s physical equal (although still has God like powers of his own) Loki is more than a match for his brother when it comes to wits.
Bringing a Shakespearian and regal quality to the role Hiddleston is perfectly cast; manipulative, double crossing and an ability to insult people using ye old english makes Loki one of the best comic book villains of all time. He’ll be back on our screens this October in Thor The Dark World and might just get a chance of redemption as he teams up with his brother to thwart a greater threat.
“I am Loki, of Asgard and I am burdened with glorious purpose”
Sir Ian McKellan as Magneto
Magneto is a rare type of antagonist who fights for a just cause, having survived the horrors of the Holocaust Erik Lehnsherr faces a new battle in the years to come as he becomes the powerful Magneto master of magnet. Leading his Brotherhood of mutants to a revolution he locks horns with Professor Xavier and his X-Men, we’ve seen McKellan play nefarious characters before but none so malevolent as Magneto.
Sir Ian McKellan brings his hypnotic and influentental presence giving the character a complex dynamic, there are times when it becomes difficult to dislike him but ultimately his maniacal plans are that of a mad man, so order is once again restored. He returns to the role next summer for X Men Days of Future Past along with Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman and Magneto’s younger counterpart Michael Fassbender .
“We will strike with a vengeance and a fury that this world has never witnessed!
Gary Oldman as Norman Stansfield
Gary Oldman has played his fair share of bad guys throughout his career, from Dracula to drug dealers to a 23rd century evil industrialist he’s built a portfolio of charismatic intense characters. Picking a favourite would be a difficult task if not for his electrifying performance as classical music loving corrupt DEA Agent Norman Stansfield in Luc Besson’s Leon.
One of cinema’s most frightening characters there’s scarcely an echo of humanity to be found in him; mad, bad and dangerous to be around Stansfield is a shark of a man that has a fondness for Beethoven and popping pills. Natalie Portman made her film debut in this cult classic, but Gary Oldman creates an immortal screen villain that should have seen him nominated for an Academy Award.
“I like these calm little moments before the storm.”
Star Trek Into Darkness is out now in UK cinemas.