Villains are some of our favorite characters. They allow the audience to escape from their own lives for a little while and take a walk on the wild side, and no one is better at that than funny villains. Whether it's someone like the Grandmaster in the MCU or Freddy Krueger, these funny movie villains are often more frightening than their more straight forward counterparts.
There are a lot of funny evil characters, and not all of them are supernatural or exist in a heightened genre film. Directors like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino love to use a funny villain in their films to accentuate the horrible things their characters are doing.
Some of these villains are funnier than the rest, but it's up to you to determine which one of them is the funniest.
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Loki may be the funniest villain in the MCU; at the very least he has the most fun being a villain. From the moment we meet Loki, it's clear he's charming and clever, but let's not forget he's also deadly. Not only is he willing to incur serious damage to get what he wants, but he uses his staff to twist the minds of his targets and use them to carry out his goals against their will.
There's no way to spin his actions in The Avengers - he's just a straight-up power-hungry megalomaniac, but he still manages to be a hoot. More often than not, his funniest moments are aligned with his most nefarious plans. When he gets rid of Odin and takes on his father's form to rule Asgard? That's good stuff. His betrayal of Thor in Ragnarok after the whole "get help" routine? It's comedy gold wrapped up in an evil plan.
It's sometimes hard to forget that Loki is an actual bad guy, which he achieves mainly through his sense of humor. Over the course of his run in the MCU, Loki uses his comic chops to transcend the "bad guy you love to hate" label and become, instead, a bad guy that you love. It's a hard trick to pull off, but he does it.
- Photo: Warner Bros.
Alan Rickman is a total rockstar when it comes to injecting comedy into ruthlessly evil characters. He does it in the Harry Potter series (sure, Snape isn't exactly a villain, but he's a mega jerk), and he does it in Die Hard, but Rickman really flexes his muscles in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
While just about everyone else in the movie plays their role as straight as can be, Rickman and Geraldine McEwan as the witch Mortiana are clearly in another film altogether. As the Sheriff, Rickman chews every piece of scenery imaginable, turning what could have been a fairly dour movie into a seriously fun watch with his hammy performance. From the film's original release, it quickly became conventional wisdom that the over-the-top Sheriff of Nottingham was the best part of the film. In 1991, Roger Ebert wrote:
Alan Rickman, in complete contrast, plays the Sheriff as if he were David Letterman: He's a wicked, droll, sly, witty master of the put-down and one-liners, who rolls his eyes in exasperation when Robin comes bursting in to interrupt the rape. Rickman's performance has nothing to do with anything else in the movie, and indeed seems to proceed from a uniquely personal set of assumptions about what century, universe, etc., the story is set in, but at least when Rickman appears on the screen we perk up, because we know we'll be entertained, at whatever cost to the story.
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Admittedly, Grandmaster is mostly a comedic figure anyway, but that doesn't mean he's not pretty malevolent, all things considered. Played by Jeff Goldblum with his classic weirdo flair, the Grandmaster isn't trying to snap a bunch of people out of the universe or eliminate Tony Stark with his own technology or anything, but he is enslaving people and making them fight to the death for his own entertainment. On any scale of morality, that registers as a pretty serious demerit.
He may be an eccentric, charming weirdo, but Grandmaster is a merciless tyrant who executes anyone who gets on his nerves, specifically his cousin. He may not be the evilest evil character in the MCU, but he's definitely not good. It's just that, in Goldblum's hands, at least, being evil happens to be really, really funny.
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"Of course, the Joker is funny, that's his whole deal," someone might say. But in Christopher Nolan's gritty The Dark Knight, the Joker is a far cry from the ham portrayed by Jack Nicholson or Cesar Romero. Rather than jokes and gags, the comedy is all in his mannerisms and the glee he takes in creating pure chaos.
On a rewatch, it's clear that the Joker's funniest moments nudge right up against moments of complete terror. For instance, before shoving a pencil through a gangster's face with his "magic trick," Joker genuinely roasts his audience down to the clothes they buy; later, Joker goes in drag as a nurse to convince Harvey Dent to kill him once and for all.
It's this push and pull that makes this incarnation of the Joker such an unsettling character who's impossible not to watch.