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The 14 Most Over-The-Top Movie Villains

January 21, 2021 404 votes 57 voters 1.7k views14 items

List RulesVote up the villains that take "extra" to a whole new level.

Over-the-top movie villains have become a Hollywood staple over the years as everyone loves to have a wild antagonist to root against. It's known that the best villain performances are often the most "energetic." After all, what kind of heroes would James Bond, Superman, and Harry Potter be if they didn't have some unusual baddies to square off against from time to time? Understated and reserved villains have their place, but that's not what we're looking for here.

This list is home to the kind of actors who absolutely love to swing for the fences. Looking for a nuanced take? Don't peek your head in here because legendary thespians like Gary Oldman, Jim Carrey, and Nicolas Cage are here to scream and shout. Grab your popcorn and get ready to laugh because these actors are playing to the cheap seats. Here are the most over-the-top villains that you can't help but love.

  • The Riddler is one of the quintessential Jim Carrey performances, rivaled only by his turns in the Ace Ventura films and 2000's How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Fresh off a year that turned him into a comedy superstar with the back-to-back-to-back releases of Ace Ventura: Pet DetectiveThe Mask, and Dumb & Dumber, Carrey really swung for the fences when he was given the opportunity to play the Batman baddie. Anyone who thought the '90s icon would bring a nuanced take to the role was sorely mistaken.

    Carrey's Edward Nygma bounces around the screen like a cartoon character hopped up on caffeine, and when you combine his face-stretching grins and pelvic thrusting with the outlandish costume design from the production team, you really get a character that stands out, even in a comic book movie. Seriously, there isn't another actor that can pull off a Riddler who says things like "Spank me!" and "Surf's up, Big Kahuna!" And don't forget the pink hair.

    Over the top?
  • Though fans of schlocky, low-budget camp will always hold Tim Curry's Pennywise in their hearts, when it comes to a truly over-the-top shape-shifting clown, there is just no beating Bill Skarsgård. And while Skarsgård does a fantastic job as the villain, it is the weird character design - his head is uncomfortably misshapen - and the shape-shifting nature of the character that make him so outlandish. Being a child-eating demon-clown helps, too, we guess.

    If a creepy clown in a sewer drooling from the mouth before chomping into a child isn't enough to creep you out, we're not sure what you're looking for. Perhaps a scene where he contorts himself out of an old refrigerator? Or maybe one where he comically dances to off-putting circus music? We're not sure what "It" is, but Pennywise certainly has It.

    Over the top?
  • More recent incarnations of the Clown Prince of Crime have tilted more toward the grounded realism of Batman films since the turn of the century - yes, even Heath Ledger's take on the character. But if you like your comic book villains cartoony in nature, look no further than Jack Nicholson's Joker from 1989's Batman to get your fix. Nicholson's Joker may be a homicidal baddie, but the guy dresses and acts as if he popped right out of a 1960s comic.

    Look no further than the scene of the Joker and his crew debasing the Gotham Museum while dancing around to a Prince song to prove that point. And sure, he shoots plenty of guns - but when they're comically long, does it really count? After all, the only thing the guy really wants is his face on the one-dollar bill.

    Over the top?
  • Bellatrix Lestrange In The 'Harry Potter' Franchise
    Photo: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 / Warner Bros. Pictures

    In a series full of memorable, weird performances like Ralph Fiennes's Voldemort and Timothy Spall's Peter Pettigrew, it seems fitting that the standout over-the-top performance from the Harry Potter franchise would belong to Helena Bonham Carter. A veteran of numerous Tim Burton films, Carter essentially made an entire career out of playing eccentric weirdos. Fight Club, anyone? So, when you're casting for an evil, idiosyncratic baddie... she is who you get.

    Carter's Lestrange is a cackling scoundrel who is equal parts mad and evil. Just before being broken out of Azkaban, she's just sitting there licking her arm for some reason. And when she sets Hagrid's hut ablaze? She squeals gleefully while jumping up and down. Even if her hair was prim and proper and her teeth were less decayed, she'd still come off as a complete psychopath.

    Over the top?