The Most Evil Villains Invented For War Movies

Over 200 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Most Evil Villains Invented For War Movies
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Vote up the villains too evil to be real.

As opposed to evil movie villains that actually existed, sometimes filmmakers have to invent their own baddies for audiences to jeer at. Even if a movie is based around a particular war, it can be easier to create a villain from scratch instead of using a real-life personality. Sometimes that takes the form of an amalgamation of people and sometimes it can be an antagonist who has no basis in reality at all.

For example, Pilou Asbæk's Wafner from Overlord was invented for his particular WWII movie because, well, he ends up becoming a superpowered Nazi-zombie of sorts. On the other hand, Jason Isaacs's Colonel William Tavington from The Patriot was based on the actions of Colonel Banastre Tarleton, but the most heinous things Tavington does in the movie - like burn an entire town to death in a locked church - are completely made up. Sometimes, a villain is simply too evil to be real.

  • Pan's Labyrinth takes place in Spain a few years after the Spanish Civil War took place. Though Guillermo del Toro's film is a dark fantasy that features all manner of otherworldly elements, the backdrop of genuine, real-life conflict serves the story greatly. While the film's narrative is made up of protagonist Ofelia's trials in the titular labyrinth, an undercurrent of reality-based horror permeates through the film in the form of her stepfather, Captain Vidal.

    There are numerous scenes where Vidal's malevolence is highlighted, but none hold a candle to the one when he bashes an innocent man's face in with a bottle. Not only does the emotionless Captain smash the young man's face in, he kills his father as well by shooting him twice in the chest. Merely for protesting their innocence. 

    118 votes
  • Portraying Hans Landa in 2009's Inglourious Basterds turned Christoph Waltz from a complete unknown into a household name overnight. Waltz manages to be equal parts hilarious, menacing, and charming all at the same time while speaking four languages. The so-called “Jew Hunter” even makes eating a slice of strudel seem intimidating. Landa, generally speaking, is always the smartest person in the room, which is not a good thing for the innocent people trying to escape his clutches.

    If ordering a Jewish family shot to death via machine gun isn't enough to convince you of his nefarious nature, his brutal strangling of Bridget Von Hammersmark will do the trick. At the end of the day, Landa almost gets away with all of his dastardly deeds, having gotten himself a full pardon from the Allied forces by the time everything is wrapping up. Of course, Aldo Raine isn't one to let Nazis walk into the sunset. As such, he carves a swastika into Landa's forehead.

    183 votes
  • While the broad themes of The Patriot and its overarching story set during the Revolutionary War are based on reality, it has been derided by historians for being a highly inaccurate portrayal of events. So when we say Jason Isaacs's Colonel William Tavington is loosely based on Banastre Tarleton, we mean he is very loosely based on the man.

    The Patriot was directed by Roland Emmerich, the man responsible for Independence Day and 2012, so it's easy to see he favors spectacle over accuracy. Isaacs does make for a great movie villain, as any Harry Potter fan will tell you. Isaacs's Tavington kills an innocent child in cold blood. He orders a bunch of wounded soldiers to be killed. He rounds up an entire town's worth of people in a church and sets it on fire. Tavington is about as evil as war movie villains get.

    147 votes
  • 4
    160 VOTES

    Sergeant Barnes From 'Platoon'

    Tom Berenger starred in some huge movies that left a lasting legacy on 1980s cinema. Staples of the decade like Major League, The Big Chill, and Born on the Fourth of July all feature the Chicago-born actor in some capacity. But there is one role in Berenger's filmography that stands out above the rest, and no, it isn't Tom Beckett from the Sniper franchise even though he's played that character six times.

    Berenger is probably best known to audiences as the cynical, vindictive Staff Sergeant Robert Barnes in Platoon. Barnes is the kind of guy who has no compunction over killing people. He shoots an innocent woman in cold blood. He has an entire village razed to the ground. He shoots a member of his own army and leaves him to die. Barnes is nothing more than a broken man who does whatever he wants, whenever he wants.

    160 votes
  • 5
    49 VOTES

    Jaapie Botha From 'The Power of One'

    Way back in 1992, a young Daniel Craig made his feature-length debut as Sergeant Jaapie Botha in The Power of One. This drama is set in South Africa in and around WWII and tells the story of a young man struggling to cope with the many changes that happened during that time period.

    Contrary to the heroic roles he would become known for, Craig's Botha is a racist South African police sergeant who has a penchant for beating up innocent people on a regular basis. Leading violent raids against harmless villagers is his favorite pastime and even when Stephen Dorff's main character, PK, beats him in a fair fight at the end of the movie, Botha tries to shoot him with a hidden gun. He ends up murdered with a cricket bat for trying such a duplicitous move.

    49 votes
  • 6
    51 VOTES

    Wafner From 'Overlord'

    Pilou Asbæk is definitely most well-known as Euron Greyjoy on Game of Thrones. It makes sense. Game of Thrones is only one of the most popular series in the entire history of television. Of course, Asbæk has had a prolific film career as well, having shown up in numerous Hollywood flicks like Ben-Hur, Ghost in the Shell, and Uncharted. With all that in mind, no project - not even Game of Thrones - has seen the actor play a character as evil as Wafner from 2018's Overlord.

    The movie is set just before D-Day in 1944 and is an alternate history take on one of the most infamous moments of WWII. The alternate history takes the form of a classic zombie thriller, with the Nazis having created a serum that freakishly mutates humans into monsters with superior strength and resilience. Captain Wafner runs afoul of US soldiers sent to destroy a signal-jamming tower after he tries to assault an innocent German woman. After getting shot in the face, Wafer injects himself with two doses of the serum and goes all snarling maniac on the US troops hunting him down.

    51 votes