Blogger Q&A: What’s Your Favorite Villain Quote?
In the Blogger Q&A series, we ask all of our bloggers here at Flickchart to share their opinions on a movie-related question. Got something you want to ask the bloggers? Submit a question of your own for the series by posting on our official Flickchart Facebook page, and it could be featured in a future post!
Heroes usually win in the end, but villains have more fun along the way. Often they get the coolest costumes, the most dramatic scenes — and the most quotable lines. This week’s question asks our bloggers to share some of their favorite bits of villainous dialogue.
“Okay, Jones. You win. Blow it up. Yes, blow it up! Blow it back to God. All your life has been spent in pursuit of archeological relics. Inside the Ark are treasures beyond your wildest aspirations. You want to see it open as well as I. Indiana, we are simply passing through history. This…this is history. Do as you will.” – Belloq, Raiders of the Lost Ark
He’s right, you know. The easy, classless ploy would have been to put Marion in front of the Ark. Instead, the French collaborator Belloq gives a goosebumps-raising speech that sums up the whole Indiana Jones franchise. Indy may believe that timeless cultural treasures belong in a museum, and Belloq may be happier selling them to the highest bidder, but beyond that the hero and the villain share a common purpose: to hunt down ancient treasures, to be the first to find something lost, to touch the most hallowed fragments of the past before passing them on to others. Belloq is not merely calculating how to play to Jones’ weakness to get out of a tough scrape. He is not grasping at straws or talking maniacal nonsense. He’s calling a bluff and playing a trump card, completely confident and fair-and-square. In this moment, he is no longer a kidnapper, statue thief, and Nazi pawn, but an expert scholar discoursing with a like-minded peer. It is an invigorating and sobering speech that forces us to admit that we, too, want to see what the Ark is all about. When Indy lowers his rocket launcher in silent defeat, we, Belloq, and history are the winners. – David Conrad
“Why So Serious?” It’s the tagline that is everybody’s go-to cue for one of modern film’s greatest villains, but it’s not just Heath Ledger‘s virtuoso performance that makes The Dark Knight‘s Joker so grand. It’s also the fact that Ledger had such a great script – and wonderful lines – to work with. How about his conflicting “You wanna know how I got these scars?” stories? “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.” “Let’s put a smile on that face!” “This city deserves a better class of criminal, and I’m gonna give it to them!” “Madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push.” His description for why he prefers using a knife over a gun.
There are so many to choose from, but my favorite Joker scene has to be when he sums up his whole reason for being to Harvey Dent in the hospital: “Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just…do things.”
Meanwhile, I have so many favorite villains, I have to cheat a little here. So, briefly, there’s the killer from Se7en: “Wanting people to listen, you can’t just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you’ll notice you’ve got their strict attention.” Or, for a lighter contrast, Syndrome in The Incredibles: “You sly dog! You caught me monologuing!” Classic. – Nigel Druitt
There are movies with ham-fisted villains that bombastically give us their motives – world domination – I’m thinking about Auric Goldfinger as the archetype here. Get all the gold, irradiate the gold, rule the world. There are also those villains that tirelessly drive towards just plain destruction – The Joker from The Dark Knight is an amazing example of this. There’s also another type of villain that can be even more dangerous – the true believer. These villains are terrifying. The unquestioningly follow their orders, wreaking havoc on the heroes in the way of the mission.
The Operative from Joss Whedon’s Serenity is a fearsome villain. He is a sentinel – he just keeps coming in an unstoppable fashion. The first time I saw the movie, I had a reaction to him not dissimilar from how I felt about Darth Vader. When Vader arrives, bad things are about to happen. When The Operative shows up, you can’t stop him.
Here’s the best exchange from the movie that exemplifies how terrifying, but also nearly empathic, The Operative is. The line almost makes me believe in him.
The Operative: I’m sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault?
Mal: I don’t murder children.
The Operative: I do, if I have to.
Mal: Why? Do you even know why they sent you?
The Operative: It’s not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.
Mal: So me and mine gotta lay down and die so you can live in your better world?
The Operative: I’m not going to live there… There’s no place for me there, any more than there is for you. Malcolm, I’m a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.
What I love so much about this exchange is how transparent The Operative is – he is a man who completely understands his place. Those few lines, though still pants-poopingly scary, give the audience all the insight they need into the true-believer. – Jeff Lombardi
Sometimes the classics need to win the day. When the Wicked Witch of the West threatens Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, she’s not after money or even power in the abstract – she wants cold, hard revenge (and not without reason – Dorothy DID just drop a house on her sister) on Dorothy herself, and that’s pretty much it. Her promise: “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” It’s the dog, after all, that has Dorothy in this whole mess in the first place. If she hadn’t run away to save Toto from Mrs. Gulch in the Kansas portion of the story, she would’ve been safely in the storm shelter when the tornado came. But more than that, we all know that going after the dog is the lowest form of villainy there is. Dogs are among the easiest way to piss off/gain the sympathy of an audience, and threatening Toto is how we know the Wicked Witch is spiteful as well as vengeful. You do not go after the dog. – Jandy Hardesty
Even the most brilliantly-written villain line can flop horribly if done poorly, so my selection is an example of perfect delivery of a line that could have been unmemorable in someone else’s hands. My choice is from The Silence of the Lambs, from Hannibal Lecter’s first meeting with Clarice Starling. The two have been interacting cautiously but politely, but after glancing through the questionnaire she wants him to fill out, he turns the spotlight on her:
Anthony Hopkins‘ calculated delivery of this line makes this one of the most terrifying scenes in the film — especially his mocking of Clarice’s “pure West Virginia” accent. Hannibal is determined to put this woman in her place by reminding her where she came from and pulling at every insecurity he’s spotted. The switch from cold civility to methodical venom is utterly chilling. Jodie Foster has said the imitated accent was an improvisation on Hopkins’ part and left her feeling genuinely horrified and personally attacked. Hannibal Lecter isn’t scary in this movie because he kills and eats people. He’s scary because he has a brilliant understanding of people and plays terrible mind games with them. And also he kills and eats people. – Hannah Keefer
With this phrase, HAL (a sentient computer) encapsulates its willful opposition to Dave (the human protagonist). Until this critical exchange it is not clear whether HAL is villain or victim (or some combination of the two). In Stanley Kubrick‘s masterful film adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the story unfolds with such realism that we feel we are on the space mission ourselves. The warm voice of the ever present computer is a soothing companion in the harsh environment of space. The cheerfully helpful computer is programmed for accuracy–but also has secret orders from mission control to be withheld from the astronauts. The repercussions of these conflicting directives play out over the course of the film with dramatic and touching results. As Dave eventually succeeds in incrementally shutting down HAL by removing his modules one by one, one can’t help but feel a little sad for the consciousness that is aware of its own demise, even as it’s happening.”Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave? Stop, Dave. I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m a— Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer…” – Ben Shoemaker