Friday, May 11, 2012

Are You Loco for Loki? An Exploration of Attractive Villains

by Sara N.

I trust that you've all seen The Avengers by now, and therefore, you'll understand it when I say that it's a cornucopia of hotness. Thor's biceps. Captain America's biceps. Hawkeye's biceps. Tony Stark's cutting quippiness (sadly, he kept his biceps under wraps in this film).


But would you think I was weird if I told you that I found the villainous Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, oddly attractive, too? Sure, he's crazy as a box of wet hens, but there's something compelling about his wet-hen craziness. Maybe it's his back story, which — spoilers for the film Thor — involves a surprise adoption, a hidden heritage as a monster, and a throne that he believes was wrongfully stolen from him. I dunno ... it all combines into a character who does vile things but does them in such a way that he's strangely dignified and, well, hot while doing it.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for pasty skin and a widow's peak.

Turns out, Loki's not the only villain who's captured moviegoers' fancy over the years. Here are a few other disturbingly attractive villains for you to consider:

Severus Snape from the Harry Potter films

Accio lips.

Come on, you can't have a list of hot villains that doesn't start with Alan Rickman. The description of Snape in J.K. Rowling's novels is downright unattractive: the grim clothing, the greasy hair, the sour and vindictive demeanor ... and yet when it's embodied by Rickman, it's all very, very good. (It's got to be his sexy voice, right?) And yes, in the end, he's redeemed, mostly. But boy, was he terrible in the preceding books.

The Master (John Simm version) from Doctor Who

Vote Saxon.
Let's ignore his bleachy-haired, hoodied second appearance on the show and focus on his initial run, when he was all power-mad, human-enslaving, scenery-chewing, bwa-ha-ha-evil-laughing fun. Not convinced? Here's Simm doing a sexy, evil little dance from the Doctor Who Season 3 finale:

Angelus from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Better without a soul? You decide.

If preferring Evil Angel to regular Angel is wrong, I don't want to be right. David Boreanaz seemed to have gleeful fun playing the amoral, chaos-loving Angelus. Who wouldn't, when the alternative is the mopey, broody, cursed-with-a-soul Angel? Angelus revels in causing pain, and his connection to Buffy makes him uniquely able to deliver it. His actions are hard to watch, but Boreanaz makes it hard to turn away. (Oh, but Angelus with the dreadful Oirish accent knocks him back out of the hotness pool.)

Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones

I'm still holding out for a Jaime/Brienne hookup.

The book version of Jaime Lannister has enough shades of gray that I'd hesitate to put him on a villain list. But the television version of Jaime Lannister hasn't been given much to do yet beyond behave very badly toward a child (as his sister, too, I suppose), stab Ned Stark in the leg, and then get captured and insult Lady Cat. Thankfully, he's played by the glorious Nikolaj Coster Waldau, who looks good doing very bad things.

Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow from Batman Begins

Is it the fear-inducing chemicals that keep his skin so soft?

Sure, he pales in the pantheon of Batman villains, particularly when you hold him up next to Heath Ledger's Joker. But Dr. Jonathan Crane as played by Cillian Murphy had the spectacles of a sensitive intellectual and the long, curly eyelashes of an Italian supermodel. The Scarecrow mask is, of course, hideous, but it hides Murphy's pretty, pretty face, which helps maintain his aura of attractiveness.

Sir Guy of Gisborne from Robin Hood (BBC edition)

Now THAT is a hot, evil stare.

Full disclosure: I bailed on this show after Season 1, so I don't know firsthand what became of the evil Sir Guy, who tormented Robin, Marian and the rest of their band of outcasts. (I've read recaps, though, and it sounds like he gets even more heinous in Season 2 before embarking on a redemption arc.) I do know that it was hard to hate Sir Guy for every vile thing he did because of the smoldering charisma of Richard Armitage, the actor playing him — and not coincidentally, playing him in head-to-toe black leather. These conflicted feelings are furthered by the slivers of vulnerability he shows as he tries to convince Marian to love him. Not that any of this turns Sir Guy into a good guy; he was a truly evil character. But dang, was he easy on the eyes. (You'll be seeing a lot more of Armitage very soon, thankfully; he's playing Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit.)

Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

See? Super hot. Drusilla knows you want what she's got.
Let's be clear: I'm talking about the pre-chip, pre-soul, Drusilla-loving Spike. He was soooooo good at being sooooo bad. Consider the way he shrugs off what looks like the imminent murder of Buffy by Angelus in the Season 2 finale. So callous, so funny. So Spike.

Sean Bean from, like, everything ever

No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

If Sean Bean's in a movie, chances are good he plays the bad guy. Not just the bad guy, but the really bad guy with completely evil motives and not an ounce of redeeming quality in him. GoldenEye. The Island. National Treasure. In all of them, he's hot, he's evil, and he's probably going to end up dead. (By the way, I don't count Boromir from The Lord of the Rings as a villain; rather, he's misguided, manipulated and, ultimately, tragic.)

If you'd like to read an interesting take on attractiveness in villains, check out Kinsey Holley's post at Heroes and Heartbreakers, in which she argues that the hotter the actor, the more we want to see him as an anti-hero rather than a villain. Intriguing stuff, and well worth a read.

So did I miss your favorite attractive villain? Which bad boy gets your blood pumping? (Vampire Diaries fans, I know you'll have some suggestions, so hit the comments.) And why does my list contain almost exclusively British characters? Where are the American villains?

Finally, just for fun, here's Spike and Angel being bad together:

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  1. "Do the astronauts have weapons?" Hahaha
    Cavemen would totally win.

    I do love that we got some Wesley at the end of the Spike/Angel argument.

    Great list!

  2. omg. yes. to all of it. except, even though hes not * necessarily* a bad guy, Alan A Dale from Robin Hood was equal to Guy's gorgeousness, and he's a bad guy in my opinion. nut everyone who knows me knows I'm a sucker for the villian. -laurasmash

  3. Am I allowed to nominate the same actor but different character? If so, sign me up for Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. Yum!

    1. Well, of course! But I didn't include that because it's not really a genre movie. Still, Hans Gruber should be on every list for everything, always.

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  5. I think Craig Parker as Darken Rahl on "The Legend of the Seeker" is one of the hottest bad guys ever. I knew I was supposed to prefer the annoyingly good Richard, but Darken Rahl's eyes and biceps were to die for. I also spent quite a bit of time obsessed with Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor on "Smallville."