Have you ever wondered who the smartest movie villains are? We’ve all seen the dumb brute villains with three brain cells unable to think through a wet paper bag. However, the intelligent villains are always a few steps ahead of the good guys, getting what they want, and usually winning in the end. Sometimes they win by changing the hero, proving a greater point, or achieving their overall goals. Either way, they don’t get there with their fists alone. Here are the 25 Smartest Movie Villains Ever.
Oliver and Cheryl Lang
In the movie Arlington Road, Jeff Bridges’ character Michael Faraday teaches a class about terrorists and conspiracy theories. Meanwhile, he suspects his neighbors Oliver and Cheryl Lang are up to no good. Except, he has no idea of their ultimate goals. As each layer of the onion is peeled, it becomes rather clear Oliver and Cheryl Lang are crazy masterminds setting Michael Faraday up. He easily falls into their master plan, and everything goes exactly as they want.
In Inception, Cobb is a master thief, able to hack into anyone’s dreams and steal valuable secrets. However, turns out, his greatest enemy is his own wife, Mal, who haunts his own dreams every waking moment. In every mission, Mal acts as a wrench in his well-tuned engine until she finally drags him down into oblivion where there’s no way out.
In Captain America: Civil War, many of the Avengers adventures go too far, costing more innocent lives. With the Avengers divided over the Sokovia Accords, Zemo uses this to his advantage and frames Bucky/The Winter Soldier as a terrorist. Controlling Bucky with code words, Zemo continues to drive a wedge between Captain America and Iron Man until they finally duke it out at the end. Zemo’s ultimate goal is to break them up entirely. By the end, he’s arguably successful.
Perhaps one of the most notorious villains in modern time, Hannibal Lecter is so smart, he moves and manipulates people behind the confines of a small cell. While Clarice Starling thinks she’s using Lecter for his insight and notes about a serial killer, Lecter is actually using her. By the end, he’s home free and calls Starling, saying if she doesn’t chase him, he won’t go after her.
In Seven, two detectives track down a serial killer who kills people that violate the seven deadly sins. They don’t know the serial killer’s name so he goes by John Doe. John Doe is always miles ahead of the detectives. Even when they catch him, they’re only falling into his devious scheme to finalize the last sin. In the end, once he opens the box, Doe forces Mills to make a choice: kill him or let him go.
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