All big villains have to be smart. General bad guys can be brutish muscle who’ll give the hero a pummelling, but they’ll always be henchmen to the true evil genius. The big boss will always be a fountain of smarts, diabolical schemes pouring out of their ears.
Or so you think. All villains have their failures (otherwise the world be a dark, sad place), but while normally that’s a gallant hero swooping in to save the day it can often be of their own creating. Today I bring you eight so called ‘smart’ villains who were actually undone by their own dumb actions (or to a lesser extent have done such stupid things even they’ll relish their defeat) .
It’s quite a common fallacy to have a baddie fail due to their own shortcomings, but that’s not what I want to focus on here. These are the villains that no one realises were their own worst enemy, often viewed as the best when, on this evidence at least, they could be contenders for the worst.
Honourable Mention – Any Mentor Who Betrays Their Student
Offending Films: Salt, L.A. Confidential, Minority Report, Batman Begins, Monsters, Inc., Iron Man, many more films than can be listed here.
All of the films above went through my head when making this list, but didn’t make it proper because all the villains had identically boring undoings. The master betraying the student for evil means, only for the student to fight back and stop the scheme at hand has been done so much there’s little joy to be taken from it.
The hero will always be more driven to stop their mentor, try and turn them back and in the end kill them/turn them over to the authorities. The master not offing their strong upstart means there’s one person who is basically trained to stop them.
Sometimes this can surprise you (L.A. Confidential’s use of this did shock me a little), but for the most part its just the same story in different trappings. Give it a rest screenwriters.
This article was first posted on September 4, 2013