10 Best Meet The Real Villain Moments In Movie History

When the smoke clears and the actual villain is finally revealed.

Marta Knives Out
Lionsgate

Who doesn't love a surprise villain reveal? No great movie is complete without a memorable antagonist, and sometimes filmmakers have dared to toy with audiences a little, by keeping the real villain out of sight - perhaps hidden behind another villain - until the pivotal moment.

It's a tricky sleight-of-hand that's far from easy to pull off and risks pissing off your entire audience, but when it works, it really works.

At its best, a surprise reveal of the real villain waiting in the wings can boost a movie from great to truly unforgettable and iconic, ensuring audiences will be keen to fully re-examine everything on a repeat viewing.

Audiences don't always like to be baited and switched, but if it's done with sufficient cleverness and doesn't feel shoehorned for the sake of a "gotcha!" ending, it can be supremely satisfying to behold.

By subbing out the second-tier villain for the real deal right at the end, or confirming that the antagonist was actually hiding in plain sight the entire time, these 10 movies left viewers totally slack-jawed at what they'd just witnessed...

10. Ra's Al Ghul Crashes Bruce Wayne's Party - Batman Begins

Marta Knives Out
Warner Bros.

Batman Begins chronicles the birth of the Caped Crusader, as Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is recruited into the a mysterious organisation called the League of Shadows by a man named Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson).

Ducard helps train Bruce, though the early stages of the film make it explicitly clear that the leader of the outfit is in fact the enigmatic Ra's al Ghul (Ken Watanabe).

Once Bruce realises that the League intends to burn Gotham to the ground, however, he quits in dramatic fashion, burning their temple down with Ra's al Ghul inside, but sparing the life of Ducard.

From this point Christopher Nolan trains his focus on Batman's clash with Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), who is presumed to be the film's principal antagonist.

But in act three, Bruce's birthday party is interrupted by the presence of Ducard, who reveals that he was in fact the real Ra's al Ghul all along, the Ken Watanabe version having been a decoy.

This is a brilliant bait-and-switch reveal, because while no viewer is ever under the illusion that Ducard is a good man, he managed to effectively conceal his true identity and intent in plain sight.

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Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.