Whenever a movie introduces its villain, it has the potential to make or break the character. Undersell and it can become impossible to take them seriously, over-promise and they can fall flat should they fail to match the pace set out at the very start.
It has been said that a movie is only ever as good as its villain. Some tend to ignore such theories, producing antagonists that are often one-dimensional, barely developed, or just there because the story needed someone for the protagonist to overcome.
Other movies however, take the complete opposite approach and do everything possible to create a stunning villain that can genuinely rival a hero. Not just cannon fodder, but a true threat. What better way to establish such a character than by putting them front and centre in the movie's very first scene?
These ten movies all had such faith in their antagonist that they gave them the spotlight before even the hero of the story. Not only were these introductions done incredibly well, they also set the tone for what ultimately became fantastic movies in their own right.
10. X-Men: First Class
After three movies exploring and dissecting the relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, X-Men: First Class took the franchise decades into the past to how the two iconic mutants first met. It was, at the time, exactly the reboot the franchise needed.
The movie kicked off with a gut-wrenching scene, in black and white as it followed a young Erik and his mother through a Nazi concentration camp in occupied Poland in 1944. The two get separated, bringing the young man’s anger to the point that he is able to destroy the metal gates keeping them apart.
The pace keeps going and quickly shifts to a young Charles Xavier in Westchester, but the opening was enough to know about Erik’s motivations in the movie. Where his powers came from, what triggered him, and a deeper look into his heartbreaking past.
For much of the movie, the man that would be called Magneto isn’t actually a villain, instead working as a part of the X-Men himself. However, by the end he has murdered Sebastian Shaw and split the X-Men in half, taking Mystique, Azazel, Angle, and Riptide to form the Brotherhood. Fans all knew who Magneto was, but that further depth given by the opening scene was vital to crafting an even more compelling version of the character.