AFIs 100 greatest villains and heroes

Well, I watched the whole thing, and I found it interesting. Here are a few things that struck me:

  1. George Lucas had a lot of people on the list. He makes such archetypical heroes and villains, that they have to be on such a list. Interestingly, Han Solo was on the list (and fairly high up), but Luke didn’t make the cut (unless I missed it somehow). Vader made it of course. He was 2 or 3, which is about right, IMO. Vader is a VERY memorable villain.

  2. In a related point, sci-fi/fantasy was well represented in the list. These genres are usually ignored when they look at film history, but not anymore, it seems. Batman, Superman, Joker, Ripley, Vader, Han Solo, Martians, the Alien, all made the list. Again, sci-fi makes for great villains in particular.

  3. There seemed to be a general preference for characters based on real people. I know that seems to contradict my previous point, but what I mean by this is that some people I would not put on the list were added seemingly because they were based on real life. Erin Brokovich was one example, but there were others.

  4. These lists are always debatable but always fun.

The complete lists are here.

Some of the choices are peculiar. I noticed Luke’s absence and there are quite a few on this list I’d willingly exchange for him - Marge Gunderson, Andrew Beckett, Maximus, Rooster Cogburn.

The presence of real people on the hero list doesn’t bother me all that much. Lawrence, Spartacus, Norma Rae, Gandhi…all fine with me. To remove them you might as well remove any character with a substantial body in other fiction, like comic book characters or Tarzan. It’s the portrayal that is making them heroic on film. After all, George Washington and Abe Lincoln aren’t on the list because there was no great movie presentation of them.

There were only two real villains on list - Captain Bligh (Laughton’s version) and Joan Crawford (as portrayed by Faye Dunaway).

The whole point of these AFI lists to provoke discussion, and this one has a lot of potential for that.

Troy

what, no Buckaroo Bonsai? Verbal Kint and travis Bickle as a villians? I’ll give that one the shaky hand. Who votes on this stuff anyway? And what about Henry fonda’s character from 12 angry men, a great hero in my book. I think they should seperate the fictional characters and omit the ‘real’ ones from the list. Although, I guess the line is somewhat blurry when it comes to people like Spartacus because he was an actual person. But the movie representation can be far enough removed from reality to consider it fiction, like William Wallace. I’m not sure anymore but it’s fun to discuss the lists anyway.

Some interesting list facts:

Robert Mitchum, Jack Nicholson, and Bette Davis all portrayed two villians on the list. Henry Fonda, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford each portrayed two heroes on the list. Gary Cooper was three (!) heroes on the list.

Father and son duo Kirk and Michael Douglas were both on the list, daddy as a hero and sonny as a villian. Al Pacino was both a hero and a villian. Arnie was both hero and villian as the same role: Terminator.

“Aliens”, “Batman”, “Its a Wonderful Life” and “Schindler’s List” also both featured a best villian and a best hero. “Silence of the Lambs” features the #1 villian and the #6 hero (great fucking movie!) “Star Wars” features two heroes and its sequel, “Empire Strikes Back”, features a villian.

Four of the villians were voice-overs, two of them in Disney movies: Vader, the Queen in Snow White, Cruella DeVille, and HAL9000. Four of the other villians were non-voiced or represented a race of creatures, one of them in a Disney movie: Jaws, Man in Bambi, Aliens, and the martians in War of the Worlds.

Four villians were non-humanoid, while only one hero was non-humanoid (Lassie). Only one other hero on the whole list was strictly non-human, the Terminator.

Two James Bond movies made the list, hero from “Dr. No” and the mighty “Goldfinger” as a top villian.

Two of the heroes (Maximus and Sparticus) hail from the same story.

I didn’t agree with Thelma and Lousie. Helluva movie, but top heroes of the century? What, did they die in 9/11 or something?

One thing I find interesting about the villains’ list is that in fair number of those movies (looks like over a dozen at a glance) the villain is the protagonist in dramatic terms.

Um, Juror #8 (Henry Fonda’s character) is on the list. Interesting choices, in any case.

Two Jimmy Stewarts, too. Bailey and Smith.

Nope. Two very different stories. Spartacus is the politicized version of a real slave revolt in 71 BC. Gladiator is the pseudo-remake of “Fall of the Roman Empire”, a 50’s epic that was partially derived from an obscure story Gibbon tells in his “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” set in 150 AD during the middle Empire. The story is almost entirely fiction.

And despite both being wildly inaccurate, history wise, Spartacus is ten times the movie Gladiator is.

Troy

But Gladiator has that huge battle scene at the start with that great music! Come on, that’s got to count for something… :wink:

But Gladiator has that huge battle scene at the start with that great music! Come on, that’s got to count for something… :wink:[/quote]

Props to the battle scene.

Though a cavalry charge through a thick German forest is not something I’d have thought of.

Troy

Umm… the famous Roman engineer corps cut down enough trees to make room for the horses. Yep, that’s the ticket!

Personally I was more surprised at the presence of a dozen or so senators (“patres”) at a battle in the middle of nowhere…

Umm… the famous Roman engineer corps cut down enough trees to make room for the horses. Yep, that’s the ticket!

Personally I was more surprised at the presence of a dozen or so senators (“patres”) at a battle in the middle of nowhere…[/quote]

Historically speaking, most prominent generals were senators, so I was more surprised that Maximus had never been to Rome.

Troy

I thought Marcus Aurelius’ remark that he’s “never there” was more rhetorical and didn’t literally mean that Maximus had never been to Rome. But I agree it’s unlikely that he would have received such a command without being well-respected in the city.

I thought Marcus Aurelius’ remark that he’s “never there” was more rhetorical and didn’t literally mean that Maximus had never been to Rome. But I agree it’s unlikely that he would have received such a command without being well-respected in the city.[/quote]

Considering Maximus’s awe at the Colloseum and the fact that his gladiator master had to describe it to him, I’m assuming it was literal. Of course, that raises the obvious question of how he and Lucilla became such good friends…

Don’t get me started on Gladiator…worst Best Picture pick since The Greatest Show on Earth.

Troy

Ooh, you’ve got some competition in there: Oliver!; Titanic.

What’s wrong with Oliver!? Did it beat a more deserving film? I just caught it again on AMC a couple months ago. It holds up really well.

The Lion in Winter, and, I guess it’s personal taste, but musicals based on Dickens? Nah!

Oliver!'s director Carol Reed also took the Oscar for Best Director that year, ahead of Stanley Kubrick for 2001.

Upon further review, the play stands as called.

Mock me if you will, but I thought Titanic was a good film. A puffy romance set on a doomed ship, but there’s a lot to admire in it, too. For all the cornball lines, it worked on the level it aimed at. Was it the best movie that year? Hell no. Not even the best movie nominated. (I’d have picked LA Confidential). But it wasn’t an embarrassing pick. There has to be some room for fan favorites.

Oliver! is not the movie Lion in Winter is, of course. But a plucky musical based on a hit broadway show with a cute kid is hard to beat. Even if the kid can’t sing.

But The Greatest Show on Earth?! For the life of me, I can’t think of a worse movie ever to win, period. And in the same year as High Noon, too.

I may be a little hard on Gladiator, but for the life of me I can’t see what the fuss was about. Crowe’s acting was monotone. Was he supposed to be a Stoic? Stoics don’t do revenge, so he wasn’t a good one. Phoenix chewed up the scenery with the stereotypical demented psychopath Emperor, turning one of the most interesting characters in Roman history into a campy queen. And the effects weren’t all that convincing.

I’m a Roman history buff, so maybe I’m just projecting my personal biases here. My wife liked it, and she has generally good taste. But of all the sword and sandal movies I’ve watched, Gladiator aimed highest and fell most short.

Troy

Mock you? No. I can accept the rest of your post, but Titanic was just too much for me. I tried to go with it along the line of your description, and did admire the technical aspects and faithful recreatio of the ship, but when that guy started splashing through the water after Leonardo with his gun, I (pardon the pun) bailed out.

Nice. Didn’t think I would catch 'em all, but I tried. Need more Pokemon practice.

Agreed, and I own both on DVD. 8)