This year saw some highs and lows in quality for TV shows and movies, but some particularly bad performances came from the villains.
In 2018, it can be hard to capture a convincing villain. TV and movies suffered from this problem all year — bringing big bad guys out on screen that somehow missed the mark entirely.
There are plenty of reasons a villain can go wrong. Issues with the writing, performance or some combination of the two are a common cause, but that is not always the case. Sometimes production issues can make it impossible to do justice to a stellar script or a genius actor.
Likewise, sometimes a movie takes a turn somewhere along the way, and the supposed hero turns into a villain themselves. In those cases, an unintentional villain will almost always sit wrong with the audience, as we have seen many times this year.
Whatever the case, this year some cringe-worthy bad guys stalked both the big and small screens, making viewers uncomfortable with their antics. In fairness, however, there were some great villains too. In Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan became one of Marvel’s best bad guys yet, and Nick Castle returned to his role in Halloween after 40 years to show that he still has it.
Others were not so lucky, unfortunately. Here is a look at some of 2018’s worst villains in TV and movies.
Slide 1 of 8Dryden Vos – ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story'(Photo: YouTube / Star Wars)Making Paul Bettany the villain of a Star Wars movie is a great idea on paper. Unfortunately, he had to play this villain in this Star Wars movie. Bettany was recast at the last minute, when Michael K. Willaims dropped out. Originally, Dryden Vos was meant to be a half-lion, half-man alien, though that was abandoned as well.
Worst of all, Bettany’s performance was confined to just one set when large portions of the movie were re-shot. This gave the actor very little time and space to develop his character, and the results speak for themselves.
Slide 2 of 8The Black Hood – ‘Riverdale’The identity of Riverdale’s Black Hood was one of TV’s longest-running mysteries this year, and it ultimately wore out its welcome. The killer had fans so intentionally confused that many gave up on figuring out who it was. Others became so invested in one fan theory or another that they were inevitably disappointed by the canonical answer.
Slide 3 of 8Big Predator – ‘The Predator’The Predator franchise got its fourth installment this year, and introduced a new version of its iconic alien hunter that had old school fans rolling their eyes. The movie brought in a new, much larger type of Predator which wastes no time in killing the aliens that have starred in the first two films.
Slide 4 of 8Arie Luyendyk – ‘The Bachelor'(Photo: Instagram / @ariejr)Reality shows do not always have a clear-cut villain, but this season, there was no doubt who the bad guy was on The Bachelor. Professional race car driver Arie Luyendyk shocked the world when he made Bachelor history by changing his mind. After choosing a wife from among the contestants, he went back on his decision months later, returning to the runner-up at the last minute.
Slide 5 of 8John Gotti – ‘Gotti'(Photo: Gotti (2018) / IMDB)John Travolta’s mafia-drama Gotti has been doomed for a while, but that did not stop it from coming out this year. The movie has been in production since 2010, and even passed from the hands of Lionsgate to MoviePass when the company tried to get into production.
Even forgiving it for all its other failings, however, it is hard to look past Travolta’s strange and uncomfortable performance in Gotti. The actor breaks the fourth wall often, evoking Kevin Spacey’s performance in House of Cards — the last thing an actor should do in 2018. Beyond that, Travolta delivers odd readings of strange lines, to no critical acclaim.
Slide 6 of 8Delos Inc. – ‘Westworld’Years from now — generations, even — people will still likely be debating who the villain of Westworld season 2 is. It seems clear, however, who is making the wrong decision at every single turn, and that is Delos Inc.
The company that injected funding into Westworld in exchange for some nefarious research somehow shows even less regard for human life than the bloodthirsty robots they are battling, while never adequately answering the audience’s biggest questions.
Slide 7 of 8Sorrento – ‘Ready Player One'(Photo: YouTube / Warner Bros. Pictures)Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of Ready PLayer One left a lot to be desired, not least of all in its all-in-one villain, Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn). The character combines several elements from Ernest Cline’s original novel, turning the amorphous corporation IOI into one petulant, buffoonish man.
Slide 8 of 8Grindelwald – ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald'(Photo: YouTube / Warner Bros. Productions)Finally, one of the most hotly-anticipated bad villains of 2018 was Gellert Gridelwald in J.K. Rowling’s latest spin-off from the Harry Potter franchise. Following the Me Too movement, all the allegations of domestic violence levelled against Depp over the years resurfaced. Rather than re-cast him, Rowling made a blog post acknowledging the claims against Depp, yet continued with him in the movie anyway.
That outraged fans, and it was almost a certainty that Grindelwald would be poorly received in the upcoming movie. If Depp’s real life actions were not enough, some reviews noted that Grindelwald’s character hit too close to home in 2018 as well.
“With the two worlds on the precipice of war, Grindelwald is depicted as a power-hungry populist in an extremely politically divisive time,” wrote Sarah Murphy for Exclaim. “It’s too close to real life to not be terrifying.”