It’s not a rule of cinema so much as a character requirement: bad guys in movies are generally either a) more fashion conscious and runway ready than their good guy counterparts, or, b) have waaaaaay more badass costumes than anyone else in the entire film/TV show. So. We thought we’d give shouts out to some of our favorite ‘bad guy’ characters from the sci-fi/fantasy realm whose get-ups are either Gucci good, or so bad, they’re bombastic.
Darth Vader and Boba Fett, Star Wars Trilogy
Forgive us for including the obvious, but this is one instance in which their legend alone warrants their inclusion. There hasn’t been a more menacing voicebox on film than James Earl Jones’s Vader, snarling through that infamous black helmet, every breath its own unmasked threat—no baddie is better costumed than Vader. With Fett, it’s all about the nicks, dents, and dings in his armor. He looks sleek, lethal, and like he's been through the Galactic ringer. There’s a reason these two morally ambiguous gents have the series’ most popular Halloween costumes every year!
Effie Trinkett, The Hunger Games
The intentionally over-the-top, garish garb in The Hunger Games is, of course, largely there to represent the drastic difference between social classes that exist in the book/film. We like Effie’s outfits cuz they’re straight up entertaining—she’s like an evil Lady Gaga. Scene after scene, she waltzes in looking like a Precious Moments doll who just got a makeover from RuPaul.
Heath Ledger’s Joker, The Dark Knight
Of course The Joker made the list—the famed purple suit alone qualifies. But we had to choose Ledger’s Joker specifically because he wore the terrifying grin and sonic purple duds best. With smudged lipstick masking his literal scarred grin and caked white makeup covering his face, Ledger owned every scene he was in and did so clad in primary colored vests, which is some feat! This is one case where the clothes don’t make the man—he makes them. And he makes them scary!
Lex Luthor and General Zod, Smallville/Superman II
As played by Gene Hackman in the original Superman, he wore suits louder than he was. In Smallville, Michael Rosenbaum brought sexy back to Lex, sporting designer suits that would make Tim Gunn salivate. Both looks remain perfect for their respective Lex’s; he IS a criminal mastermind who’s gonna be President someday. Gotta look sharp. As for Zod’s inclusion, we’re referring specifically to Terence Stamp’s character in 1980’s Superman II. Stamp was forced to wear a tight, shiny, black leather suit that made him look like he was heading to a yoga class for goths only. The result? A classic, hilariously camp performance. For reals, watch it and try not to crack up.
Seriously, this is one dapper dude! Jared Harris looked appropriately elegant in the recent flicks, but we’re partial to Andrew Scott’s look from BBC’s Sherlock. He manages to do the impossible: he goes toe to toe with Benedict Cumberbatch in both intellect and impeccable, tailored overcoats. If we’ve learned anything from film and television, it’s that our villains have to look fancy. No one looks fancier than Moriarty.
Ravenna (Wicked Queen), Snow White and the Huntsman
Her dresses look like macabre avant garde masterpieces. Her so-called tiara would kill a bird if it dared to perch atop it (which might be where she gets all those dead birds she eats like Craisins). Ravenna’s outfits are as over-the-top as she is, and they’re perfect for her bloodthirsty character!
Agent Smith, The Matrix
Never before has a simple black suit and tie looked so stone cold scary! Hugo Weaving, also wearing an expression in which he maybe utilized three or four facial muscles, took this classic look to a whole new level. And he rocked those shades. Can’t forget the shades!
Anna, V (2009)
What costume, you ask? She wore none. We disagree—her costume consisted of the visage and body of Morena Baccarin over a scaly, lizard-like interior. That’s it. And in our minds, that’s more than enough to warrant her inclusion on this list. Anna and her alien posse wear the best disguise possible for alien TV beings about to take over the world: good lookin’ mugs. What’s more deceptive (or persuasive) than that?
Which baddies do you think sport the best costumes?