*Spoilers for Interstellar, Inception, The Dark Knight, and especially Memento*
Christopher Nolan is one of my favorite directors of all time. There isn't a single film of his that I don't enjoy on some level, and one of the most fascinating things about each of his stories is the kind of antagonists he can create. Don't believe me? Then read on my cynical friend, read on.
5) Bane - 'The Dark Knight Rises'
I'll always have a soft spot for this endlessly quotable masked man. From his well-spoken demeanor to his intimidating presence, Bane is quite simply a joy to watch. On top of that, the amount of acting Tom Hardy manages to do with just his eyes and muffled voice is quite staggering. He's bottom on the list because his character is somewhat undermined in the latter stages, but it doesn't stop me being captivated by him every time he's on screen.
4) Professor Brand - 'Interstellar'
Here we kick off the theme of villains who aren't exactly what you'd call "villainous", or even evil. Having bashed his head against a brick wall for years in order to try and save the Earth, he gives up and begins a great lie in order to at least save the human race. What makes him a cut above the average antagonist is that it's hard to argue against what he does, with his plan only being bettered by an impossibly unlikely foray into a black hole. The sadness you can feel in him and the words he uses to inspire the crew lend a rare weight to him as a character.
3) Mal/Cobb - 'Inception'
While Cobb is pretty much the protagonist of Inception, his late wife Mal is a constant source of grief to him and everyone around him. However, Mal isn't an actual character for the most part, but rather a manifestation of the regret and pain buried in Cobb's own psyche. The duality of his mind in the film and the torment he puts himself through is undeniably gripping, making the climax even more tragic and poignant.
2) Leonard - 'Memento'
I did warn you especially about spoilers for Memento, and this is the spoiler to end all spoilers in film history. As the ending reveals to us, Guy Pearce's Leonard avenged the death of his wife long ago, but has been essentially creating new details in order to prolong the hunt and keep his mind together via a singular goal. The rearrangement of scenes in reverse order, along with the ironically insane amount of forward momentum the film, builds up make this one of the biggest reveals to ever grace a cinema screen. That reveal shows us just how twisted he has become after his memory was damaged, murdering innocent people just to make himself feel better. It's a cold character, yet one you can't help sympathizing with despite that.
1) The Joker - 'The Dark Knight'
Yeah, I'd have loved to give you a surprising top pick, but it's just impossible to deny how great Heath Ledger's Joker is. Yes, there's the quotes, the mayhem, and the magnetic presence, but you know all that already. What I find truly riveting and almost disturbing about this character is the the amount of sense he often talks, as well as the amount of ideology he's imbued with. Most people would tell you he's great because he's unpredictable, but what I find intriguing about him is just how simple a guy he is. He wants to show that everyone in the world is on the verge of insanity, and what makes him so inherently brilliant is that if we look at Harvey Dent and what Batman does to him... it turns out he was right. This Joker broke the Batman, and it took a whole eight years and another movie for him to fix himself.
I'm always fascinated by the layers and complexity in Nolan's films, and I hope you enjoyed taking a look at his greatest villains with me. If you did, then why not let me know who you're favorite pick of the bunch is. Enjoy your lives guys.