Iron Man was great! Pretty much every human being with a blog has already told you exactly why it was great, though, so I won’t belabor the whole thing TOO much. I’ll just say the designs were beautiful, Robert Downey Jr. is America’s greatest living genius (take THAT, Nobel-Prize-winning quantum physicist Murray Gell-Mann! ), the action/humor balance was just right, and The Dude had a beard to end all beards. And that final moment before the credits was just brilliant, too… I’ve always wanted to see a scene like that.

BUT. I was talking to a friend of mine earlier, and he had a serious problem with the movie. He just couldn’t get past the weakness of the villain. And, you know, it’s true, the villain isn’t quite as compelling as everything else in the movie. It didn’t bother me as much as it bothered him, but I could see where he was coming from. The actor (Is it a spoiler to say who it is? It’s kind of obvious…) does a great job with what he was given, but honestly, he wasn’t given a whole lot. And maybe that was unavoidable; In this new batch of superhero movies, there’s so much time spent setting up just who these heroes are, their origins, their powers, their inner conflicts, relation to the supporting cast, etc., that the bad guys and their plots often get sidelined a bit. Spider-Man Number One and Batman Begins both had that problem, I think. Maybe the issue is just that great villains and “origin stories” have trouble fitting in the same movie… You have to get past all that before you’ll have time to develop a really strong, memorable movie bastard.

Then again, as my friend pointed out, tell that to Clarence Boddicker.

Anyway, the discussion did bring up the question, “Who are your favorite movie villains of the past few years (say, 10)?” So here’s the list of bad guys I’ve seriously enjoyed hating over the past decade (not really in any order, except maybe the first two):

1. Anton Chigurgh (No Country for Old Men)
2. Captain Vidal (Pan’s Labyrinth)
3. Stuntman Mike (Death Proof)
4. O-Ren Ishii… and Elle Driver and Budd and GoGo (the Kill Billses)
5. Agent Smith (The Matrix)
6. Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
7. Mrs. Carmody (The Mist)
8. Kroenen (Hellboy)
9. Dr. Octopus (Spider-Man 2)
10. Sadako (Ringu)

I guess I felt sorry for Dr. Octopus more than I hated him, really, but still, a solid character. And, yeah, Kroenen is more of a cool visual than a cool character (“A slight case of the bobafetts,” as his physician would say). But he’s got an interesting backstory, so he stays. Davy Jones is pretty much in the same boat as Kroenen in that sense, but it’s important to cut lists like this off at 10, lest we risk angering the Great Gods of Arbitrarium.

Who’s on your list? (Just the past 10 years, I mean. Apologies to Mr. Boddicker.)