In order for there to be heroes, there must be villains. For there to be good, there needs to be bad. To that end, the following is a list of the baddest bad guys and gals of the year. Whether they made you shout "Boo! Hiss!" at the screen, or made you want to but you didn't in case they break your spine, here are the ten movie villains we loved to hate this year.
CAUTION: Here be spoilers galore! If you haven't seen any of the movies be sure to skip to the next one!
10. Charlize Theron as Ravenna in Snow White & The Huntsmen
While Theron was also in full-on bitch mode in both Prometheus and Young Adult, she was in a different league of evil as the Queen trying to stay young and beautiful forever, hiring someone to rip out the heart of a young girl so she could eat it. Pretty dark stuff, Charlize!
Most Evil Moment: Sucking the soul out of a helpless maid as a holdover until she could get her claws into Snow White.
9. Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Avengers Assemble
Having already brought trouble to Thor's door, Loki returns with an inter-dimensional army to take over Earth, much to the chagrin of Iron Man, Captain America, etc. Destroying an army base, tearing a German guy's eye out, opening a gateway to allow aliens to destroy downtown Manhattan, and all just to annoy his older, more popular brother. Guy has issues, clearly.
Most Evil Moment: Killing fan-favorite Agent Coulson. BOO!
8. Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland in Prometheus AND as Charlie Rakes in Lawless
Pearce gets to double up here because he wasn't in either movie for very long, but long enough to leave a hate-filled impression. Whether playing a duplicitous billionaire on an alien planet, or a crooked cop in Prohibition era Virginia, nobody can twirl a moustache quite like Guy Pearce.
Most Evil Moment: Telling his equally evil daughter that he was dead when he totally wasn't in Prometheus, or kicking a disabled boy to death in Lawless.
7. Lena Headey as Ma Ma in Dredd
A former prostitute who has used her wiles and savagery to take control of a 200-storey housing complex, as well as setting up the manufacturing and distribution of an entire drug company; Ma Ma is basically a business-woman at heart, but her idea of a hostile takeover is to kill anyone and everyone in her way.
Most Evil Moment: Pumping a snitch full of a drug that makes the brain feel like time is passing at 1per cent its normal rate, before throwing them off the balcony on the 200th floor of her building. That's a LONG way down.
6. Jude Law as Pitch Black aka The Boogeyman in Rise Of The Guardians
It takes someone particularly evil to frighten The Guardians - Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy - but the Boogeyman does exactly that. His plan is simple; to give every child on the planet nightmares, causing them to stop believing in The Guardians, thus taking their powers away. Jude Law's voice work ensures that this is one of the best animated villains in years.
Most Evil Moment: Killing the insanely cute Sandman by turning his own dreams against him. Sure to make a few of the young'uns start crying.
5. Chris Cooper as Tex Richman in The Muppets
The Muppets are trying to get themselves off the ground again, but someone has bought their studio to drill underneath it in search of oil. Tex Richman is all about the money, as is evident from his rap song Let's Talk About Me. Sample lyrics: I got more cheddar then some super-sized nachos / I use more greens than Vincent van Gogh.
Most Evil Moment: "Maniacal laugh... Maniacal laugh..."
4. Kate Beckinsale as Lori Quaid in Total Recall
Yes, the movie wasn't exactly a classic, but Beckinsale's turn as Colin Farrell's fake wife is one of the few examples on this list of someone who actually looks like they're enjoying being bad. There is no sense of torment or conflict; Lori Quaid is just going around kicking ass and blowing stuff up with a sexy grin throughout.
Most Evil Moment: When she realises her husband has regained his memories, her comforting hug quickly turns into an attempt to snap his neck.
3. Tom Hardy as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises
Mixing the ingenuity of Ra's Al Guhl and the insanity of The Joker, Bane was also the first bad guy that Batman faced who was a genuine physical threat. Tom Hardy brought intensity, brute force and an... interesting accent to the role, and despite not leaving the same impression as Heath Ledger, he still went some way to help us forget the Bane from Batman & Robin.
Most Evil Moment: After commenting on a young boy's singing voice, he then blows up the football field the young boy is standing on. Along with most of the rest of Gotham City.
2. The Wolves in The Grey
Liam Neeson and co. are having a bad day; having just survived a traumatic plane crash, they find themselves lost in a blizzard in Alaska, and they aren't alone. The survivors have landed smack bang in the middle of a wolf pack's hunting ground, and they're soon being picked off one by one. The only villains on this list with no dialogue, no backstory, no sense of reasoning, and they're all the scarier for it.
Most Evil Moment: On the verge of death, one of the survivors hallucinates his young daughter tickling his face with her hair... but in reality, it's a pack of wolves savagely eating him. Lovely.
1. Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva in Skyfall
After the piss-poor villain that Daniel Craig faced in Quantum Of Solace, it's nice to see a Bond bad-guy who is actually a proper threat again. Played with flamboyant relish by Bardem, Silva attacks Bond in every way imaginable; physically, psychologically, emotionally, even sexually! He has no problem killing hundreds or thousands of people just to get to his one target, and it's that sense of single-minded determinism that makes him the greatest movie villain of 2012.
Most Evil Moment: The opening "Rats On The Island" monologue told in one long, unbroken take, giving an instant insight into his relentlessly evil mind.