The Top 10 Villains From Tim Burton Movies

The Top 10 Villains From Tim Burton Movies

Oct 03, 2016

Samuel L. Jackson plays Barron, a shape-shifting immortal child-eater, in Tim Burton’s adaption of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. That’s quite the description there on Barron, and it affords Jackson the opportunity to don a fright wig, pointed teeth, and white contacts while playing evil in the fanciful world of Tim Burton. He’s joining a long, iconic list of cinematic heavies from Burton’s films, who are often as unforgettable as Burton’s outsider heroes. With Barron as our inspiration, we decided to break down the top ten best villains from Burton’s films...

10. The Hessian

Played by Christopher Walken & Ray Park
Worst Act of Villainy: Chopped off a lot of heads.

The real baddies were the secret cabal controlling the Hessian (aka the Headless Horseman), but it’s not like the Hessian was a super sweet fella to begin with. Walken’s so recognizable that this role as a monster shouldn’t really work, yet it manages to work just fine. Walken’s assisted by the physicality of Ray Park, who plays the brutal Horseman in his headless moments.

9. Thade

Played by Tim Roth
Worst Act of Villainy: Enslaved humanity.

If there’s a single memorable thing about Burton’s maligned Planet of the Apes remake, it’s Tim Roth’s scenery-chewing performance as megalomaniacal chimp Thade. Remember, this is the role Roth chose over Harry Potter’s Severus Snape. Part of his decision had to be due to Rick Baker’s show-stopping make-up. While he didn’t get the payoff of a starring role in one of the greatest fantasy film franchises ever created, he did get to make a monkey out of Mark Wahlberg for a couple of hours. That’s enough to earn him this #9 spot.

8.The Martians

Worst Act of Villainy: Destroyed the Earth.

If it wasn’t for Slim Whitman, we’d all be dead. As it is, Mars Attacks is downright apocalyptic in its vision of alien invaders. Timing on the film was unusual - too far removed from the heyday of the bubble gum cards that provided the inspiration for the film, but far too close to the release of 1996’s mega-hit Independence Day. The skeleton-faced, big-brained invaders did some of the most memorable dirty deeds of any Tim Burton movie, including setting herds of cattle on fire, sewing Sarah Jessica Parker’s head onto a dog, and killing boy scout troops with a national monument.


7. The Penguin

Played by Danny DeVito
Worst Act of Villainy: Kidnapped all of Gotham City socialites’ first born children.

“I played this stinking city like a harp from Hell!” Oswald Cobblepot is easily one of Burton’s greatest grotesques. He’s horny, malformed, clammy, and spends most of the movie in a onesie spattered with bile. Despite all that, he still manages a nearly successful run for Gotham public office before deciding that it’s better to just blow up stuff with live penguin drones armed with rockets. Penguin was orphaned as a baby due to his physical deformities, which should, by all accounts, make him sympathetic. God bless Danny DeVito, because the character on screen is not sympathetic at all.

6. Francis Buxton

Played by Mark Holton
Worst Act of Villainy: Stole Pee-Wee Herman’s prized bicycle.

“You’ll be sorry, Pee Wee Herman!” Buxton is an entitled man-baby in a pastel jumpsuit who doesn’t even have the guts to steal a bike for himself but has to hire other people to do it. He’s such a pampered worm, he actually loses a physical fight with Pee Wee Herman, a feat in itself, and almost drowns. Buxton was last seen being rocketed to certain injury from an ejector seat on Pee Wee’s bike. He had it coming.


Played by Anthony Michael Hall
Worst Act of Villainy: Attempted murder? Arguable, since Edward isn’t technically human. If not that, then using Edward to break into Jim’s father’s rumpus room.

Jim is a massive a-hole. We’d never seen Hall play a bully before this film, and he channels what must be years’ worth of pent-up d-baggery from playing sensitive nerds, into one memorable performance. There’s no redemption for Jim or his pushy mistreatment of others, so when he gets his just desserts in the film’s finale, the moment has a real, unnerving satisfaction to it. Jim’s punishment doesn’t fit his crime, but there’s no time for sensitivity counseling in Burton’s outsider fable. If you’re bad, bad things happen.

4. Oogie Boogie

Voiced by Ken Page
Worst Act of Villainy: Kidnapped the Sandy Claws, locked him up real tight, threw away the key, and then turned off all the light.

He’s a singing burlap sack filled with bugs and worms who gambles away the life of Santa Claus. I mean, c’mon. If his singing voice wasn’t so pleasant, he would’ve been a shoo-in for the #1 slot on this list.


3. Catwoman

Played by Michelle Pfeiffer
Worst Act of Villainy: Attempted murder.

“Meow.” Pfeiffer's Catwoman has only gotten better with time. The character manages to be simultaneously alluring, scary, dangerous, and arch, and has kept Catwoman in the mainstream since 1991. She’s been so embraced, in fact, that post-Batman Returns, the character shed her Batman villainy completely for a kind of anti-hero status in comics and subsequent films. Anytime we revisit Batman Returns, we’re watching it for the bad guys - Walken, DeVito, and Pfeiffer.

2. Joker

Played by Jack Nicholson
Worst Act of Villainy: Dosed Gotham City with lethal Smile-X gas.

For years, it didn’t seem like anyone could overshadow Nicholson’s Joker performance (or his massive paycheck for the role). Comic book films would continue to evolve over the decades but Burton’s Batman provided a strong foundation from which to build. The cornerstone is Nicholson’s preening, cackling, love-struck gangster. Putting an actor of Nicholson’s caliber in clown make-up, and still having him succeed at being threatening, proved that the “funny papers” could survive a visually faithful live-action translation with critical respect.


1. Beetlejuice

Played by Michael Keaton
Worst Act of Villainy: Extorted a living (underage?) teenage girl into marrying him

“It’s showtime!” Of course the villain whose own movie bears his name as the title would be our Number One. The real heroes of Beetlejuice are the dearly departed Maitlands (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) and the hopeless goth Lydia (Winona Ryder), who find themselves in direct opposition with the underworld’s leading bio-exorcist, the ghost with the most, Beetlejuice! Keaton’s a real scumbag in the role - a selfish, mold-covered, fly-eating chauvinist who hocks loogies into his own jacket lining when he’s not prowling for undead nookie. Who was this guy when he was alive, anyway?

Categories: Features, lists
Tags: Tim Burton
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