AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes & Villains (2003)

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The American Film Institute celebrates 100 years of film by recognizing the top 50 film heroes and top 50 film villains of all time.




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The American Film Institute celebrates 100 years of film by recognizing the top 50 film heroes and top 50 film villains of all time.

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Release Date:

3 June 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

AFI's 100 Years, 100 Heroes & Villains: America's Greatest Screen Characters  »

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Did You Know?


Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and Dr. Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Hannibal (2001), Red Dragon (2002), and Hannibal Rising (2007) were listed as the #1 hero and villain. See more »


Harrison Ford: Whoever decided that Indiana Jones should wear a felt hat and a leather jacket in the jungles should have been shot.
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Features Norma Rae (1979) See more »

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Great show, but has some poor choices
2 February 2005 | by (portland OR) – See all my reviews

Of course, it's never possible to please everyone, and with a list like this you're always going to get some people who strongly disagree with certain choices, as everyone has different opinions on who the greatest movie heroes and villains are. Even so, I have to point out some glaring errors on this list.

Travis Bickle from TAXI DRIVER is not a villain. The first time he commits an act of violence in the film, he shoots a robber who's threatening to kill a convenience store clerk. Then he saves a young girl from a life of prostitution by killing the pimps. This guy is no more a villain than Dirty Harry Callahan.

Then there's Hans Grubber from DIE HARD. No matter how well-written and acted Hans is, he's the main bad guy in an action film. His main reason for being is to be ultimately defeated by the hero. We all knew Hans would be beaten before the first time we even saw DIE HARD. I also felt the same way about Goldfinger, but at least James Bond made the best heroes list. Why isn't John Mclaine on the hero's list?

Now, I know millions more would have been greatly upset with AFI if they didn't include her on the list, or if they hadn't ranked her so high, but one villain I think really dosen't belong anywhere on the list of greatest villains (much less in the #3 slot!) is the Wicked Witch Of The West. Already I'm sure thousands of internet users will hate me and think I'm an idiot for even suggesting such a thing, but I think the Witch from The Wizard Of Oz has got to be the most grossly overrated villain in the whole history of film for just one reason: the way she is killed. She sets her broom on fire and is ready to burn the Scarecrow, and then Dorothy pours water on the broom, and some water gets on the Witch, and she evaporates. WOW! How convenient that water JUST HAPPENED to be her Achellie's Heel! I mean, come on! A big part of what defines a hero in a story is how s/he defeats the villain. As Renny Harlin once said,"The more powerful your villain is, the more powerful the hero is." Dorothy doesn't use her brains to figure out how to beat the Witch, it's just a happy accident that water gets on her and that just happens to be the thing that kills her. I mean, what the @#%*?! After seeing that scene, I wondered whether the Witch perhaps had some cousin somewhere who'd vaporize if someone sneezed in her direction.

Anyway. With each hero and villain we get commentary from stars being interviewed on their thoughts on the character. Sometimes I did not disagree with the hero or villain being placed, but I disagreed with some of the comments. For example, Hal 9000 from 2001: A SPACE ODDESSY was on the list, and someone described Hal as being pure evil and wanting very badly to kill the astronauts. This oversimplification just isn't true. What happens is (for reasons never given in the film) Hal makes a mistake while on the voyage and tells the two astronauts a system will break down, and upon examination they find there's nothing wrong with it. The two men then discuss shutting Hal down. Hal finds out, and acts out in a move of self-preservation and for the sake of completing the mission they've been sent out on.

Also, Reagan McNeil from THE EXORCIST is on the best villains list. For the record, people, Reagan was a victim (or, rather, THE victim) in THE EXORCIST. The villain was the demon possessing her. Is that all clear?

Then there's the opening prologue just before Arnold Swartzenagger gives his introduction, where classical music plays over quick images from various films. Strangely enough, there are some films that have scenes shown during the prologue where nether any of the heroes or villains from that film made the main list. The characters from these films (Shall we call them the runners up?) are:

For the heroes: "Bandit" Bo Darville (SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT) Forrest Gump, Josey Wales (THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES) Coffie, Dick Tracy, John Rambo(The RAMBO trilogy) Lee (ENTER THE DRAGON) Natalie Cook, Dylan Sanders & Alex Munday (CHARLIE'S ANGELS) Egon, Raymond, Peter & Winston (GHOSTBUSTERS) Gene Kranz (APOLLO 13) The Enterprize crew (STAR TREK) Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (TOP GUN) Lara Croft (TOMB RAIDER) Ben Hur, William Wallace, (BRAVEHEART) Thomas "Neo" Anderson (THE MATRIX)

For the villains: Agent Smith (THE MATRIX) Dr. Evil (AUSTIN POWERS) Gillman (THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON) Jason Voorhees (the Friday THE 13TH saga) Larry Talbot (THE WOLFMAN) Graf Orlok (NOSFERATU: THE VAMPIRE)The zombies (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) Maleficent (SLEEPING BEAUTY) The Butcher (GANGS OF NEW YORK)

Finally, just for the sake of nit-picking, here are two other heroes and two villains who I would have liked to have seen make the list but didn't: Kyle Reese and Luke Skywalker, The Predator and Michael Meyers (from the HALLOWEEN movies)

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