5 villains who take their cues from Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter
"I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."
And with that line, Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter cemented his status as one of the all-time great villains of cinematic history.
The cannibalistic serial killer at the heart of Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter has become almost too synonymous with how a villain should be portrayed. His creepy, piercing eyes, his empathetic connection with Jodie Foster's Clarice Starling, and his penchant for using that empathy to manipulate others behind the scenes has been imitated by lesser villains on the big and small screen.
So, on the 25th anniversary of the horror-thriller classic, Silence of the Lambs, we bring you five fictional villains who tried their hand at emulating the noble psychopath.
1. The Joker, The Dark Knight (2008)
Heath Ledger's Joker is probably closest in DNA to Hannibal Lecter, nailing the scheming characteristics and the unpredictability down pat. His elaborate (and somewhat convoluted) plan in The Dark Knight to prove to Batman that he could break any good man with just one bad day was done mostly from the confines of his prison cell, and he joyfully watched the chaos break out around him as he sat calmly by.
The only thing the Joker doesn't share with Hannibal is that spark of empathy, but he's an agent of chaos, and seems to do just fine without it.
2. Kilgrave, Jessica Jones (2015)
One of the most unsettling comic book villains to enter our screens in recent memory, Kilgrave, played by David Tennant, has tons of shades of Hannibal Lecter.
His ability to manipulate others (albeit through a superpower), his penchant for making characters and even the audience sympathize with him and last but not least, his appreciation for fine dining, add up to a very Hannibal-influenced characterization. He also has little patience for the rude.
3. Sylar, Heroes (2006-2010)
We know, Heroes was not the show it aspired to be after its very promising first season and trash later seasons. And Sylar, as magnetic a performance as Zachary Quinto turned in, was way too overused. But think back to Season 1, when everything was new and exciting, and Sylar was one of the most terrifying villains to grace our televisions.
His cold, mechanical attitude and sociopathic thirst for power was a little harsher than the fairly charming Hannibal is, but we cared about him as an audience. It's one of the reasons he became an antihero in the later seasons (akin to how Hannibal later becomes one in the books) and why he is the most memorable part about the hot mess of a TV show.
4. Loki, The Avengers (2012)
Loki also straddles the line between villain and antihero, thanks to the vulnerable performance by Tom Hiddleston, but in the first Avengers, he is all Hannibal.
He masterfully manipulates the Avengers into fighting against each other on the Helipad, and plots his escape from a Silence of the Lambs-like cell in the middle of the ship. When he talks, he wins people over, which is one of the traits that Hannibal had. And the mask that he wears when he gets escorted back to Asgard just screams Hannibal the Cannibal.
5. Amy Dunne, Gone Girl (2014)
Um, sorry for spoiling Gone Girl!
Amy Dunne is one of the greatest femme fatales of our time, and one of the best female cinematic villains in recent memory. Played by Rosamund Pike with an eerie artificiality, Amy Dunne is a sociopath masquerading as a hapless victim, and she does it with aplomb. Her complete disregard for the lives of her pawns (her ex-boyfriend Desi, her naive neighbor Noelle) and her obsessive fixation on her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) is Hannibal Lecter to a tee.