The Most Extravagant Fictional Characters in Films
If you take a quick glance at the highest-grossing movies all-time, you’ll see that titles like Avatar have earned in excess of $2.9 billion at the Box Office.
Of course, successful films rely on gripping narratives and engaging characters, the latter of which may vary from being introspective and empathetic to flamboyant and completely sociopathic!
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most extravagant and extreme fictional characters in films, along with what made them become icons of the silver screen!
#1. Cruella de Vil (Glenn Close) – 101 Dalmations
We’ll start with the only female character on our list and one that provided a chilling blend of menace, selfishness, and elaborate self-styling.
From her Bride of Frankenstein hairstyle and penchant for wearing puppy fur to her almost complete disregard for humanity, she remains the standard-bearer for cartoonish horror and villainy.
Because of her cartoonish nature, Cruella de Vil was also able to get away with a great deal more than anyone else would in this type of children’s film.
For example, she chain-smoked cigarettes throughout the duration of the film while telling the dalmatians in great detail that they “would all end up as sausage meat…with fries on the side” in one particularly epic speech.
If you’re anything like us, you were probably a little intimidated by Cruella de Vil as a child, which is quite an achievement given her visual style and pantomime iteration of villainy.
#2. Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) – Casino
While Casino enforcer Nicky Santoro (played with typical psychotic relish by Joe Pesci) is not particularly flamboyant in terms of his manner or sense of style, his penchant for outlandish and ferocious violence has certainly earned him a place on our list.
From repeatedly stabbing a casino-goer with a stray pen to using a vice when attempting to solicit a confession from one of his victims, Santoro’s ruthlessness and extreme violence enable him to stand out from other infamous movie henchmen.
Of course, there’s little need for a man like Santoro in an age of high roller online casinos. The character has an almost romantic quality that harks back to the days when brick-and-mortar casino locations were dominant.
Ultimately, Santoro came to an inevitably brutal and bloody end himself, but this was fitting for a man who did much to turn violence into an art form.
#3. Mutgatu (Will Ferrell) – Zoolander
Zoolander is a film packed full of flamboyant and exaggerated characters, so it’s a testament to the unique attacking ability of Will Ferrell that he’s able to make ‘Mutgatu’ stand out from the crowd.
Wearing a slew of outfits that perfectly parody the outlandish nature of avant-garde fashion and always accompanied by a matching pet cat, Mutgatu is an archetypal villain whose outrageous schemes include killing the Malaysian Prime Minister, posing as a schoolgirl to brainwash Zoolander and spilling an entire cup of hot coffee over his assistant as he didn’t like it with foam.
Interestingly, Mutgatu was based on the Star Trek episode “A Private Little War”, which featured an out-of-control monkey with bright white hair and a noticeably similar name (Mugato).
What’s more, the character is played with demented fervor by the brilliant Ferrell, and we can’t imagine anyone else playing the part as well!
#4. Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp) – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Let’s face facts’ Johnny Depp could have appeared multiple times in this list, with his penchant for playing zany characters having breathed life into parts such as Captain Jack Sparrow (in Pirates of the Caribbean) and Edward Scissorhands.
However, it’s Depp’s reprisal of Willy Wonka that really stands out, especially when you consider that the iconic Gene Wilder had already portrayed the character in a previous movie adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book.
Inspired by Tim Burton’s superb screenplay, Depp produced a wildly exaggerated but compelling interpretation of Willy Wonka, from his camp mannerisms and sartorial style to a unique combination of purple leather gloves, top hat, and velvet red coat.
Of course, language is incredibly important when making a film, and Wonka’s disjointed speech manages to reflect that he’s trapped in a seemingly endless transition from childhood to adulthood without compromising on the flow of dialogue in the movie.
Ultimately, Depp is the ideal vehicle for Willy Wonka’s obvious quirks, elevating them to an entirely new level while managing to pull off the character’s childish arrogance in an enduring and loveable way.
If nothing else, Depp’s delivery on non-sequiturs and willingness to laugh at his own jokes adds depth to a childhood favorite, while his suggestion that he himself is ‘edible’ is a genuine joy to behold!
The Most Extravagant Fictional Characters in Films
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