Ask this question around you, "Who is your favorite fictional villain?", and the reply will likely be "Hannibal Lecter", "Darth Vader", or "Norman Bates". At least, that's what many polls and studies (like this one
In light of this, I'd characterize everyone's favorite villain as a person sharing some or many of these traits:
- proud of his/her evil deeds
To me, there's basically two kinds of villains, whose archetypes can be found in good ole Shakespeare's plays. Macbeth and Iago.
While Iago isn't a completely uninteresting character, I find him pretty one-dimensional and dull when compared to Macbeth (Aaron, a Iago-like villain, is even worse). Yet, despite all his deepness and rich complexity, Macbeth doesn't seem to appeal to the general public. As if people wanted to be thrilled and shocked before anything else. And what's best to achieve this goal than feeding them with villains who are best described as 'evil incarnate'?
Someone said "A movie is only as good as its villain". I'll only agree with this when Hollywood give us more Macbeths, and less Lecters or Vaders.