Now is not the best time to be a ruthless dictator. From Tunis to Triploli*, popular uprisings are deposing these once feared rulers. With Mubarak and Ben Ali already forced from power, and Gaddaf fighting for his life, it seems that despotism is no longer in demand. However, if there’s one place that dictators will always have a home, it’s Hollywood. For decades, filmmakers in need of a villain have turned to autocrats, and I doubt recent events in the Middle East will diminish their role. And as a tribute to these ruthless rulers of cinema, I’ve compiled this list of fictional movie dictators.
In V for Vendetta, Adam Sutler is the founder of the Norsefire party and the de facto dictator of Britain. As it turns out, Sutler is only the face of power, and Peter Creedy is actually calling the shots, but let’s not split hairs, OK? It’s just an Internet list.
Ming the Merciless is an evil despot who rules over the planet Mongo. With a name like that, not to mention his evil facial hair, what else did you think he was going to be; a greeter at Walmart?
In Escape for L.A., a Christian fundamentalist comes to power in the U.S. and is declared “President for Life” after accurately predicting destruction of L.A. What’s left of the city is now an island filed with criminals and subversives. Basically, it’s just like the real L.A., except with less traffic and more oceanfront property. Nice.
Arius is a fictional South-American dictator who get’s on the wrong side of Arnold Schwarzenegger. As you can imagine, things do not end well for him. After all, Schwarzenegger killed the god damn Predator. Did you really think he’s have trouble with the leader of a banana republic?
Who says you have to be human to be a dictator? And who says you have to be organic? Master Control Program is essentially a dictator in the digital universe of Tron, giving the old “brick and mortar” despots a run for their money.
On the Mars Colony, Vilos Cohaagen is the de facto dictator over the mutant population. Why would someone want to be the dictator of a bunch of freaks? Because of some of the sexier mutants like the dwarf hooker and the girl with three breasts, obviously.
Using backhanded political maneuvering and outright murder, Senator Palpatine was elected Supreme Chancellor. Once in power, he proceeded to dismantle the Republic, replacing it with a Galactic Empire which he ruled with an iron fist. As if that wasn’t evil enough, he wears a black cloak and shoots lightening out of his god damn hands.
What list of cinematic dictators would be complete without Charlie Chaplin’s classic character, Adenoid Hynkel (a.k.a. The Great Dictator). Even before the outbreak of World War II, Chaplin was hard at work lampooning the forces of fascism in Europe, and portraying dictators like Hitler as buffoons. Of course, Chaplin never bothered to mock the murderous Joseph Stalin, but I guess that’s to be expected from a filthy commie.
Normally, I find the lack of rights afforded to citizens of a dictatorship to be abhorrent. However, in this case, I’ll make an exception, and concede the fact that everyone who was involved with this film should be summarily executed. We don’t even “love to hate” this character. We just hate him.
Unfortunately, the fact that this was a list of fictional dictators prevented me from adding Kim Jong-il. However, his character in Team America was too good to leave out entirely.
*Yeah, I know Tunis isn’t far from Tripoli, but they both began with T’s, so it’s sounds better. Deal with it.