The 2022 Golden Issue Award for Best Villain

There's a lot that goes into a movie. You have to have a good story, a good setting, strong characters, great actors, solid direction, but in many films there's one thing that can make or break the entire experience: the villain. A great story really is only as good as its villain, a figure designed not only to serve as an obstacle for the heroes, but in many cases to operate as a vehicle through which the audience can ask deeper questions about point and purpose. And sometimes, when the villain is crafted well enough, we find ourselves rooting for them just as much if not more than the hero of the story.

When it came to the villains in this year's movies, 2022 offered viewers a wide range of antagonists to choose from, but the each had something in common. The best movie villains of 2022 were characters doing bad not just for the sake of creating chaos, but who came from places of real pain, whose actions were shocking but whose motives were complex and certainly gave even the mightiest of heroes a major run for their money. Thor: Love and Thunder gave us Christian Bale's Gorr, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 gave us Idris Elba's Knuckles, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever gave us Tenoch Huerta's Namor, The Batman gave us Paul Dano's Edward Nashton/Riddler, and Everything Everywhere All At Once gave us Stephanie Hsu's Joy Wang/Jobu Tupakia, all of whom were incredible antagonists, but only one could take be the first-ever Golden Issue Award winner for Best Villain.

And the winner of the 2002 Golden Issue Award for Best Villain is…


Tenoch Huerta's Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever!

To call Namor a villain is a bit of a misnomer. The character is really more of an antagonist, but it's the heart, the humanity, and ferocity with which Huerta brings Namor, leader of the undersea kingdom of Talokan, to life that makes him such an indelible adversary in Wakanda Forever as well as just a truly riveting character to watch on the screen. In the film, the death of Wakandan king T'Challa sets off a Vibranium race that not only threatens Wakanda as the Western world seeks to take advantage of the African nation, but also brings threat of the outside world to Talokan and thus, Namor's door. It's a situation that prompts Namor to move to defend his people by any mean's necessary. — including force against Wakanda when it becomes clear to him that they are not immediately on his side.

The film's take on Namor is a departure from the comics — Wakanda Forever gives Namor a new origin by making the king and his people of Mesoamerican origin — but in Huerta's hands, this fresh take on one of Marvel's oldest and most iconic antiheroes feels somehow like it's the version of the character we were always meant to have. Huerta's Namor is passionate and fierce, but also has an obvious care and compassion. He's a leader who has given everything for his people and is prepared to give even more. In the film, Huerta's performance as Namor left audiences at times not only on his side of the fight between Talokan and Wakanda but wondering when we might get more of the character — preferably in his own series or film — as well as shouting the Talokanil battle cry ourselves: Liik'ik Talokan!" Here's to hoping we get to shout it many times more in the future.

Congratulations to Huerta on his Golden Issues win!

The nominees for Best Villain are:

  •    Gorr (Christian Bale, Thor: Love and Thunder)
  •    Knuckles (Idris Elba, Sonic the Hedgehog 2)
  •    Namor (Tenoch Huerta, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) – WINNER
  •    Edward Nashton / Riddler (Paul Dano, The Batman)
  •    Joy Wang / Jobu Tupakia (Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All At Once)