Good movies have all kinds of different characters that captivate us, usually in the form of protagonists who show off their beauty, intellect, determination, resolve, and perseverence.
But in a great movie, the protagonist is matched with an even greater antagonist who stands in their way—and in modern cinema, villainy is no longer just a man's world.
Female villains in movies are often better than their heroic counterparts, whether in beauty, in talent, or in sheer badassery. Sometimes, this can even make them hard to root against!
Here are my picks for the most badass female villains in movies and why they stand out as awesome.
15. Mystique in X-Men (2000)
Have you ever crossed the street and saw yourself on the other side? If you did, it could've been Mystique of the X-Men movies.
Mystique is a mutant with the ability to copy someone else's appearance at will—a complete copy that includes their fingerprints and retinal patterns, as seen when she entered Cerebro (which only Professor X can enter due to biometric security).
With her ability, she dominates the screen even though she follows Magneto (who seeks to rule the world with other mutants), making her an enemy to Charles Xavier and his ideology.
14. Ain in One Piece Film: Z (2012)
Ain is the second-in-command of the Neo Marines in the movie One Piece Film: Z. Her Devil Fruit is called the Modo Modo no Mi, which gives her the ability to return anyone she touches to 12 years past.
And in the worst case, her ability can be used to bring someone to a moment before they were born, causing them to cease existing.
Aside from her Devil Fruit ability, she's also an excellent combatant (demonstrated during her fight against Zoro Roronoa).
13. Rain Ocampo in Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
In the original Resident Evil, Rain Ocampo is an operative who's tasked with shutting down the Red Queen in the Hive to avoid the spread of the T-virus. Sounds like she's on the good side, right?
Resident Evil: Retribution re-introduced Rain as the villain by making her a cold and heartless clone of the original Rain Ocampo, created by the Umbrella Corporation.
She's good enough to stand toe-to-toe against Alice, who was another deadly clone gifted with incredible abilities and instinct.
12. The Witch Queen in The Last Witch Hunter (2015)
She may not be as beautiful as any of the other names on this list, but the wit of the Witch Queen is extraordinary.
In The Last Witch Hunter, the Witch Queen manages to get her immortality back from Kaulder (played by Vin Diesel), whom she cursed with a never-ending life hundreds of years prior.
Her strategic mind and impeccable planning make her a badass villain, with her influence running through the veins and ideologies of modern witches even though she's dead.
11. Angel Dust in Deadpool (2016)
Apart from Juggernaut, there's only one character—a female villain at that—who can knock down the mighty Colossus and make him kneel from the pain.
In Deadpool, Angel Dust is Ajax's subordinate and was also a product of the same experiments that made Deadpool. She's a ruthless combatant and a torturer of her victims, even though she herself was tortured and should know what kind of harm that can do to someone.
Her superhuman abilities are on par with the big guys—including the aforementioned Colossus, who she can bring down single-handedly.
10. Briar Rose in The Curse of Sleeping Beauty (2016)
In a different film (mentioned later in this article), the originally villainous character of Maleficent became the protagonist in a film that retold her story from her point of view.
In The Curse of Sleeping Beauty, we get the opposite. This time we have Briar Rose (played by India Eisley), the character who was originally the protagonist of Sleeping Beauty but is now the villain.
The story is full of twists and deceits that artfully turn Briar Rose into a badass villain and a terrifying monster upon waking up.
9. Young-Sook in The Call (2020)
The Call is a past-meets-future movie where two girls from different time periods are able to communicate using a strange phone.
Young-sook is the girl from the past, who's able to make contact with Seo-yeon in the present. She looks wild and untamed because she's been kept like an animal by her mother.
When her fate becomes entwined with Seo-yeon's, her greed and discontentment and unstable mind get the better of her. She'll do anything to make Seo-yeon's life miserable, stopping at nothing to achieve her goal of hate-fueled revenge.
8. Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
You should never mess with a high school girl, especially one who's as vicious and disturbed as Gogo Yubari, the young female assassin under O-Ren Ishii from Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol. 1.
While she appears cute and harmless on the surface, she's actually a skilled fighter who likes blood and killing.
She actually puts on a great fight against The Bride, in direct contrast to the pitiful henchmen who were sent before her (and were instantly defeated by the blonde swordswoman).
7. T-X in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
The original T-800 in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) was already an iconically badass character. Even so, the T-X is a lot more than that.
Designed for heavy combat and assassinations, the T-X model is loaded with various weapons—like her iconic plasma cannon that's hidden underneath her shapeshifting arms.
With her Mimetic Polyalloy covering, she can transform into any human being (great for assassination missions).
The only downside is that she can't liquefy her entire body like her predecessor the T-1000 could, who was also made entirely of Mimetic Polyalloy. Despite that, she's still a terrifyingly badass villain.
6. Ares in John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
Against the legendary assassin John Wick, no one can stand a chance. However, Ruby Rose's character Ares left an impression on viewers as one of the most badass assassins in John Wick: Chapter 2.
Ares is the right-hand woman and personal bodyguard of the Italian crime lord Santino D'Antonio (played by Riccardo Scamarcio). She's notably mute and communicates using sign language.
But don't underestimate her. Despite her disability, Ares doesn't hesitate to tell John Wick that she's going to hunt him down.
5. Harley Quinn in The Suicide Squad (2021)
In The Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn is one of the "heroes" enlisted for a mission that has no assurance of survival.
However, we all know that she's a true villain: a mad woman and a psycho just like her infamous lover, the Joker.
It's her carefree and unpredictable attitude that makes her so dangerous, badass, and iconic. No wonder her portrayal in The Suicide Squad gained her so many fans worldwide.
4. Maleficent in Maleficent (2014)
A wicked witch portrayed by Angelina Jolie, Maleficent is the protagonist of her own movie, which is a spin-off of the famous fairy tale in which she was actually the villain.
In other words, Maleficent is a movie that tells the story of Sleeping Beauty from Maleficent's point of view.
Many kids might wonder, "How did the evil witch become the hero?" Well, with a bit of creative liberty and imagination, director Robert Stromberg made it work—and made her quite the badass.
3. Cruella de Vil in Cruella (2021)
Just like Maleficent, Cruella de Vil (played by Emma Stone) is the protagonist of her own movie titled Cruella, which is based on the originally villainous character from 101 Dalmatians.
In this stylized take, her schemes and crimes are "fabulous" while her villain costume is flashy and "gorgeous." It's her fashion sense that infuses her with so much memorable personality.
2. Hela in Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Even lifting Mjolnir is no easy feat for an ordinary person, but Hela managed to catch it, stop it, and crush it to pieces—all with one bare hand! That's why we see that she's so confident about her powers.
This is really just one of several scenes that showcase how badass she is and how much of a threat she is to Thor. From the start to the end of Thor: Ragnarok, she's a treat to watch on screen.
Hela is the firstborn of Odin, who—after tasting too much victory and too much power—seeks more blood and wars. This prompts her father to banish her to Hel and seal her away for eternity.
But after the death of Odin, she was released and plans to continue her bloody mission to reign over the Nine Realms.
1. Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Lord Voldemort might be the primary villain of the Harry Potter movies, but Bellatrix Lestrange is the most hated and most badass of all the villains introduced throughout the films.
With her wicked giggle and peculiar behaviors, she's not someone you can talk lightly to. You'd be best to avoid crossing her path.
And that heartbreaking scene where she kills Sirius Black in front of Harry? Oh, that just made fans hate her character all the more.