Bad guys rarely have bad hair days. Whereas the heroes of most movies, comic books and TV shows tend to be less adventurous with their hairstyles and favor traditional cuts, the villains are the ones who get to go wild. Whether they’re shaved completely bald, dyed pitch black or cut into a razor-sharp mohawk, you can almost always tell who the bad guy is by how awesome his or her hair looks. Those crazy cuts are like the manifestations of their inner evil, right on top of their heads. It’s a symbol that they don’t fall in line or play by society’s straight-laced rules.
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But what else can a bad guy’s haircut tell us about him? A lot, actually! Certain types of villains tend to favor certain types of haircuts. How can you tell which is which? By using our helpful guide to the Wicked Styles of the Super Villains, of course!
Bad for Business
If you’re the type of villain who puts the “hostile” in hostile takeover, then you probably prefer short hair with heaping mounds of gel. You can see this do on Wall Street warriors like Gordon Gecko in “Wall Street” or Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho.” The oil oozing out of these guys’ heads could be seen as a literal expression of the greed that rules their lives and drives them to ruin others. If you spot a character with slicked-back hair, you can almost always count on the fact that he’ll be a ruthless business person, willing to conquer the financial world through any means necessary. Even supposed terrorists, like Hans Gruber in the first “Die Hard,” are given away by this cut. Gruber’s seizure of the Nakatomi Tower may have been presented as a political move, but at the end of the day, it was just a cover for him to go after a safe full of bonds. One look at his hair and it should have been obvious that he was only in it for the money.
Old-fashioned haircuts, like a simple bob, tend to signify that a character is a traditionalist … and that he or she is willing to kill to keep those traditions in tact. Bad guys like Anton Sugar from “No Country for Old Men” or Annie Wilkes from “Misery” both seem to have stepped out of a time warp. Everything from the way they talk to the way they dress to their short, curved cuts looks like they belong to some bygone era from America’s past. But these past-their-date dos are really warning signs that these folks don’t belong here. Annie is so obsessed with politeness and proper language that she’ll break your ankles if you ever utter a dirty word. Anton literally represents an old-fashioned view of good and evil, with no shades of grey. If you encounter him, your life literally depends on a single flip of the coin. Even when tied back into a ponytail, you can tell these cuts belong to a terrifying traditionalist. Just look at Gaston from “Beauty and the Beast.” The town hero, noted for his classic good looks, was also the guy who wanted to force Belle into marriage and kill the beast with absolutely no provocation.
If you’re someone who keeps forgetting to brush your hair, it could be because you have other things on your mind … like complete and utter world domination. Villains with unkempt hair tend to be desperate for control and more than a little unhinged. You can see them vying for power in smaller situations, like Alex Forrest from “Fatal Attraction.” Her wild ‘80s blowout should have been Michael Douglass’ first clue that his secret lover was more than a little deranged, but it wasn’t until she was trying to kill his entire family that he really caught on. You can also see these cuts in higher-stakes situations, like Hades from “Hercules.” His hair is a literal flame that burns out of control whenever his attempts to overthrow the gods on Mt. Olympus don’t go exactly to plan. This rule even extends to the animal kingdom. While most of the lions in the “Lion King” had perfectly coiffed manes — even when getting trampled by a herd of wildebeests, evil uncle Scar’s mane looked like it could have used a constant combing.
Unnatural hair color can also be a sign of unnatural evil. Characters who dye their hair are usually presented as slightly sinister creeps, hiding more than a few secrets behind their store-bought hair color. Batman’s archnemesis The Joker is a prime example of this. In his nearly 75 years of existence, readers have learned very little about him and his past, including what his original hair color was before it turned a toxic shade of green. But you need not be a cackling supervillain for this rule to apply. Miranda Priestly, Anne Hathaway’s coldhearted boss in “The Devil Wears Prada” played to icy perfection by Meryll Streep, keeps her hair an otherworldly shade of bleach white, perfect for the demanding employer who wants to keep her personal life a secret while she destroys the personal lives of her employees. Of course, sometimes a deep dye job can be keeping a bad guy’s ultimate secret … that he’s actually a good guy. In the Harry Potter movies, Alan Rickman had hair so black it could only have been achieved by dark magic. But as we all know, Severus Snape turned out to be one of the series’ greatest heroes, working for Dumbledore and secretly protecting Harry for seven years. It looks like you can’t always judge a villain by his hair.