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Necessary Evil: A look at Tom Hardy’s best antagonist roles

*Contains spoilers

The role of a movie villain is tough.

They are there for people to hate, but behind that character is an actor who has perfected their craft. Without a great villain, there cannot be a daring hero, or compelling conflict to drive a film.

One actor that has perfected the role of the villain is none other than Tom Hardy.

With the long-awaited film, Fonzi, releasing its first trailer starring Hardy as famous gangster Al Capone, Hardy is back to what he does best: playing the bad guy.

Since starring in his first major film in 2002 with Star Trek: Nemesis as main antagonist Shinzon, the British actor has become of one Hollywood’s best actors and one of the first they turn to when they need an expert antagonist.

Let’s take a look at some of his best performances throughout his career:

Bronson (2008)

Tom Hardy portraying Charles Bronson in Nicolas Winding Refn’s film, Bronson. Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Portraying Charles Bronson, of one of the U.K.’s most famous prisoners, Hardy really began his climb to Hollywood stardom in Nicolas Winding Refn’s British biographical crime film, Bronson.

Tasked with playing a real-life criminal known for being extremely violent, maniacal, and an absolute sociopath, Hardy set himself up to play many more roles of characters with similar traits.

Locked in solitary confinement for much of his life, Hardy portrays Michael Peterson – also known as Charles Bronson – as someone who struggles to adjust to life outside of prison and seemingly wants to be put back into prison where he is more comfortable.

Throughout the movie, we see many scenes with the Bronson showing many different emotions, being extremely calm one moment before snapping on whoever stood in his way.

Overall, Hardy portrays a mentally-off man who struggles with erratic mood swings and violent nature while also making him a relatable character as we get glimpses into his troubled family and love life.

Peaky Blinders (TV series, 2013-present)

Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) in BBC’s Peaky Blinders. Credit: BBC

Although he does not appear very often in the show, every time Tom Hardy is on the screen, he steals the show.

For those who have not seen the show, Peaky Blinders depicts the exploits of the Shelby family who form the notorious gang, The Peaky Blinders, in Birmingham, England after World War I.

Making his first appearance in season two, Tom Hardy plays Alfie Solomons, a Jewish baker who serves as the leader of a dangerous gang who regularly cross paths with the Peaky Blinders.

While they often need each other’s help to take down a common enemy, Solomons and the Shelby family often do not see eye-to-eye and regularly double-cross each other for their own benefit.

Like many of his roles, Hardy portrays Solomons someone with violent tendencies. Hardy shows incredible range as a character who is hard to get a beat on, going from having tea with the Shelbys in one episode to wanting them dead in the next. His ability to play a character who is so unpredictable truly makes him captivating whenever he’s featured on the show.

The Revenant (2015)

Hardy as John Fitzgerald in Alejandro Inirritu’s The Revenant. Credit: 20th Century Fox

While it’s hard to look past Leonardo DiCaprio’s excellent portrayal of real-life frontiersman Hugh Glass or Emmanuel Lubezki’s breathtaking cinematography, Hardy’s portrayal of main antagonist John Fitzgerald deserves a lot of credit.

An expert trapper and hunter, Fitzgerald is part of a large group of frontiersman, along with Glass, that hunt for pelts in the unsettled wilderness of the 1820s.

When Glass is mauled by a bear and unable to move or talk, the group is quick to come to his aid and volunteer to carry him to safety through the treacherous wilderness… except Fitzgerald.

With the trails becoming to difficult to navigate with the burden of carrying Glass, Fitzgerald persuades the group to leave him behind. Henry, the leader of the group, elects three to stay behind with him until his death and offers a cash reward. Finally getting his way, Fitzgerald volunteers to stay behind with Jim and Glass’ son Hawk.

This is where Fitzgerald’s devious plan begins.

With the while group sleeping, Fitzgerald tricks the other two men into believing that a group of rival Indians are coming and that they have to leave Glass behind now, without giving him the proper burial they promised to Henry. When Glass’ son, Hawk doesn’t go along, Fitzgerald kills him in front of Glass and leaves them both to die.

Eventually, Glass recovers from his injury and looks to seek revenge on Fitzgerald.

When the two finally cross paths months later, it sets up an epic battle to the death.

In another portrayal of a so-called “bad guy”, Hardy once again excels at misleading others to get his way. No matter the cost.

Venom (2018)

Tom Hardy as Venom in Sony Picture’s Venom. Credit: Sony Pictures

In his first Marvel movie appearance, Hardy took on the task of playing an “anti-hero”, playing the role of both hero and villain.

Serving as a host for an alien symbiote that gives him superhuman powers, Eddie Brock (played by Tom Hardy) balances between good and evil.

The Venom symbiote serves as a conscience which forces Brock to do things he wouldn’t normally do and wreaks havoc on the city before Brock learns how to control his alien counterpart.

All in all, Tom Hardy’s first Marvel movie showed his capabilities to play more than just the average villain. Instead playing a character who is both good and evil.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Legend (2015)
  • Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Featured Image Credit: 20th Century Fox


Published by Dean Snock

A senior at Millersville University, Dean is studying sports journalism and strategic public relations. He is a lifelong 4/4 Philadelphia sports fan and, in his spare time writes for PHLSportsNation.

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