Minions in 'Despicable Me'It's hard to find a good bad guy.

It was not always so. During Hollywood's golden years, it was easy to pick a bad guy. If it was a war movie, the villains were the Germans or the Japanese. A spy thriller? The Russians. A Western? The Indians. A populist underdog tale? Big-business fat cats.

Today, however, a set of reliably hissable bad guys is hard to find. With the end of the Cold War, the onset of transnational terrorism, and the rise of group-identity politics -- not to mention such film industry developments as the global marketplace and the demise of the Western genre -- how does a screenwriter pick easily recognizable villains who aren't so stereotyped as to be offensive to some ticket buyers?

For nearly two decades, it seems, Hollywood has been searching for a new set of reliable heavies, auditioning lots of groups for the dubious honor without really settling on anyone. In fact, in some of this summer's movies, we've come full circle, with the Russians serving as foils in 'Salt' and Wall Street fat cats as the criminals in 'The Other Guys.' (There's also totally made-up villains, like Gru and the minions from 'Despicable Me,' but they're too darn adorable for frequent re-use.) Here's a look, then, at 10 contenders for the next group of dependable Hollywood villains.
categories Features, Hot Topic