There’s a long history in cinema of using sharp, pointy cheekbones to denote villainy, a trope I never really picked up on until this weekend’s Maleficent, in which Angelia Jolie’s cheekbones were CGI-enhanced to the point of obnoxiousness. I mean: Jolie has high cheekbones as it is. It hardly seemed necessary to make them even more sharp and angular, and do it in such a way that in some scenes the CGI looked painfully obvious, as though she’d had a small pocket knife inserted into each cheek.
But I get it. The always family-friendly Disney wanted to create the illusion of villainy without really demonstrating it, which would have alienated a younger, sensitive audience that might have been turned off by interesting or meaningful sequences. If Maleficent had actually done something horrible, then 10-year-old children might have needed to consider the ambiguity of her character instead of knowing all along that, beneath those high-pointy cheekbones, there was a soft, fleshy heart.
Children ruin everything, even movies.
Still, Maleficent did highlight the prevalence of villainous cheekbones, and so I have taken the liberty below of ranking the ten most villainous of them all.
10. Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series
9. David in Prometheus
8. Jackson Rippner in Red Eye
7. Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope
6. The Green Goblin in Spider-man
5. Jareth in Labyrinth
4. Loki in Thor/The Avengers
3. Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek: Into Darkness
2. Angelina Jolie in Maleficent
1. Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger