Cigars are a sign of power and wealth that’re enjoyed by both heroes and villains in the movies, on TV, and in comic books. Heroes often smoke cigars with Roger Moore’s incarnation as James Bond featuring the super spy smoking cigars in his early appearances. However, it’s often the bad guy who’s given the cigar as a way for the audience to understand the power and dominance the villain’s hoping to display as they take over the world or squash the hero.
It’s very rare that smoking a cigar has been made to look as cool or menacing as it is by Robert De Niro’s Max Cady in the 1991 version of Cape Fear. The paroled criminal who blames his former lawyer for his years of incarceration smokes cigars throughout the movie and his cigar smoking plays a major part in the finale of it. In Cape Fear, Cady smokes large cigars that show the power he’s placing over the family of Sam Bowden as Cady trails and scares the family no matter where they hide from his attempts to seduce and scare them.
Comic book fans will instantly recognize the cigar chomping General Thunderbolt Ross as the main villain hunting down The Incredible Hulk in the Marvel universe. The U.S. military villain continues to chase down the Hulk in the comic book series featuring both Bruce Banner and the Red Hulk with a cigar constantly attached to his mouth. In the Marvel series, Thunderbolt Ross appeared in the very first comic and continues to chase down Bruce Banner and the Hulk as he was the head of the gamma ray project that turned the mild mannered scientist into the green monster. Ross is also a staple of the movie franchise featuring the Hulk that has seen many recent reboots.
Cigar smoking isn’t solely the reserve of the male villain with one of the most famous James Bond villains of all time being a female assassin who enjoyed a cigar after killing whoever she was told to. Xenia Onatopp is perhaps one of the most famous villains on the James Bond movies because of her stunning looks and the cigars she enjoyed throughout the movie. The former Soviet fighter pilot is a regular in the Top 10 Bond girl lists of all-time and manages to make smoking a cigar not only a classically menacing villain experience, but adds a sense of sexiness to her cigar smoking.
Finally, Ron Perlman is one of the most famous cigar smokers in the world and his characters like Hellboy often smoke cigars. The character of Clay Morrow in Sons of Anarchy sways from hero to villain, but never fails to have a cigar on hand for times of tension and relaxation. Morrow follows a great arc from a vigilante to a man agreeing to have drug deals happen on the patch of his motorcycle gang territory as he smokes cigars with an unequaled sense of style and coolness.
So there you have it. There are plenty more villains that can be on this list such as the King Pin from Spider-Man or Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street who could also be up there. Let us know of any other cigar smoking villains you come up, as we always like to hear from our cigar smoking audience.