“Someone once told me greed was good; now it seems it’s legal,” says Gordon Gekko in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the highly-anticipated sequel to Oliver Stone’s 1987 classic drama. Gekko is a one-man suited and booted powerhouse, a zeitgeist-defining business baddie who spits out one-liners (“lunch is for wimps!”) faster than the Lehman Brothers stocks sank.
In his triumphant return to the cinema screen on 6th October, Gordon Gekko bursts back onto the financial scene after a spell in prison just as the credit crunch hits Wall Street. We watch as he manipulates those around him – including his estranged daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan) and her ambitious trader boyfriend Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf).
We look at other cold-hearted but dapper business baddies to rival the best; Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko.
Mr Potter, It’s A Wonderful Life
Mr Potter is the nemesis to all that is good and holy. A heartless slumlord, he thinks nothing of pocketing an $8,000 deposit from naïve Uncle Billy and setting him up for bank fraud as a direct result! Like Gekko, Mr Potter feels for nothing as strongly as he feels for cash, but he too learns that nothing in life is free.
Parker Selfridge, Avatar
Even Parker Selfridge’s name suggests an inhuman efficiency. Selfridge is willing to destroy an entire civilization in order to make money. As he tells humanitarian scientist Dr Augustine: “This is why we’re here; Unobtanium, because this little grey rock sells for 20 million a kilo… It’s what pays for the whole party.” Get a soul, Selfridge!
Noah Cross, Chinatown
Evil Noah Cross (John Huston) is a Californian control freak with dollar signs in his eyes. With sole control of Los Angeles’ water supply, Cross ranks as number 16th in the American Film Institute’s top villains ever. For good reason.
John Milton, The Devil’s Advocate
“Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven” said British poet John Milton, and you get the feeling Gordon Gekko would agree. In The Devil’s Advocate, evil attorney John Milton (Al Pacino) is a savvy dresser whose only interest is self-interest. He uses dastardly tactics to recruit his son Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) into the family business.
Hank Scorpio, The Simpsons
In one of the greatest, stand-out episodes of The Simpsons, Homer is recruited by the CEO of Globex Coporation, Hank Scorpio. Even though Hank seems like the ideal boss, Scorpio’s secret side reveals a Bond-esque super villain, complete with flamethrower and jetpack.
Max Shreck, Batman Returns
Batman Returns presents us with megalomaniac Max Shreck, who aims to drain the power of Gotham City before restoring it with his own power plant. Not only does the shrewd businessman team up with the deformed Penguin, but by pushing his secretary out of the window accidently creates Catwoman!
Lex Luther, Superman
Lex Luther is the epitome of the business baddy. Not content with being the arch nemesis of Superman, Luther couples his desire to bring down the Man of Steel with his aim for world domination – all the while being the smiling face of global business Luthor Corp.
Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada
With towering Loubotuins, white Hermès scarf and trademark silver bob, few women have had the widespread cultural impact of Miranda Priestly. As editor of Vogue-like fashion bible Runway, Priestly eats assistants for lunch. Famous for withering one-liners like: “Details of your incompetence do not interest me,” she is the Gordon Gekko of the fashion world.
Maz Zorin, A View To A Kill
The fourteenth of the Bond films features legendary actor Christopher Walken as Max Zorin – the big bad boss of Zorin Industries. The former KGB agent is the master of big-scale Bond villain destruction, plotting to obliterate his competition by creating an earthquake that will cause the entire Silicon Valley to flood.
Zorg, The Fifth Element
Like Prince or Madonna, Zorg only needs a first name. Expertly played by Gary Oldman, Zorg is an industrialist with an ego. He betrays his minions, the Mangalores, in order to take possession of the four mystical stones that will enable him to be in control of the perfect weapon. He also has an amazing haircut.
Patrick Bateman, American Psycho
This is a man who knows his colours; his egg-shell from his off-white, his bone business cards from his pale nimbus white. Patrick Bateman has become a byword for the yuppie businessmen gone wrong – rich, selfish and terrifyingly competitive; he is a psycho killer with bad taste in music and a moral compass that has swung seriously out of control.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is out now.