All too often in film, Hitler's minions make for lackluster villains
Nazis make terrible movie villains. After yawning my way through Captain America: The First Avenger, I realized that it wasn’t the tired action sequences or the utterly forgettable story that were putting me to sleep, but the lack of a compelling bad guy.
Making good villains is an art form. They represent not only a physical challenge, but a mental one. They draw sympathy from the audience, and perhaps even the hero, turning a black-and-white conflict into a puddle of gray-green bloody mush. True to the morally ambiguous world in which we live, the best villains of late have been threatening for reasons beyond their brute power. They should do something, anything, to bring into question how the hero will end up meeting his threat beyond a gloved fist in the face.
Christopher Nolan’s Joker, played by Heath Ledger in 2008's The Dark Knight, was great for this very reason. A vortex of chaos, he forced a reevaluation of Batman’s values in addition to being a wisecracking punching bag for the caped crusader. He was a smart reinvention of the character that had many of us (even loyal comic readers) wondering if Batman was going to have to break his most sacred rule—he doesn't murder—and kill the Joker.