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Smug Snake / Film

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  • Theron in Frank Miller's 300 (or the movie version thereof, at any rate). A wannabe political manipulator in a city-state full of warriors, Theron's manipulations succeed in delaying Sparta's march to war for a time, but he quickly gets his comeuppance when Queen Gorgo runs him through with a sword in front of the Council, which coincidentally exposes his Persian bribe money, thus exposing him as a traitor.
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  • The main villain of A Christmas Star spends most of the film trying to buy up the land of a small village in Norther Ireland with the intention of closing down the local pottery factory and bulldoze the town to create an amusement park, something that only Noelle, a young child living in the town, seems to understand. He even sends hired goons after her to make her shut up! However, his plan completely falls apart when Noelle and her friends barge into his meeting with the local politicians at Stormont (local parliament). First off, he's not the head of the business trying to acquire the land, and his boss wanted to develop in the village, not destroy it, so he instantly fires the villain via Skype. While that mostly stops his plans, he tries to remind the protagonist and her friends that he has already bought the pottery and legally owns the business Noelle is trying to save, even waving the deed in front of their faces and bragging (which is even funnier since Stormont meetings are broadcasted on UTV and BBC News), only for his own son to snatch the deed out of his hands and point out one little problem - after a small incident earlier in the movie, the previous owners included a clause that the villain is banned from claiming ownership. The Big Bad doesn't own the pottery, his son does! His plans basically imploded.
  • The villains in many an Adam Sandler project tend to be incredibly smarmy creeps who are overly pleased with themselves, perhaps to make it easier for the audience to hate them over the often hot-tempered and at times borderline Psychopathic Man Child protagonist:
    • Happy Gilmore competes against Shooter McGavin, self-satisfied and preening professional golfer.
    • In The Wedding Singer, Robbie's competition for Julia's heart is Glen Guilia, her smug philandering yuppie fiancee.
    • Billy Madison faces off against Eric Gordon, a weaselly and slimy Corrupt Corporate Executive in order to inherit his father's hotel chain.
  • Aliens: Burke certainly considers himself smarter than the likes of Ripley and the marines, considering her to be psychologically frazzled and them to be grunts.
  • Eve Harrington from All About Eve is a prime example of the Smug Snake. A master manipulator who fancies herself a Magnificent Bastard, she crumbles when faced with a real Magnificent Bastard in the form of Addison DeWitt. "Take a good look at me Eve, it's about time you did. I am Addison DeWitt and I am nobody's fool, least of all yours."
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  • Paul Sarone from Anaconda. In addition to being a Manipulative Bastard, you could probably count the times that smug smile leaves his face on one hand. If you were missing a thumb.
  • Bicentennial Man: The NorthAm CEO snidely remarks that he will get his hands on Andrew, because sooner or later it'll need repairs. When Andrew does need to be brought in for repairs for his severed thumb, Sir explains that he's gotten an alarm installed that will alert the police if the NorthAm technicians try to access Andrew's positronic brain.
  • Two from The Big Short:
    • Vennett is a sleazy, tanned, over-slick guy, but not a Jerk with a Heart of Jerk like other characters because he is at least honest and upfront with people.
    • Wing Chau, the inventor of "synthetic CDOs" whom Mark Baum meets in Las Vegas. When Baum expresses disbelief at how he's created the "atomic bomb" of banking by selling bad investments, Chau smirks and taunts him by asking how their net worths compare.
      Chau: You think I'm a parasite, don't you, Mr. Baum? Yet apparently society values me very much.
  • Gaff in Blade Runner. Everything he says is some kind of sarcastic remark and when he does not, he more playfully says it by leaving origami of various animals behind with a clear symbolic meaning that say it all wordlessly. Unusual in that he is a morally ambiguous character and not only because the conflict itself which is of a Gray-and-Gray Morality type but also because it's clear that he knows much more about Deckard's situation than he's letting on and the possible revelation at the end casts his motivation and character for helping Deckard in an even more mysterious light.
  • Louis Renault from Casablanca, although Louis is really just too cool to remain a bad guy through the whole picture, so he reforms at the end so he and Rick can fight Nazis together.
  • Le Chiffre in Casino Royale (2006) is a Smug Snake, albeit a very competent one. He's a mathematical genius who displays tremendous grace under pressure during poker games and is gifted at intimidating his opponents but pretty soon the cracks in his shell appear larger. When things start turning sour for him, he immediately starts to lose his cool. He's highly intelligent, but not quite so clever as he thinks himself to be. His entire plan throughout the film is just to pay off debts he got himself into with the world's terrorists by betting the wrong way with their money which shows his overconfidence and as Bond says "all he gets in return is a name he already has." He still wears a suit damn well though.
  • skekSil the Chamberlain in The Dark Crystal infuriates his rivals with a simpering croon, like a mother trying to soothe a child. Though he's stripped of his rank and banished, his guile and persuasion are still impressive, and get downright creepy when he meets the Gelflings.
    skekUng: "I hate your whimper!"
  • Both main mobsters in the The Dark Knight Trilogy (Falcone and Maroni). They're clever guys who've managed to keep a very nasty city under their control for a long time, but they're just not competing in the same league as the real supervillains in town... and yet, Falcone is clearly the most arrogant and condescending villain in Batman Begins, while Maroni is at least one of the most arrogant and condescending villains in The Dark Knight (though more reserved and less of a rude braggart than Falcone his smug smile says it all about he thinks he is).
    • The Dark Knight Rises shows another good difference between Smug Snake Daggett and Magnificent Bastard Bane. This exchange quite sums it up:
      Daggett: No! Stay here. I'm in charge!
      Bane: [gently places a heavy hand on Daggett's shoulder] Do you feel in charge?
  • Tommy O'Shea, the Big Bad of Death Wish V: The Face of Death. A slimy, Irish mobster, he always manges to escape prosecution because he has a mole in the D.A's office but once Kersey gets his sights on him, he acts like its' a minor annoyance. Even when his dragon Chicki warns him not to underestimate Kersey, O'Shea is far too confident in his plans. Sadly, his overconfidence proved to be his undoing, as he wasn't savvy enough to realize he was a villain in a Death Wish movie and therefore, doomed.
  • Divorce Italian Style has the Villain Protagonist Don Fefe (even the name is less than magnificent) who throughout the film plots to lure his ugly wife into adultery so that in keeping with traditional custom, he can kill her and her lover with impunity and marry his beautiful cousin. Outside of the loathsome nature of this plan, he is less than clever in carrying it out (finding himself in an odd position of being jealous of the wife he didn't give a damn for) and the movie ends ironically by implying that his new wife, the cousin, will be begin cuckolding him almost immediately.
  • Delacourt, Caryle, and Kruger in Elysium.
  • Vice-Counsel DuPont, the Big Bad in Equilibrium, who seems to be far, far too smug for someone who's supposedly emotionless (a clue that he isn't taking his Prozium, and earns himself a suitably anticlimactic Karmic Death for it.
  • Klytus from the 1980 Flash Gordon. Also Wicked Cultured, but with a strong dose of aristocratic snark. Occasionally loses his cool, but always has a bored, sneering dismissiveness for his opponents or a sleazy "with pleasure" for his boss—yet he badly overestimates how cowed Prince Barin is and gets thrown onto spikes for his trouble.
  • Fracture also shows a good contrast between a Smug Snake and a Magnificent Bastard, (or, considering how he screws everything up at the end, a much more high-functioning Smug Snake). The former is a smarmy prosecutor who believes he has gotten a completely open-and-shut case, and consequently has not bothered to do his job properly. The latter is a murderer who believes he has made himself untouchable despite the case against him seeming to be bulletproof, and is not worried about showing how confident he is. The reason you are almost rooting for the murderer is because his arrogance comes from having planned everything very carefully, rather than smugly assuming he's going to win. The fact that he's played by Anthony Hopkins certainly helps.
  • Both Jon and Anne in The Hand, who both arrogantly attempt to win over Lizzie's affections.
  • The criminal Waingro in Heat displays a smug expression whenever committing an low act like killing a guard during a heist for staring at him and enjoying a pie afterwards, murdering a underage prostitute or betraying his former colleagues to a common enemy.
  • Chad in In the Loop likes to think he's negotiating his way up the career ladder in the U.S State Department and effortlessly out-manoevreing those opposed to in. In reality, he a toadying little worm who is completely ignored by Linton Barwick, whose ass he tries desperately to kiss (Linton doesn't even remember his name), and is regarded by everyone else as a slimy little creep.
  • The Indiana Jones film series have a tendency to depict the Big Bads this way, most notably Rene Belloq and Walter Donovan. Although not a main villain but a secondary one, George "Mac" McHale fits this trope as well.
  • Inglourious Basterds has Major Hellstrom and, more unconventionally, a rare 'good guy' example in Bridget Von Hammersmark who is utterly disdainful of her allies but doesn't seem much (if at all) smarter.
  • Colonel Sato from Ip Man, who makes leering grins liberally, crosses the Moral Event Horizon not long after his first appearance, dishes out No Holds Barred Beatdowns liberally and keeps asking to (and getting denied from) just shoot our hero. His Karmic Death is much-welcomed.
  • Roderick from Jack the Giant Slayer.
  • Kill Ben Lyk has Banker Ben Lyk who always has something mean and sarcastic to say to the other cast members.
  • Knives Out: Hugh Ransom Drysdale is quite a bit more cunning, devious, and observant than initially believed, as well as ruthless and skilled at improvisation. He plans several genuinely clever and well-disguised Xanatos Gambits that almost get Marta blamed for his grandfather’s death... but he’s arrogant and just a bit too clever, hiring Blanc himself to open the investigation back up, and simply can’t quite predict Marta’s behavior because Evil Cannot Comprehend Good.
  • Layer Cake: Jimmy Price sees himself as a criminal mastermind, but he's actually an informant for the police who's only managed to stay out of handcuffs by selling out his associates, and is also setting up XXXX to either kidnap Eddie Temple's daughter or get killed in the process. He's also prone to paranoia and temper tantrums when things stop going his way.
  • The James Bond film The Living Daylights features General Koskov, an effective and rather affable villain who so very much wants to be a Magnificent Bastard, but doesn't quite make it. In his favour, though, he does come equipped with one of the best Evil Plans in Bond movie history. Against him, however, is his rather goofy Happy Dance when things are going his way.
  • Grí­ma Wormtongue as portrayed by Brad Dourif in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. He's slimy to the core, talks to everyone with an annoying sneer in his voice, and didn't prepare even nearly large enough a guard to ward off a small band of heroes who happen to be good fighters, and apparently not remembering to tell his guards why they needed to take Gandalf's staff.note 
  • The arms smuggler and film's protagonist Yuri in Lord of War is the epitome of the Smug Snake. An Honest John that refuses to confront the vehemence of his guilt and crimes by arguing that "I just sell guns, I don't pull the trigger". He taunts an honorable and idealistic weapons inspector, Valentin, by using the letter of the law to divert its spirit. Though by the end of the film he's still at it, he has everyone and everything he loves crumble around him. Interestingly, his character is essentially an amalgam of several real-life arms dealers.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • After successfully stealing the Tesseract from SHIELD's custody at the start of The Avengers, Loki is pretty much a Magnificent Bastard who's got everything well in hand. However, by the time the Avengers get their act together and fight back against his alien allies when they invade New York, he makes the terrible mistake of trying to verbally belittle the Incredible Hulk, ending up on the wrong end of a hilariously one-sided Curb-Stomp Battle. He also falls for Black Widow's ploy to figure out his plans. As in the Thor films, he's not incompetent, but he's nowhere near as good as he thinks he is and he refuses to admit that anything is his fault. Thanks to the strength of Tom Hiddleston's performance, people seem to enjoy watching his plans succeed just as much as they like watching him getting the crap kicked out of him when they don't.
    • The Other is also an example of this, as he's certain that Earth will surrender the instant his Chitauri launch their assault. He wisely becomes more cautious of the humans after the Avengers repel the invasion. This might qualify him as a subversion, as a key characteristic of a Smug Snake is an inability to learn from their mistakes, a weakness he clearly does not share. Unfortunately, he showed in Guardians of the Galaxy that he didn't apply that lesson to dealing with the Kree, especially a murderous fanatic like Ronan the Accuser who kills the underling when he gets mouthy on behalf of Thanos.
    • The aptly-named Justin Hammer from Iron Man 2. While he is a massively rich military industrialist, and not above the odd bit of sceming, he comes off as an unbeliveable douche and a vaguely pathetic shadow of Tony Stark: his Hammer Tech weapons fail utterly, he can't cobble together an Iron Man suit knockoff to save his life, and it's pretty obvious that he's being played like a fiddle by Ivan Vanko. Even his trophy girfriend is one of Tony's cast-offs. It's pretty telling that when it comes down to Hammer versus the crazy murderous Russian, the audience tends to root for the latter.
  • Mortal Kombat: Annihilation's Big Bad Shao Kahn is essentially a merging of this trope with Smug Super and Psychopathic Manchild, as he is an ancient warlord and the son of an Elder God who has spent eons lording it over all who dare to challenge him. He dismisses all of humanity as Puny Earthlings despite being warned by his father Shinnok of the human capacity for Heroic Willpower, and toys with the heroes when he has an army that could steamroller them outright. When his immortality is stripped from him in the climax as punishment for his invasion of Earth, his smirks and sneers die with the realization that he now, possibly for the first time in his very long life, has to win a fight solely on his own strength and not his immortality. As one might expect of this type of character, he comes up rather short in the end.
  • In New Jack City, drug dealer Nino Brown's sliminess reaches its epitome near the end when he makes a deal with the prosecution for a reduced sentence. He gloats to the cop who tried to get him convicted and whose mother he killed years ago to come work for him when he's back on the streets, and praises the American justice system to the press. He is almost immediately publicly killed vigilante-style by an old man whose life he destroyed earlier in the film.
  • Daniel Atlas and Thaddeus Bradley both infuriate people for how smug they act in Now You See Me. To be fair, though, their smugness is usually justified.
  • Phantasm: The Tall Man is very smug and Faux Affably Evil.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean features Lord Cutler Beckett, a Corrupt Corporate Executive played deliberately and with slimy relish. Who'd have thought that a series whose villains thus far were cursed, immortal undead pirates would have a stereotypical evil English aristocrat as its Big Bad? He's so repulsive that he made many viewers sympathize with Davy Jones when the latter was forced into servitude. Evidently the writers felt the same, as Jones' death in the third film is an anticlimactic drop-off-the-deck while Beckett gets a huge, epic slow motion walk through his exploding ship complete with Ominous Latin Chanting.
  • The Proposition has Eden Fletcher, played by David Wenham speaking through his nose, and very intentionally meant to inspire the audience's hate.
  • Colonel Zaysen from Rambo III. The Agony Booth recap gives an absolutely perfect distillation of this trope:
    Zaysen will not go down in history as one of cinema's greatest villains, sad to say. He has all the tools: A decent sneer, a nasty sadistic streak, and a taste for chess to give him a cultured James Bond villain aura. But he never really becomes a character. Instead, the script has him simply go through the motions and expects that to be good enough.
  • Resurrection (1999): Once the killer is caught, he's incredibly smug about the fact that the cops have nothing that ties him to the murders.
    Cocky son of a bitch, isn't he?
  • Doctor Emma Temple of The Ring Two, a smirking, utterly insensitive psychiatrist. Samara uses a Jedi Mind Trick on Dr. Temple to make her commit suicide, which on the one hand is the least gory death in the series, but may be the most humiliating as it implies Temple is so Weak-Willed Samara can dominate her with a thought.
  • Shattered Glass presents Stephen Glass as one of these; he initially comes off as a humble, self-effacing and charming guy, but the longer he keeps it up and the longer we watch him we realize it's all just an act he uses to manipulate people, and the more we realize he's actually just a slimy, weaselly creep.
  • Shaun of the Dead has David, Dianne's Bastard Boyfriend who is very smug about his supposed superiority to Shaun but ultimately proves to be far more unreliable, incompetent and just plain stupid than he ever was at any point in the movie. He proves to be The Load, loudly complaining constantly about Shaun's plans while doing nothing but complaining. When they reach the Winchester pub and find the door locked, he immediately goes to smash the window, which attracts every zombie within earshot and forces Shaun to risk his life distracting the horde to ensure their safety; when Shaun returns he simply enters through the unlocked back door. And he gets worse from there.
  • Lord Coward in Sherlock Holmes (2009), who seems to spend most of the movie standing around looking rather smug with little reason to be. He does notably attempt to shoot Holmes when he gets the chance, but still fails miserably.
  • Although at first he appears to be on the hero's side, the gameshow host in Slumdog Millionaire is as smug as can be, and seems absolutely insulted by Jamal's success throughout the movie.
  • Eddie Brock in Spider-Man 3 is, at least initially, a slimy, unctuous creep who sucks up to Jameson to advance his own career prospects, is a bit too creepy-stalkerish with Gwen Stacy, the 'girl he intends to marry' (although Gwen is quick to point out that they've only ever been out for a coffee once) and ends up manufacturing a photo of Spider-Man robbing a bank to frame the superhero and secure a staff job at the Bugle. Then Peter exposes his fake, he loses his job, and Gwen breaks up with him — and then he meets the Venom symbiote...
  • The douche-tacular Captain Styles of the USS Excelsior in Star Trek III. He exists for Kirk to tap-dance rings around.
    • Admiral Marcus from Star Trek Into Darkness counts as one. In his final scene, he goes on a rant on how Kirk started a war, "forcing" Marcus to step up to lead Earth in a time of impending war. The arrogance and Blatant Lies are enormous. Not only that, but he didn't take into account that Kirk has a habit of disobeying the rules, meaning he found out the details of his plan. Let's not also forget that he thought he could control a badass like Khan...
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope: Admiral Motti's "this station is now the ultimate power in the universe" remark comes across as fairly arrogant in any context, but especially in light of what happened near the end of the movie.
    • Jabba the Hutt in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Han offered money instead of his captivity and Jabba wouldn't listen; when Leia and Luke warned Jabba they could defeat him, Jabba and his minions didn't take them seriously at all. Even when being led to the Sarlacc Pit Luke said "this is your last chance; free us, or die." Jabba and his minions stil didn't take them seriously. Jabba had so many warnings, and so many chances for alternatives, that for him to still keep ignoring them made his Karmic Death all the more satisfying. In his defense (and who ever thought they'd hear that) he'd heard it all before. He'd had dozens, maybe hundreds of others in exactly the same place that the heroes were in, and clearly he had come off the better of it each time. In various EU works, he actually is more of a Magnificent Bastard than Smug Snake. But as far as the movies themselves go, no context is given for this dismissive approach. Also, "free us, or die" comes after Luke manages to defeat the Rancor; this should give Jabba some indication that Luke could be a potential threat. Even if he was a Magnificent Bastard before this, that doesn't rule out the possibility that he has turned into a Smug Snake since.
    • Even Emperor Palpatine, who was clearly a Magnificent Bastard in the prequel trilogy, showed signs of turning into a Smug Snake in Return of the Jedi. The whole 'Death Star Trap' plan was a pretty risky move, but Palpatine simply could not conceive that the Rebels might be able to overcome it. Similarly with Luke during his final duel with Darth Vader; every time Luke starts to gain the upper hand, Palpatine taunts him to give in to his hate, giving him a moment to collect himself and not give in. But Palpatine keeps doing it, over and over... because he simply cannot accept that Luke will not turn to the Dark Side.
    • From the sequel trilogy, Supreme Leader Snoke has been established as one of the most powerful Dark Side users of the franchise, but, much like the late Emperor before him, he is a callous, arrogant and sociopathic monster who treats everyone else around him with utter contempt and is so prideful of his massive power, he believes no one will stand up to him, much less betray him. Needless to say, his excessive pride and condescension lead to his demise at the hands of his very own apprentice, Kylo Ren, in The Last Jedi.
    • Admiral Ozzel from The Empire Strikes Back, who idiotically alerts the Rebels to the presence of the Empire, thus allowing them to evacuate Hoth. Darth Vader personally sees to it that Ozzel receives his just desserts.
    • Rogue One has Orson Callan Krennic, the man overseeing the construction of the Death Star, who is an absolute cutthroat and believes himself to be on the same level as Tarkin, Vader, and Palpatine.
    • Averted by Daine Jir from A New Hope, who rather than being smug and ass-kissing his superiors, acts as Darth Vader's Commander Contrarian with a mix of Brutal Honesty, something that EU works have mentioned as being refreshing for Vader, since Jir's questioning is out of pragmatic merit rather than trying to appear as being superior.
  • The hero of Sweet Smell of Success is a press agent without a scruple to his name, willing to do anything to succeed, even using his friends. He slithers around trying to make deals with people by selling them on rhetoric, but many note that he's little more than a hired hand for his boss Hunsecker, and pretty much all of his own schemes end up falling completely flat. And so he ends up getting Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves.
  • Bison from Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. Far from the frighteningly unstable Omnicidal Maniac of the gameverse proper (or the Laughably Evil Magnificent Bastard as played by the late Raul Julia), he comes across in the movie as "Kung-Fu Arthur Petrelli (as played by a Malcolm McDowell impersonator)."
  • Eli Sunday from There Will Be Blood is a charismatic religious fanatic who presides over a cult in the small American town where he resides. While his ambition is to be commended, he is nevertheless a hyptocritical bully whose faith in God crumbles when faced with adversity. When confronted with a bigger bully than himself in the form of raging Daniel Plainview, he is reduced to crying and screaming while begging for his life.
  • In This Is the End, after Franco gets raptured for freeing both Jay and Seth from McBride's wrath, he taunts McBride and his followers with crass remarks as he's being ascended... which cancels the Rapture immediately. He then gets chewed alive by McBride and his followers.
  • Thunderball: What's more idiotic? Embezzling from SPECTRE or assuming it won't be noticed? The SPECTRE meeting had Ernst Blofeld grill a mook on why their drug-running scheme earned less than expected and felt someone is stealing from him. The mook is nervously sweating and knows he's about to be fired and fried... until Blofeld abruptly zaps a different mook who acted nonchalant the whole time. Blofeld even uses it to warn the other members to not betray him.
  • Whip It has Iron Maven, whose smugness is at least justified in that she's the Captain and star jammer of the league-champion Holy Rollers (who have been undefeated over the last three years). She's rather irritated by the presence of star rookie Babe Ruthless.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • Quill from X-Men: The Last Stand taunts and considers himself an equal to the likes of Magneto, despite having truly pathetic powers that only manage to kill one helpless human woman (and even then, he has to pretend he's consoling her and hug her to use them). Ultimately he's just one of the many mutants Dark Phoenix incinerates without any fanfare at all.
    • Major William Stryker from X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a stock example, right down to the overconfidence part. Also Agent Zero has his moments.
    • Viper from The Wolverine, both figuratively (overconfident) and literally (that forked tongue!).


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