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Wrong side of the river! Ranking the villains in 'The Mummy' movies

“You came back from the desert with a new friend, didn’t you?”

By Brian Silliman
Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) from The Mummy (1999)

It’s incredible what some characters will do for just a little bit of treasure. They're willing to topple entire governments and cause the apocalypse itself, sometimes serving much more powerful agents of menace. The three movies in The Mummy  franchise are full of such selfish characters. 

The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (all of which are now streaming on Peacock) are loaded with antagonists that will betray, backstab, and kill to get what they want. Love, revenge, power, gold — it doesn’t matter. If they want it, they are going to get it. 

Rick O’Connell (Brandan Fraser) and his merry band are all that stand in their way. We’ve already extolled the brilliance of Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) as well as her brother Jonathan (John Hannah), but now it’s time to lust for gold and power over on the dark side. Open the Book of the Dead and pop that bourbon because we’re going to rank our favorite villains from The Mummy movies. 

9. Roger Wilson (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor)

Roger Wilson (David Calder) from The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)

Curse his inevitable betrayal! We think that this archeologist mentor to young Alex O’Connell (Luke Ford) is a Marcus Brody character who knows how to drop a good Bembridge reference, but he’s just a filthy traitor. 

David Calder makes us like the guy, though we never trust him as much as Alex does. He’s a little fishy, and Alex (in this movie) is an idiot. He loses us completely when he pulls a gun on Rick and Evie, making it clear that he’s on the side of General Yang (Anthony Wong Chau-sang) and the reborn Emperor Han (Jet Li). 

If he thought that the Emperor was going to keep him around as a valued colleague, he was way off. He gets his head cut off when he tries to hitch a ride on the Emperor’s chariot, and the mostly forgettable story of Robert Wilson ends. 

8. General Yang (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor)

General Yang (Anthony Chau-Sang Wong) from The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)

Here’s the guy who thought that resurrecting Emperor Han was a good idea. Unsatisfied with the state of his country following World War II, Yang (Anthony Wong Chau-sang) decides to resurrect the ceramic bad guys that have to be stopped at all costs. 

Idiot Alex doesn’t know it, but Yang is the one who financed the dig that starts the whole mess. It’s all Alex’s fault, cheek by jowl, but at least he didn’t read from the Book of the Dead. Yang doesn’t want treasure, he wants to bring order out of chaos. He sees the returned Emperor Han as the way to do it. 

He is somewhat respected (or at least tolerated) by Han, who lets him ride on his chariot instead of killing him. He also has the fierce love of Colonel Choi (Jessey Meng), his chief lieutenant. Unlike another pair of villainous lovers on this list, Choi refuses to leave Yang’s side to save her own life. They perish together. 

7. The Scorpion King (The Mummy Returns)

The Scorpion King (Dwayne Johnson) from The Mummy Returns (2001)

The prologue of The Mummy Returns shows how this man rose to power. It provided Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson with his first on-screen acting role at the same time. He says only one word, and the rest of the prologue is all action and looks. Johnson does it well, and it's an action-packed opening. 

The aim of the movie’s other villains is to resurrect him and then kill him. If they do that, they get control over his unstoppable army. He’s more of a plot device than anything else, but his prologue story remains an interesting cautionary tale.

In the movie’s climax, he shows up again, and… yeah. Anyone who has seen this movie will remember the nightmare fuel of Johnson’s face CGI’d onto a giant scorpion. If they’d just brought Johnson out in the flesh, he’d be much more formidable. We weren't consulted on the decision so we'll just accept it how it is.  

6. Mr. Hafez (The Mummy Returns)

Mr. Hafez (Alun Armstrong) from The Mummy Returns (2001)

Another archeological flunky, but a more memorable one than Roger Wilson. Alun Armstrong’s Hafez is one of the leaders with the cockamamie plan to resurrect Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) again, solely because he’s the only one tough enough to take on the Scorpion King and control his army. In his head, this somehow leads to Hafez himself being King of the World or something. 

Armstrong is fantastic as the character, and though he’s not as flashy as some of the movie’s other antagonists, we always like watching him. He delivers some classic lines with a wonderful pulp flair, including, “Then to London we must go…” 

As is the case with all flunkies, he is unaware that he is a flunky. He overestimates his importance to Imhotep, and when he’s in trouble towards the end of the movie, he pleads for his master to save him. 

Imhotep’s response is hilarious: “Why?” 

He’s gotten all that he could possibly need from this greedy wank. Time to die, Mr. Hafez. 

5: Emperor Han (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor)

Emperor (Jet Li) from The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)

The titular Mummy of the third movie. What are his motives? World domination, yes, but is there anything else? Not really. His ambition isn’t dissimilar from the Scorpion King. He wants power and revenge. 

What puts him ahead on this list is the fact that he is played by Jet Li. That’s all, really. He’s a piece of resurrecting ceramic for most of the movie, too, so Jet Li isn’t even there the entire time. It doesn’t matter. Jet Li gives us what we need, and even though a fight scene with Michelle Yeoh’s character is a little underwhelming for our taste, Jet Li does what he can to elevate. 

The movie mostly asks him to stand there and look intimidating. That’s exactly what he does, and an actor of lesser presence would have fared far worse. The effects work on the Emperor and his army is also quite good, and is easily one of the third movie's highlights. 

4. Lock-Nah (The Mummy Returns)

Lock-Nah (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) from The Mummy Returns (2001)

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje joined the sequel movie as a wicked version of the heroic Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr). If the good guys get someone that cool, then the bad guys have to have one too. He and Bay have a history, and they fight it out early in the movie in the O’Connell mansion. Lock-Nah is a mercenary for hire, and he's almost as formidable as Ardeth is. 

He gets the upper hand in this first fight, pinning Ardeth against a wall. He doesn’t finish him off. He twirls around, whips his cape back onto his shoulders, and struts out. It is glorious. 

He has a lot of scenes with young Alex (Freddie Boath), getting more and more pissed as the movie goes on. He’s longing for the moment when he gets to kill Alex, and he doesn’t hesitate when the time comes. Ardeth and Rick get in his way, and he goes for another round with Ardeth. The incomparable Ardeth Bay wins the fight and kills him. No fuss, no muss. 

He’s necessary muscle for the bad guys, and he’s cool as hell. He’s also cold as ice, especially when he shoots Ardeth’s bird friend. He had to go (Ardeth couldn't and shouldn't let the death of Horus slip), but part of us wouldn’t have minded it if he’d switched sides at the end and joined up with the heroes. 

3. Imhotep (The Mummy, The Mummy Returns)

Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) from The Mummy (1999)

The big bad for the first two movies isn’t at number one? It's not because Arnold Vosloo isn’t fantastic in the role. He certainly is, and he shines in the first movie especially. He’s out for vengeance and power, and his resurrection will bring about the end of the world. Vosloo makes every step of his transformation exciting. 

He’s not unsympathetic. The movie’s prologue shows us that he was buried alive because of a love that could not be denied, and this flame still burns hot when he is resurrected. It’s not enough for him to return, he has to bring his lover Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velásquez) back too. 

Imhotep has a serious bag of tricks. He has power over the sand, he can resurrect mummies on command, and he can turn ordinary people into thralls. At one point he opens his mouth wide and spits out a huge cloud of insects. As long as there aren’t any cats around, he’s a tough customer.

We’re so invested in the story of Rick and Evie in the first movie, and Imhotep is the damn Mummy who is constantly in the way. He’s frightening, powerful, and has everyone running for their lives. He kidnaps Evie, he lies to Rick, and sometimes we feel like he can’t be stopped. 

He’s back remarkably fast in the sequel, but he’s a means to an end. He’s still just as nasty and spiteful as ever. His reincarnated lover is by his side, and they prove to be a toxic pair of a-holes. We love to watch him, but we’re happy that he never won the day. 

2. Meela/Anck-Su-Namun (The Mummy Returns)

Meela (Patricia Velasquez) from The Mummy Returns (2001)

The filmmakers loved Anck-Su-Namun so much in the prologue of The Mummy that they decided to bring Patricia Velásquez back for The Mummy Returns. Not only that, they gave her a much bigger role.

Meela is somehow Anck-Su-Namun come again. Once Imhotep is back, he helps unite Meela and the true spirit of Anck-Su-Namun. The lovers are reunited, but that’s not enough for them. They want to kill the Scorpion King and control his army. If they were in it for love alone, they could have just screwed off into the desert and lived. 

It’s was a toss-up as to whether Anck-Su-Namun or Imhotep was going to take this spot. Ultimately we gave Anck-Su-Namun the edge for two specific reasons. The first one is that she kills Evie with a very long knife. Evie comes back, but we’re sorry, you don’t get to do that. You just don’t. 

The second reason happens in a scene towards the end. Both Imhotep and Rick are holding on to a cliff’s edge, and Anck-Su-Namun proves how shallow her love for Imhotep is. She doesn’t run to save him, she runs away and saves herself. 

In fairness to her, this is a loaded moment. Imhotep is being selfish because he’s calling out for her to save him. Rick, on the other hand, is yelling for Evie to run and save herself. Anck-Su-Namun is the one who does that. Evie, naturally, runs in and saves Rick. One couple is selfish, the other is selfless. The look on Imhotep’s face as Anck-Su-Namun leaves him behind is priceless. He lets himself fall because he’s truly lost everything. 

There’s also the way Velásquez delivers this line to little Alex: “Because your parents wouldn’t slip poisonous snakes into your bed… while you were sleeping.” Mmmhmm! That’s the stuff alright. 

1. Beni (The Mummy)

Beni (Kevin O’Connor) from The Mummy (1999)

He may have all the horses, but he’ll always be on the wrong side of the river. Seriously, screw this guy a million times. Screw him all the way to hell and back. The Mummy franchise has never had a character that we have hated more than this sack of s***. 

Kevin O’Connor should have gotten an award for the role of Beni Gabor. We’re hard-pressed to think of another character that we have wanted to see die horribly more than him. He’s only interested in treasure and saving his own life. That’s it. He will swindle, lie, cheat, steal, connive, and backstab everyone and anyone to get what he wants. 

Every time we think that Beni is down for the count, we’re wrong. He bounces back, even snaking his way into Imhotep’s good graces thanks to a necklace he wears. Every religious symbol in existence is represented on it, so Beni will be able to suck up to any god, anywhere, any time. 

Rick gets his hits in. He pushes him off a boat, and that’s very satisfying. He tosses him off of his mount on the ride to Hamunaptra, and that’s satisfying as well. Rick is just too good to just put a bullet in the guy’s head. Even after he’s fully turned over to Imhotep’s side and endangers Evie’s life, Rick can’t bring himself to let him die. He tries to save him from the collapsing City of the Dead, but it is too late. He's not worth it, Saint Rick. 

We hate Beni so very, very much. He represents the worst aspects of humanity. He’s fun to watch because we scream at the screen for him to die. Surely this wiggling jackass is gonna get his, for the love of the Bembridge Scholars, this guy has to get his!

Rick tells him that’s gonna happen, but Beni replies, “like I’ve never heard that before!” That’s not hard to imagine. The movie knows what it's doing, because it gives him one of the worst deaths of all, and it comes last. He is left in the dark, surrounded by horrific flesh-eating beetles. He absolutely deserves it. 

Goodbye, Beni. 

The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor are all streaming on Peacock.