41. Emperor Palpatine vs. Sauron
Who Was Emperor Palpatine? Sith Lord
Who Was Sauron? Dark Lord
Verdict: Both Palpatine and Sauron are just blanketly evil beings, neither of which serves any purpose but to be the Big Baddy to our respective sets of heroes.
The Star Wars prequels help flesh out Palpatine’s story a bit, but for our purposes here we’re only working with what we see in the movies themselves. And it’s not much. He’s an ugly old white guy whispering evil nothings into Vader’s ear. From when he was first introduced in Empire Strikes Back, you just knew there was no way this story was going to end without him dying.
Sauron spends all three Lord of the Rings movies being a literally faceless, all-powerful evil. All we see of him is a menacing eye made of flames. It’s intimidating stuff, and to the LOTR movies’ credit we actually do get a bit more substance to him in the form of a backstory. He had once controlled the Ring of Power, lost it and now wanted it back. It would finally return him to the throne of Middle-earth, where he believed he rightfully belonged.
Now that’s some motivation. For how compelling and well-sewn-in that backstory is, Sauron takes this one.
Lord of the Rings wins
Next: 40. Mos Eisley Cantina vs. The Prancing Pony