Since 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, a beautiful and faithful homage to serials of the 30’s and 40’s, Indiana Jones has kept audiences captivated with his charm, intelligence, and physical abilities. While few would deny that Jones is the main draw to the films, many fondly recall the villains. In this list we will be ranking all the main villains from the Indiana Jones movie franchise from worst to best. 

Antonin Dovchenko

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Indiana Jones, Movies

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 2008 directed by Steven Spielberg

Dovchenko offers very little other than being a massive physical threat. Pummeling Indy numerous times over the runtime of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the most memorable moment the Russian offers is his poorly aged death by CGI fire ants. Aside from that, there isn’t much to say about Dovchenko, which isn’t a good thing, he’s overall just a boring side distraction that many of us have probably forgotten about.

Klaber

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Indiana Jones, Movies

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, 2023 directed by James Mangold

Klaber is similar to Dovchenko in that he doesn’t offer much in the way of substance, but he is funny. A neonazi who doesn’t really seem to know why he is a neonazi, Klaber is best when he’s coming to blows with his own boss, Jurgen Voller. The problem is that the film tries to frame Klaber as a threatening individual at times, but we more often see him as a fool so he just comes off as more of a bumbling idiot trying to be intimidating for the entire runtime. 

Lao Che

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones, Movies

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984 directed by Steven Spielberg

Lao Che resembles more of a James Bond villain rather than an Indy villain, though this is purposeful. The opening sequence of Temple of Doom is a clear homage to the Sean Connery era 007 films (Jones is even dressed similarly to Connery’s Bond), and Lao Che comes off as a great faux Bond nemesis. Sharply dressed, and operating in a nightclub with henchmen, Che only ranks so low because of how little screen time he has, though he kicks of Temple off Doom with a bang and sets the plot in motion. 

Mola Ram

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones, Movies

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984 directed by Steven Spielberg

The most viscerally terrifying villain Indy has ever faced is definitely Mola Ram. Watching him pull the heart out of a living man for the first time is quite unexpected, and his more otherworldly presence sets him apart from the others that Jones has come to blows with. And who can forget Jones and Company barely escaping his clutches on the hanging bridge? However, Ram doesn’t really give us much else in the way of substance, and that really hurts when Lao Che was sidelined for him.

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Herman Dietrich

Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones, Movies

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981 directed by Steven Spielberg

Of all the Nazi’s that Jones has faced off against, Herman Dietrich is the most generic, and that’s alright, though it’s lacking in being memorable. A walking stereotype of a Nazi officer, Dietrich is well groomed, smartly dressed, heartless, loyal to Hitler and Germany, and extremely stern with both his soldiers and his collaborators. However, Dietrich lacks anything that really sets him apart from other Nazi officers at the time, making him the most forgettable villain of Raiders of the Lost Ark

Jurgen Voller

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Indiana Jones, Movies

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, 2023 directed by James Mangold

I feel like Jurgen Voller got more hate from the fanbase than necessary during his time as the main antagonist of Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny. Yes, he probably shouldn’t have survived being hit by a metal pole on a moving train, and his motivations are lacking as they aren’t given to us until the final twenty minutes of the movie. However, Mads Mikkelson gave us a great performance, and we are quickly shown that Voller’s genius was a danger to the world (even if we don’t quite know why). Voller’s career as a Nazi turned NASA worker was also a great touch, as sadly many former Nazis were in fact employed by the US government. 

Irina Spalko

Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Movies

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 2008 directed by Steven Spielberg

While Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is certainly not the best, villain Irina Spalko was not a bad addition to the franchise whatsoever. Spalko is unsettling, in part due to Cate Blanchett’s great performance and her character also matching the more supernatural sci-fi nature of the film. Initially we are led to believe that Spalko is merely calling the shots for her henchmen, but a cool sword duel (with admittedly poorly aged CGI) proves that she can hold her own physically as well. 

Ernst Vogel

Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Movies

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989 directed by Steven Spielberg

Vogel is able to hold his own against Indy in a fight, something that can rarely be said, and also has the most enjoyably cartoony death of any villain on this list, is there anything not to enjoy? Vogel may not have the most characterization and may be a bit generic, but that’s fine as he is meant to be secondary to Walter Donovan in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. Sometimes bad guys just being bad guys works, and it certainly does for Vogel.

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Major Toht

Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Movies

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981 directed by Steven Spielberg

Major Toht is just simply an evil man that relishes in inflicting pain and fear on others, and is also extremely creepy (especially towards Marion). Toht does his own dirty work and is likely trained in interrogation, as he was prepared to torture Marion to find the medallion, something I feel Dietrich nor Belloq would be keen to do themselves as they like to keep their hands clean. I get the feeling that his collaborators aren’t the biggest fans of him either, as they seem to only want to use him to find the Ark, and are otherwise put off by him. Watching him get outsmarted by Indy twice is extremely satisfying, even if you have to cover your eyes when he gets his brutal comeuppance.  

Walter Donovan

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones, Movies

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989 directed by Steven Spielberg

Donovan was a great villain because he pretty much had the upper hand on Jones throughout the entire runtime of The Last Crusade. He betrays him, shoots his father, and even could have obtained the Holy Grail had he been a bit more studious or patient. Donovan’s motivations for wanting the Grail are also terrifying; implying that he wishes to become immortal, betray Hitler and rule the world. Donovan’s cunning, purely evil mindset and overwhelming control over Jones easily makes him one of the top choices on our list. 

Rene Belloq

Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones, Movies

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981 directed by Steven Spielberg

Belloq is the perfect antithesis to Indy in the very first scene we are introduced to him. After Indy takes the golden idol from the temple in Peru in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Belloq is waiting for him with a host of natives, whom he likely deceived into helping him, something Jones clearly never does. Where Indy is in archeology for the study, Belloq is instead interested in only fortune and glory, going as far as teaming up with Nazis to further his aspirations. Belloq also never engages in any physical combat, which may seem like a downfall. However, he was consistently two steps ahead; always with a level head and with some sort of obstacle or impossible choice at his disposal against Jones. Actor Paul Freemen did such a great job playing a villain that he had to make an effort not to be typecast afterwards; in a 2021 interview with Forbes regarding Raiders of the Lost Ark Thomas said, “…for many years afterward, I did have to put a ban on playing Nazis, and that worked well to get me out of being typecast. I’m immensely proud of Raiders and very grateful for it”.

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Honorable Mention: German Mechanic

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981 directed by Steven Spielberg

While the Nazi Mechanic may not be a main villain, I feel he deserves his own special place on this list. A huge brute, this is the first time we see Indy get beaten up in the original movie, and goodness is he a daunting opponent. Played by actor and professional wrestler Pat Roach, the actor returned as another hulking opponent in Temple of Doom and was once again a Nazi that fought Indy in a deleted scene in The Last Crusade, though he can be spotted with keen eyes in a few shots in the film. The German Mechanic also has the most iconic death in all the franchise, potentially one of the greatest in all of cinema.

Hanging up the Hat and Whip

Though we have most definitely seen the last of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, the massive cultural impact that this franchise has left can’t be denied, in part due to the memorable villains that it has brought forth. Jones has faced off against some that are fantastic, and some that are not so great, though a majority are excellent and will be remembered for a long time to come. For more on Indiana Jones, check out our article ranking Every Indiana Jones Movie From Worst to Best

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