November is shaping up to be quite the magical month. This past weekend Marvel released their newest addition to their shared universe, Doctor Strange, which already has the box office under quite the spell. In a short couple of weeks Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will also make its big-screen debut, which already has Potter fans in all-time-high anticipation. With so much magic enchanting moviegoers, we thought it would be appropriate to look back at all the witches, wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers that have made their own mark on movie history.
For this list, we’re taking a look at the most powerful magical beings every to grace cinema. They can either be broomstick flying witches, evil enchanting warlocks, or just anyone with a wand. We’re focusing on the strongest rather than the weak however, and are ranking the order by how powerful each magical being stacks up with the rest. That means as memorable as he is, you probably won’t see the likes of Tim the Enchanter from Monty Python and the Holy Grail cast any spells here.
Here are the 15 Most Powerful Witches and Wizards in Movies.
15. Saruman (The Lord of the Rings)
Christopher Lee certainly had a knack for playing eccentric villains in movies. As well as topping our list for the best onscreen interpretation of Dracula, the actor has played an eclectic range of baddies, including the evil wizard Saruman in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Once an ally of Gandalf, Saruman turns to the dark side after becoming a loyal servant of Sauron.
Since Sauron never appears directly in the book, Peter Jackson decided to give Lee’s Saruman more screen time to act as sort of a substitute. Good thing he did, because Lee’s evil sorcerer steals almost every scene that he’s in; his sinister gaze and icy demeanor only being matched by his magical prowess. Initially more powerful than Gandalf himself (at least before his “rebirth”), Saruman has a deep knowledge of all magic and history. His voice is so commanding and imposing that he is able to sway the decisions and hearts on whole groups of people. While he’s eventually defeated, he no doubt proved to be quite the challenge for the Fellowship of the Ring to defeat.
14. The Blair Witch (The Blair Witch Project)
Known for catapulting the found footage genre into the mainstream, The Blair Witch Project has become a staple in the horror movie genre thanks to its inventiveness. A true piece of psychological terror, the film has three friends get lost in the woods where legend has it the Blair Witch preys on unsuspecting victims. Though most of her powers and influence are left to the imagination, it’s for that reason alone that this witch is so terrifying.
This year’s anticipated sequel gave us a little more backstory on the Witch herself, indicating that she even has the power to warp time in the cursed woods that she resides in. Sure, you never actually see the Blair Witch in the movies, but isn’t that a true test of her power? She’s able to take unsuspecting victims, drive them mad, and then cut them down all without showing her face; if you ask us, that makes her pretty intimidating.
13. Asa Vajda (Black Sunday)
Among all the black and white horror movies, Mario Bava’s Black Sunday remains as one of the most effective pieces of gothic horror today. Released in 1960, Bava’s film retains positive critical reception for its eerie environment and for, most of all, Barbara Steele’s rendition of Asa Vajda. Although Vajda is classified as a witch, she could just as easily be a vampire with her bewitching looks and deadly gaze.
Beginning in the seventeenth century, Black Sunday begins with Princess Vajda being executed after being accused of witchcraft. A contraption called the mask of Satan is attached to her face, which is filled with spikes that pierce the flesh (ouch). Before she dies she curses the descendants of her brother who betrayed her. This former princess has the power of telekinesis, the ability to resurrect dead bodies, as well having an extensive knowledge of the dark arts, so when Vajda eventually comes back in the movie to seek her revenge, it is both therapeutic and rather terrifying.
12. Merlin (Excalibur)
Though we give points to The Sword in the Stone’s rendition of Merlin, Nicol Williamson’s take on the character might be the best onscreen interpretation seen yet. As the legendary sorcerer in the Arthurian legend, Williamson’s Merlin is emotionally complex as the leader and interpreter of all things otherworldly in John Boorman’s 1981 fantasy, Excalibur.
More cunning than the children’s version, this Merlin is as fearless as they come, being able to tame dragons and any number of different beasts. He is also wise beyond his years, and has a vast knowledge of magic and history. His duels with Morgana are an especial standout from the film, as he conjures complex spells, like the ability to duplicate himself, to defeat his opponent. You could say that Williamson’s Merlin is so intimidating and powerful, that he can be slightly horrifying, but then again, what great wizard isn’t?
11. Sarah Bailey (The Craft)
While nobody is more devious than the character Nancy from 1996’s The Craft , we ultimately had to give this slot to her witchcraft rival, Sarah Bailey. After moving with her family to Los Angeles to start a new life, sixteen-year old Sarah enrolls in a Catholic high school where she makes friends with a group of social misfits that practice witchcraft. Sarah however possesses the strongest powers of a natural witch, and by the movies end learns to harness these powers to unlock her full potential.
Naturally gifted, Sarah has the power of invoking certain events to happen. She is seen to have some form of telekinesis, as well as being able to perform powerful hexes like a love spell. While bully Nancy is the dominant witch in Sarah’s group, Sarah is blessed with more power than she can imagine by calling on the “Higher Power” by the climax of the film. She’s able to take away the powers of her other covenant members, and in finally doing so, becomes the confidant and wise witch she was always meant to be.
10. Lo Pan (Big Trouble in Little China)
White-haired, decrepit and confined to a wheelchair in the beginning of the movie, to a ten-foot tall behemoth that can shoot lasers out of his eyeballs by the third act, Lo-Pan is a mythical Chinese warlord that means business. This ancient sorcerer is the big trouble of John Carpenter’s cult classic Big Trouble in Little China, and is just as deadly as he is hilarious to watch.
Played by actor James Hong, Lo-Pan (aka David Lo-Pan, CEO of the Wing Kong Import-Export Trading Company) wields an impressive stack of powers, including a blend of martial arts heightened by the fact that he can shoot lightning bolts and laser beams. Probably the most threatening of Lo-Pan’s abilities is his undying ability to never give up. It took him centuries to find a suitable bride, and even though he’s thwarted in the end by Kurt Russel and friends, we have to admire his aptitude to keep trying.
9. The White Witch (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Ruthless, calculating, and just plain creepy, the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia movies has definitely left her mark on cinematic sorcerers. Played perfectly by Tilda Swinton, this cold-as-ice witch gets her colorful name for being the one who froze Narnia in the Hundred Years Winter (and Game of Thrones thought they had it bad). Her mean streak is further characterized during the Battle of Beruna, where she declares she won’t be taking any prisoners for the simple fact she has no interest in taking anyone alive; now that’s cold.
This sorceress is awarded further points for the fact that actress Swinton plays her as more psychopathic and malevolent than her counterpart from the books, invoking a serious mean streak by being overly violent and downright cruel. This self-proclaimed Queen can turn her enemies into statues, conjure almost anything out of thin air, and can even wield a sword in hand to hand combat, making her a triple or even quadruple threat to any that oppose her.
8. Queen Ravenna (Snow White and the Huntsman)
Queen Ravenna (also known as “The Evil Queen” or simply “The Queen”) is the cruel and tyrannical ruler of the kingdom of Tabor. Aside from being a completely evil matriarch, she is also a dangerously powerful sorceress and quite the thorn in the side of Snow White in 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman. The once thought “fairest of them all” becomes envious of Snow White’s beauty, and as a result becomes determined to kill White and consume her heart which would endow the sorceress with eternal youth; jealous much?
Along with consuming human hearts whole (gross), Ravenna also has a plethora of dark powers she keeps hidden up her sleeves. The Evil Queen has various abilities which include life and death force manipulation, regeneration, superhuman strength, mind control, invisibility, and the power to shapeshift into whatever she desires. On top of all that, Ravenna also has the ability to conjure a vile black substance called dark fay, which can take the form of a soldier or a liquid, which is both deadly and kind of disgusting.
7. Grand High Witch (The Witches)
It’s hard to imagine that a witch so cruel, evil, and physically revolting would be front and center in a movie aimed at children. Take a good look at the picture above and try explaining how this made it into a kid’s movie; the Grand High Witch (played by Anjelica Huston) from 1990’s The Witches has a scare factor of 100 out of 10. On the surface she appears to be a vampire glammed, red-lipstick-wearing beauty, but behind closed doors it’s a different story altogether.
Her real appearance, which she hides with fake skin and a wig, is absolutely nauseating, just like her personality. This deviant sorceress is the head of a world wide covenant of witches that have are hell-bent on killing children (remember, this is a kid’s movie), based on the fact that they don’t particularly like the way they smell. The Grand High Witch has the ability to turn children into smaller animals in order for a quicker kill, and can easily burn her enemies into a charcoal crisp using her laser beam eyes. This truly is a witch that children’s nightmares are made of.
6. Bavmorda (Willow)
Like other entries on this list, Bavmorda from the movie Willow is a sorceress Queen who is made even deadlier thanks to her egotistical power trip. At a young age, Bavmorda married the crown prince of Tir Asleen, only to murder her new husband and in-laws to start building her own empire above the ruble she left in her wake. She keeps her new subjects in a constant state of fear by using public executions, purges, trials and unending warfare to keep her in a state of power.
Besides her tyrannical power trip, Bavmorda is a strong user of dark magic that allows her to keep her enemies in check. She has the ability to animate immobile objects, as well as being able to transform any number of her enemies into animals. She has the knowledge of numerous complex spells, and is able to fling people into the air and throw a well-aimed fireball with a snap of the wrist. Still, all that magic and she still was tricked in the end by Willow to be destroyed by her own potion, which goes to show that however powerful you are, you shouldn’t underestimate your opponent.
5. Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter Series)
Fantasy movies have had a long history of wizard big-bads, but none are bigger or badder than Lord Voldemort, also known as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Sure, the Boy-Who-Lived is certainly the star of the Harry Potter movies, but where would Harry be without his despicable arch nemesis? The embodiment of pure evil, Voldemort is absolutely horrifying for his undying practice of the dark arts, and his murderous and psychopathic demeanor.
One look into Voldemort’s face is like looking into the eyes of evil itself, which is one part snake, one part human, and one party creepy vampire. Formerly known as Tom Riddle, this power-hungry wizard dedicated his entire life to learn everything that he could about the dark arts, and in doing so became one of the strongest and most feared wizards in the Harry Potter universe. He can read minds, fly unsupported, engulf entire buildings with fire, and even talk to snakes. Still, with all his power, Voldemort was lacking in one magical department that eventually led to his downfall: the ability to love.
4. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
While we love Angelina Jolie’s more sympathetic take on this character, there’s just no beating the classic version voiced by Eleanor Audley in Sleeping Beauty. The “Mistress of All Evil,” this fairy turned witch just might be Disney’s darkest animated villain ever, and crazy powerful to boot. After not being invited to a christening, Maleficent curses the infant Princess Aurora to die before the sunset of her sixteenth birthday. This grudge sets off the story in Disney’s classic animated venture, which has Maleficent stop at nothing to get her revenge on the kingdom’s princess.
Maleficent has an entire army of ghouls, demons, and monster at her disposal, which is bad news to any knight in shimmering armor that dare oppose her. Though she also has the power to wield lightning, teleport with ease, and perform a number of spells, Maleficent’s most dangerous trait is being able to transform in a full-fledged dragon, and you tell us that isn’t intimidating.
3. Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter Series)
The Harry Potter universe has some of the most powerful witches and wizards ever seen on the silver screen, but the most powerful of them all was Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. With an unlimited knowledge of spells and potions, as well as one of the greatest beards in movie history, this headmaster of Hogwarts has more than cemented his place in the halls of wizardry legends.
Dumbledore was the only wizard that Voldemort ever feared, and for good reason. His knowledge of commanding magic is unmatched, as well are his alchemist skills he acquired from working with Nicholas Flamel. He is an expert in Occlumency and Legilimency, and can conjure almost anything out of thin air, ranging from a sofa chair to a flaming wall of fire. Also, in case you forgot, Dumbledore was once the wielder of the most powerful wand in existence: the Elder Wand, which is said to be unbeatable in a magical duel.
2. The Wicked Witch of the West (The Wizard of Oz)
The runner-up spot on our list goes to the one and only Wicked Witch of the West from 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, who is the absolute archetype for witches with an attitude. This green sorceress, who isn’t known for letting things go, has it out to get a very rare pair of ruby slippers back from Dorothy, who accidentally crash lander her house on the Wicked Witch’s sister.
The personification of all human wickedness, the Witch of the West commands an entire army of flying monkeys to do her bidding, which is a lot more vicious than it sounds. Her crystal ball allows her to have an eye on just about anywhere in the vast Land of Oz, and she can even manipulate spells on victims from miles away, not to mention the fact that she can write hate messages in the sky with her broomstick. While her sister may have a more bubbly personality, this sorceress has a mean streak that is almost without rival in cinema, making her just as powerful as she is unstable.
1. Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings)
A wizard is never late, nor is he early; he arrives precisely when he means to, and in the confines of our list, we can’t see Gandalf arriving at anywhere else but our number slot. Not only does he take the award of best wizard beard (sorry Dumbledore), he’s without a doubt one of the most iconic and strongest magical beings to ever grace a movie screen.
Originally titled”Gandalf the Grey,” this wizard returns from a brush with death and is reborn as “Gandalf the White:” a far more powerful version of himself. With his new found abilities, Gandalf has an almost limitless set of powers. He is able to shapeshift, foresee future events before they happen, produce lightning and fire through his staff, as well being able to produce some of the most powerful enchantments every seen in Middle-earth. He is one of the smartest characters in Lord of the Rings, and is endowed with a vast amount of wisdom throughout the ages.
If that wasn’t enough, Gandalf is also said to be immortal; though his physical body can be destroyed, part of his existence or conscious remains intact. While there are other witches and wizards on this list that could give Gandalf a run for his money, having the power of immortality is just too good not to award the number one spot to.
What do you think of our rankings? Do you think there are other witches or wizards that are worthy of a spot on our list? Let us know in the comments.