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Face-Off: Hannibal Lecter vs. Patrick Bateman

Nov. 22, 2012by: Paul Huffman
In last weeks Face Off, we took a trip down memory lane into the early filmmaking career or Quentin Tarantino in a match up between Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. The consensus seemed to be that both films are undeniable classics, but Pulp Fiction stole the victory due to the simple fact that our readers find themselves visiting the nonlinear gem more than the former.

This week, to celebrate the release of Hitchcock, our theme is iconic film serial killers. Now I'm sure Sir Anthony Hopkins will wow us with his performance as always, so we'll honor him by including the cannibal he made us love to fear in Hannibal Lecter. His opponent, the executive moonlighting as a psycho that Christian Bale brought to life with his unhinged charm as Patrick Bateman. Both these men have earned their iconic status as two of the top villains in Cinema, but which one takes the cake? Let's discuss.
Day Job
Before his favorite hobby was uncovered by detective Will Graham, Lecter was a brilliant and well respected psychiatrist. Maybe was isn't the right word to use, as his function for two of the films was to assist authorities into brilliantly dissecting the minds and habits of other killers, thus leading to their capture. But it's not just killers the Cannibal has a knack for analyzing, we see in Silence of the Lambs this man has the ability to pierce through the soul of anyone. As Clarice can attest to. Simply put, this mans title of M.D is no fluke, freaking guy earned it.
Patrick Bateman comes from a family of wealth, Bateman grew up to become a hot shot specialist in mergers and acquisitions in a firm called Pierce & Pierce. Sounds like a career that has the potential to make anybody high strung does it not? A career in Wall Street is all about status, and all the characters brought to life in American Psycho are obsessed with it, that's a huge theme in the film, high society. Bret Easton Ellis picked the perfect profession, with the perfect social standing to capture this.
Personality
With the exception of a few moments that betray what we like to call an inside voice, Hannibal Lecter is the epitome of calm, cool, and collected. He is highly intelligent, very sophisticated, and seems to have a commendable taste in wine. While a pure sociopath, the sympathy for the Devil angle we got in this case comes in the seemingly pure love he had for his sister Mischa. Lecter witnessed the murder of said sister at the hands of a few Nazis, and grows up to make his bones on the assholes. While not capable of love, Hannibal seems to have a twisted affection for the feds he's helped, and this makes him interesting.
Patrick Bateman is an extremely insecure individual, yet fights to portray the contrary. He's addicted to sex, drugs, and music. He takes wonderful care of his body, and always makes sure he is dressed in his best. Bateman is obsessed with landing a high social standing, and to his credit, busted his ass to get there. Although he is not as respected among his peers as he desires and it's in this that causes his lashing out. The sympathy for the Devil angle we get with Bateman is in his inability to murder an all around decent girl in his secretary, the only character he seems to share a genuine human connection with. I give Bateman the edge here, the poor schmuck just finds it hard to fit in with the world he landed himself in, just has an extremely evil way of coping with it.
Murderous M.O.
Good ol Lecter, well, he knows his way around knives it would seem. Red Dragon his activities were simply alluded to in a dinner scene, Silence of the Lambs we see his intelligence put to work in a brilliant escape with the help of a blunt object, and in Hannibal well we see him eat Ray Liotta's brains. Hannibal in the films seems to aim at eating people he feels doesn't deserve to live anymore, I shudder to think what he did to Chilton. Most of Lecter's devious acts occur offscreen, or are suggested by in sadistic dialogue. Yet we are still terrified of the man...that's power.
Bateman is less reserved in his killing habits. The man murders indiscriminately and takes part in ever conceivable evil act known to mankind. He has no problem doing away with women (in which he gets some sick sexual pleasure), homeless people, and co-workers. In contrast to Hannibal, when Bateman kills he becomes mentally unhinged...and this is terrifying in a totally different way. If not more so. Ten points for the style in which he does away with his victims, the music angle was entertaining as all hell
Overall
Hannibal Lecter was menacing in one way that makes a villain makes you want to piss your pants. Anthony Hopkins portrayed the man so brilliantly, he made the right move by deciding his posture for our first glimpse of him. Perhaps the more chilling aspect of his character was not his tendency to dissect a persons body, but his undeniable ability to dissect anyone's mind. A cannibal is the last type of person you would want to be able to nail your character after a couple visits, you better be morally sound to Hannibal Lecter's standards...or he'll have you over for dinner.
Bateman is terrifying in a totally different way, he's a man who kills on impulse. He isn't in control of his emotions, all it takes is a bad day for Patrick Bateman to snap. Christian Bale I feel gives the performance of his career here, he portrays someone consumed by trying his best to maintain his lifestyle while at the same time hating it. The man hates his wife, and the feelings mutual, but they remain in it as a status relationship. The man is not without a hint of conscience, as he can't bring himself to kill a woman who represents the closest thing to purity in the film. That said, he has no qualms with being a sadistic bastard and can't seem to control it. What's more, is that for the duration of the film he wasn't locked up, he roamed through to pursue his hobby.
Patrick Bateman
So there it is folks, my two cents. Hannibal Lecter is an iconic villain indeed, and he paved the way for characters like Patrick Bateman to make their own mark. It was one film that etched Lecter in our minds forever, but for those who have seen American Psycho, Bale's turn as Bateman is I would say just as legendary. Bateman is the star of the show, the prominent figure, we follow the unraveling of his mind from beginning to end. So where do you stand? Do you stand by the sadistic genius cannibal? Or do you have a soft spot for the murderous unhinged socialite?

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at paulhuffman@joblo.com with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

Which serial killer is your favourite?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!
Tags: Face-Off

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9:18PM on 11/29/2012
lecters more of a stone cold killer, but what bateman lacks in skills makes up in spades in personality. Think I'll go return some videotapes myself. :)
lecters more of a stone cold killer, but what bateman lacks in skills makes up in spades in personality. Think I'll go return some videotapes myself. :)
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+0
1:15AM on 11/26/2012

Bateman's murders & ending to AP (SPOILER)

I see everyone saying that Bateman didn't murder anyone. I thought the ending to American Psycho was up for interpretation? Hell the movie (and book) itself is a satire of the 80s culture. I believe he did commit the murders and everyone is just ignoring him to cover it up and cover their own asses cause of greed. The FAQ on imdb does a pretty decent job comparing the two theories. There isn't a definite answer if he did the murders or not. This shouldn't count against him as it is not 100%
I see everyone saying that Bateman didn't murder anyone. I thought the ending to American Psycho was up for interpretation? Hell the movie (and book) itself is a satire of the 80s culture. I believe he did commit the murders and everyone is just ignoring him to cover it up and cover their own asses cause of greed. The FAQ on imdb does a pretty decent job comparing the two theories. There isn't a definite answer if he did the murders or not. This shouldn't count against him as it is not 100% confirmed he didn't.
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4:01PM on 11/24/2012

Lecter by a country mile

First of all, like many people have pointed out, this face-off is pretty much void since one of the two people involved is not even a killer. I dunno about the book, but the movie, which I saw yesterday, pretty much makes it ABUNDANTLY clear that Bateman never killed anyone. How can he be more dangerous when he obviously doesn't have what it takes to actually kill someone? In the end, he's just a dude who dreams of hurting people to let off steam, because of his many frivolous and idiotic
First of all, like many people have pointed out, this face-off is pretty much void since one of the two people involved is not even a killer. I dunno about the book, but the movie, which I saw yesterday, pretty much makes it ABUNDANTLY clear that Bateman never killed anyone. How can he be more dangerous when he obviously doesn't have what it takes to actually kill someone? In the end, he's just a dude who dreams of hurting people to let off steam, because of his many frivolous and idiotic "problems", which was kinda the entire point of the movie BTW. In other words, Bateman is pretty much like a twelve year old playing Call Of Duty on X-Box Live. He never frightened me, in fact most of the time I felt sorry for him. The same of course, can in no case be said for our friend Dr. Lecter. Lecter is evil incarnate, he is a genius with zero morals and regrets. He knows that what he does is wrong and he's fine with it. That's what makes him INFIINITELY more dangerous and cooler than a guy who can't control his urges. If LEcter want's you dead, you're dead, if Bateman wants you dead, he'll just make up a fucked up story and draw a sketch of your demise.
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2:15AM on 11/24/2012

Bateman

Lector is overrated. Buffalo Bill is real freak of the film. Bateman is just a more entertaining character whether he did all the stuff in the film or not.
Lector is overrated. Buffalo Bill is real freak of the film. Bateman is just a more entertaining character whether he did all the stuff in the film or not.
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8:45PM on 11/23/2012

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!! SERIOUSLY!!!!!!!!

There is a fundamental flaw in this battle. (there are spoilers ahead for American Pshyco if you have not seen it) Taking into account this is a discussion of fictional characters, Lecter actually did all of the horrible stuff he talks about in the movie, Bateman just thinks about it. He is the psychotic version of a telephone tough guy. It doesn't matter that he doesn't know he hasn't done them, he still never kills anyone. While, Bateman is fantasizing about what he would do to Lecter
There is a fundamental flaw in this battle. (there are spoilers ahead for American Pshyco if you have not seen it) Taking into account this is a discussion of fictional characters, Lecter actually did all of the horrible stuff he talks about in the movie, Bateman just thinks about it. He is the psychotic version of a telephone tough guy. It doesn't matter that he doesn't know he hasn't done them, he still never kills anyone. While, Bateman is fantasizing about what he would do to Lecter because he has a nicer business card than he does, Lecter would have him drugged, taped to a chair, and would be sauting Bateman's with fava beans and a nice chainti. Lecter wins.
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4:16AM on 11/23/2012
There's no debate to be had, Lecter wins with ease.
There's no debate to be had, Lecter wins with ease.
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2:11AM on 11/23/2012
I think there's a typo in your verdict, because it shows that Bateman wins....
I think there's a typo in your verdict, because it shows that Bateman wins....
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12:46AM on 11/23/2012
I have to return some video tapes.....


Bateman.
I have to return some video tapes.....


Bateman.
Your Reply:



9:48PM on 11/22/2012

LAWL

You can't top Hannibal Lecter. So I reply to your article with a resounding "NOPE."
You can't top Hannibal Lecter. So I reply to your article with a resounding "NOPE."
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+14
6:40PM on 11/22/2012
Patrick Bateman is superior in strength but he is actually a very confused young man. Hannibal on the otherhand, is deadlier because he is more clever than most sane people are. Hannibal would get into Patrick's mind, and would even make him saw off his own hands.
Patrick Bateman is superior in strength but he is actually a very confused young man. Hannibal on the otherhand, is deadlier because he is more clever than most sane people are. Hannibal would get into Patrick's mind, and would even make him saw off his own hands.
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4:40PM on 11/22/2012

Hannibal easily..i like patrick too

The Face-off should have been between Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates
The Face-off should have been between Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates
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2:44PM on 11/22/2012

No competition

If you wanted to give Lecter someone to be compared against, a character like Anton Chigurh, while enigmatic, is a far better candidate that Patrick Bateman. We don't love and fear Hannibal Lecter because he's a serial killer, we do it because he is an intellectual with a penchant for one of the most gruesome kinds of murder and disposal in existence. Patrick Bateman, while I do enjoy his antics, is delusional. He's an all-too-real character, as these sorts of Wall Street brats exist, but he
If you wanted to give Lecter someone to be compared against, a character like Anton Chigurh, while enigmatic, is a far better candidate that Patrick Bateman. We don't love and fear Hannibal Lecter because he's a serial killer, we do it because he is an intellectual with a penchant for one of the most gruesome kinds of murder and disposal in existence. Patrick Bateman, while I do enjoy his antics, is delusional. He's an all-too-real character, as these sorts of Wall Street brats exist, but he lacks the intellectual edge and ultimate body count of Dr. Lecter.
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12:06PM on 11/22/2012

Gotta disagree with this one.

Christian Bale did an amazing performance as Patrick Bateman, but Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter? I still get chills just seeing his face.
Christian Bale did an amazing performance as Patrick Bateman, but Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter? I still get chills just seeing his face.
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12:03PM on 11/22/2012

Patrick Bateman never killed anyone

The movie got the entire reasoning for the book wrong. It took a critical look at 80's mentality and the driving stupidity that we now see again in America's financial sector and upper class. The half wit who shot the movie was a desperate cunt with no brain and she tried to make some feminist statement instead because she didn't understand the book. It's one of the worst adaptations of all time in part because so many people were duped by the movie and if they read the book they'd feel pretty
The movie got the entire reasoning for the book wrong. It took a critical look at 80's mentality and the driving stupidity that we now see again in America's financial sector and upper class. The half wit who shot the movie was a desperate cunt with no brain and she tried to make some feminist statement instead because she didn't understand the book. It's one of the worst adaptations of all time in part because so many people were duped by the movie and if they read the book they'd feel pretty stupid for liking Patrick Bateman. The character is a spoiled, delusional loser who sits around all day daydreaming that he's special. He's the epitome of first world problems.
So Lector because I'm not afraid of someone's daydreams.
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6:07PM on 11/23/2012
You've never met Mary Harron.
You should probably tune back in, kid.
You've never met Mary Harron.
You should probably tune back in, kid.
3:51PM on 11/23/2012
kinda tuned out after reading the words "a desperate cunt with no brain."
kinda tuned out after reading the words "a desperate cunt with no brain."
11:48AM on 11/22/2012
I love both, but Lecter gets my vote.
I love both, but Lecter gets my vote.
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10:09AM on 11/22/2012
My comment may contain spoilers for American Psycho. Read real comment in reply to this one
My comment may contain spoilers for American Psycho. Read real comment in reply to this one
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10:15AM on 11/22/2012
I dont even think this is a competition. Lecter should win this in a landslide for 2 reasons.

1. He's a mastermind. Bateman just kills his victims, Lecter has been know to make a specticul out of it. His prison escape scene in "Silence of the Lambs" was genius. Bateman freaks out when he kills an old lady at the ATM.

2. I was always under the impression that the violence in American Psycho was all in Batemans head. Yes that still makes him a psycho. But he never actually commits any
I dont even think this is a competition. Lecter should win this in a landslide for 2 reasons.

1. He's a mastermind. Bateman just kills his victims, Lecter has been know to make a specticul out of it. His prison escape scene in "Silence of the Lambs" was genius. Bateman freaks out when he kills an old lady at the ATM.

2. I was always under the impression that the violence in American Psycho was all in Batemans head. Yes that still makes him a psycho. But he never actually commits any crime. Lecter has actually killed countless people. In style and menace as a killer, Lecter wins hands down
+17
10:03AM on 11/22/2012

Wow

For me this was a no brainer - Hannibal Lecter is one of the greatest villains of all time. Hopkins' performance was extraordinary. He made you fear a middle aged overweight guy, I'm sorry it's just not even close. Bale was great in American Psycho, but Lecter gave me chills. A better match-up would have been between Lecter and Norman Bates.
For me this was a no brainer - Hannibal Lecter is one of the greatest villains of all time. Hopkins' performance was extraordinary. He made you fear a middle aged overweight guy, I'm sorry it's just not even close. Bale was great in American Psycho, but Lecter gave me chills. A better match-up would have been between Lecter and Norman Bates.
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+10
7:05AM on 11/22/2012

Warren Ellis is the British comics guy.

Bret Easton Ellis wrote American Psycho.
Bret Easton Ellis wrote American Psycho.
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6:25AM on 11/22/2012
Patrick Bateman is iconic in the sense that... most people, if stopped in the street, couldn't even tell you the character's name?

And yes, I say that as a fan of the character before there was even a hint of a film being made. But to say he's more iconic in any way, shape or form than Hannibal Lecter? Uh... no. Not happening.
Patrick Bateman is iconic in the sense that... most people, if stopped in the street, couldn't even tell you the character's name?

And yes, I say that as a fan of the character before there was even a hint of a film being made. But to say he's more iconic in any way, shape or form than Hannibal Lecter? Uh... no. Not happening.
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-10
3:41AM on 11/22/2012
Ok I know the question is which of the two above, but for me, and I know its TV, it's Dexter Morgan.
Ok I know the question is which of the two above, but for me, and I know its TV, it's Dexter Morgan.
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3:33AM on 11/22/2012

tie

Love 'em both.
Love 'em both.
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+15
3:01AM on 11/22/2012
HMM so one movie with Patrick Bateman versus 3 with Hannibal Lecter & he beats Lecter.I think not. Silence of the Lambs alone wins, even if the other 2 movies were mediocre, but Hopkins owns his performance every time & makes Lecter downright creepy. Bateman did what he did cause he knew he could get away with it. Plus like another poster said, it all happened in his mind.
HMM so one movie with Patrick Bateman versus 3 with Hannibal Lecter & he beats Lecter.I think not. Silence of the Lambs alone wins, even if the other 2 movies were mediocre, but Hopkins owns his performance every time & makes Lecter downright creepy. Bateman did what he did cause he knew he could get away with it. Plus like another poster said, it all happened in his mind.
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2:56AM on 11/22/2012

Lecter

None of Bateman's kills actually happened. If you paid attention to American Psycho... it was all in his head.
None of Bateman's kills actually happened. If you paid attention to American Psycho... it was all in his head.
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+13
2:43AM on 11/22/2012

Lecter for me

Sorry, Nothing against Patrick he's my favourite psycho, but Hannibal for the win by far!

His intelligence, and contempt for the rude, or how he feeds a fellow musician that he finds to be of sub standard to the rest of the orchestra, or murders someone the way one of his great ancestors were executed.. everyone of his murders shows his personality, and is more interesting then Patricks kills IMO.
Sorry, Nothing against Patrick he's my favourite psycho, but Hannibal for the win by far!

His intelligence, and contempt for the rude, or how he feeds a fellow musician that he finds to be of sub standard to the rest of the orchestra, or murders someone the way one of his great ancestors were executed.. everyone of his murders shows his personality, and is more interesting then Patricks kills IMO.
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-6
12:32AM on 11/22/2012
Wow. Great face off. I gotta go with Patrick. The whole Huey Lewis and the News scene is just off the rails.
Wow. Great face off. I gotta go with Patrick. The whole Huey Lewis and the News scene is just off the rails.
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12:17AM on 11/22/2012

I choose to ignore this headline.

I don't like it or dislike it....I nothing it.
I don't like it or dislike it....I nothing it.
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