List of the Most Mysterious Movie Characters And How They Are Created

The Most Mysterious Characters in Film

And how they are created

By Elio Lantana
Los Angeles CA

Back to childhood, and thinking about the most mysterious movie characters I remember, one stands apart...can you guess. Star Wars is the movie, and Yoda is the jedi master. But of course this list of mystery doesn't all start with Yoda, because Star Wars is built on a secret fraternity of mystery, so in essence every character who has gone through the crucible of becoming a jedi knight, has in some way gained that element of mystery. 

The List  - Top Ten


Here's a list of the most mysterious characters in movies, starting with Star Wars (comment if you would like to add more, or disagree). Here's  a list of the most mysterious characters in literature. This video has a top ten list of the most mysterious characters in movies, but it seems lacking. Bond. Keyser Soze. The Joker in Batman. Snooze. Not really, because there is nothing left to reveal by the end of the movie, the mystery balloon has popped. This was the case in the movie Dr. Strange, which could never quite create the mystery Steven Strange is known for, the irony, right?!

 The tension of real mystery does not dissipate. The movie watcher never completely understands the character, and is left wanting to know more...wanting to watch the movie that develops that character from square one to understand how they became the enigma they are. 

  1. Yoda (youtube of him teaching faith, a critical element in creating mystery- you must unlearn, what you have learned...do or do not, there is no try)
  2. Darth Vader
  3. Emperor Sheev Palpatine
  4. Gandalf (Lord of the Rings)
  5. Professor Snape (Harry Potter) 
  6. Albus Dumbledore
  7. The Black Widow (Avengers) 
  8. E.T. 
  9. Jaws (the shark yes, what makes this shark tick)
  10. The "Dude" Lebowski (because even if he seems the total open book, it's so counter to how most people live, it leaves people inspired and dumbstruck - there is even a Dudeism religion - yes, you can get ordained as a dudeist minister, the sign of real mystery!)

Mysterious Character Traits

What makes a character mysterious? How is the mystery created? It's not just by giving someone a cloak, and having them sit back in a room and silently smoke a pipe like the Ranger Aragorn did in the Lord of the Rings. 

Here is the list of traits for creating mysterious characters: 

  1. Likable - Sure they can be dark, silent and grumpy and that can make people wonder...but if they are not somehow likable, or they possess some trait to make people want to know more, like Darth Vader does with his costume, then there is no moving forward. 
  2. Deep Dependency & Need - Having special powers others can either learn or use. We see this with wizards a lot. They may use their special powers for others, or on others, or teach others, thereby creating a dependency that ultimately makes people wonder how to possess or control it. Same with money. Tycoons like Willie Wonka often have mystery because they have something people want, and people must figure something out about them or themselves to get an in. Along with being able to help someone, the character may have done something to violate someone, hurt them in some way, and that victim must know why. So there is that side of this interdependency. Learn more about stockholm syndrome for creating mysterious characters right?!
  3. Puzzle - speaking of figuring something out, there is something puzzling that must be figured out in order to make sense of this person, in order to move forward. To further advance this effect, the character may have a missing limb, a scar they won't talk about, or something that is explainable. Perhaps like Al Capone, they make a myth of that trait to further develop and build the element of mystery. 
  4. Threat - the person of mystery possesses some special knowledge, great amount of money, respect, something that could be quickly turned on those that oppose them. We could see this power. 
  5. Cult like following - we see most characters that cause deep curiosity already has followers, or a tight fan club, and from this nucleus of followers grows their influence more rapidly across the masses. So, to any character wanting to have this gravitas, you have to build the 2-10 person club following before leveling up. 
  6. Authority - this might be a bit redundant, because it is covered in some way, but our cryptic individuals wear insignia of authority (badges, big hats, stark imposing clothes, intimidating masks or costumes, a weird stand out personal brand like a hitler mustache or trump hair, wizards robes, long hair when everyone else has short hair because they are no one's slave, etc.). How did they get the authority? Maybe their powers give it to them, maybe they proved themselves, paid for it, inherited it (read about the inscrutable N Korean state leadership, and there are stories abound), etc. 
  7. Access - while overexposing the character will make them more familiar reducing their esoteric quality, the character must make appearances, and those appearances must deeply stir emotions, far beyond the norm, so they are memorable. But, just as that must occur, people must also feel that although these men and women, animals, or whatever may appear on their whims, they cannot be reached so easily, and may disappear at will increasing the deep wonder. 
  8. Secret motive or strategy. The most powerful of traits is the idea of this furtive one having an agenda to do something, a purpose, a motive...but not just like everyone else, but something big: take over the world, rule the kingdom, defend the universe, take down the giant, destroy the ring, etc. 

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