A study published Wednesday in the American Medical Association journal JAMA Dermatology looked at the American Film Institute’s list of all-time top 10 film heroes and villains and evaluated the 20 characters’ dermatological characteristics.
Six of the top 10 villains had identifiable skin conditions, but only 2 of the top 10 film heroes did.
One of the most common dermatological findings was alopecia, or hair loss, a characteristic of bad dudes Darth Vader, Dr. Hannibal Lecter from 1991’s “The Silence of the Lambs” and Mr. Potter from the 1941 holiday staple “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Three antagonists could also be diagnosed with periorbital hyperpigmentation, or dark circles under the eyes: Vader, Regan MacNeil from 1973’s “The Exorcist” and the evil queen from Disney’s 1937 animated version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
Vader also has multiple facial scars and deep wrinkles, or rhytides, while the queen has wrinkles, warts (verruca vulgaris) and a bulbous nose (rhinophyma). That makes them the two characters who could benefit most from a dermatological evaluation.
Meanwhile, the only classic film heroes found to have facial imperfections were Indiana Jones and Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in “Casablanca” (1943). Both had scars, which the study’s authors point out are usually shorter and more subtle on heroes than on villain.
“The results of this study demonstrate Hollywood’s tendency to depict skin disease in an evil context, the implications of which extend beyond the theater,” the study reads.