Time for a brand new top ten list kids! This time around we are going to look at all the great wizards and warlocks and sorcerers (and maybe their apprentices too) that the world has to offer. There have been a lot of fun wizards and/or sorcerers throughout time. From Ulrich of Craggenmoor in the film Dragonslayer to Jafar of Aladdin fame to High Aldwin from Willow to Shakespeare’s Prospero to DC Comics’ Dr. Fate to Wizard Whitebeard (if you can find Waldo, this red and white striped wizard will be nearby) to former St. Louis Cardinal hall-of-famer Ozzie Smith, aka the Wizard of Oz to children’s show host, Mr. Wizard. Now, none of these wizards actually make the list, but hey, they deserve something, so there they are. Oh, and one other thing, before you start griping, I do not consider Jedis to be wizards, so you will not find Yoda, Luke, Ben Kenobi, Mace Windu, or any of the other ass-kicking knights.
A quick note as to why there are no Harry Potter characters on this list: Yeah, that’s right. No Dumbledore. No Voldemort. No Severus Snape even. The reason? I really don’t like Harry Potter all that much. I read the first book but was totally bored. I’ve seen the movies, and the best I can muster is, “they’re okay, I guess.” I know there are a lot of Potter fans out there—and some pretty rabid ones at that—and these folks would probably get pretty pissed if they read through this list to find not a single Hogwartian in the top ten, so I thought I would at least warn them beforehand. So there ya have it. In a nutshell, Harry Potter is something I could take or leave. No offense to anyone I may have slighted with such an omission. I have many a friend who enjoy the books and movies thoroughly. I just don’t dig ’em. Now let’s get on with the countdown, shall we?
And awaaaaaaay we go…[divider]
Special Mention: Pinball Wizard
Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve played the silver ball. From Soho down to Brighton, I must have played them all. But I ain’t seen nothing like him, in any amusement hall. That deaf, dumb, and blind kid, sure plays a mean pinball. Okay, not really a wizard (which is why he is a special mention and not on the list proper) but one hell of a pinball player, or is that pinballer? Now technically, the deaf, dumb, and blind kid, otherwise known as Tommy, and played by Roger Daltrey in The Who rock opera and Ken Russell’s follow-up film, isn’t actually the Pinball Wizard. The Pinball Wizard was played by Elton John (and those fabulous boots!). The song, written by Pete Townsend, was a song about Tommy, seen through the eyes of the Pinball Wizard. So there![divider]
10.) Tim the Enchanter
Those knights really should have listened to Tim. That rabbit was bad-ass, man. Played by John Cleese in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Tim the Enchanter (Some…call me………Tim.) is a goofy wizard who Arthur and his knights come across during their quest for that Jesus cup. His screen time is ever so brief (five or six minutes, maybe?) but he is quite memorable, in his eccentric performance.[divider]
In the world of the Smurfs, this evil wizard is the sworn enemy of all the little blue people. A mean, bald son of a bitch, Gargamel comes up with plan after plan after plan to take down the Smurfs – always failing, of course. Why he hates them so much, I do not know. Perhaps it was explained at some time in the history of the Smurfs (they’ve been around since 1958, after all), either in the comics or on TV, or maybe in the recent movie versions, but I haven’t the energy to research such a thing – even if it is probably as easy as clicking on Wikipedia. Let’s just leave it at Gargamel is a douche.[divider]
8.) Lo Pan
Played by the ultimate in Asian-born character actors, James Hong (over 350 roles over a 50 year career – he was even in Seinfeld), the villainous David Lo Pan is the wizardy bad guy in the 1986 cult-classic John Carpenter film, Big Trouble in Little China. The film was a huge flop during its initial release, but once it hit the home video market, it became a huge non-flop. Granted, the reason for this is probably less Lo Pan, and more Kurt Russell and Kim Catrall (and Carpenter’s direction, of course), but Hong’s quirky, wonderful performance has to be part of this success. Am I right? Of course I am.[divider]
7.) Mickey Mouse
Okay, technically Mickey was not a sorcerer so much as the sorcerer’s apprentice (the sorcerer’s name being Yen Sid – yeah, that’s Disney backwards), hence the title of his segment in the 1940 Disney classic, Fantasia, but he still makes brooms and buckets dance to classical music, so we are counting him as a sorcerer. Actually, Fantasia, which may very well be the most truly original of all the Disney films, is chock full of great musical sequences, but it is Mickey’s iconic segment that is probably the most beloved. Now if only we can forget about that godawful 2010 version of the story, everything will be just alright.[divider]
For children of the 1980’s, the animated series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, was sort of a coming of age into manhood (or womanhood, if that was the case). And putting aside the rather homoerotic nature of the show (Come on, really!? You don’t see it?) the true greatness of The Masters of the Universe, other than Battle Cat and Panthor of course, was the blue-skinned, skull-headed steroid-case evil sorcerer-cum-arch enemy of He-Man. Yeah, not homoerotic at all.[divider]
5.) Miracle Max
Hey, if you can manage to be one of the most memorable characters out of a film full of memorable characters, and do it with basically a nanosecond of screen time (okay, maybe slightly more than a nanosecond, but not much), then you deserve to be on this list dammit! The movie I speak of is, of course, The Princess Bride, and that memorable character is none other than Miracle Max, played by Billy Crystal. A conniving, untrustworthy old buzzard of a wizard, with an equally old buzzard of a wife, Miracle Max does end up coming through for Westley. and is an integral part of the downfall of Prince Humperdinck. Have fun storming the castle![divider]
4.) Dr. Stephen Strange
By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, indeed! First appearing in 1963’s Strange Tales #110, and created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, this Marvel Comics hero was once a brilliant but cocksure surgeon (aka, he was a real dick), who upon losing his surgical skills through an accident, studied magic and eventually became the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. Always a favourite of my comic book reading, Dr. Strange is one of the most, if not the most powerful sorcerer in the Marvel Universe. The guy has had many trials and tribulations, including losing his status as Sorcerer Supreme at times, and these days acts as a member of the mysterious cabal (is there any other type of cabal?) known as the Illuminati. He may be a great wizard, but he is still kind of a dick.[divider]
One of the most iconic wizards in literary history has now become of the most iconic wizards in cinematic history as well. Be he Gandalf the Grey or Gandalf the White, good ole Gandalf is one hell of a wizard. Kind of bitchy and a drama queen, but he does know how to get things done, even if he does tend to use those around him to get the dirty work done. Okay, actually he kicks pretty major ass, and he looks pretty groovy in that big floppy wizard hat and smokin’ that big ass pipe. In fact, both literally and figuratively, Gandalf (the Grey and/or the White) is pretty legen….. wait for it …..dary. Yeah, I said it. So there.[divider]
2.) The Wizard of Oz
Granted, Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs (yes, that is the guy’s full name – and yes, the initials do spell out OZ PINHEAD) is not really all that great of a wizard. In fact, he kinda sucks at the job, but hey Dorothy and the gang got what they wanted. It just wasn’t him that gave it to them. And yes, basically he tricks the rather naive Miss Gale and her equally gullible new-found friends to go hunt down and murder his biggest enemy. Actually, come to think of it, that is pretty freakin’ brilliant on his behalf. No blood on his hands, baby! So, it’s off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Just don’t let him talk you into anything.[divider]
Come on people, how could the great Merlin, the Sorcerer Supreme of all of Camelot, not be my number one choice. Merlin is easily the most legen….. wait for it (again) …..dary wizard in all the land. Long before Gandalf. Long before Gargamel, Skeletor, Dr. Strange, or even Tim the Enchanter. Long before Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isa… oh forget it. Let’s just say Merlin has been around before any of these also-rans. Empires rose and fell because of Merlin’s magical mayhem. End of story. Merlin has been portrayed more than any other wizard. This is the big dog wizard, and nothing you can say will ever change that. So there!
That’s it gang. See ya ’round the web.