The Greatest Movie Badasses Of All Time: Khan

The owner of the name screamed by Captain Kirk could very well be the greatest sci-fi badass of all time.

The search for the Greatest Movie Badass of All Time is on! MTV News has asked accomplished filmmakers, actors and you, the audience, to vote for your favorites. Now we’ve tabulated the results and found our 10 finalists for the top spot. Who will reign supreme as the Greatest Badass of All Time? Find out on February 6 at 7:15 p.m. when MTV announces the winner live at New York’s Comic-Con and right here at

Until then, we’re profiling the 10 contenders for the Greatest Badass mantle every day, in alphabetical order. Check out our first contenders, “Star Wars” bounty hunter Boba Fett , “Alien” astronaut Ellen Ripley , vigilante cop Dirty Harry , “Die Hard” detective John McClane and Vietnam War vet John Rambo . Keep checking back to see if your favorite made the list!

Name: Khan Noonien Singh

Occupation: Genetically engineered maniacal tyrant

Movie(s): [movie id=”33077″]”Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”[/movie]

Weapons: His superior intellect, Ceti eels

Archenemy: Captain James Tiberius Kirk

Profile: Make no mistake: When we lost 88-year-old Ricardo Montalbán two weeks ago, we not only said goodbye to a wonderful character actor — but possibly the greatest sci-fi villain of all time.

The Mexican-born Montalbán relished the role of Khan, a genetically bred superhuman born without physical or mental shortcomings of any kind. Following the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s (remember those?), Khan and a group of his fellow supermen fled Earth and were cryogenically frozen aboard the S.S. Botany Bay, where they slept in hibernation for more than 200 years.

In the classic “Star Trek” episode “Space Seed” that first aired in 1967, Khan’s ship is discovered by the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Once he gets thawed out, Khan begins working his charms on the crew of the ship — while simultaneously plotting to make it his own. After nearly killing Captain Kirk, Khan and his men are subjected to a hearing and sentencing that banishes them to an uncolonized planet, never to be heard from again.

But 15 Earth years later, Montalbán returned to the “Star Trek” series, now in his own feature film — and what a movie it was. Considered by many to be among the best sci-fi flicks ever made, “Wrath of Khan” answered the question that Mr. Spock had asked all those years ago: What kind of seed did Kirk plant by exiling this evil genius to his own planet?

After a small group (including Pavel Chekov) beam down mistakenly to his world, Khan and his followers take them prisoner and swear revenge for the years they’ve spent fighting for their lives on the barren wasteland they’ve been forced to call home. What ensues is a chess match between Khan and Kirk with their ships, futures and lives of their followers at stake. In the whole history of “Trek,” no one quite got under the skin of Kirk quite like the villainous Khan did — and thanks to an ongoing Internet phenomenon, you can still frequently hear Shatner screaming about it all these years later. Khan’s actions also severely impacted the life of Spock, creating a tear-jerking “Wrath” finale that ranks among the greatest “Trek” moments of all time.

In this disposable age of 24-hour news cycles and overnight-sensation fads, it’s virtually impossible to imagine an actor being allowed to similarly plant a seed of his own, and then return to it a decade and a half later so brilliantly. But as history will remember, the Khan tale was one of fierce intelligence and dangerous ego — fueled by a badass character who, after all these years, still has us shouting.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”

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