The Top Ten Wizards in Film

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The second of three epic fantasy adventure films directed, co-written and produced by Peter Jackson and based on J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel of the same name. The plot picks up just as the Dwarfs, Bilbo and Gandalf have successfully crossed over the misty mountains. Bilbo has in his possession the one ring, but now the group must continue their journey to get their gold back from the Dragon.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
December 10th, 2013

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The Top Ten Wizards in Film

Wizards have been a big part of the fantasy genre since way back when fantasy buffs got their kicks by reading instead of watching movies. After all, who can humanity turn to for guidance and a wand-wielding helping hand when trolls, dragons, and other creatures seem unstoppable and when damsels find themselves in distress? Without a curmudgeonly wizard or two thrown in the mix every few years to keep things magically balanced, fantasy films would lose much of their appeal. Although the annals of cinematic history are filled with dozens or even hundreds of wizards, some stick out as being more deserving of the honor of top wizard than others.

 

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One of the most memorable film wizards really isn't a wizard at all, but since "The Wizard of Oz" is the most watched movie of all time, it makes sense to include the title character in any list of top wizards. Yes, his only power is pushing buttons and moving levers behind a curtain, but cinema lovers love him just the same, even if he can't dispense courage, a heart, and a brain or send a tornado-displaced small-town girl and her dog back to Auntie Em.

 

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With the release of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," filmgoers are showing a renewed interest in one of the top wizards ever, bar none—Gandalf. In this new "Hobbit" installment, Gandalf will be played again by the same actor you'll remember from "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"—Ian McKellen. He knows all there is to know about Middle Earth, and besides, he has that really cool staff that doubles as a flashlight.

 

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Whether you call him the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards or the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, you cannot overlook an obvious top wizardry nominee. Any true list of the top wizards in film would be remiss if it failed to put Albus Dumbledore of the "Harry Potter" series in a position of grand esteem. As readers of the books and watchers of the films know, Dumbledore didn't get to be headmaster at Hogwarts by chance. He's the ultimate wizard, at least in the Harry Potter realm, since he possesses the ability to read minds, shoot fire, and make objects appear out of nowhere. Yes, when it comes to wizards, he's as great as they come; he also has a cool beard and a gargoyle guarding his office.

 

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Although it isn't really fair to include two wizards from one series, it is hard to choose Dumbledore as the ultimate wizard and not mention the "Harry Potter" star—Harry himself.
Although Hermione, Ron, and Dumbledore himself may be a bit biased, just ask He Who Shall Not Be Named.

 

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Perhaps no wizard on our list has been reimagined more often than Merlin, the wizard who guides King Arthur to success in a myriad of different interpretations onscreen and off. Merlin is certainly one of the most well-known sorcerers of all time; his roots go all the way back to Celtic times. Merlin first rose to prominence with the 1135 publication of "Historia regum Britanniae," and his fame in the centuries following has been nothing short of legendary.

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Although some argue that Yoda from the "Star Wars" series is not a wizard, how else would you classify a creature who can shield himself from lightning with his fingertips, sense Jedi presence, and even levitate objects using his mind alone? Wizard he is, even if traditional magic tricks aren't his forte.

 

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Fans of "Conan the Barbarian" and "Conan the Destroyer" will agree: Akiro is one rocking sorcerer. He definitely deserves a spot on the list of top wizards, if for no other reason than his ability to bring the dead back to life. Even Dumbledore can't do that.

 

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"Monty Python and the Holy Grail" fans need not feel left out when it comes to a list of top wizards, since Tim the Enchanter makes the cut. Apart from the fact that fans love his thick, theatrical Scottish accent, he can dispense fireballs like no other and he likes to blow stuff up, which is a requirement for wizards who are elevated to elite status.

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Finally, it's worth noting that wizards don't have to be in live-action films to get a spot of honor on this list. Two animated wizards stick out as having endeared sorcery to younger generations. Mickey Mouse is one, and although the film "Fantasia" was considered a dud at the time, it went on to become respected, partly due to the lovable Mickey's antics in his attempt to make magic do his bidding in what became a precautionary tale for would-be wizards the world over.

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The other animated wizard is one that fans of "The Smurfs" love to hate—Gargamel. If nothing else, Gargamel has to be added to a top wizards list for his sheer determination. He's been after the Smurfs for what seems like decades now without throwing in the towel. He also deserves some props for the fact that without him, the Smurfs wouldn't have any natural enemies.

There you have it—ten of the most respected, feared, and beloved wizards on both the big and small screen. These wizards make the fantasy genre a bit more fantastical and are behemoths in the realms where they exist.