Top 10 tattoos in film

#10 – Darth Maul (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace)

One of the few remotely stylish aspects of the worst sci-fi film ever, Darth Maul’s intricate facial tattoos distracted audiences from the fact that he only had one line (and that was, inexplicably, delivered by Peter Serafinowicz). Contrary to popular belief, Maul had only black tattoos – so had he never been abducted by Darth Sidious and corrupted by the dark side of the Force, he would still have been a massive red bloke with a crown of horns. Sort of feels like he never had a chance, doesn’t it?


#9 – Francis Dolarhyde (Red Dragon)

Rocking the first of several dragon-inspired designs on this list, ‘Tooth Fairy’ serial killer Francis Dolarhyde sports a back piece that seems to be composed of a ram’s skull surrounded by reptilian wings. Because Best For Film’s spiritual home is about 1946, we’re choosing to infer from this that a fondness for huge tattoos stems, like a fondness for killing entire families, from a traumatic upbringing. Make of that what you will, Anthony Kiedis.


#8 – Sirius Black (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

The crude prison tattoos that adorn Harry’s godfather caused a minor stir when Alfonso CuarĂ³n’s Prisoner of Azkaban kicked the fairydust of out Chris Columbus’ arse back in 2004. We know we could have gone with the Dark Mark (although we’re not sure it counts as a tattoo), but if you’re looking for the baddest motherspeller in Hogwarts then you can’t go wrong with an escaped convict who can turn into a massive dog, is covered in tattoos probably done in Dementor blood with a sharpened wand, and is also GARY OLDMAN.


#7 – Denton Van Zan (Reign of Fire)

Matthew McConaughey’s largely forgotten role in the largely forgettable Reign of Fire had a few outstanding features. One, he’s got a badman battleaxe. Two, his name is more fun to say than almost anything else ever, especially if you’re a bit drunk and overenunciating. And three, he’s got two dragons fighting across his tits. Say what you will about Churchill’s mother and her discreet little snake tattoo, she never risked having a nipple burnt off by arsey ink dragons.


#6 – John Constantine (Constantine)

Hey, what tattoo do you have? Don’t be shy, the world and his wife have got them now. Is it a stupid little bird, or an ironic anchor or a moustache on your finger so you can pretend you have a moustache? Is it? Well, Constantine’s tattoo is of the alchemical symbol for the Perfect Red King, and when he completes it by putting his forearms together he summons the angel Gabriel. Beat that.


#5 – Ardeth Bay (The Mummy)

Various online sources claim that the tattoos sported by Ardeth Bay and his Medjai, the descendants of Pharaoh’s sworn bodyguards, mean ‘Imhotep’, ‘Truth’, ‘Desert’ and ‘Hidden Place’. This is clearly stupid, because the original Medjai (as seen waving khopeshes around during various flashbacks) also have these tattoos, implying that Sety could have seen his high priest’s treachery coming had he simply read the words indelibly inked into the faces and chests of the men he saw every day. HOWEVER, Oded Fehr is all sorts of cool as Ardeth, so forget everything we just said.


#4 – The McManus twins (The Boondock Saints)

Connor and Murphy McManus head to the streets of Boston as vigilantes in The Boondock Saints, but perhaps the best thing about the film (apart from the final scene and any bit with Billy Connolly in) is the twins’ matching tattoos on their gun hands. Latin is immeasurably badass in virtually any situation, and nothing says ‘We are going to f*ck you up’ like ‘Truth’ and ‘Justice’ etched along those trigger fingers.


#3 – Lisbeth Salander (The Millennium Trilogy)

Noomi Rapace and Rooney Mara both do a good job of showing off the infamous Dragon Tattoo, but (as with literally everything else to do with those bloody films) we prefer Noomi’s version. Rooney Mara’s tattoo in the David Fincher adaptation was a little too cute for our taste, whilst the original Swedish films show disturbed hacker Salander rocking a huge, terrifying dragon head like a yawning vagina with fangs. When in doubt (especially when you’re starring in a film adapted from a book called Men Who Hate Women), the safe bet is definitely to go down the ‘scary clunge’ route.

(We’d also like to add that we wish Lisbeth wasn’t the only woman on this list, but what do you suggest? Angelina Jolie? The girl from Waterworld? Hollywood needs to up its game re: inked babes, stat.)


#2 – Leonard Shelby (Memento)

In Christopher Nolan’s neo-noir amnesia thriller, Guy Pearce’s lack of short-term memory forces him to leave notes for himself – as post-its, photos and, perhaps least practically, tattoos. We’ve never quite understood why he doesn’t embrace his anterograde amnesia as the perfect way to stop worrying about his wife’s rape and murder – we’d see it as a bit of godsend, to be honest. The real lesson here is ‘if you can’t remember what you were thinking yesterday, you probably lack the foresight to decide whether these massive tattoos are a good idea’.


#1 – Snake Plissken (Escape From New York)

Almost nobody (apart from Duncan, obv) bothers to get a tattoo that hammers home what a massive cock they’ve got. Amateurs.


What’s your favourite on-screen tattoo? We bet it’s Ed Norton’s one from American History X, you big Nazi.

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