Actor: Max von Sydow
Beard Type: Villain Beard
Close your eyes and think to yourself: "If the ruler of the universe had a beard, what would it look like?" A deep, bellowing voice will respond, "This beard will have four points and be attached to the chin of Max von Sydow." Go ahead. Try it. If it doesn't work, I'll buy you a CokeTM.
Max von Sydow sports his Villain Beard as Ming the Merciless, a super-villain who controls the fate of the universe based on the ignorance of life systems. With his Villain Beard and a ring he snatched from a box of Golden Crisp, Ming engages deathly disasters upon a planet of his choosing. If the life forms deem these disasters as natural, he spares their ignorant lives. However, if they recognize the Hand of Ming as the cause of these disasters, he destroys the planet in the name of the great god Dyzan. Ming sets his sites on Earth, grabbing the attention of bearded scientist and future Movie Bearder Hans Zarkov. Hans' curiousity leads him to the realization that this isn't a natural occurrence. By Ming standards, Earth must go. When Zarkov confronts Ming and asks "Why do you attack us?," Ming mercilessly replies, "Why not?"
So scientific curiosity leads to total annihilation while scientific ignorance is awarded? Neil DeGrasse Tyson would like to have a word with you, Ming. You're sending the wrong message.
Flash Gordon, based on a true story, is about an NFL quarterback that flies a rocket ship to a distant planet and exposes other space civilizations to the wonders of humanity. Only in 1980s Hollywood can humanity be expressed by the combination of a Playgirl centerfold and the music of Queen. Flash Gordon's beardless shenanigans could not defeat Ming single-handedly, so he enlists the help of two other bearded dudes -- Hans Zarkov (an earthling scientist) and Vultan (a Hawkman). He also travels to a planet that looks like a Donkey Kong Country level to gain alliance with James Bond.
Unfortunately, even the pure evil of Ming's Villain Beard cannot overcome the awesome combination of Hawkmen, Flash Gordon, and Queen. It's just too much for a single Villain Beard to handle, but at least Ming went out with style. How many movie villains can say they've been stabbed with a rocket ship? Ming can.
Thanks to this movie, Webster's Dictionary had to amend its definition of "merciless" as such:
1. able to command others to thrust oneself onto one's sword to signify loyalty.
2. willing to appoint one as a ruler of a new world while freely admitting he will fornicate with one's girlfriend and populate said world with the resulting offspring.
3. able to bluntly tell future wife that he may grow bored of her, at which point he will simply blast her into space.