What is an evil mastermind without his or her dutiful henchmen? If cinema's taught us anything, it's that if you want to be the top dog or ruler of a massive empire, what it really comes down to is man power.
Gru learned that in Despicable Me, the DreamWorks Animation that introduced audiences to those little sweetcorn-shaped henchmen known as minions. Shamelessly stealing the spotlight away from every other character in the film, they are little bundles of chaos, spouting gibberish and revelling in their frequent mishaps.
With the minions getting their own movie (yep, Minions), we take a look back at some of cinema's greatest henchmen. And henchbots. And henchapes...
Flying monkeys The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
"Fly, fly, fly!"
Assisting: The Wicked Witch Of The West
The Henchmen: Obedient monkeys with wings that carry out the wicked witch's commands. They kidnap Dorothy and co and bring them back to the witch's castle.
Why They're The Best: The witch tells them to capture Dorothy and Toto and they do exactly that. No fuss, no getting outsmarted, no trying to shoot them and missing. They do exactly what they're asked to do, like all good henchmen should. Plus flying monkeys are just so cool.
Imperial Stormtroopers Star Wars (1977-)
"Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise."
Assisting: The Sith Lord and Emperor Palpatine and his commanders, Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin.
The Henchmen: Soldiers of the Galactic Empire, acting as general laser fodder for the Rebel Alliance. They have many run-ins with our heroes but their most notable contribution is probably killing Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, prompting Luke to leave Tattooine and train to become a Jedi.
Why They're The Best: They're a lousy shot (not really so precise after all, eh Obi-Wan?) but what they lack in effectiveness, they make up for in sheer numbers. Ultimately, they serve as a mean hindrance to the Rebel Alliance, even if they do still lose in a fight against a bunch of Ewoks.
Minions Despicable Me 1 + 2 (2010, 2013), Minions (2015)
"Assemble the minions!"
Assisting: Gru (Steve Carell), who has his evil sights set on taking over the world. Until, that is, he gets lumbered with three kids who help him find his heart.
The Henchmen: Genetically engineered oddballs that help Gru in his nefarious schemes. Although they mainly just have silent, clumsy antics in the background.
Why They're The Best: With names like Kevin, Stuart and Jerry, they may sound like IT guys, but they're more like your three year old after s/he's scoffed a bag of Haribo's. If we met one in real life, we’d be terrified, but otherwise they’re just SO ADORABLE.
The Death-Eaters Harry Potter (2001-2011)
"He will rise again and will come for us, he will reward us beyond any of his other supporters!"
Assisting: He Who Must Not Be Named (Aka Lord Voldemort)
The Henchmen: Dark wizards who, under the leadership of no-nosed Voldemort, use evil magic to try to purify the wizarding community by getting rid of Muggle-borns (those wizards born to non-magical parents). Throughout the franchise, they cause the deaths of many main and incidental characters.
Why They're The Best: They're absolutely terrifying, especially when we get to the final showdown and it becomes very clear that no one is safe and that anyone can die (*lights a candle in Dobby’s honour*)
The Uruk-hai The Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003)
"Find the halflings! Argh! Find the halflings!"
Assisting: Sauron and Saruman
The Henchmen: An advanced breed of orcs that are bred in pits beneath Isengard. Their most significant contribution to the story is when Lurtz, the first of the Uruk-hai, slays Boromir in battle.
Why They're The Best: No doubt about how terrifying these guys are. These overgrown muddy beasts - and Lurtz in particular - are absolutely terrifying.
They're mean, strong and ugly, and they actually kill the people they're trying to kill.
Agents The Matrix trilogy (1999-2003)
"Never send a human to do a machine's job."
Assisting: Sentient machines at war with the human race.
The Henchmen: Agents are computer programs that act as guardians of the computer-generated world of the Matrix. They're stronger and faster than everyone else except for Neo. So their main contribution is to give him someone to practise his Kung Fu kickery on.
Why They're The Best: Well, while the rest of the agents don't really do much (upgrades or not), Agent Smith becomes the yang to Neo's yin, growing ever stronger and more powerful. In fact, he is probably the only henchman in movie history to step up, fight the protagonist and end up actually killing him.
The Immortals 300 (2006)
"The deadliest fighting force in all of Asia"
Assisting: King Xerxes
The Henchmen: King Xerxes elite guard, which are sent in to attack the Spartans.
Why They're The Best: Despite their reputation, formidable force and frankly scary masks, the Spartans despatch the Immortals with only a few casualties, meaning they're not as badass as they look. But they still look cool, right?
The Chitauri Avengers Assemble (2012)
"They're not of Asgard or any world known. He means to lead them against your people. They will win him the Earth. "
Assisting: Loki (as well as, secretly, Thanos)
The Henchmen: They're a powerful, technologically advanced alien race that lead a war against mankind, destroying half of New York in the process. (It helps that they also have massive flying alien snake things causing a lot of the damage.)
Why They're The Best: As soon as you get an up-close glimpse of their face, it's easy to see that they're terrifying. They also very nearly defeat the Avengers, proving they're a great threat. The fact that they all 'power down' when the mothership blows up is a bit of a cheat, though.
Crazy 88 Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
"Any more subordinates for me to kill?"
The Henchmen: A masked Yakuza gang that fight with a variety of weapons under the employment of O-Ren (Lucy Liu). When the Bride (Uma Thurman) appears ready to enact revenge, O-Ren sets them all on her.
Why They're The Best: They're more than a little bit terrifying, but ultimately they're just really, really cool. Even if they are all slain by one Bride in deliriously gory fashion.