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The best Val Kilmer movies of all time

Thief, swordsman, or genius? Take your pick of these Val Kilmer movies to watch

Val Kilmer in "Top Gun"
Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock Image used with permission by copyright holder

When the announcement dropped that Willow was coming back as a TV series on Disney+, fans were buzzing to know which of the original cast members would also make their return. The biggest freak-out was over the possible appearance of Val Kilmer’s infamous character Madmartigan, especially since he had just reprised his role in Top Gun: MaverickWillow has already aired, so we don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t watched it yet. In the meantime, we have a list of Val Kilmer movies you need to watch to appreciate this magical soul.

MacGruber (2010)

Genre Action, Comedy
Stars Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe
Directed by Jorma Taccone
We love when serious actors go in a different direction. No, MacGruber isn’t a cinematic masterpiece, nor does every SNL character deserve their own movie, but Val Kilmer as the villain Dieter Von Cunth is something everyone needs to watch, just once. It’s a cult classic that wouldn’t have aged well without Kilmer’s performance.

Real Genius (1985)

Real Genius
Genre Comedy, Romance, Science Fiction
Stars Val Kilmer, Gabriel Jarret, Michelle Meyrink
Directed by Martha Coolidge

Thanks to Real Genius, more of us than will probably admit it tried to cook popcorn in our living room via a glass prism and the sun. Kilmer played Chris Knight in the sci-fi comedy about teen engineering protegee Mitch. His character gets partnered with senior genius-goofball Chris to develop a chemical laser in order to graduate and land Chris the job of his dreams.

If you didn’t understand anything about lasers and physics, you understood it was your moral imperative to want revenge on Kent and Professor Hathaway as much as Chris and Mitch did. Kilmer’s dry, sarcastic delivery was perfect, and the pranks and antics — we all wished we could make dry ice money for the vending machine — still hold up today.

Top Gun (1986)

Top Gun
Genre Romance, Drama, Action
Stars Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer
Directed by Tony Scott
This movie really doesn’t need to give you a reason to watch it, but between the call names Goose and Maverick, knowing every word to “Great Balls of Fire,” and practicing the signature Iceman jaw snap, Top Gun gave us so much to be thankful for. Val’s Lieutenant Tom “Iceman” Kazansky may not have had a ton of screen time or said more than a handful of lines, but we’ll always want to be his wingman.

The Doors (1991)

The Doors
Genre Music, Drama, History
Stars Val Kilmer, Meg Ryan, Kyle MacLachlan
Directed by Oliver Stone
The real-life resemblance to Jim Morrison made Val Kilmer the perfect casting choice for the role in The Doors. Kilmer went all out to secure the spot, spending his own money to create an eight-minute-long audition tape to convince Oliver Stone to pick him. He learned the songs so well that The Doors’ own producer couldn’t tell if it was Val or Jim singing.

Batman Forever (1995)

Batman Forever
Genre Action, Crime, Fantasy
Stars Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Everyone has their opinion on who’s the best Batman, and we’re not diving into that. What we will say is that Kilmer’s voice and smirk were made for that mask. Batman Forever went through the entire lineup of the most popular actors for every role before settling on the cast it did, with Val signing the dotted line without reading the script. Whether you loved Kilmer’s interpretation of Wayne or stayed for Jim Carrey’s Riddler, we can all agree that “Kiss from a Rose” is a great song.

Heat (1995)

Genre Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
Stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer
Directed by Michael Mann
While having Al Pacino and Robert De Niro on screen together for the first time is a sight to behold, Val Kilmer’s role as Chris Shiherlis in the crime drama is just as good. Kilmer’s Chris helping thief ringleader Neil McCauley (De Niro) evade LAPD Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Pacino) for almost three hours earned him a few award nominations and made him the object of quite a few gifs.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Genre Comedy, Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Stars Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan
Directed by Shane Black
The black comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang gave us the duo we never knew we needed in our lives. Pairing a pre-Marvel fame Robert Downey Jr. with Val Kilmer was a genius move, and their chemistry in the film is undeniable. Downey’s Harold “Harry” Lockhart played well off of Kilmer’s “Gay” Perry van Shrike, and the fun the two actors had adlibbing and improvising with each other created definite movie magic that is fun to watch because you can tell how much those two enjoyed making it.

Willow (1988)

Genre Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Stars Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley
Directed by Ron Howard
It’s hard to think of Val Kilmer as anyone other than Madmartigan in the fantasy film Willow. The most charming — and yes, greatest — swordsman that ever lived is one that Val will be loved as for generations still to come. He is our sun and our moon. He gave us action, showed his comedic chops, made men and women swoon, had amazing fighting skills, and gave us one-liners we can still use 35 years later. Madmartigan had it all — just don’t ask him to babysit.

Tombstone (1993)

Genre Western, Action
Stars Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott
Directed by George P. Cosmatos

Val will forever be our Huckleberry. In a role made for only him, Kilmer’s Doc Holliday in the western Tombstone is one of Val’s best performances, a legendary portrayal that will never be able to be duplicated. Kilmer stole every single scene Doc appeared in, even when acting with the likes of Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, and Michael Biehn.

If you loved the more serious side of Doc, make sure to watch the director’s cut with the Kublai Khan soliloquy. The saddest part is Kilmer’s role as the gun-slinging, smart-aleck didn’t even grab him an Oscar nomination. You’re no daisy at all, Oscar. We will never be able to drink out of a little cup with a handle without copying the Doc and Ringo “In Vino Veritas” scene. If you don’t watch this movie, we just don’t think we could bear it.

This absolute legend has a filmography of over 100 projects, so it was hard to narrow things down to the best Val Kilmer movies out there. But if you take the time to watch these picks, you’ll have a good idea of the range of talent from the heart and soul of this actor, director, producer, singer, and poet.

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Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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