12 Movie Villains Who Actually Had Some Valid Points
Every rose has its thorn, all yings a yang...and every admirable film hero is countered by an equally compelling antagonist.
But just like in the real world, the laws of good and evil are a murky gray area in the cinematic landscape. In fact, a lot of so-called "villains" aren't really that devious, and when you look at things from their perspective, some of them may actually be...pretty okay people. Presented here are 12 such cases. Try to walk a mile in their shoes before you label someone as "villainous." This is the 21st-century guys, and the name of the game is tolerance.
Film: Top Gun
His case: At first glance, Val Kilmer's Ice-Man seems like the prototypical action hero villain: he's big, he's loud, he has the competitive streak of Michael Jordan at a gambling convention, and most importantly, he hates our hero, Tom Cruise. But why does he hate him? Because Maverick is a careless dick who endangers everyone else on the team.
Here's a direct quote from Ice-Man: "You're everyone's problem. That's because every time you go up in the air, you're unsafe. I don't like you because you're dangerous." You know what Maverick's response was? "That's right! Ice...man. I am dangerous." So he's proud of putting everyone's lives at risk? Who's the real villain here...man?!
2. Sack Lodge
Film: Wedding Crashers
His case: Picture this: your fiancee's sister just got married, and at the after-party (which, for some reason lasts a whole weekend, but whatever) some dude you never met before, with a highly suspect backstory, does everything he can (including poisoning you) to try to get with your girl. Then you find out he's spent his adult life crashing weddings and lying about his personal life to bang women, only to never speak to them again. Wouldn't that piss you off, just a little bit?
Sack Lodge is the stereotypical comedy villain in the vein of Glenn Gulia or Judge Smalls. He's a rich, entitled douche-nozzle, and he doesn't give his partner the respect she deserves. Still, his reaction of punching Owen Wilson and telling him to get lost is really not that extreme, all things considered.
3. Mr. Rooney
Film: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
His case: For millions of kids, Edward Rooney is the epitome of the asshole, buzzkill principal. But looking back as adults, wasn't he just trying to do his job and prevent rampant teenage delinquency? He literally gets paid to make sure kids don't do this kind of stuff. After all, Ferris skipped school an absurd nine times that semester, then deleted the records with his '80s computer, and proceeded to phone in a fake death to pick up his girlfriend, just before destroying his best friend's life.
Not only was Ferris a bad apple, but he dragged other kids into his web of lies and deceit, too. He hijacked a parade that had nothing to do with him, lied about having a serious illness, all while giving the real sausage king of Chicago a horrible reputation. Mr. Rooney was kind of a dick, but his mind was in the right place.
4. The government
Film: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Their case: Oh, so an alien life form crash lands on this planet, and then decides to shack up with a lonely little kid, an overworked single mom, and Drew Barrymore, and the U.S. government is just supposed to let it fly? At the very least they need to run some tests on the little guy. We're talking about people who literally bug our phones and scan our emails—and you expect them to just ignore a fucking alien landing on Earth, just because it has a special bond with some little weirdo? Come on.
Film: Toy Story
His case: I've often thought about poor Sid, and the horrible, screwed-up life he was destined to live after the credits rolled on the first Toy Story film. Here is a kid, obviously lonely, probably neglected (he was at Pizza Planet by himself!) whose only crime was destroying some toys that he had absolutely no idea were sentient little beings. Who among us hasn't stuck a Batman action figure in the microwave, or torn the arms off a Stretch Armstrong just to see what happens? You know how much therapy this kid is going to need after being verbally accosted by a cowboy doll who sounds just like that guy from Castaway?
6. The Wicked Witch of the West
Film: The Wizard of Oz
Her case: So, when you have the word "Wicked" in front of your name, you kind of start off on the wrong foot. But what would you do if some gingham-glad hick from Kansas showed up and landed her flying house right on top of your sister? Not only that, but then stole her extremely valuable ruby shoes, enlisted a group of monsters (talking lion, living scarecrow, heartless man made of metal) as bodyguards, tripped on poppies, and caused all types of trouble all across the land you love?
Yea, I'd unleash my flying monkeys on that group of miscreants, too.
7. Daniel Plainview
Film: There Will Be Blood
His case: There Will Be Blood is one of my all-time favorite films, and Plainview is one of my favorite all-time characters. He obviously has his flaws, and if anything, would be considered an anti-hero for being ruthless, unforgiving, and low-balling a town for its oil supply. But...
The Sunday family was way, way worse than Plainview ever was. They beat and neglected their kids and ran a sham-church that stole more money and time from the townspeople than Plainview ever did, all while promising salvation. Eli even admitted it and denounced his religion in the end while trying to gain a few bucks back. Look, you can always trust a dishonest man to be dishonest, putting Plainview heads and shoulders above the guys who pretend to be good, and still screw you over.
8. The Machines
Film: The Matrix
Their case: Because you've probably forgotten, let me boil the backstory of The Matrix down for you: machines become too smart, so we decide to destroy them. They didn't want to be destroyed, so we blocked the sun to get rid of their power source. They disagreed with this, so a war ensued, which they won. For revenge, they created a perfect utopian society for us, which we then rejected, because we're assholes. So they said "Fine, we'll just make life exactly the same as it was in the year 2000, and you guys will never know the difference."
That sounds kind of...reasonable, right? I mean we did try to destroy their race, and all they did in revenge is try to give us a happy existence, albeit in our minds. They knew humans and robots could never live together peacefully, and did the rational, logical thing. But still, we screwed it up. Rarely in history, have victorious parties been this willing to compromise at the end of war.
9. The guys in the facility
Film: The Cabin in the Woods
Their case: If this modern-classic spin on the cliched horror movie has any real villain, it's the guys in the facility setting up all this mayhem, programming those sexy teenagers' horrible deaths. But they were doing the dirty work so we didn't have to, and saving the entire world in the process.
I'm sure we all cheered when the kids escaped, and the dudes orchestrating the terror were eaten by their own devices (so to speak), but they were acting on a purely utilitarian objective: sacrifice a few for the sake of the masses. In essence, they were saving all of our lives, behind the scenes, without getting any credit. Sure a few kids died, but isn't it worth it to save the entire world?
10. Captain Hook
Films: Various versions of Peter Pan
His case: So there's this kid right. He's looks about 12 or 13, but he's actually really old. He has magical powers, and he's always bizarrely happy and naïve, like in a "fits the profile" type of way. In the middle of the night, he flies down to Earth, kidnaps kids from their bedrooms, and brings them to a place in the sky where they live in the woods like feral children, away from their parents, schools, and medical professionals, without warning.
At the same time, there is a local ship captain who attempts to stop Peter from doing all this mischievous business, and ends up with his hand cut off and fed to a crocodile. Now let me ask you this: who is the real villain here?
Film: Beauty and the Beast
His case: It turns out, in the end, no one else gets screwed like Gaston. He's this little animated French town's version of a cocky '80s-movie high school quarterback. Succinctly put, he's a pompous dick. But there're plenty of people who are pompous dicks that aren't technically "villains" (look at congress, or the judges on Shark Tank).
No, Gaston is a villain because when he hears about his crush getting captured by a beast (yes, a hairy, misanthropic beast) he decides to rescue her. And when Belle, in full Stockholm-syndrome mode, tries to defend him, he doesn't believe her, as he probably shouldn't. Because she's cowering behind a giant, maniacal monster that almost killed her father. Seriously, what would anyone else do in that situation? It's hard to feel bad for Gaston, it really is, but this may have been the only honorable thing he did in his entire life. And it literally killed him. It's a tale as old as time.
Films: Various X-Men stuff
His case: This is the dude that probably pops into everyone's mind when they think of "villains who are misunderstood," and it's true. In many ways, Erik Lehnsherr is more of an anti-hero than an out-and-out villain, as his take on mutant-human relations is commonly referred to as the "Malcom-X" alternative to Professor X's "Martin Luther King."
Sure he could be a little more understanding and sympathetic, but we are talking about a guy who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust, so he has reason to mistrust humanity as a whole. In his mind, he's a freedom fighter—a protector of mutant rights. And you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, right?
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