Bad guys in movies have got a terrible reputation. Sure, some of them want nothing more than to see the whole of humanity suffer and die. But they’re not all bad. The following ten movie villains, for instance, aren’t just being evil for the sake of it. In fact, you could argue that their ideas really do make a lot of sense.
In 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War the big baddie is a huge purple dude named Thanos, portrayed by Josh Brolin. And there’s no arguing that this guy is a very naughty boy. Indeed, by the end of this particular movie, Thanos has – spoiler alert! – quite literally wiped out half of the universe, including one or two Avengers.
Thanos arguably does all of this for a good reason, however. For he believes that the universe has become vastly overpopulated and will soon end up destroying itself through either war or deprivation. So, really, this is just his way of saving the world – something to which any good superhero could relate.
9. Miranda Priestly
Meryl Streep’s Oscar-nominated turn as Miranda Priestly in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada is the stuff of legend – and her shade-throwing one-liners are the stuff of many an internet meme. But just imagine being on the receiving end of those barbs in real life. You’d be hard-pushed to make it to the end of the day without breaking down in tears.
Some have argued, however, that Priestly is not a bad person; she’s a businesswoman. Streep herself has spoken about how she too saw Priestly as a woman in power just trying to get stuff done. In 2016 she told movie website IndieWire, “With certain professions you put aside your feeling gene… in order to be efficient and get the day’s work done.”
8. Roy Batty
In influential sci-fi flick Blade Runner (1982) Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard is tasked with taking out Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty. Why? Because he is a replicant – an android that looks human – and has come to Earth illegally. Batty also apparently killed a bunch of guys on a spaceship before his arrival.
Roy Batty’s ultimate goal, though, is to live longer. You see, replicants are only supposed to last for four years, so now Batty is staring death in the face and looking for a way to survive. And at the end of the movie, he even saves Deckard from falling off a rooftop. Now, that’s not really how a bad guy behaves, is it?
In 2018 Black Panther broke dozens of box office records on its way to a staggering $1.3 billion worldwide haul. Part of the reason for this, arguably, was the complexity of its antagonist, Erik Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan). On the surface, though, Killmonger wants simply to sell super-advanced weapons for profit.
Underneath, however, there is much more to Killmonger’s plot. At one point in the film, he says, “Two billion people all over the world who look like us whose lives are much harder, and Wakanda has the tools to liberate them all.” And maybe he has a point. After all, if a country or a person has the power to help, shouldn’t they be doing exactly that?
6. General Francis Hummel
Ed Harris’s General Francis Hummel was the main bad guy in 1996 action romp The Rock. His plan was a simple one. He and a team of mercenaries take over Alcatraz Island to use as an impregnable base from which to blackmail the government for $100 million. And if they don’t comply? Why, then he’ll explode deadly nerve gas rockets over San Francisco.
Yet it’s hard not to feel some sympathy for Hummel’s cause. After all, he wasn’t going to keep the $100 million for himself. Rather, he was going to give it to the families of dead marines who’d apparently been forgotten by the country they’d served. So, arguably, if the government had played fair in the first place, none of this would have happened.
5. The Wicked Witch of the West
It’s true that The Wicked Witch of the West, played by Margaret Hamilton in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, does not seem like an especially nice character. Certainly, she sends an army of flying monkeys to capture the movie’s protagonist, Dorothy (played by Judy Garland), and then tries to kill her. Plus, she’s no fan of Dorothy’s adorable little dog…
But look at it from The Wicked Witch of the West’s point of view. Seriously, Dorothy dropped out of the sky and landed a house on her sister. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Dorothy then went right ahead and stole her sister’s slippers. Who wouldn’t want vengeance after such a disturbing turn of events?
4. Detective Jack Doyle
Gone Baby Gone (2007) follows Patrick Kenzie, played by Casey Affleck, as he attempts to find a missing four-year-old girl. And when he finally finds her, he discovers that she was kidnapped by retired police captain Jack Doyle, portrayed by Morgan Freeman, who actively disrupted his investigation. Surely, then, no kidnapper could be seen as a good guy?
Well, maybe. Doyle believes the little girl comes from a neglectful home and that she’d be better off with him as a father. So his motivation is not one of malice or murder, but a simple desire to make the world a nicer place for one person. And that, it could be argued, is a noble cause.
Matthew Goode portrayed Adrian Veidt and his superhero alter ego Ozymandias in 2009’s Watchmen. Yet despite the “superhero” tag, Ozymandias actually ends the film by obliterating the globe’s major cities and all of the people within them. So perhaps he’s more of a supervillain than a superhero…
Or is he? Because Ozymandias has a noble motive: to prevent further war and loss of life later down the line. Indeed, it’s revealed in the movie that the world’s superpowers – America and the U.S.S.R – have united as a direct result of his actions. Potentially, then, Ozymandias saved the world… admittedly by destroying parts of it.
2. Dalton Russell
The premise of 2006’s Inside Man is a familiar one. Dalton Russell (played by Clive Owen) has robbed a bank, but things have seemingly not gone to plan. Now, he is trapped in the bank with hostages, and claims he’ll start killing them if the police don’t get him what he wants.
But things are perhaps not all that they seem. Indeed, it appears as if Russell’s real target is a safety deposit box belonging to the bank’s owner. And inside that box is an artifact that exposes the owner as a Nazi sympathizer and all-round bad dude. In the grand scheme of things, then, maybe Russell isn’t such a villain.
1. John “Jigsaw” Kramer
On the face of it, “The Jigsaw Killer” doesn’t have many redeeming qualities. How bad is he? Well, his whole thing is to force people to participate in lethal games in which they invariably die in disgustingly elaborate ways. The crazed character, portrayed by Tobin Bell, first started terrorizing victims in 2004’s Saw, and his schemes helped make others’ lives miserable in a further seven franchise installments.
But there’s a “good ”reason. The man behind Jigsaw, John Kramer, is actually terminally ill. And his imminent death brought him a newfound respect for life that he wished to share. The games he creates for others, then, are designed to ensure that people fight for their lives and end up with a true appreciation of what is important. See? He’s not so bad…