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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

15 Movie Villains Who Were Right All Along

Villains in movies are typically portrayed as wholly evil with little to no redeeming qualities. They usually have some goal or motive that would benefit nobody and cause catastrophic damage. However, sometimes, the odd villain pops up here and there that maybe wants something simple, or maybe their goals are completely justified.




Maybe they’re just doing their job, or maybe their motive isn’t so bad once you think about it. Either way, villains who were right tend to feel more human since they have more redeeming qualities, and above all, a completely understandable point. There’s no shortage of movies with villains that were right, with antagonists whose actions have been reconsidered and examined by viewers, who soon find that these evildoers had a point.


15 Lord Cutler Beckett

‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End’ (2007)

Lord Cutler Beckett watches in awe as his ship is destroyed around him
Image via Walt Disney 


Lord Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander) first appears in Dead Man’s Chest, but he plays a more major role in its sequel, At World’s End. The 2007 film follows Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), and Capt. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who work together to rescue a captured Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). In the film, Beckett is cool, calm, and confident at all times, and surprisingly intelligent. While he has no problems stepping on others to get what he wants, his goal is actually quite noble.


Beckett wants to rid the world of piracy, which was highly rampant in the era the films take place, so rampant in fact, that it is known even now as “The Golden Age of Piracy.” Essentially, he wants to stop all the destruction, theft, and murder suffered by innocent traders on the open sea. Though his methods are questionable, he does have a pretty compelling motive.



Watch on Disney+

14 Ra’s Al-Ghul

‘Batman Begins’ (2005)

Ra's Al-Ghul in the midst of training a young Bruce Wayne
Image via Warner Bros.


Ra’s Al-Ghul (Liam Neeson) is another case of a villain with a good point but terrible methods. Being the leader of the League of Shadows, Ra’s’ goal is to restore peace to places where there is none. One of these many such places happens to be Gotham City. He plans on doing so by releasing a toxin into the air, which will purge the city of most human life. Then, the city can rebuild from the rubble and become a beacon of hope and harmony.


His reason for doing so is simple: Gotham is a cesspool of crime, chaos, and corruption, and Ra’s feels it is irredeemable. Though he is inevitably stopped by Batman (Christian Bale), he ends up being right. In the following sequels, Gotham becomes subject to crime waves even worse than the one seen in Batman Begins, and many more innocents die in the wake of the destruction. Maybe Gotham really is irredeemable – that point by the antagonist is at least right, though his methods are certainly deplorable.


13 Erik Killmonger

‘Black Panther’ (2018)

Killmonger in 'Black Panther'


Killmonger continues to be a fan-favorite villain thanks to his riveting storyline in Black Panther. The enraged villain made his goal clear in Wakanda, as he saw their isolation as selfishness. Killmonger wanted to reveal and share the technology in the hidden nation, which he believed could help those who suffered as he did around the world. Of course, Killmonger took it a bit too far by wanting to massacre millions as retaliation, but the most important part of his plan stuck with T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman).


Thanks in large part to the villain’s flawed actions, Wakanda would embrace diplomacy and share what they have with the rest of humanity. Compared to more destructive antagonists from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Killmonger had one of the understandable motivations, especially given what happened to his family. The fact that his plot has had a positive impact on Wakanda also speaks volumes about the kind of legacy he left behind.


Black Panther

Release Date
February 16, 2018

Director
Ryan Coogler

Runtime
134 minutes

12 Russ Cargill

‘The Simpsons Movie’ (2007)

Russ Cargill presents five dossiers to the President next to a cage containing a mutant squirrel with a dozen eyes
Image via 20th Century Fox


Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks) is the President of the EPA in the widely beloved film The Simpsons Movie, who becomes fed up with the amount of pollution in Springfield. Though the Springfielders make a valiant effort to reduce waste by putting up hundreds of “No Dumping” signs near the lake, it is eventually spoiled when Homer (Dan Castellaneta) ignores said signs and dumps a silo full of pig feces into it. With this being the final straw in the animated movie for adults, Russ encloses Springfield in a giant glass dome and then plans to blow up the entire city.


Even though the methods make no sense, Cargill ultimately wants less pollution and waste in the city, which really isn’t such a bad thing. He’s driven to the end of his rope by irresponsible residents, and ultimately embraces his madness and becomes a power-hungry and greedy villain who only wants to hurt others. His motivations are certainly mixed, but it helps to focus on the environmental part when considering his good qualities.


The Simpsons Movie

Release Date
July 25, 2007

Director
David Silverman

Runtime
87

11 Syndrome

‘The Incredibles’ (2004)

Syndrome in The Incredibles
Image via Disney/Pixar


Buddy Pine (Jason Lee) transforms into the villainous Syndrome after he’s rejected by his idol, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), for not having any superpowers in The Incredibles. Soon, Mr. Incredible and his wife and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) are forced out of their ordinary lives when Syndrome turns into a full-blown villain. Syndrome uses science to create superpowers, insisting that if everyone is “super,” then no one is. The way he showcases his plan to the family of supers is definitely petty and cruel, but he does have a point.


The comical and almost humorous Syndrome presents a problem that’s often explored in superhero movies today. When unchecked power is left in the hands of a few, there can be dangerous consequences for everyone else. That said, it’s worth noting that Syndrome’s motivations in the movie are completely selfish and the way he endangers others to prove his point is wrong.


The Incredibles

Release Date
October 27, 2004

Director
Brad Bird

Runtime
121

10 Ava

‘Ex Machina’ (2014)

Ex-Machina-Alicia-Vikander-Ava


Ava’s (Alicia Vikander) storyline takes several jarring twists and turns in Ex Machina. The mind-blowing A24 sci-fi film follows the relationship that forms between her and programmer Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson), who’s invited to meet her by Ava’s creator and eccentric CEO Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac). It’s soon revealed that Ava has been manipulating Caleb all along into releasing her, and she murders anyone in her path before leaving Caleb to die in the isolated house.


Her brutal actions are inexcusable, but it should be pointed out how Ava was poked and prodded, kept in a cage, and experimented on, despite clearly having sentience. The ending that shows Ava looking at her reflection and wearing regular clothes highlights her desire to be free and live among the humans who fear her. Does her desire for freedom justify the violence and death left in her path towards it?


Ex Machina

Release Date
April 24, 2015

Director
Alex Garland

Runtime
108 minutes


Watch on Max

9 The Hyenas

‘The Lion King’ (1994)

The hyenas hungrily await their meal
Image via Walt Disney


It should go without saying that hyenas are carnivores. They need to eat meat to survive. It’s not their fault that Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) was in the wrong place at the wrong time in The Lion King. Besides the fact that Simba, being a lion, isn’t exactly innocent himself. He may not have actually eaten meat on screen, but he’s a carnivore too, and it’s doubtful that he only ate salads throughout his childhood. Granted, conspiring with Scar (Jeremy Irons), the usurper of the throne, isn’t exactly a great look for them, but their motivation for doing so is because they want the right to hunt in the Pride Lands, which is lion territory.


Basically, the lions, at the top of the food chain, are always getting good prey, and the hyenas want some of it too. It doesn’t exactly matter who strays in their path, as the predators likely don’t differentiate between the royal status of their prey, even in The Lion King. They’re starving and just want their next meal. Who can blame them for that?


The Lion King (1994)

Release Date
June 24, 1994

Runtime
88 minutes


Watch on Disney+

8 Jareth the Goblin King

‘Labyrinth’ (1986)

Jareth, the Goblin King in Labyrinth.
Image via Tri-Star Pictures


When a young girl named Sarah (Jennifer Connely) is fed up with babysitting, she wishes her baby brother away. She only realizes her terrible mistake once she meets with the Goblin King, Jareth (David Bowie‘s iconic movie role). He informs her that she’ll have one last chance to get him back, but only if she navigates a mysterious labyrinth within thirteen hours. As she does this, Jareth is revealed to be not so bad in Labyrinth.


The baby is well cared for in Jareth’s castle and spends hours being part of musical numbers and dance parties. He even starts to enjoy himself. Perhaps Jareth is better at taking care of the child than the kid’s own sister is. Evidently, since Sarah literally gave her brother away so that she wouldn’t have to put up with his crying. Despite being initially intimidating, it’s hard to completely hate Jareth, especially with Bowie’s performance.


Labyrinth

Release Date
June 27, 1986

Director
Jim Henson

Runtime
101 minutes

7 The Government

The silhouette of Elliott and E.T. flying on a bike in front of the moon in E.T.


In the classic ’80s sci-fi film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, 10-year-old Elliot Taylor (Henry Thomas) discovers and befriends the titular alien, who longs to go back to its home. The evil government sends federal agents to stop Elliot and his friends from returning the E.T. to its ship, as they are on a mission to recover the being and experiment on it. The young protagonists race to “rescue” E.T. before the villainous authorities can catch up with them.


The heartwarming childhood movie raises some new questions for adults who decide to revisit it, as it’s hard to imagine allowing an E.T. to telepathically communicate with a kid (and endangering his body with intoxication). It also seems foolish to stop the government from at least subjecting the alien to quarantine and some testing, as there’s no telling what they could have learned about extraterrestrial life from it. In the wonderful world of E.T. though, love and kindness are all that matter.


E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Release Date
June 11, 1982

Cast
Henry Thomas , Dee Wallace , Robert MacNaughton , Drew Barrymore , Peter Coyote , K.C. Martel

Runtime
115 minutes

6 Ed Rooney

‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ (1986)

Ed Rooney grins evilly while on the phone
Image via Paramount Pictures


Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) is the Principal at Ferris Bueller’s (Matthew Broderick) high school and also one of the most justified villains ever. So, when Bueller decides to take a day off by faking sick, Rooney has reason to be suspicious, as Bueller had been absent nine times that semester without any real reason. Rooney is portrayed as an old fuddy-duddy in the movie, but in all fairness, Bueller is kind of a jerk.


In the quintessential feel-good film from the ’80s, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Bueller faked sickness and ended up getting the whole town to rally around him and set up a charity to save him while he is out having the time of his life, and Rooney seems to be the only one who wants to put a stop to it. Sure, Bueller may be idolized by fun-loving kids, but as those kids turn into adults, they begin to understand Rooney more. Granted, he probably shouldn’t have broken into Bueller’s house. Just a thought.


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Release Date
June 11, 1986

Director
John Hughes

Cast
Matthew Broderick , Alan Ruck , Mia Sara , Jeffrey Jones , Jennifer Grey , Cindy Pickett

Runtime
103 minutes

5 Mr. Hector

‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’ (1992)

Mr. Hector grins evilly at a young Kevin McCallister
Image via 20th Century Fox


In much the same vein as Ed Rooney, Mr. Hector (Tim Curry) is a responsible adult simply trying to do his job in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. He suffers the same way as Rooney in that he is portrayed as a grumpy old party pooper, but in this case, his antagonism is actually for a child’s safety.


Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) accidentally winds up in New York after taking the wrong flight. Fortunately, he happens to have his father’s credit card with him and uses it to book a room at a hotel, completely on his own. Mr. Hector seems to be the only one who is suspicious of a lone child using a credit card to book a hotel room with no adult in sight, and rightfully so. Were this a real situation, that child would likely be in serious danger, especially all alone in New York City. Besides, it’s not his fault the sequel didn’t live up to the original Home Alone movie.


Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Release Date
November 19, 1992

Runtime
120

4 Ken

‘Bee Movie’ (2007)

Ken swings a tennis racket
Image via Paramount Pictures 


Ken (Patrick Warburton) seems to be constantly angry and high-strung, but in all fairness, he has every reason to be. One of the many reasons why the meme-factory called Bee Movie was so bizarre is because Ken’s wife, Vanessa Bloome (Renée Zellweger), falls in love with a bee – Barry the Bee (voiced by Jerry Seinfeld). Yes, really. Apparently, several years of dating and planned marriage don’t count for much if you happen to be a fuzzy little pollinator with a stinger.


Ken constantly tries to kill the bee, as many ordinary people do when they come across one in their home, but his attempts are always foiled by his wife. With a bee ruining his marriage and Ken being deemed the villain for it, it’s no wonder he’s angry all the time. The poor guy just can’t seem to catch a break.


bee movie

Release Date
October 28, 2007

Director
Steve Hickner , Simon J. Smith

Runtime
91


Rent on Apple TV

3 Bruce

‘Finding Nemo’ (2003)

From left to right, Chum, Bruce, and Anchor, the sharks
Image via Walt Disney


Similar to the hyenas, Bruce (Barry Humphries) is a shark and, thus, a carnivore by nature. He survives by feeding on smaller fish. It really isn’t his fault that Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) just happened to be there. It should also be noted that Bruce was making every effort not to eat fish in Finding Nemo, which is something worth commending when you’re literally a shark.


He even has a group that repeatedly states the mantra “fish are friends, not food,” so the shark was trying his best to go against what was his natural state. It wasn’t until the lovable but clumsy Pixar sidekick Dory accidentally got hurt and started bleeding that his carnivorous instincts started to kick in. Bruce transformed into a terrifying predator only because that’s what he really is… he’s a shark. Maybe if he had some nose plugs, things would have been different. Probably not.


Finding Nemo

Release Date
May 30, 2003

Director
Andrew Stanton , Lee Unkrich

Runtime
100

2 The Wolf

‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ (2022)

Death, a scary wolf with a black hood and red eyes, smiling in 'Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.'
Image via Universal Pictures


Puss in Boots: The Last Wish shows the titular protagonist embarking on his most important (and dangerous) quest yet. When Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) finds out he has used up eight of his nine lives, he must travel to the location of the mythical Last Wish to restore them, but discovers something about himself and his relationships along the way.


Stalking Puss on this journey is the terrifying Wolf (Wagner Moura), who is later revealed to be Death himself. Every encounter with the Wolf – now considered DreamWorks’ best villain yet – is nerve-wracking, with Puss’ hairs standing on the back of his neck to prove it. However, the Wolf (or Death) does make a good point about how Puss squandered his lives, never truly stopping to appreciate or actually make the most of them. The only time he leaves Puss alone is when he senses that Puss is ready to devote his energy to really living and not just carelessly throwing away precious moments, like the ones the protagonist shares with Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek Pinault) and the new fan-favorite character, Perrito (Harvey Guillén).


Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Release Date
September 23, 2022

Director
Joel Crawford , Januel Mercado

Runtime
102


Watch on Netflix

1 Roy Batty

‘Blade Runner’ (1982)

Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty
Image via Warner Bros.


Blade Runner is a renowned sci-fi movie that needs no introduction. It pits disillusioned cop Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) against the rebellious replicant leader Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). Deckard is tasked with searching for and stopping the group of replicants led by Roy Batty who have escaped their colony, on which they were forced to do hard labor and not given any rights because of their nature as synthetic beings. While Roy is initially depicted as a dangerous villain who needs to be stopped, viewers soon learn the heartbreaking plight of the replicants through his story.


Lost, angry, and searching for meaning, Roy’s experiences perfectly sum up the cruelty that sentient replicants have to endure. By the end of the film, he has transformed from a villain on the run to a sympathetic leader who just wanted to show the world that replicants shouldn’t be mistreated and abused. Even the cynical Deckard is transformed by the encounter he has with the replicant he was supposed to be pursuing.



NEXT: Movie Heroes Who Are Actually Villains

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