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Times The Bad Guys In Movies Were Actually Right

Okay, let's be completely honest with ourselves for a moment and admit that even though the good guys usually take center stage on a movie poster — or even have the whole franchise named after them — it's really the villains that are usually the best part of a movie. Maybe it's because they dress cooler than the heroes. Maybe it's because they have all the best lines. Or maybe it's because they always look like they're having way more fun than anybody else around them. But maybe, just maybe, it's because we occasionally agree with the logic behind their less than noble endeavors. While we'd never, ever condone the dastardly deeds and malfeasance of the sublimely evil characters on this list, we still can't help but think that they might have had a point. Here's a look back at some of the times the bad guys in movies were actually right.

Roy Batty in Blade Runner (1982)

Are replicants people or are they just glorified cyborgs good for nothing more than slave labor? That was the driving question behind the intricate narrative of 1982's seminal Blade Runner film. It's also the question that drove Roy Batty—the central antagonist in that film—on the killing spree that landed him on the Tyrell Corporation's most wanted list.

While we absolutely cannot support Batty's murderous inclinations, it's important to remember that he was one of few replicants that knew the answer to that aforementioned driving question and that he also knew how the human corporation that enslaved him would react if he tipped his cards—Deckard or one of his cohorts would have shown up to "retire" the anomaly. 

Still, Batty knew he was not an anomaly, but proof of evolution. So the question becomes, was his bloody flight to Earth the act of an evil robot or was it the act of a sentient revolutionary who just wanted to live, and to try and understand the humanity with which he'd been blessed? One should hardly need a Voight-Kampff test to know the answer to that question.

Detective Jack Doyle in Gone Baby Gone (2007)

There really weren't many good guys to cheer for in 2007's pitch-black crime drama Gone Baby Gone. In fact, the film presents a particularly damning view of metropolitan Boston. One that sees the city's streets filled to the brim with drunks, druggies, gang bangers, pedophiles, and murderers. But what made the film so complicated from a moral standpoint was that none of those low-lifes was actually the villain.

The biggest baddie in Gone Baby Gone was none other than Morgan Freeman's unassuming Detective Jack Doyle. What was he guilty of? The kidnapping of a 4-year-old girl and colluding with his BPD buddies to cover up the crime. Before you condemn the man, keep in mind that we've already noted that this film is quite complicated. That means Doyle wasn't really up to no good with his scheming. 

Turns out the parents of the missing girl—a no good junkie of a father and a raging drunk of a mother with absolutely no parental instincts or moral compass—aren't exactly upstanding citizens. Doyle's abduction was just a noble attempt to give the whip-smart little girl a real shot at life. And nobody—not even Casey Affleck's do-gooding private detective—believes she's going to get that with her mother. Like we said...complicated

Principal Ed Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

It's almost impossible to like Principal Rooney. He's stuck up, he's rude, he's got that awful mustache, and he has it in for that most lovable of scamps Ferris Bueller. But if you stop and think about Ferris Bueller's Day Off for even half a second, you might start to see that Bueller is no prize himself. He's brash, cocky and overbearing—and he's wearing a sweater vest, for Pete's sake. Think a little longer and you might start to see that arrogant little punk needed to be taught a lesson.

Who better to teach that lesson than a dedicated educator and impassioned public servant like Ed Rooney? We can all agree that Principal Rooney took matters a tad too personally—and ultimately way too far—but we can't help but admit that he was right. Ferris Bueller was a total wisenheimer who lied to his parents, skipped school, bullied his best friend into joining him, stole a priceless car (which he inadvertently helped destroy), and impersonated a distinguished sausage entrepreneur for the purpose of stealing his reservation at a fine-dining establishment. And he got away with all of it. 

So yeah, we sort of wish Rooney had caught the incorrigible youth red handed and doled out some punishment. Instead, Rooney suffers repeated humiliations and a vicious dog attack, and is rewarded with little more than a mouth full of warm gummy bears. That hardly feels like justice.   

The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008)

We should say up front that we firmly believe The Dark Knight's Joker to be a raving sociopath and an absolute menace to society. But—and that's a genuine but—it's sometimes hard to argue with his supposition that human nature is not conducive to living within the confines of a structured society. And yes, human beings find ways to remind us of the delicate nature of social contracts on a daily basis.

Joker's ferry vs. ferry experiment may have failed to bring Gotham to its knees, but that doesn't mean he wasn't right about a certain Gothamite's nature—D.A. Harvey Dent aka "Two Face." Joker tortured the noble law man emotionally and physically early in the film before breaking Dent's psyche and turning him loose on a coin-flipping killing spree. Bringing Gotham's Golden Boy down into the trenches with the rest of the city's criminals was Joker's masterpiece. It was only tarnished by Batman and Chief Gordon spinning the biggest web of lies that Gotham has ever seen. And that sort of feels like a loss for the supposed good guys.  

The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Yes, she chased Dorothy half-way around Oz hell bent on murdering her and her adorable little dog too. And yes, that green skin, hooked nose, and enormous mole—or was it a wart?—didn't exactly make her easy on the eyes. But it's quite possible that the most wicked of witches was just horribly misunderstood.

Bloodlust aside, all she really wanted was to get her hands on those glistening ruby slippers that Dorothy makes her way across Oz in. As a reminder, those slippers did not belong to Dorothy. She actually scored them from the dead body of the Wicked Witch's sister—after inadvertently murdering said sister by landing a house on top of her. From a legal standpoint, Dorothy's possession of those slippers is questionable at best. And one could hardly blame the Wicked Witch for desperately trying to reclaim a family heirloom that rightfully should have passed to her.

The U.S. government in E.T. (1982)

Let's face it, pegging the U.S. government as a villain is not as hard is it used to be. That being said, there were still a lot of pro-gov households in 1982 America. That may have changed at the first sight of the gun-wielding—or walkie-talkie wielding depending on which version you've seen—G-Men in E.T. Factor in their near faceless presence and their strong arm tactics and those government goons were easy targets of contempt for team Elliott/Alien.

But some of that disgust may have been displaced. After all, they were investigating what may or may not have been a hostile alien invasion. They needed to know who that alien was and what it was doing on Earth. They could've just asked Elliott, of course, but as far as they knew the powerful psychic bond the boy shared with the alien being was just a form of mind control. In the end, those agents were more than a bit coarse in their approach, but it's probably a good thing to be certain about potential alien invaders. Right?

General Francis Hummel in The Rock (1996)

While we're on the subject of "U.S. government as a villain," say hello to Michael Bay's action classic The Rock. And say hello to his would be villain General Hummel, responsible for instigating a hostage crisis on Alcatraz and threatening to unleash weaponized nerve gas on San Francisco if the government didn't pay him $100 million.

We know, that really does makes the U.S. government sound like victims, but there's more to the story. Turns out Hummel had no intention of releasing any chemical weapons on anyone and he only led the abhorrent mission in an effort to garner pay for families of fallen soldiers after their government refused to honor or support them—he even tried to do it the honest way first. Did we mention that the "ransom" money was to be collected from an illegal government slush-fund too? Call us crazy, but Hummel sounds more like an impassioned advocate for veterans' rights than a villain.  

Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

We're not going to sit here and try to convince you that Miranda Priestly was one of those good guys either. The Devil Wears Prada villainess is condescending, self-centered, and not afraid to demand perfection from everyone around her—especially her new assistant, Andy. But then, she is the head honcho of a massive publishing empire. That makes her a woman running a billion dollar company in a male-dominated business environment, which means she's undeniably been held to a different standard than her male counterparts. Nothing less than perfection would do.

So how could she expect anything less from the people around her? As hard as Miranda is on Andy, she's just as hard on everyone else. It's worth nothing too that Miranda's approach actually works. Throughout the film she manages to pull the best out of every single person around her, including Andy (minus her personal life, of course). But then, that's the one area where Miranda has failed as well. Which would make her all the more sympathetic if she wasn't such a condescending jerk. Like all the time.   

Walter Peck in Ghostbusters (1984)

Fact: Walter Peck is exactly the sort of snooty, stick-up-his-butt bureaucrat you'd expect to show up at your door if you're a groundbreaking small business owner trying to make it in the big business environment of New York City. Even if Peck does represent that noblest of government agencies—the EPA—he's still boorish and confrontational and all too easy to hate.

Also fact: the Ghostbusters actually had an unlicensed, unregulated and massively unstable nuclear reactor tucked away in the basement of a near-condemned building—and even they were concerned about it failing. 

Yes, everything was holding okay until Peck turned off the electricity, but how was he supposed to know he'd be opening the gates to a near apocalyptic supernatural event? He was just doing the job that he was appointed by the U.S. government to do. And part of that job is protecting us from the dangers of science run amok.

Xenomorph Queen in Aliens (1986)

Picture this: you're living a quiet life on a desolate planet so far out in deep space that virtually no other living being can even find you. Then one day, spaceships show up full of alien creatures sent by a greedy corporation to rob your planet of precious minerals and—let's be honest—probably destroy your home's ecosystem in the process.

No, that's not the plot synopsis for Avatar. We're talking about the Alien franchise, as seen through the eyes of the Xenomorph Queen. While it might be unfair to put the Xenomorphs and the Na'Vi in the same category, the similarities in their stories are more than a little bit disturbing. In fact, the Xenomorph Queen who serves as the central villain in the Alien franchise might have had it a little worse than Neytiri and the gang. After all, the human invaders in the Alien films are pretty hell bent on capturing, weaponizing, or outright destroying her legions of unborn children. So the question becomes, is the Xenomorph Queen an evil, alien creature out to kill humans? Or is she a doting mother out to protect her home, her children, and maybe her entire species?

And no, it's not fair to hold the fact that humans are the perfect incubators for her children against her. That's just science, man.

Elijah Price in Unbreakable (2000)

To be clear, nobody will ever make the case that Unbreakable's Elijah Price is one of the good guys. With countless deaths by his hand and the full breadth of his treachery still unknown, Elijah is basically the poster boy for homegrown terrorism. And no, his own tragic circumstances don't even come close to excusing his actions.

But at the end of the day, those deplorable acts did exactly what Elijah expected them to do—find someone on the opposite end of the spectrum as himself. Someone whose bones didn't shatter like glass. Someone strong as a team of oxen and tough as a tank. Someone who could only be classified as a superhero. That's exactly what David Dunne turns out to be. And try to remember that Dunne never would've embraced his gifts if Elijah Price hadn't pushed him to do so. That might've been enough for Price to claim hero status himself—if not for all the pyromania and bombings and mass murders.

Carl Anheuser in 2012 (2009)

Look, we'd all like to live in the sort of world where there's nothing but easy decisions to make when the apocalypse arrives. but that's just not the way the world works. The one thing we can be certain of when the end is nigh is that we're all going to have extremely difficult decisions to make.

Just count yourself lucky if you are not the leader of the free world when the day comes. That's just where Carl Anheuser found himself when the end began in the brainless disaster flick 2012. While Anheuser was an antagonistic presence throughout the film, he didn't achieve full on villain status until he thwarted the heroic efforts of Jackson Curtis to save his family by unceremoniously slamming the door to salvation in the Curtis family's collective faces. 

It's a brutal moment to be sure, but it's important to remember that if Anheuser hadn't shut the doors, the world-ending flood outside might have found its way in. It would have killed all of the would be survivors aboard the Ark. And that would've meant the end of humanity. So yeah, Anheuser could've been nicer about everything, but seriously, he had to close those doors.   

John 'Jigsaw' Kramer in Saw (2004)

We're not going to say we saved the "best" for last, because there isn't much to like when it comes to the torturous psychopath we've come to know as Jigsaw. As far as movie villains go, John "Jigsaw" Kramer is pretty much the worst of the worst. It's important to note that, while he didn't make it easy for some people to live, he technically never "murdered" anyone. His twisted traps and devices were puzzles. They were meant to be solved so that the persons trapped inside—most of whom had questionable morals to begin with—could escape with a new found respect for their miserable little lives.

It's also worth noting that those who did escape ultimately did find new purpose. Throw in Jigsaw's own backstory—he was a rehab counselor who tragically lost everything before surviving his own near-death experience—and it's a little easier to see him as a radical life counselor who just wanted to share his own love of life itself. Of course, to do that you'd have to overlook all of the torture and "not-exactly but pretty much murder" blood on his evil hands. Hey, nobody's perfect, right? Seriously though, Jigsaw is one monumentally messed up dude. 

Inspector Javert in Les Miserables (2012)

Sometimes people in power get a hard time for simply doing their job, something the dogged and determined Inspector Javert is a victim of. Sure, the Les Miserables antagonist definitely has a huge chip on his shoulder in Victor Hugo's original novel, but he often comes off like the biggest jerk to ever live when the property is adapted. To his credit, Russell Crowe tried to remedy this when he played Javert in the Oscar-winning 2012 version, trying to get an understanding of the character.  

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Crowe revealed that he visited Hugo's home in Paris and spoke to a curator about Javert. "She told me about [19th century detective Eugene Francois] Vidocq, a man who had been both a prisoner and a policeman, the man credited with inventing undercover police work," Crowe explained. "Hugo had based both Valjean and Javert [on Vidocq]. So the source for both characters was one man. That was very influential."

There's a thin line between hero and villain sometimes. We can all sympathize with Valjean (brilliantly played by Hugh Jackman in this instance) seeing as his initial crime was stealing bread to feed his family, but his law-breaking ate up years of a hard-working man's life. "If anything, Javert is a tragedy, not a villain," blogger and Les Mis fan AlexisUnwritten points out in a piece on the reviled inspector. "He tried to do right and ended up having to let the criminal he'd been chasing for 15 years escape."

Iceman in Top Gun (1986)

He was one of the biggest action heroes of the day, but if Top Gun were real life, there's no way that Tom Cruise's Pete "Maverick" Mitchell would be a popular guy. The antagonist of Tony Scott's '80s classic is Val Kilmer's Tom "Iceman" Kazansky, the top dog at the NAS Miramar Top Gun school, and for good reason. He's spent years training to be the best young pilot around, so of course he's going to have a problem when this upstart Maverick turns up and displays a blatant disregard for everyone's safety.

"A true hero is one who spends their entire life perfecting their craft for the opportunity to effect a difference of great import," Ruthless Reviews said when they revisited the film in 2017. "Such stories can be told well, but it takes some skillful writing and an adult perspective. Top Gun has none of that, so our hero is a self-obsessed twit who is impulsive, reckless, and ignorant of whom suffers at his hands."

At one stage reports emerged suggesting that Cruise and Kilmer's on-set relationship mirrored that of their characters, but if there was ever any truth to this then it's clearly all water under the bridge, as the pair are reuniting for Top Gun 2. He was sidelined with throat cancer for a while, but Kilmer has revealed that he's fit and well enough to reprise the role of Iceman in the upcoming sequel. Hopefully he'll be better represented this time out.

Raoul Silva in Skyfall (2012)

2015's Spectre brought in some big bucks, but it was still some way off insanely popular predecessor Skyfall, which remains the highest-earning Bond outing of all time, having made over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office. The Sam Mendes-directed movie firmly established returning star Daniel Craig as one of the all-time great 007s, but how much of Skyfall's success was down to Craig as Bond? For many, it was Javier Bardem's performance as scorned secret agent turned vengeful cyber-terrorist Raoul Silva that gave Skyfall the edge.

"People say the villain is what makes the movie so great, which is true," The Film Lawyers said in their glowing review of Skyfall. "[Silva] isn't the good guy, but he is human... a highly intelligent, talented and tortured individual. Does that sound familiar?" There are definite parallels between Silva (a former MI6 agent who was abandoned to be tortured by the Chinese) and Bond. It was this sympathetic backstory that attracted Bardem to the part.

"The first time I read [the script], I realized the character had many colors," he told Fox News. "Here there is a broken person. What I like the most is there is a clear motive. We understand he is very human and this is powerful. I was attracted to the villain because I thought he was a nice guy. I could see it in his eyes." To describe a cyber-terrorist as a "nice guy" is something of a stretch, but we take Bardem's point.

Harry in Night of the Living Dead (1968)

It says a lot when you stand out as the true villain in a film full of undead, flesh-hungry corpses. But let's be honest, few characters from the zombie genre are easier to loathe than Harry from George Romero's O.G. zombie flick Night of the Living Dead. Of course, the flesh-devouring monsters that populate Romero's brutal and brilliant zombie flicks have never really been the villains. Romero always seemed to mine just the right amount of inherent ugliness to make his human characters feel realistic in their vileness.

Was Harry a racist, abusive scumbag? Yes, he was. That doesn't change the fact that he was absolutely right about the film's group of survivors retreating to the basement to survive the night. That's just what Night of the Living Dead's hero Ben does to survive—even after spending the bulk of the film vehemently arguing against it. If only he'd stayed down there a little bit longer.

Syndrome in The Incredibles (2004)

Are villains born or are villains made? We're honest enough to admit that we don't really know the answer to that question. What we do know is that The Incredibles is a pretty clear-cut case of the latter. After all, Buddy Pine was a genius. He was a tech wizard who was capable of greatness even as a young man. And he really, really, really wanted to be a hero.

When he tried to join up with Frozone and the Incredible family, rather than seeing Pine's genius and his potential for good, those "heroes" responded with excessive scorn and ridicule before ostracizing the gifted young inventor because he wasn't blessed with superhuman abilities. What was the result of that disgraceful behavior? The birth of genius super-villain Syndrome. While we can't support Syndrome's bid to destroy the Incredible family, one could hardly blame him for harboring a deep rooted resentment towards the conceited superheroes who wouldn't let him join in their superhero games.

Sid in Toy Story (1995)

You can't really argue that Sid from Pixar's seminal animated feature Toy Story is right to dismember and blow up his toys, but he was certainly within his right to do so. Sid is painted as a problem child and bully by the filmmakers, who deck him out in a skull t-shirt and give him a grungy bedroom to indicate that he's a different type of kid to Andy entirely. If you rewatch Toy Story, however, you'll notice that Sid doesn't actually bully anyone during the movie and his only crime is torturing toys he didn't know were alive.

If you break the movie down to levels it probably wasn't meant to be broken down to, it's pretty obvious that Sid is neglected. His parents never seem to be around and he spends the majority of his time either skating or playing with his toys — that is, until Woody hatches a plan to scar him for life. When the cowboy protagonist comes to life right before Sid's eyes and threatens him, he gives the already-troubled child a story to go over with his therapist for years to come.

To add insult to injury, Sid was brought back for a cameo in Toy Story 3 — as a garbage man. No offense, garbage men, but we're pretty sure that's meant to indicate things haven't gone too well for Sid since toy-gate, although one mind-blowing fan theory suggests that he's actually rescuing discarded toys now that he knows they're sentient.

Gaston in Beauty and the Beast (1991)

When it comes to good and evil with no grey area, usually you need look no further than Disney. The studio founded its global empire by taking dark and gruesome source material and turning it into family friendly fantasy with a clear-cut hero. If you take an honest look at Disney's most-loved classics, however, you'll notice that the villain doesn't always get to share their side of the story. Beauty and the Beast, a favorite from Disney's Renaissance era, is certainly guilty of this.

It's the story of Belle, a beautiful young woman from a small French village who becomes the houseguest of a cursed prince trapped in the form of a beast. And when we say houseguest, what we actually mean is prisoner. No matter how they feel about each other by the end of play, Belle only agreed to stay with the Beast after he took her father hostage. Is it any wonder that local hero Gaston (who has feelings for Belle, even if they're unreciprocated) gathered a mob to go and rescue her?

Of course, Gaston is no angel. You can't ignore the fact that he tried to have Belle's father committed to an insane asylum (oh the things we do for love!), but his crimes were minor compared to the film's so-called protagonist, who locked poor old Maurice up in his dungeon for no good reason. Who's the real villain here? It's an argument that these two Disney fans have had at great length.