“The line between good and evil runs in every human heart.” The best characters have both good and bad. Severus Snape, Jackie Brown and Michael Corleone are compelling characters because they are so morally gray. However, some characters are portrayed as good, but upon reflection they start to look like bad guys.
Some of these characters have pure motivations but are willing to commit evil acts for the greater good. Others are selfish and disregard the people around them. A few of them are just jerks. With heroes like these, who needs villains?
After the Decepticons wreak havoc on the city, Optimus tells the humans that he deliberately didn’t intervene sooner so they would realize the truth about the evil robots. In other words, Optimus let innocent people die to prove a point.
Indeed, over the two and a half hours of the film, Optimus accumulates dozens of violations of the Geneva Convention. He rips through several Decepticons as they beg for mercy. When Megatron offers a truce to Optimus, the Autobot brutally decapitates him. Seen from this angle, Optimus is a true war criminal.
The caped crusader is one of cinema’s most iconic anti-heroes, but he might be badder than most fans realize. After all, he’s a billionaire and a tech genius, but rather than using his resources to fund charities or improve Gotham’s infrastructure, he spends them on his vigilantism and cool outfits. Sure, Batman catches plenty of criminals, but he never addresses the root causes of crime in Gotham – poverty, incompetent government, and lack of opportunity.
It seems Bruce Wayne is more interested in fulfilling his own fantasies of heroism than dealing with these chronic issues. Worst of all, Batman causes all kinds of destruction. While chasing down bad guys, he regularly damages buildings, blows up roads, and topples bridges. A city like Gotham doesn’t have the resources for those kinds of repairs.
Willy Wonka is one of literature’s most famous purveyors of fantasy and fun, but he also has a dark side. He’s paranoid, he’s selfish, he basically keeps the Ooma Loompas as slaves, and he inflicts terrible fates on children he doesn’t like. Yes, children are awful, but to be honest, they are children. And Wonka’s excuse for all that? His dentist father didn’t let him eat candy when he was a kid.
Both Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp subtly captured these more unsavory aspects of Wonka’s personality in their respective performances. It will be interesting to see how Timothée Chalametinterpret the character in the nextWonka.
The ghost hunters
ghost hunters was one of the defining comedy horrors of the 80s. With actors like Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, it’s no surprise that the goofball characters are so likable. But when you consider what the Ghostbusters actually do, things start to take on a darker tone.
After all, they trap wayward spirits inside their nuclear-powered equipment, with no intention of releasing them. They basically condemn lost souls to limbo for eternity. When your job description makes you look like Lucifer, it’s time to rethink your job.
Mrs. Doubtfire is a beloved comedy-drama about Daniel (Robin Williams), a father who pursues a wacky plan to be able to spend time with his children after an acrimonious divorce. He disguises himself as a woman so that he can become their nanny and thus return to the house.
As if this deception wasn’t enough, Daniel also repeatedly tries to undermine his ex-wife’s (Sally Field) relationship with her new boyfriend Stu (Pierce Brosnan). Daniel goes so far as to introduce cayenne pepper into Stu’s food, knowing that he is extremely allergic. If anyone attempted any of this in real life, they would be quickly arrested.
V (‘V for Vendetta)
“The only verdict is revenge, a vendetta…” The titular character of V for Vendetta is charismatic and witty, skilled with a blade and incredibly brave, ready to face any foe in defense of his ideals. Hugo WeavingThe portrayal of the character by was so good and the character design so distinctive that V’s mask became a symbol of resistance everywhere, famously co-opted by the hacker group Anonymous.
But V is also a terrorist and a murderer. He is happy to sacrifice innocent people, withhold information from his allies, and even outright deceive them. It is morally ambiguous by design.
Ferris Buller (Matthew Broderick) is a symbol of the rebellious spirit of adolescents. He skips school and encourages his best friend (Alan Ruck) and his girlfriend (Mia Sara) to do the same, which leads to all sorts of shenanigans. But it’s also the devil on friend Cameron’s shoulder. He encourages Cameron to break the rules. It is he who decides to take Cameron’s father’s car.
Ferris seems unconcerned about getting Cameron in trouble. When Cameron protests his plans, Ferris fires him. That’s not to say Ferris is bad or anything. He’s still a lovable bad boy, and his heart is usually in the right place. But he’s also, well, a bit of a jerk.
Jerry (‘Tom and Jerry’)
On the surface, Tom appears to be the villain and Jerry the victim, but on closer inspection things start to look a little different. Jerry is an intruder in the house, after all, who frequently steals food from Tom’s landlord. Tom tries to grab Jerry, but usually it’s Jerry who instigates things, and he inflicts much more harm on the cat than the other way around.
Let’s also remember that Tom’s owner repeatedly threatens to dump Tom unless he can catch the pesky mouse, so Tom is in a tough spot. Jerry might suggest some sort of compromise between them, but the truth is he likes tormenting Tom. As a result, the pair are trapped in a toxic co-dependency, doomed to repeat the same pattern over and over – just the way Jerry likes it.
Seth (‘super villain’)
This August marked the 15th anniversary of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldbergthe coming of age classic super bad. It remains an entertaining tale of teenage misbehavior, but upon rewatching it, one can’t help but notice that Seth (Jonah Hill) is a kind of sleazebag.
He is creepy and objective love interest of Jules (Emma Stone). He is also self-centered, a big whiner, and incredibly immature. Not to mention he’s downright intimidating my buddy Evan (Michael Cera). He mostly redeems himself at the end of the film, but make no mistake: Seth is no angel.
Joe Fox (“You’ve Got Mail”)
Nora Ephronit is You’ve got mail chronicles an online romance between two people who are unaware that, IRL, they are rivals in the book selling business. It is one of three iconic romantic comedies starring tom hank and Meg Ryan. But Hank’s character, Joe, isn’t as nice as he seems.
For one, he lies to Kathleen about Ryan over and over again. He crashes her blind date, then refuses to leave after she asks him to. After discovering that Kathleen is the woman he has been messaging online, he arms this information against her. The film has a happy ending, but not before Kathleen loses her business and her income, largely due to Joe. Tom Hanks is a good enough actor to imbue Joe with a certain warmth and sympathy, but the script’s Joe Fox is pretty awful.
NEXT: 10 Villains Who Should (And Maybe Exist) In ‘The Batman’ World