A small gripe with movie villains
By Justin Hopkins
When you start looking into villains, you start to realize how deep the pool is for different styles of villains there are. From cartoonish to silly. Bullies and Supernatural and cliched. Can go on and on, but prefer to keep things simple whenever possible and only one has kind of irked me and that is the sympathetic villain. Know you are thinking I am crazy for having an issue with what is considered the most popular kind, but give me a few minutes to explain.
Firstly, I don’t hate sympathetic villains. When done right, it’s a beautiful thing, and goes back a long way. From Frankenstein, to Mister Freeze, Poison Ivy, and The Huntress from Dead By Daylight. All suffered in there lives that turned them into a villain. These are just four that I have grabbed off the top of my head. There is so many, many more. Many, many more, and the list is ever growing. Think through all of the villains in Marvel Movies. Killmonger, Thanos, Zemo, Loki to name a few. Sarah Bellows in Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark. Chucky in Child’s Play. They all work really well. Each put on great performances, but after awhile it begins to get old always feeling bad for the character I am suppose to hate. Just becomes redundant and loses what makes a Sympathetic Villain special.
When a true diabolical character puts in a truly evil performance whose only motivation is to achieve their goal at all costs; their is nothing like it, and it raises the movie exponentially. William Atherton was was heinous as Walter Peck in Ghostbusters that he was heckled in real life, and the movie was better for it. Giving them a human foil out to shut them down and proved a hurdle to the group. The Matrix movies may have dropped in quality as they went, but Mr. Smith was always a joy to watch, because of the calm, collected and disturbing performance played by Hugo Weaving. Any time he was on screen, we were in suspense knowing at any moment, he had the power and will, to wipe out everyone. Freiza still holds firm to Dragon Balls most terrifying, big bad due to how just evil he is. Seeks out power and domination at no cost, and his name alone brings the Z fighters to a stop, and John McClane is a beloved hero, because of how great of a villain Hans Gruber was.
Now these are top notch villains for me to choose from, but there is more to this. As great as it is, to feel bad for a misunderstood villain. An evil villain does raise more then just the stakes for our hero, but can even make a less popular movie better. Dark Tower didn’t quite live up to expectations, but would watch it again due to how well Mathew McConaughey played the Man in Black and if they ever do a Constantine 2, can’t tell me you don’t want Peter Stormare to have a bigger role as Satan.
I know I didn’t count Vader. Technically, he is a Sympathetic Villain, but pretty sure I can say we all got psyched to see him wiping out rebels in Rogue One, and when we see a movie about him. We want full blown, villain Vader and not sympathetic one. So, that is why I didn’t bring him up before.
There is still a bit to go in 2019, but three movies jump to mind as the big movies on everyone’s list. Star Wars, Joker, and It Chapter 2. While I hope they all do well and be several people’s favorites for one reason or another. I am a little sad that Pennywise seems to be the only one who is an evil villain, and the only one I am excited for. That’s just me though. Feel free to drop a comment below and tell me who some of your favorite villains are and why. Tell me if you think I am wrong about Sympathetic Villains. Always open to other’s opinions on the topic. In the mean time…
Thank you for reading