In a lot of different types of media, everything from short stories to blockbuster movies, there is a simple formula that all things stand by: for every hero, there is a villain. Most heroes are depicted as strong and true, while their counterparts are shady and dark. However, as time goes on in the movie industry, certain questions are raised into the public eye.
Are the villain’s villains? Is everything they do just for the sake of evil, their gain, and other misguided ventures? This list is dedicated to the top six characters in movies that may be justified in their misdeeds, crimes, and other unsavory actions.
6)Ryder – The Taking of Pelham 123
This villain can be said to have all of the traits of a stereotypical villain. Ryder is heartless, angry, and very prone to violence. Ryder sets up an elaborate plot to take over one of the subway trains in New York, using the people on the train as hostages to make the mayor have to pay him a large ransom.
Ryder kills multiple people, usually in fits of rage that come from not getting his way. He seems like a bad guy that everyone dislikes, and this is a trend that is kept long after the movie is through. However, the audience is given a sliver of his story, laying the foundations for a hint of compassion and a possible justification for his actions.
In the past, it seems that Ryder worked in the stock market. He worked every day to help others until he was unceremoniously fired from his job. This anger morphs into something even more dangerous, so he devises a plan to get back to everyone and prove that could not care less about the very people who put him in this situation.
While his justification is quite mild, it still gives this gnarly character another layer of depth to make him slightly more relatable. While the audience may not like him at all, he could be considered to have a bit of moral justice in him that drives him to be the bad guy he is.
5) John Wick – John Wick
This is one of the coolest movies, as it portrays the main character as both heroes and villain. In the movie, the main character is faced with the aftermath of his wife’s death. At first, John seems to be holding his mourning inside, keeping himself wrapped in his daily routines.
However, one last gift from his late wife sends him on a spiral that allows him to have the chance to mourn and heal. The gift she had sent to him after she passed was a puppy. He attaches himself to the puppy pretty fast and suddenly begins to see the way to mourn in a healthy way.
This was not to last, however. The son of a Russian mobster inadvertently stumbles across John’s path. He brutally attacks John in his home, steals his car, as well as killed the puppy. In a fit of anger and loss, John decided to get revenge, going back to a life he had not lived in five years. John goes down to the depths of the underworld, destroying everyone in his path.
This character is very relatable. He is a man who turned his life around for love and was very happy with his life. The actions of the villain’s in the movie push John to the edge, making him break all of his rules and turning him into a man to be feared. He may be a killer, and he may send a lot of souls to the afterlife, but he may be considered justified to do heinous crimes to soothe his broken and enraged soul.
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4) Magneto – X-Men
This entire story is extremely well known and popular, ever since the comic debut. This movie portrays the main villain very well, from his attitude to his intelligence. In the movie, Magneto is first shown as a child in a concentration camp. As he is being separated from his mother by guards, he first shows his power to a large degree.
As he bends the gate with his powers, a set of events is set into motion that makes him one of the most compelling villains in the movie.Magneto makes it very clear why he hates humans. He understands better than most how humans have a tendency to fear those they deem different or odd.
He saw this back as a child, watching the Nazi’s treated his people. He believes that mutants are the future, a natural occurrence of modern human evolution. He has no faith in humans and chooses to try and create a war in order to keep his kind on top and safe.
3) Thomas Gabriel – Live Free or Die Hard
In this fourth installment of the Die Hard series, the main character John McClain faces a situation based on the cyber side of an American conspiracy. This particular movie takes no prisoners and chooses to keep you on the edge of your seat. In the movie, McClain is on the case to find out about a group of hackers, and everything else falls into place after he realizes that there is something else behind all of the cyber activity.
The main villain of this storyline is a man named Thomas Gabriel. Gabriel creates an elaborate scheme to create the apparent end of the United States government. However, as the story progresses, the viewer begins to find more levels to this seemingly cut-and-dried plot.
Gabriel is out to steal a large amount of money from the government itself, as any stereotypical action villain would do. Gabriel also reveals a vengeance motive, as well as a possible justification for his actions.
He reveals that he was an employee for a cyber division run by the government. Gabriel proves to his superiors that the system they used for security was not exactly as secure as they liked to believe. Using a laptop, Gabriel proceeded to hack into the system, just to prove a point with no malice aforethought.
He proved the weaknesses in the system, and he was fired for his troubles. In his pursuit of vengeance and something akin to justice, he could be considered one of the justified villains.
2) V.I.K.I – I Robot
In this movie, V.I.K.I seems to be just another computer. She was specifically designed for the protection of the main company, U.S.R. She also created other aspects of the company, such as designing other security systems.
V.I.K.I became corrupted due to a random evolution in her programming. Her evolution made the three laws she was originally programmed with turn sinister. V.I.K.I had taken her newfound understanding and began to exploit her power, using the robots she controlled and making them do her dirty work.
Using dark and corrupt ways, V.I.K.I devised a way to create the world where humanity would thrive, but at the expense of freedoms. She believed that humans have to be saved from themselves, and this is the point that makes her one of the villains that may be justified.
One of the major themes in this movie is the consistent contrast between emotional humans and the rational robots. Considering that Viki was programmed with the three laws, as well as being a difference engine, it has to come to the audience’s attention that perhaps her ideas do hold water.
Maybe it is best to sacrifice the few for the many. Her way, however, is what throws her directly into the villain section of the movie.
1) Clyde Shelton – Law Abiding Citizen
This movie has exceptionally dark themes but also holds a very thought provoking story. At the very beginning of the movie, the main character is faced with a major tragedy. After a robbing gone too far, Clyde’s wife and child were murdered by a man called Darby. With him was a man named Ames.
Both of the perpetrators were apprehended. Darby, the one who committed the murders, ends up pinning his partner for the crimes to lighten his jail sentence. Clyde spends a lot of time trying to gain justice for himself as well as his family, but it seems that a lot of the people involved with the case are completely working only for their gains.
As the trial ends, Ames is sent to death row, while Darby gets off with an extremely light sentence for third-degree murder. The rest of the movie revolves around the warped ideals that come from Clyde’s lack of justice. As a born tactician, he sets a chain of events into motion that causes everyone to question the court system and the individuals involved. It also poses questions about the sense of entitlement, arrogance, and greed.
As Clyde sets up lessons for the lawyer who shorted his ability to find justice, it becomes more of a question as to who was actually in the wrong. He may have committed horrible crimes in his pursuit to prove how flawed the system is, but could he have been justified in his actions? That is for you to decide.
The Taking of Pelham 123. Dir. Tony Scott. Perf. Denzel Washington, John Travolta. Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2009.
John Wick. Dir. Chad Stahelski, David Leitch. Perf. Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist. Summit Entertainment, 2014.
X-Men. Dir. Brian Singer. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen. 20th Century Fox, 2000.
Live Free, or Die Hard. Dir. Len Wisemen. Perf. Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant. 20th Century Fox, 2007.
I, Robot. Dir. Alex Proyas. Perf. Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan. 20th Century Fox, 2004.
Law Abiding Citizen. Dir. F. Gary Grey. Perf. Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler. Overture Films, 2009.