If only the villain in A Good Day to Die Hard was as interesting as Hans Gruber, then I would have wished for him to put John McClane (and maybe son) out of his misery. And if only the leads in Beautiful Creatures weren't so adorable and so into Vonnegut and Bukowski, I'd probably have rooted more for the hammy wickedness of Emma Thompson. And it wouldn't be the first time I'd hoped for the villain of a movie to win in the end. I'm sure it has to do with when I was a kid and my brother always got to play with the good-guy toys (M.A.S.K., for instance) against me with the bad-guy toys (V.E.N.O.M.). Which wasn't bad, by the way, because bad-guy toys often had the best weapons and vehicles and bases and such.
In recent years, it's been more and more common for the villain to be more interesting, more complex, tougher, sexier or more idealistically in the right (well, depending on your ideals, I suppose). We've been drawn to and appreciated a lot of comic book and action movies primarily for the villain over the hero, as in The Dark Knight, The Avengers, Skyfall and others. As for horror fans, it's often been acceptable to root for Jason, Freddy, et al, going back even to Norman Bates, or futher back to the original Universal monsters. But as if we still lived during the Hays Code, it's very rare for these favorite baddies to be the victor by the time the end credits roll. Antihero protagonists don't count.
I remember the first time I really identified with and supported the villain -- if not necessarily in favor over the main heroes -- was in Michael Bay's The Rock. It probably helped that I was an antiestablishment conspiracy-theory junkie, but even more than siding with Sean Connery's imprisoned spy (basically a captured 007), I was totally in agreement with the motive of Ed Harris's General Hummel, minus a few murders and the whole pointing deadly gas at San Francisco thing. Later, when I started watching Blade Runner over and over, I found that I was doing so becuase of my love for Roy Batty far more than Deckard. He just wants to live longer, and he's mad at his god for making him so terminal.
Interestingly enough, Hummel and Batty are right beside each other in a new Total Film list of the 50 Movie Villains Who Were Probably Right. Other unsurprising bad guys in the bunch include those opposite Bond, Batman, Spider-Man, Dorothy, the gang who created a machine called "Dorothy" and other scientists who made dinosaurs or undead monsters, traveled through time or intruded into parts of space where they weren't welcome. Surprisingly Jason Voorhees is not present in spite of his vengeance sometimes seeming justifiable. And another villain I liked to root for that belongs here: the Nothing from The Neverending Story. But I was a pretty nihilistic teenager, and both Bastian and Atreyu are pretty annoying.
Have you ever rooted for villain, and if so who or what?
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