Ah, Hollywood villains… Just when we thought we had you guys figured out, you had to go and remind us just how misunderstood you still are. Don’t get us wrong; you are all undeniably villains. However, just because you’re a villain does not always mean you’re the biggest asshole in the room. After all, even Steven Seagal movies have villains in them, and we’re guessing the worst thing they ever did was star in a movie alongside Steven Seagal.
5. Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel, The Rock
WHY YOU’RE TOLD TO HATE HIM: Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel is one of the most decorated military figures in Michael Bay history. He has performed high-risk, low-profile missions for the Marines since Vietnam, and in the process earned enough medals to pass himself off as a Third World dictator.
He was practically giving them away at one point.
Still, for all his honors, Gen. Hummel undoubtedly finds himself on the wrong end of a Michael Biehn morality lesson halfway into the film. After holding San Francisco and a whole island of tourists hostage, Gen. Hummel dies a traitor and an enemy of the state he swore to defend.
Also, so does Dr. Cox and George Washington.
WHY HE’S NOT ALL THAT BAD: Yes, holding hostages on Alcatraz Island is bad, but just about every single thing the US government does in this movie is just as bad, if not worse.
Among them, fucking over James Bond for three decades.
In addition to that whole secret file about UFOs and the Kennedy assassination, the Red Sea Trading Company where Gen. Hummel requests his money be paid from is clearly established as “a slush-fund where the Pentagon keeps proceeds from illegal arms deals.” Instead of recruiting a small band of mercenaries and holding a national park hostage, Gen. Hummel should have been recruiting an army of literary agents as he took his story about dead soldiers and illegal slush funds to every major news network in America.
Without Bill Clinton as President, it would have been the scandal of the decade.
Instead, Gen. Hummel thought things would go smoother if he teamed up with Candyman. While an undeniably dumb move, we’d attribute that more to stupidity than super-villainy.
CASE IN POINT: The US government squandered a whole team of SEALs and chose to kill every single hostage on Alcatraz Island rather than quietly pay a bunch of money the US government should not even have in the first place to a bunch of screwed-over gold star families. Ask yourself: who are the real villains here?
Besides these guys, of course.
4. Richard Vernon, The Breakfast Club
WHY YOU’RE TOLD TO HATE HIM: Because he’s the unfriendly principal who gave the Breakfast Club detentions for chronic insubordination, skipping class, beating up another student, and bringing a flare gun to school.
WHY HE’S NOT ALL THAT BAD: It’d be like portraying Morgan Freeman from Lean on Me as a villain simply because he’s a principal trying to do his job in a film about troubled teenagers.
If John Hughes directed this film, it would have ended with Joe Clark spilling coffee all over his desk.
Yes, Richard Vernon is not exactly the nicest principal in the world, but he’s not supposed to be. As demonstrated by his conversation with the janitor and his frequent clashes with Bender, Vernon is just an honest civil servant doing everything in his power to prevent these kids from ruining their lives. For all we know, this guy could end up being Uncle Ben to someone’s Spider-Man if he was suddenly taken out of the picture.
At the very least, we could see him inspiring Spidey’s web-shooters.
CASE IN POINT: Consider that the Breakfast Club wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for him, which sort of makes him a Batman-like patriarch to these kids. Besides, as far as fictional principals go, that scene where he challenges Judd Nelson to hit him is all sorts of Tyler Durden-level badass.
3. The dinosaurs, The Jurassic Park Franchise
WHY YOU’RE TOLD TO HATE THEM: Because they can eat you and open doors! That’s like… a threat to our species!
Before you know it, they’ll be coming up with cleverer memes than we do.
At the end of the day, Jurassic Park is a monster movie. The dinosaurs are the monsters, and thus, serve as the primary antagonists in the film.
WHY THEY’RE NOT ALL THAT BAD: Imagine for a minute what Jurassic Park must feel like from the dinosaurs’ perspectives. These fossils didn’t ask to be born-again as mutated frogs in the twentieth century just so they could be imprisoned for the amusement of giant apes. What Hammond and his doctors did to these animals was every much a crime against nature as Ian Malcolm made it up to be.
So let it be written, so let it be done.
Truth be told, Isla Nublar is a modern day Island of Doctor Moreau. Humans are the monsters in these movies.
“For my next park, I think I’ll resurrect Jesus.”
CASE IN POINT: Their babies are imprisoned in floating mountains in The Lost World and their eggs stolen by giant apes in Jurassic Park III. Yup, that’s how the JP sequels played out if you had the unbelievably bad luck of being a dinosaur in those movies.
2. Putnam, The Wizard
WHY YOU’RE TOLD TO HATE HIM: Because he’s a runaway-child bounty hunter out to prevent these kids from entering a video game tournament. Naturally, this means he was also trying to prevent them from playing Super Mario Bros. 3.
This amounted to super-villainy for anyone under 13 in the late ’80s.
WHY HE’S NOT ALL THAT BAD: Reuniting a runaway kid suffering from depression with his family does not instantly make you a bad guy, at least not anymore. Yes, Putnam is a bit sleazy and is probably just doing what he can to make a buck, but at the end of the day he’s providing a service to alleviate the anxiety of two grief-stricken parents.
Besides, do you have any idea how dangerous it is out there for three runaway children?
In real life, situations like this almost never result in fun for the whole family.
CASE IN POINT: As awesome as Super Mario Bros. 3 turned out to be, that was no excuse for Haley blowing the fake pedophile whistle on Putnam.
At the end of the day, Haley probably got Putnam registered as a sex offender just so she and her friends could play video games. If that’s not PG-rated entertainment for you, then perhaps you underestimate just how much more important gaming was over parenting to most children during the NES-era.
1. Ra’s al Ghul, Batman Begins
WHY YOU’RE TOLD TO HATE HIM: Because he’s an evil criminal mastermind bent on destroying Gotham City with an army of ninjas, the League of Shadows.
Who, we should probably mention, offered Bruce Wayne a full scholarship in Ninjutsu.
Yes, Bruce Wayne would have probably never become Batman without Ra’s al Ghul’s tutelage, but all this came to an end once Bruce realized that the only way he should save Gotham is without killing anybody in the process.
He then proceeds to blow up at least half a dozen people on his way out.
WHY HE’S NOT ALL THAT BAD: The League of Shadows may want to destroy Batman’s hometown, but can you really blame them? As far as fictional cities go, Gotham City is one of the worst we’ve ever come across.
The closest mankind ever came to founding a city on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
By the time The Dark Knight Rises came around, we learn that even men like Jim Gordon are ultimately morally corrupt in their futile attempt to end crime in Gotham. The Gotham police are a failure, the Batman is a failure, and the most rapid improvements that ever happened under Batman’s watch occurred after he teamed up with a Catwoman who had no problem killing super-villains.
The secret to cutting crime in Gotham? Rockets.
In short, the arc of the Dark Knight universe is long, and it’s all because Batman spectacularly sucks at his job. Ra’s was offering Bruce the opportunity to lead the League of Shadows into Gotham. Instead of instigating a war that eventually forced the city down the worst decade of its existence, Bruce should have just agreed to lead the League of Shadows into Gotham to function as his own personal army of Joker-killing Robins.
Yes, this would have violated Batman’s “moral compass,” but since that compass was broken the moment he started blowing up League of Shadows members, it’s tough to argue why Bruce didn’t at least offer to talk things out with Ra’s in order to end crime in Gotham while killing as few people as possible. Ra’s was up for trying new methods such as economics against Gotham earlier. Perhaps Bruce, Ra’s and even Alfred could have hatched a better plan.
Specifically, have Lucius Fox do all the work.
CASE IN POINT: Isn’t it sort of a good thing that the League of Shadows sacked Rome when the empire reached the peak of its depravity? I mean, we are talking about the same people that killed Jesus.
Follow Jacopo della Quercia on Twitter!