It's no secret that most movies, specifically big action blockbusters, often culminate in a showdown between good and evil - though it's not always clear which is which. In Jordan Peele's Nope, for example, the terrifying creature of Gordy is presented as one of the movie's villains. Still, from another perspective, he can easily be seen as a victim.

It's this kind of moral ambiguity that makes Nope such a fascinating film, and this concept extends to many other classic movies. Villains don't always have to be black and white - sometimes, it's much more interesting to have a villain whose morals are dangerously logical.


Ant-Man And The Wasp (2018)

The MCU can be pretty hit-or-miss when it comes to its villains, but Hannah John-Kamen's iteration of Ghost is arguably one of the franchise's best. She's not motivated by power, greed or jealousy, but rather by an overwhelming desperation to survive.

Her determination and self-assurance, in spite of all her immoral actions, actually make Ghost a pretty compelling villain. Redditor karateema agrees that it's not easy to root for the downfall of somebody who "just wants to live," which is exactly how the movie frames her character.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003)

When dealing with a story about murdering, thieving pirates, it's surprisingly hard to distinguish between the heroes and villains in the first place. The film presents Barbossa as the villain, but in reality, there's not much to distinguish his actions from any of the other pirates in the film.

"Yes, they're all murderous pirates, but then so are the heroes," writes Redditor lanceturley. Even in the later films, fans found themselves rooting for villains such as Davy Jones, simply because morality doesn't really matter when the hero is just as cunning as the villains.

Collateral (2004)

Michael Mann is a director who has become famous for his complex antagonists, and lethal hitman Vincent from Collateral is no different. Though he's framed as the villain for most of the movie, there's something about him that audiences can't help but root for.

Perhaps it's Tom Cruise's charismatic performance, or maybe Mann's expert writing, but Vincent actually becomes much more likable as the film progresses. He's undeniably in the wrong, but Reddit user jc-ice admits that by the end of the movie, they wanted Vincent to "complete his assignments."

The Revenant (2015)

The Revenant isn't a clear-cut story of heroes and villains, which is why it's so difficult for many audiences to sympathize with Leonardo DiCaprio's rugged protagonist. He spends the majority of the film seeking revenge on his companion, but many viewers actually thought that this was unjustified.

"His actions were understandable," writes Redditor technical-waltz7903 in reference to Fitzgerald's betrayal at the beginning of the film, which they believe were not a result of malice but rather "the unforgivable world" they lived in. Leonardo DiCaprio might be one of the best actors working today, but even he was unable to completely sell the necessity of his character's revenge.

Black Panther (2018)

Black Panther is one of the most interesting superhero movies in recent memory because it never resorts to the typical good versus evil trope that so many blockbusters boil down to. Both T'Challa and Killmonger are right in their own ways, which leaves the audience in the difficult position of choosing a side.

Reddit user ryzenraider describes the two adversaries as "two incomplete halves," arguing that if Killmonger hadn't been so brutal and violent, audiences probably would have been "conflicted" about his eventual demise.

Kung Fu Panda (2008)

As far as animated films go, the Kung Fu Panda franchise has some of the most complex and interesting villains ever written. Tai Lung might seem like a fairly simple antagonist on the surface, but there's actually very little substance to justify actually calling him a villain at all.

Reddit user girafa writes about one fact that proves just how likable Tai Lung initially was: "In the first cut of Kung Fu Panda, Tai Lung was apparently too sympathetic to audiences and too many people liked him and didn't want him to lose. So then they added that extra backstory scene of him slaughtering a village."

X-Men (2000)

In many superhero movies, the main villain is basically the same as the hero, except with darker motivations - for examples, look no further than Iron Man, Ant-Manor Man of Steel. What makes the X-Men franchise so refreshing is the many differences between Magneto and Professor X, leading to completely contrasting ideologies.

Magneto is forged by pain and suffering, and despite his immoral methods, it's impossible to completely disagree with his goals. Reddit user junkman203 believes it's easy to "see his point" in many scenes, which makes Magneto one of Marvel's best supervillains ever.

The Matrix (1999)

When you consider the events of The Matrix from the perspective of Agent Smith, his actions throughout the series actually make a lot more sense. Throughout the whole story, he was simply carrying out his programming and attempting to take down the man that was tearing down his home.

Redditor blackpinto believes that if you apply Smith's logic "to the real world," his beliefs suddenly start to make a lot more sense. He wasn't doing anything that he believed to be wrong, he was simply protecting the world that he believed to be reality - wouldn't anybody else do exactly the same?

Blade Runner (1982)

Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is often cited as one of the best sci-fi movies ever made, but it's also one of the most complex and morally unclear. Although the film frames Deckard as the hero for wiping out the replicants, there's an argument to be made that he's nothing more than a lethal killer of innocent creatures.

"Deckard is basically just a butcher," claims Reddit user shoryurepppa. When the story is considered from the perspective of the replicants, their sole motivation was to protect themselves from being killed by a man on a mission to exterminate their entire race. From this viewpoint, it's extremely hard to root for Deckard.

The Cabin In The Woods (2011)

The Cabin In The Woods is one of the smartest movies of the past few years for several reasons. Not only does it subvert every stereotype that audiences have come to expect from the horror genre, but it also creates a story that's understood completely differently on a second watch.

In the final act of the film, it's revealed that the 'heroes' are required to die in order to stop all of humanity from being wiped out - and the lab workers were actually just "doing their part trying to prevent the end of the world," as Redditor sanesociopath notes. Once you know this, the protagonists' deaths seem much more necessary.

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