Most Sympathetic and Unsympathetic Villains in Comic Book Movies

Discussion in 'Misc. Comics Films' started by The Overlord, Dec 19, 2015.

  1. HaplessHenchman

    HaplessHenchman Goon for hire

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    Unsympathetic:

    - The Joker
    - Red Skull
    - Kilgrave from Jessica Jones

    Sympathetic:

    - Wilson Fisk from Daredevil TV
    - Zod from MOS
    - Two Face from TDK
     
  2. The Overlord

    The Overlord Registered

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    I am going to resurrect this topic and say Ajax and Apocalypse are some new additions to the really unsympathetic villains club.

    I also felt Zemo was pretty sympathetic.
     
    #27 The Overlord, Oct 23, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
  3. Batmannerism

    Batmannerism Super-unknown

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    I'll just do a top 3 for each:

    Sympathetic

    To me, a sympathetic villain is one whose motivations are understandable and I get why they've become a monster.

    1. Magneto, most villains suffer trauma, but Magneto's experiences during the holocaust are probably among the worst of any comic book character. His goals and methods have become terribly twisted, but at least we can understand why he is the way he is.

    2.General Zod, again twisted goals and methods but an understandable villain because he was following his programming and protecting his people (similar to Magneto in some ways). I really enjoyed Shannon's portrayal (which only gets better in light of Jessie Eisenberg's Lex Luthor). Interestingly, I find Terrence Stamp's Zod to be the opposite, a completely unsympathetic villain.


    3. Zemo, who embodies the " dig two graves " notion of revenge. The fact that he's just human, and while skilled not incredibly exceptional, and has a very understandable grudge against the Avengers make him quite a sympathetic villain. I think Zemo is the best villain we've seen in years actually, because he's so different (than the typical cackling evil masterminds) and unassuming.

    Oh, and honourable mention to Catwoman in Batman returns.

    Unsympathetic


    1. The Joker (in pretty much every incarnation) but best epitomized by Heath Ledger in TDK. Honorable mention to Harvey Dent, I think he should have got a movie to himself, but oh well.

    2. Loki, sure he has daddy issues, but that's it. Don't get me wrong, he's a great villain - not too far behind Ledger's Joker - but he's really just a spoiled brat. The "Puny God" moment in the Avengers, has to be one of the top moments in comic book films.

    3. Ronan the Accuser. Thanos' "pouty child " comment was right on the mark. He was a monomaniacal genocidal lunatic, who was willing to sacrifice everything and everyone around him just to destroy Xandar. What an ******* !

    Honourable mention


    Not to subvert what's already a great fun thread, but I propose a third category:

    "villains you cheered for.....when they DIED ! "


    Sebastian Shaw, when Magneto pushes the coin through his head, I cheered !
    Kevin Bacon made him charming but utterly detestable.

    Bane, TDKR, couldn't wait for him to get offed. I suppose it was the fact that he maimed Batman, and then after Batman kicked his ass and was only stopped from beating on him some more by a stab in the back, was an utterly graceless winner by immediately putting a gun in Bats' face - to me that's just terrible form. Cheered when he got blown away.


    Ultron, was highly looking forward to his robotic demise. He was underdeveloped and really needed more screentime and lines to really make an impression. But Spader made him unlikeable enough that I was very pleased when he finally got offed.

    Ronan (although I mentioned him above) would have fallen into this category too, as I cheered when the Guardians blew him to smithereens.
     
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  4. Doctor Octopus

    Doctor Octopus Registered

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    Agreed. Zemo felt sympathetic at end when find out about his family.
     
  5. The Overlord

    The Overlord Registered

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    I feel like this is a topic worth revisiting considering we have gotten a bunch of new villains since I started this topic.

    I think of the new Spidey films, Vulture is pretty sympathetic and Mysterio is pretty unsympathetic.

    Thanos is someone I have mixed feelings about, in theory, he thinks what he is doing is right, but man his theories are built on faulty logic, I do like the scene where he sacrifices Gamora.
     
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  6. The Endless

    The Endless WE are Groot

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    Thanos and Killmonger are similar in that their motivations are completely understandable.

    But ultimately they are both complete psychopaths.
     
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  7. metaphysician

    metaphysician Not a Side-Kick

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    I think the key to Thanos is that, we are not used to villains who are not driven primarily by vice. We usually associate villain with vice and hypocrisy, even amongst self-described fanatics.

    Thanos? Is not that. He's sincere, and possess genuine virtue. His beliefs and goals are just an abomination. And thus the discomfort, because we generally tell ourselves that you can judge whether a person is a good person, based on the shortcuts of sincerity and venality.
     
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  8. Spider-Aziz

    Spider-Aziz Not the Voice You Know

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    I don't feel any of them is sympathetic, they have understandable and reasonable motivation to be angry and want to make things better when they can't, but I do not sympathize any single one.

    Doc Ock and Zod (Man of Steel) are considered sympathetic, and while I do admire them wanting to improve life for their ilk, their means went beyond sympathy.
     
  9. TraditionalHero

    TraditionalHero Registered

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    Thanos's plan will never not be stupid.

    In no way was he sympathetic. He was an evil ****.
     
  10. Travesty

    Travesty Registered

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    I wonder what people will say, when they have to sympathize with The Joker in the solo movie?
     
  11. metaphysician

    metaphysician Not a Side-Kick

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    Well, I'm sure a percentage of people will say all kinds of disturbing, evil-rationalizing things. Just like how things like Breaking Bad and Fight Club managed to bring some really squicky cockroaches to light.
     
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  12. The Endless

    The Endless WE are Groot

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    Hmmm I dont think you have to sympathise with him just because he's the protagonist.

    I think it'll be similar to Nightcrawler.
     
  13. metaphysician

    metaphysician Not a Side-Kick

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    The problem is that, to a certain percentage of the viewing audience, the protagonist is automatically someone for them to sympathize with. Its not even necessarily a choice, but a reflex taught by countless movies that subtly or blatantly encourage automatic protagonist sympathy. This means that, even with the best of intentions, a movie with a villain protagonist *will* have people sympathizing with them.
     
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  14. The Overlord

    The Overlord Registered

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    I would agree that Killmonger is pretty sympathetic, his goals are terrible, but his terrible life is what drove him to those goals.

    I do not think Thanos is pure evil, but I still think his logic makes little sense, which undermines any sympathy I can have for him.

    On the other end, Hela is pretty unsympathetic, she is a would be imperialist and mass murderer, Zander Rice and Donald Pierce from Logan are pretty unsympathetic, a pair of genocidal child murderers, Ego is a would-be mass murderer who murders his own children.
     
  15. Mjolnir Reborn

    Mjolnir Reborn Blunt Instrument

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    I definitely think IW Thanos is more sympathetic than Killmonger. Killmonger is driven by revenge and his goal includes a lot of personal glory. Thanos is actually driven by an ultimately altruistic goal and is willing to make true personal sacrifices to achieve it. His means to his end is what makes him a villain, but he doesn't really have any personal gain from it. He is on a true hero's journey, just with means that push him to the villainous side.
     
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  16. The Overlord

    The Overlord Registered

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    I am not sure I agree that Thanos' goal is altruistic, because it's based on flawed logic, this would be a one of those videoes that makes fun of his goals:

     
  17. Mjolnir Reborn

    Mjolnir Reborn Blunt Instrument

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    Whether his plan is altruistic has to do with his motivations, not with whether the plan is sound. He does what he does because he thinks that is the way to save the universe, and he doesn't put himself in any position of power or to gain something through the execution of that plan.

    As for the plan, it certainly has plenty of flaws like it often is in superhero films. Not even the more down to earth and gritty TDK managed to make sense so it's not unexpected when making a big purple alien gather godly power to reshape the universe. The video wasn't quite accurate though as he wasn't out to defeat starvation but the overspreading of life. Probably based somewhat on how societies on Earth have stopped multiplying after reaching a certain living standard and rather have declining numbers. And even with having stopped the increasing amount of children being born in the entire world the number they showed in the video is irrelevant since our population will nearly double that amount through all countries eventually reaching similar average life expectancy.

    Endgame did hurt Thanos' IW plan a bit though since it there sounded like there were alternatives. In IW it looked like what he did was about as much force he and the gauntlet could withstand, so creation was out of the question.
     
  18. metaphysician

    metaphysician Not a Side-Kick

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    *cough* That Thanos' plan "does not make sense" is a feature, not a bug. Thanos is an extremely intelligent, charismatic *fanatic*, and a flaw with the plan is a sign that the world is wrong, not that Thanos is wrong. This is confirmed by his actions in Endgame, when faced explicitly with his plan not-working.

    As for why Thanos is so invested in the whole "kill half of everyone" plan? My theory is, its because of the death of Titan. He came up with the idea of halving the population to fix Titan's problems, it wasn't done, and Titan died. Embracing, with absolute certainty, that this plan could have saved Titan? Means he doesn't have to grapple emotionally with either of these scenarios:

    1. "My original plan was useless and counterproductive, and the time I spent advocating it might have distracted from pursuing actual workable plans. Thus, I am partially at fault for Titan's death."

    2. "My original plan was useless, but *not* counterproductive, because absolutely nothing anybody could have done could have saved Titan. Thus, I was not at fault, but I was absolutely helpless."

    You can see how neither of these would exactly be exciting scenarios to embrace. Given the alternative, "All the problems of the universe can be fixed with mass death, and I can still save other worlds" looks like an awfully appealing personal religion ( with Thanos as the self-decreed savior, natch ).
     
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  19. Schlosser85

    Schlosser85 Watchful Protector

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    We're obviously meant to have at least some sympathy/understanding for Thanos, Loki (especially in the first Thor), and Killmonger. Though personally I thought Thanos in Infinity War and Loki in Thor were better-developed than Killmonger, whom I'm not as high on as a lot of people are.

    Other obvious candidates for somewhat sympathetic villains would be The Winter Soldier (whom I don't really even consider a "villain"), Helmut Zemo in Civil War, Doc Ock, The Lizard in TASM, Harry Osborn in Spider-Man 3, and Two-Face in The Dark Knight.

    As noted by many others, The Joker is pretty much completely unsympathetic in any iteration, and Heath Ledger's is exceptionally evil. What really pushes him over the finish line is his vicious cruelty---toying with the fake Batman, sewing up bombs inside his own henchmen, burning Lau alive atop a mountain of money, and lying to Batman about Rachel and Dent's locations, knowing Batman was gonna choose Rachel---and the fiendish ways he tries to force good people into situations where they do abhorrent things. Even after he's been captured, he still almost succeeds in indirectly orchestrating the murder of Gordon's child at the hands of a broken and crazed Harvey Dent. He's downright devilish.

    Alexander Pierce is a bastard. The brainwashing scene where he smacks a scared and confused Bucky around like a dog and then just has him brain-fried again and walks out ignoring his screams as callously as if he's adjusting any other piece of malfunctioning equipment shows how evil he really is. He's a textbook charming manipulative sociopath.
     
  20. The Endless

    The Endless WE are Groot

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    I think Alexander Pierce is a really underrated villain. He's well characterised. Again kinda like Thanos, you can kinda sorta understand his motivations... but his methods are reprehensible.

    The fact that he's played by legendary Hollywood golden boy Robert Redford is a massive coup for Marvel, and is a great subversion.
     
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  21. Schlosser85

    Schlosser85 Watchful Protector

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    Oh absolutely. Redford's presence enhances the whole political spy thriller vibe for TWS, except Redford is flipped around playing the kind of character he'd be crusading against in his '70s political thrillers.
     
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  22. The Endless

    The Endless WE are Groot

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    Definitely. The Winter Soldier is still top 3 MCU film for me.
     
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  23. Schlosser85

    Schlosser85 Watchful Protector

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    It's the whole package. Low-key humor and some serious, even dark material co-existing in balanced quotients without anything ever feeling forced or overdone, a mix of kinetic action and quieter moments that take genuine time for character interaction (IMO it's the best Natasha ever was and Johansson and Evans had great chemistry---unsurprisingly as they're like BFFs in real life and have been since way before the MCU started) with little moments like Steve and Natasha's heart-to-heart on their road trip to the army base in New Jersey, Steve sitting in on the VA meeting, Steve visiting old Peggy, the "with you to the end of the line" flashback with Bucky and how that comes back around in the end....just genuine little quiet character-to-character moments that some of these movies don't really bother with.

    Also the action is just bad-ass. That highway fight is still great. Actually every scene TWS himself is in is great.
     
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  24. The Endless

    The Endless WE are Groot

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    100% agreed. ****, I might watch it tonight lol
     
  25. Schlosser85

    Schlosser85 Watchful Protector

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    I'm pretty much up for a rewatch of TWS whenever. It's one of those movies I can just slip right back into.
     

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