Disclaimer: We don’t condone or justify the fictional violence and evil these characters have caused.
With the plethora of amazing superhero films available to us, we can safely say we’re in the golden age of comicbook movies. Not only do we have great heroes, we also have a par excellence rouges gallery. Villains still epitomise evil, but several of them actually have a nuanced complexity to them. Some even mean well in the larger scheme of things. Here are a few who actually did have good intentions, despite their ‘unconventional’ ways.
1. Erik Killmonger
– Black Panther
He just wanted an end to racism and the effects of colonisation.
Born at a time where the colour of your skin determined your social status, Erik Killmonger, was dealt the shorthand from the word go. Worst still was the fact that his own cousin, T’Challa was the prince of a thriving nation with technological superiority and African pride — a nation that he would’ve been a part of had things gone right for him.
Instead, he got to witness spurts of racism and ostracisation his whole life. While his methods were obviously a tad extreme, his goal was to prove to the world that the Wakandan people aren’t to be considered backward or primitive. Although through militaristic means, Killmonger ultimately wanted to rid his people of racial discrimination and the negative effects of colonisation — something that the people of Wakanda were conveniently guarded from and oblivious to.
– Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame
He wanted to restore the ecosystem of the universe.
If recent natural disasters (the Amazon fire and Arctic Glaciers melting to name a few) have taught us anything, it is that we have become a burden on the planet and its once thriving ecosystem. The Earth (and maybe even the universe) could have lived in perfect harmony, had it not been for human population explosion.
No matter how much we try to deny it, our planet is getting sicker by the day — depleted of its resources like water, clean air, flora and fauna. Because, there may be enough for everyone, but resources aren’t distributed in order for everyone to reap its benefits. While random culling through a snap across galaxies may actually be a way to balance resource distribution, it isn’t really the best solution when you put real lives and relationships in the mix. Despite the means, Thanos’ intentions weren’t all that bad at the end of the day. Saving the environment should, after all, be a top priority for us all right now.
3. Ra’s Al Ghul
– Batman Begins
He wanted to annihilate crime from the root.
Stemming from the Thanos school of thought at a micro level, Ra’s Al Ghul believed our world to be doomed (don’t we all?). Plagued by crime and the abuse of natural resources, the world truly has become a cruel place to live in, rightly recognised by the mysterious martial arts master.
Having lived for several hundred years, Ra’s has witnessed the gradual disintegration of the world and ultimately wants what we all want. To fix all the crap that we’ve put the world though starting with Gotham City. Although, annihilating humankind would perhaps be a bit of an overkill, getting rid of Gotham doesn’t seem so bad, considering what a criminal cesspool the city is.
He wanted to prevent another World War from happening.
The egomaniacal Watchmen villain may have intended to destroy New York City, but his ultimate aim was to save billions by preventing a full-blown war. We are in an era where most countries are nuclear-armed and even the slightest trigger can mean catastrophe for the world.
While triggering genocide in order to unite countries against a common enemy may be the wrong way to go about it, his intention was still good. After all, all he really wanted was political superpowers to unite and ultimately bring in world peace.
– X-Men saga
He wanted a life of dignity free of discrimination for his kind.
Being a Holocaust survivor, Erik Lehnsherr (alias Max Eisenhardt) had already witnessed the worst that humankind was capable of. A victim of extreme racial genocide, Magneto is essentially a disillusioned survivor who wants to do right by his people. His enemy isn’t humankind per se. But he has a deep resentment for the very human capability of ‘othering’ the people or community they somehow feel superior to.
Ultimately, Magneto’s intentions are to give rights to a once marginalised and racially segregated community. Although, his means to uplift mutant-kind is annihilating humans, it is born out of the several times humans have failed him, and violently so.
6. Ocean Master
He just wanted healthy oceans.
Another extreme environmentalist, all this Aquaman villain wanted was a harmonious oceanic ecosystem. News of us humans destroying the ocean has become commonplace by now. We’ve been dumping industrial waste and non-biodegradable garbage into the ocean to the extent that the impact is lasting and even permanent in some cases.
Amidst this extreme damage we’ve caused, all King Orm Marius (Ocean Master) wants is to protect his home under the ocean, Atlantis, from human impact. While human genocide to protect the ocean may be evil in theory, considering how much we’ve fucked things up, his intentions surely come from the right place.
7. Darth Vader
– Star Wars saga
He wanted to save his family.
One of the most famous villains of all time, Star Wars’ Darth Vader may have been the epitome of evil, but his intentions weren’t all that bad. He started out as a talented child who was shunned by the Jedi order instead of being nurtured by it only because they had a hunch he’d turn evil. Which guess what, he did. But it could’ve easily been prevented had the Jedi order just accepted and groomed him instead of following archaic rules.
While killing toddlers is textbook evil and all, but the intention to destroy a primitive order rooted in communal supremacy isn’t really so bad. Moreover his turn to the ‘dark side’ was in fact to use midichlorians for the greater good starting with saving his wife’s life.
– Avengers: Age of Ultron
He wanted peace by any means necessary.
Another invitee to the end humans for the betterment of the world party is the sentient robot Ultron. Initially created to maintain peace and exterminate external threats to the world, Ultron eventually realises that the biggest threat to peace on Earth is actually humankind.
While completely destroying life may not be the way to go about it, humans surely need to be kept in check. Ultron was extreme and a tad annoying, but he kinda had the right idea.
– The Incredibles
He wanted an egalitarian society where no one is superior than the other.
The Incredibles’ villain may seem like your made-to-order bad guy. But his intentions were actually pretty rooted in socialism and egalitarianism. Shunned by Mr. Incredible simply for not being born with powers, Syndrome channelises his skill into creating technology that can power a regular person and make them a superhero.
In a world where superheroes are deemed superior and revered for the powers they harness, Syndrome intended to remove the hierarchal ladder by making superpowers a common commodity. His endgame was actually an equal and fair world where the playing field is leveled. Not such a bad idea, if you think about it.
– Spiderman: Homecoming
He opposed the corporatisation of small businesses.
A former member of the working class, Adrian Toomes falls victim to faceless corporatisation when his scrap business is taken away from him by Stark Industries. While he isn’t exactly the best person to be a champion of ending the wealth divide, he does have a point with his whole gripe with big businesses and bureaucracy.
In today’s world several small businesses get sacrificed to the sharks of the corporate ecosystem. Toomes’ animosity with the 1% stemmed from the death of his livelihood and that of several others. While stealing futuristic technology and causing mayhem may not be the way to go about it, being an advocate of the wealth divide isn’t really such a bad thing in the world we’re in.
We obviously don’t condone their actions. And while their intentions may have been for the greater good, there really isn’t any justification for the fucked up things they did on the way.