They devastate cities. They destroy millions of lives. Then they save the day. Meet the horrible people who had a change of heart—or whose heart grew three sizes—just in time. (Note: It goes without saying but we’ll say it anyway—SPOILERS AHEAD.)
Darth Vader (“Star Wars”)
Sure, he killed Luke Skywalker’s beloved mentor Ben Kenobi. Sure, his interrogation techniques led to the detonation of Princess Leia’s entire planet. Sure, he probably routinely kicked puppy butts whenever he walked down the street to pick up his morning coffee. But he did the right thing when it really counted—the third act of “Episode VI”—hurling the evil Emperor Palpatine to his death just in time to save his son and the galaxy, a noble gesture for which he was unfortunately rewarded by having to return as the ghost of Hayden Christensen at the end.
T-101 (“Terminator 2: Judgment Day”)
In the first “Terminator” film, Arnold Schwarzenegger was a cyborg assassin from a future in which machines rule sent back to present day (okay, 1984) to kill the mother of humanity’s eventual resistance leader. But in the sequel, Arnold’s T-101 returns reprogrammed to both save the mom and her son John Connor from the even more evil and advanced T-1000 robot. Of course, this could have been followed by the reprogrammed T-1000 returning to save mankind from the far more threatening T-10,000, a giant robot made up of smaller robots piloted by even smaller robots who each have a robot sidekick. Then in the fourth film that reprogrammed robot could have become a good guy to save everybody from what would essentially be the Death Star with feet, allowing for one of the greatest and most confusing movie franchise crossovers ever.
Predator (“Alien Vs. Predator”)
Predators love to hunt. In fact, it’s all they seem to love to do, indicating that their planet’s brunches and book clubs probably all end with someone getting a spear in the eye. So when a team of archeologists accidentally unearth alien eggs below Antarctica, the galactic hunters arrive and start killing EVERYBODY to get to the fast-growing and multiplying aliens (and probably earn a merit badge along the way). Eventually, only a single human and Predator are left to form an alliance and defeat the attacking aliens and their queen. The Predator dies from his wounds but his arriving comrades award the human with one of their spear weapons in recognition of her bravery as a soldier. She then uses this spear to go on a massive hunting rampage on Earth. Or not. I never saw the sequel.
Doctor Octopus (“Spider-Man 2”)
Like a lot of villains, Doctor Octavius started out as a good man who became consumed with evil after he lost the love of his life, lost the one thing he had worked his entire life to build, and lost his security deposit after accidentally blowing up his lab/apartment. And so with mechanical tentacles now fused to his spine (a mid-2000 fashion trend that thankfully did not catch on), the newly named “Doctor Octopus” goes on a rampage to complete his project—a fusion reactor—by any means possible. But when it looks like the reactor may destroy Manhattan, Dock Ock finds the goodness still within him to drown both the device and himself in the Hudson River, a noble gesture that in reality still would have blown NYC sky-high but, hey, kudos for trying.
A villain who didn’t so much want to rule the world as just have a superhero to fight/play with, Megamind becomes bored and unhappy shortly after believing he killed longtime foe/good guy Metro Man. So rather than moving to Metropolis or Gotham City to find some other deranged caped loner to do battle with, Megamind instead decides to create his own hero/nemesis using Metro Man’s DNA. But the new hero is quickly consumed with power and jealousy and soon becomes the ultimate villain, leaving Megamind with two choices—either save the day or get the hell out of town and start a new life as a frightening children’s party clown. In the end he does the right thing and becomes Metro City’s newest hero, allowing him to still wear a costume, which is all he really ever wanted in the first place.
Old Man Marley (“Home Alone”)
It being the holiday season, it’s only right that we focus both on a Christmas movie and the one villain who never was a bad guy in the first place. For years, little Kevin had heard stories of how his elderly old neighbor “Old Man” Marley had killed his entire family. But it turns out Marley was just a lonely grandfather who eventually saves Kevin’s life with a well-placed shovel smack upside the “Wet Bandits” heads. And so we all learn several valuable lessons in the end: You should never judged a book by its cover, you should never be unkind to the elderly, and you should never try to foil two home invaders with Hot Wheels cars and paint cans unless you have a back-up plan.
Would you rather be a hero or a villain? Let me know in the comments below!