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Top 10 Film Villains Who Had Justifiable Motives

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp

Script written by Nathan Sharp

You know, these bad guys sorta had a point. From Syndrome, to Raoul Silva, to Roy Batty, these villains had goals that made sense. WatchMojo counts down the top film villains with justifiable motives.

Special thanks to our users MikeMJPMUNCH2 and Frenchy 17 for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Film%20Villains%20Who%20Had%20Justifiable%20Motives


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Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Film Villains Who Had Justifiable Motives

You know what? We can kinda see where they’re coming from. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Film Villains Who Had Justifiable Motives.

For this list, we’ll be looking at various movie villains who may have actually had a point, or at least sympathetic and understandable motives for doing what they did.

#10: Syndrome

“The Incredibles” (2004)
There are many things that Pixar excels at, and creating memorable villains is definitely one of them. Syndrome was once a fan of Mr. Incredible, but after being rejected by him, he spends the next few years scheming his revenge. His ultimate goal is to become a hero in the eyes of the public and sell his powerful inventions - in turn making everyone a superhero and negating the term in the process. Sure, it’s for entirely selfish reasons, but you can’t deny that making everyone a superhero really isn’t so bad. Would YOU turn down some of those crazy inventions if offered? Didn’t think so.

#9: Vulture

“Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017)
Whether he’s playing a comic book hero or the villain, Michael Keaton shines. His Vulture is arguably one of the strongest recent comic book villains (at least on screen), and the character’s success stems from both Keaton’s performance and the writing behind him. After being hired to clean up the Battle of New York, his business is run out by Tony Stark, forcing him to steal and sell the salvaged alien weapons on the black market. He doesn’t want to rule the world like most comic book villains; he just wants a comfortable life for his family, and he will do anything to have it… including selling alien weapons for money.

#8: Cypher

“The Matrix” (1999)
Just imagine this for a second: you’re living your life peacefully, and then some mysterious guy shows up, informs you that you’re just a glorified battery for a race of angry machines, and that your entire reality was a simulation to keep you pacified. He frees you, and you now live on a hunk of steel and eat mush all day. You’d probably want out, too. Cypher gives up Morpheus to Agent Smith, and in exchange, he gets to plug back into the matrix and have his memory wiped. In short, he gets to go back to his “normal” existence. Now isn’t that something you would want, as well? As they say… ignorance is bliss.

#7: Raoul Silva

“Skyfall” (2012)
Silva doesn’t want to rule the world via ice-shooting satellite or whatever; he just wants some good old-fashioned revenge. After hacking into top secret Chinese files without authorization, Silva is sacrificed in exchange for the release of numerous other operatives. Following five months of torture, he attempts to kill himself via cyanide capsule, which horribly disfigures him, but fails to take his life. Rarely is a James Bond villain so complex, but then again, these newest installments aren’t like most James Bond movies. While we don’t agree with his actions, we can certainly see WHY he would desire revenge. Being abandoned by your agency is bad enough, but that face adds serious insult to injury.

#6: Roy Batty

“Blade Runner” (1982)
Not only does he give one of the most moving soliloquies in cinematic history, he is also arguably one of the medium’s most sympathetic villains. Roy is a replicant, and to limit their emotional responses, they are given only four years to live. Deciding that this was not nearly enough, Roy travels to Earth to meet his creator, Dr. Tyrell, in the hopes of obtaining a longer lifespan. That’s it, that’s all. He simply wanted to live for more than four years, and he and his accomplices were subsequently hunted down for it. Yeah, we can see how he’d be a little ticked off.

#5: Old Joe

“Looper” (2012)
We know, Old Joe is a child-murderer, and yes, he is a complete monster for it. After his loop is ordered closed by The Rainmaker, the Rainmaker’s men accidentally kill Joe’s wife. In response, Joe sends himself back in time to kill the Rainmaker as a boy, Terminator-style, to prevent his wife from being killed in the future. While killing young children is completely abhorrent, he clearly doesn’t enjoy doing it. He’s simply acting out of perceived necessity and the sheer love he has for his wife, and that’s certainly at least a little sympathetic.

#4: Andrew Detmer

“Chronicle” (2012)
“Chronicle” follows in a similar vein of “Carrie”: Andrew is a loner who has a rough life both at school and at home, relentlessly bullied by students and abused by his alcoholic father. Add to that the fact that his loving mother is painfully dying of cancer, and you’ve got an emotional bomb waiting to go off. When Andrew obtains superpowers however, he sees himself as an apex predator and begins to use these forces for evil, including ripping teeth out of his bullies’ mouths and violently lashing out at his father. And, like “Carrie,” the message is clear: maybe we should treat each other a little better, lest someone snap.

#3: Magua

“The Last of the Mohicans” (1992)
Though the novel painted an even more nuanced and complex picture of this character, the film adaptation still did an admirable job in helping us understand Magua and his motives. And, like many other villains, he has revenge on his mind. His entire village was burned to the ground by the British, his children were killed, and he was taken as a slave by another tribe. In his mind, all his misfortunes stem from the Grey Hair, i.e. the British. While that may not warrant all the violence that Magua caused, we can certainly understand how such pain and grief served as grounds for revenge in his eyes.

#2: Koba

“Planet of the Apes” series (2011-)
Torture can certainly do terrible things to the mind of a man. Or an ape. Before Caesar's rise, Koba was moved from lab to lab and was subjected to countless tests and forms of abuse throughout his life. Due to this endless torture at the hands of humans, he soon grew an intense hatred towards them, which in turn led him to becoming a genocidal maniac who wanted the entire human race eliminated. While he may have gone a bit extremist, we can’t help but feel sympathy towards his plight and inhumane upbringing.

#1: Magneto

“X-Men” series (2000-)
Magneto is less villain and more a tragic anti-villain, not only because he is complex, but also because he’s played by Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender, and it’s impossible to hate those guys. Magneto is a passionate crusader for the rights of mutants, and will do anything to protect his species from discrimination or extinction - even if that means going on the offensive. With a background not only as a mutant, but as a Jew, Magneto knows firsthand how cruel humans can be towards those they perceive as “other,” and aims to prevent another terrible outcome for those of his kind. While his actions may not be noble, his heart is in the right place.


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