Movie villains are guilty of a lot of things. For most, nothing is too evil: even crimes as heinous as genocide, infanticide, or just about any other -cide imaginable are very much on the table. And although most villains’ moral compasses are decidedly skewed, sometimes, their intentions are actually sort of… good.
No one is trying to justify murder, terrorism, or – God forbid – monologuing, but when a film’s villain has a good point, it’s kind of hard to remember who to root for. This is usually offset by making the hero the most virtuous, idealistic character possible in order to make the villain’s reasonable motivations seem suitably evil by comparison.
Perhaps the strangest aspect of these (almost) justifiable villains is that there’s just so many of them. Most of them are fighting against some form of social injustice or to actually save or protect innocent lives, but their questionable methods are enough to see them vilified by our holier-than-thou protagonists.
Exactly how maniacal these villains are changes from entry to entry, but here are 10 villains who actually made a surprisingly good point.
10. General Hummel – The Rock (1996)
1996’s The Rock is a surprisingly good action thriller. Starring the perpetually underrated Nicolas Cage alongside an aging spy played by Sean Connery that may or may not be a retired 007, The Rock sees the pair go up against the villainous Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel.
In The Rock, Hummel takes control of Alcatraz Island by taking civilians hostage, then threatens to release poison gas canisters among the U.S. population if his demands aren’t met. Pretty evil, right?
Well, it would be, except his demands are simple: all Hummel really wants is for the fallen Marines who served under his command on covert missions to be honored, and for their families to be compensated.
To simplify The Rock‘s plot just a little: on one side, you have FBI Agent Stanley Goodspeed and the dishonorably discharged John Mason (the only man to ever escape Alcatraz). On the other, you have a decorated war hero who wants to honor and financially compensate the families of fallen soldiers.
Even Hummel’s threat of terrorism isn’t as bad as it seems, because he later admits that he had been bluffing all along, and never personally intended to release the poison gas.
While threatening terrorism is decidedly bad, everything else about Hummel – especially his motivation – was distinctly good, which actually makes him a better person than the film’s “hero”, John Mason, who spent most of his life imprisoned for stealing government secrets. Hardly as black and white as it seems at a glance, to say the least.