There are times we've all seen a movie or TV show and thought to ourselves, "Wait. Isn't the hero doing more harm than good here?" It's easy enough to gloss over the repercussions of our protagonists, but their actions would often have harsher consequences in the real world.
Which is why Twitter user @profmusgrave asked the internet, "What superficial hero was really the villain?"
Answers started flooding in, and many made some really good points.
The way stories are framed and presented has a huge effect on how audiences react to them. When done right, these kinds of omissions slip by without the audience considering them much. A competent story works within this suspension of disbelief to tell a good tale.
The same logic and empathy applied to villains can show how easily this illusion is broken. Earlier this year, Zelda Williams posted a twitter thread showing how Disney villains are misunderstood by looking at some basics of the logic behind their actions.
You may not agree with all these choices, however.
It's a surprisingly common pastime for the internet. At the same time these tweets were trending, Dana Schwartz posted her own thread about how Belle should have picked Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. The presentation used slides arguing with information in the movie as well as real-world French history to explain why the barrel-chested hunter was the right choice.
The ease with which people can come up with these ideas is a testament to our collective empathy. If you put yourself in someone else's shoes, you can work out their motivations and how they justify what they do to themselves.
Some of the suggestions might make you do a double-take.
While these interpretations are hardly what the filmmakers intended, the thought experiment is fun. If you remove the context and perspective of these stories, do the hero's actions still make them the good guy? While not everyone may pass this test, at least we can all agree on the ultimate bad guy.