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?"
What superficial hero was really the villain?— Paul Musgrave (@Paul Musgrave)1545364774.0
Answers started flooding in, and many made some really good points.
Batman. One Percenter undermines local law enforcement and beats up on non-neurotypical people who don’t conform to… https://t.co/vAE0utWY7M— Nakatomi Plaza Survivor (@Nakatomi Plaza Survivor)1545502314.0
Simba in the Lion King. Entitled brat spends childhood partying w hippie friends and feels entitled to rule because… https://t.co/6q8lmW2FlM— Phillip Lipscy (@Phillip Lipscy)1545446319.0
Rose in Titanic lets Jack go after she specifically promised not to do so and then forces a bunch of dudes on a boa… https://t.co/FABleGkoms— Jerry Dunleavy (@Jerry Dunleavy)1545520188.0
The Karate Kid was actually a bully who stole another guy's girlfriend before kicking his ass. https://t.co/pVThSDKjco— Ken Webster Jr (@Ken Webster Jr)1545449486.0
Holden Caulfield. Knuckle down and study and quit trying to invent emo. https://t.co/AB7Zkrto4Z— Ben Stanley (@Ben Stanley)1545521174.0
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.
Princess Leia: intergalactic hippy, entitled, hopeless at basic espionage, brings death and destruction to largely… https://t.co/RkDk7ec7iE— 𝐆𝐫𝐚𝐲 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐧𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐲 (@𝐆𝐫𝐚𝐲 𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐧𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐲)1545492740.0
Dumbledore allowed the entirety of House Slytherin to believe they'd won the cup, then awarded an arbitrary number… https://t.co/C0lAEQjI4f— Steve DuBois (@Steve DuBois)1545524743.0
Also, Jim Halpert from The Office. He was a dick to everyone especially Dwight who just wanted to do his job https://t.co/U0wcN0ApBz— Nicole Kidman (@Nicole Kidman)1545600169.0
Mr. incredible. Fighting to keep powers the purview of a bloodline elite against someone seeking to democratize the… https://t.co/lh4pLtW8U0— Adam Gurri (@Adam Gurri)1545448281.0
Tony Stark. Created most of his own villains, then turned narc on his friends and projected his own failings on to… https://t.co/wgvHjuWFce— Brian Hurst 🎅📀🕋 (@Brian Hurst 🎅📀🕋)1545512001.0
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.
Every single person on here that’s replying with a Disney character is going to hell is all I’m gonna say https://t.co/tQuZ9oJXIX— henry viii anti (@henry viii anti)1545582129.0
Is nobody going to mention how Gizmo spawned all of those gremlins in the first place? Then when Spike gets out of… https://t.co/lYw2sesigp— Newby (@Newby)1545581102.0
James T. Kirk Fight me. I’m ready. https://t.co/GnwkjAbSlj— Robert Farley (@Robert Farley)1545447869.0
That kid from home alone, obsessed with regulation he tormented two small business owners and did not allow them to… https://t.co/k8SMeML6TY— Molly Jong-Fast (@Molly Jong-Fast)1545449810.0
@profmusgrave my dad— miketheburrito (@miketheburrito)1545364919.0
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.
This thread. https://t.co/mdyJiYtwPO— Luz-er (@Luz-er)1545518607.0