People Share Which Villains They Believe Had The Purest Motivations

People Share Which Villains They Believe Had The Purest Motivations
Brian McGowan on Unsplash

A complex villain is always more interesting than a one-sided evil that has no underlying motivation.

Sometimes, the villains are even sort of in the right--the heroes keep the peace for the sake of keeping the peace, but are they really doing the right thing? Or would the villain have been better winning?

One Redditor asked not_anakin asked:

Which villain actually had a good motivation?

Here were some of those answers.

Bad Politics

Ed Harris's character in The Rock. Ex-vet wanted a decent funeral for some of his fallen comrades plus I think a 100 mil in compensation for their families

Spoiler alert: the president said no


Who Went First

The Machines in the Matrix.

The Second Renaissance showed that it was humans who struck first and tried to destroy the sentient Machines once they became intelligent. The Machines removed themselves from society and created their own city 1-0 in the middle of the desert to try to allay human fears but it still didn't work.

Humans were the aggressors. The Machines wanted to protect themselves.

And the Machines are not even evil. Instead of just exterminating humans or chopping off their heads and using their bodies as batteries they took the trouble to create a massive virtual world for us. They even tried making it a Paradise at first (according to Agent Smith) but we rejected it so they went more realistic.


Protecting Your Kind

Magneto. Having been a Holocaust survivor, it makes a lot of sense to not want to see the people you identify with once again persecuted for the circumstances of their birth.


Abandonment Issues

Luke Castellan from Percy Jackson. His motivation was that the gods didn't pay enough attention to their kids (himself included) and wanted the gods and Camp Half-Blood to recognize the children of the minor gods.


When American Healthcare Is The Real Villain

Sandman from Spider-Man 3. He just wanted a chance to see his dying daughter before she died. The only reason he robbed places was the get enough money to find treatment for her. He accidentally killed uncle Ben, and felt really bad about it, to the point where it haunted him.


For The Greater Good

Dr. Doom.

He has literally, like without a shadow of a doubt seen every single outcome of every single decision he has or will ever make. And the only way humanity survives is if he rules them and takes them on a certain path.

Yet the fantastic four keep on beating his ass down.

His rule isn't even that bad, even in the context of 'a great leap forward.' The FF just don't like him because he's just a power hungry single leader and being that and ruling the earth has historically been bad. But you know what all those other populist leaders didn't have? LITERAL DEMONSTRABLE CLAIRVOYANCE AND SUPER INTELLIGENCE.


My Life Is Over

Zemo from Captain America Civil War. Superhero battle kills everyone he cares about, destroys his city and sets his country back to the Stone Age. Then they just go home. Zemo targeted the avengers and set them up to turn on each other. A man with no powers was able to beat the Avengers.



Dr. Horrible.

He saw the lies that were being spread, the fact that those in charge were harming humanity, and wanted to make a change which, okay put him in charge, but also lead to actual change for the people.

Also, Captain Hammer is a jerk.


Walter Peck

The EPA guy in Ghostbusters was just trying to make sure their weird new technology was safe but the quippy nerds refused to comply. Turns out they didn't even have a backup generator for if it ever got unplugged.


Left Behind

Javier Bardem's character in Skyfall. Betrayed and abandoned by his own country, and subjected to years of torture. Hell, the same thing happened to Bond at the beginning of Die Another Day, but MI6 eventually got him back whereas they just forgot Silva existed.



I'm going to say it: Thanos (MCU version).

He isn't wrong that if something doesn't change, we will deplete our resources and things will get bad. The snap is random, so there is a fairness to it and the people dusted didn't seem to suffer.

I don't consider him a villain, just misguided in how he addresses the problem. He truly believes what he is doing is the only way (and it probably is).

The comic version is different.

- Quagmeyer69

Couldn't he have just snapped his fingers and doubled the resources available?

In the universe, there is more than enough room for Thanos to have put the extra resources. Or *snap* everyone only requires half as much resources now as before?

- IWaaasPiiirate

Understandably Annoyed

Honestly, while his motivations and sole goal to destroy everything that annoys him is a little screwy, I can't help but feel bad for Shigaraki from My Hero Academia.

Most argue he's a spoiled man-child, but he can't help it! He has a power he can't control that killed his family and broke him. From then on All For One spoiled, manipulated, and twisted him.

On the other hand Stain has a pretty good motivation. A majority of heroes are power hungry or fame seeking to a degree and while he kinda took things to the extreme by killing them, he believes in a better world.

He's willing to sacrifice himself for his beliefs, spares those who show the mettle of a real hero, and is willing to save others. Plus his Blood Curdle Quirk looks badass.

- Smith_Disconnected

Ghosts Would Have Been Safer

Walter Peck from Ghost Busters.

I thought he was such a dick as a child, but as an engineering major the Ghostbusters did some seriously dangerous and illegal sh*t!

They build a " lazer containment grid" which I can only infer as crossing particle bombardment rays; so they were containing ghosts by literally building a wall out of nuclear radiation! In the middle of Manhattan! With no containment or fallout measures!

They didn't even put a saftey switch on said nuclear equipment.

- burmsrock


Morgana from the TV series Merlin.

All she wanted to start with was for magical people not to be persecuted. She took it too far, though...

- [Reddit]

The Grey Area Of Pitch Black

Richard B. Riddick AND William Johns. I mean, they were really both bad guys right?

Johns is a merc. His payday is bringing back Riddick to slam; one of the most notorious escape artists/murderers in the Verse.

And Johns knows what he's up against with Riddick. It's kill or be killed if Riddick has his glowing eyes on you. Self preservation, pretty good motivator there.

Then you have Riddick, who was literally only really responsible for one single death in that movie, and that's Johns. Because he knew (as did we) that Johns would betray their agreement as another bad guy acting out of rational self interest and self preservation.

So, ironically, Riddick kills Johns out of desperation and survival (note similar motives to Johns). So our lines between hero and villain are now blurred with these two. Their motives are similar, how can one be a villain and the other be a hero?

While Riddick is clearly the main focus of Pitch Black, you'd have one hell of a time arguing that he's a hero.

- XxImperatorxX


Dusan Gavrich in The Peacemaker (1997). Love that movie.

His entire motivation was that the war and conflict in his country (the Bosnian War) which killed his wife and child was caused by the United Nations. His goal was to destroy the United Nations to stop them from interfering in any other country. 'Leave us to find our own destiny.'

His character was a sympathetic one, doing what he (and others) felt was necessary - using a small, stolen nuclear weapon - to prevent these large tragedies from ever happening again.

Great movie, amazing car chase scene, great performances from Nicole Kidman and George Clooney, and all around one of my favorites.

- burtonsimmons

He Wasn't Evil

Green Goblin from the first Spider-Man movie.

Norman was pressured into finishing the serum, took an incomplete serum that made him insane, got ousted from his own company, and borderline neglected Harry in support of Peter.

He actually shown hints of remorse near the end of the movie.

He wasn't evil, just insane. He was more of a victim than a villain.

- [Reddit]

The Pinnacle of Decadence

Ra's Al Ghul from Batman Begins.

He believed Gotham was beyond saving, and he was a check against human corruption. He says "Every time a civilization reaches the pinnacle of its decadence we return to restore the balance".

His plan even worked before! He said "We sacked Rome, loaded trade ships with plague rats, burnt London to the ground".

Also, Liam Neeson can punch me all day I love him.

- ZAQWSX6669

Kung Fu F-ed Up

Tai Lung from Kung Fu Panda.

Let's be fair, while it comes to light why Oogway chose Po eventually, the fact that Tai Lung got the shaft pretty badly the way he did is reason for him to be furious.

- AduroTri

Rooting For A Killer


I mean, sure he liked killing, but he was killing really bad people. He wasn’t running around raping and murdering innocent people for fun.

He was ridding the world (well, Miami) of the most evil people in society.

It was weird to feel like I didn’t want him caught and like I was celebrating his killings. He’s a killer- that’s objectively abhorrent and wrong.

But it didn’t feel like it was wrong. Such a mind f*ck.

- alsoaprettybigdeal

A difference in perspective can be really eyeopening!

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