Superheroes are all over the big screen as of recent. Nowadays, it seems as though more and more superhero films are releasing each year, continually drawing audiences in to wow them with a great mix of action and adventure. Likewise, almost every big screen comic character has the desire to do good, which is a moral value that everyone can get behind.
However, just because a hero has the desire to do good, doesn’t mean they go about it in the best way. In fact, there are several comic book heroes who could easily pose as villains above all else. Though the darker nature of these characters is part of what makes them appealing, it doesn’t change the fact that they walk a fine line between good and evil. Looking at some of the bigger cases, here is our list of the 10 most morally ambiguous superheroes in film.
Like in the comics, Tom Hardy’s Venom (2018), is a very morally ambiguous character. Though the movie plays with his backstory in a different way, Eddie Brock has always been somewhat of an anti-hero. While the movie at least got that part right, it did take its liberties with many other aspects of the character. In the film, Eddie rejects the symbiote at first, eventually coming to form a mutual understanding with it.
Likewise, Eddie comes to be okay with dealing out a darker brand of justice. Though he is still more of a good guy in the film, Venom remains a very morally ambiguous character across both platforms.
9 Iron Man
Tony Stark has stated many times that he is not a perfect person, nor a “Golden Boy” like Captain America. In his past, Tony designed some of the deadliest weapons that humanity has yet seen. Following his abduction in Iron Man (2008), Tony swore to use his mind to help people instead of hurt them.
Hence, Iron Man was born and while Tony does fight bad guys, he’s not afraid to put them in the dirt. Virtually every movie featuring Iron Man has seen him kill someone in some way. Though it does coincide with his comic book counterpart and the killing is kept to a minimum, Tony is still developing tools to kill people, strictly speaking. Despite the flaws that make him such a great character, he can still be pretty morally ambiguous.
Thanks to his incredibly goofy and fun-loving nature, it is really hard to picture the MCU’s Ant-Man as morally ambiguous. Furthermore, Scott Lang isn’t exactly known for being a ruthless killer.
However, the character is still a criminal, considering how he only became Ant-Man by stealing the suit. Whether it were a test or not, Scott Lang has still served time in prison for his actions. Though he is still a great character and easy to love, Scott’s past still make him very morally ambiguous, despite his best intentions.
Unlike Iron Man, Batman is known in the comics for an incredibly strict moral code that prevents him from taking a human life. Though (for the most part) this has held true in the comics, the films are a whole other story. Virtually every major Batman motion picture has seen the Dark Knight take a life in some way.
Though some depictions are far more obvious about it (like 1992's Batman Returns or 2016's Batman v Superman), even Christopher Nolan’s Batman has taken lives. Though he is a little more careful than other Batmen, Christian Bale’s version of the character still killed plenty of villains, especially in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). For as much as everyone loves the character, he certainly has broken his one rule quite frequently.
Hugh Jackman’s performance as Wolverine is one of the actor’s most celebrated roles. Especially towards the end of his time with the character, Jackman brought about a great sense of darkness that is typically part of the character in the comics. However, even serving as a member of the X-Men, Wolverine had a tendency to carry that darkness with him.
Films like X2: X-Men United (2003) really showcase how dark the character could become, with Logan (2017) really bringing the darkness to its full extent. Even aside from his past, Wolverine has had no issues taking a life, despite the best efforts of the X-Men to convince him otherwise. Because of this, it is easy to see how he can be a bit morally gray.
While Blade is an incredibly fun character to root for in his solo films, he can still get pretty brutal at times. Even though he hunts vampires, Blade has a tendency to enact some insanely brutal kills. Furthermore, he is certainly willing to eliminate almost anyone standing in his way. Despite being half vampire himself, Blade does believe that he is doing the right thing.
Though he is fighting for the greater good, he could definitely be a lot cleaner with some of his methods. While the character’s darker nature is part of what drew audiences to him, he is still a very morally ambiguous character.
In both the comics and the movies, Magneto has constantly switched sides. As Charles Xavier's closest friend, Magneto has fought both against the X-Men as well as alongside them, sometimes within the same movie.
The great thing about Magneto’s character though is that he truly believes that he is doing the right thing. Though both he and Charles are fighting to preserve mutantkind, Magneto feels the only way to truly win is by dominating humans. Though his beliefs have aligned him with the X-Men as often as he’s stood against them, Magneto is still a morally gray character.
Of course, the Punisher is easily one of the most morally ambiguous heroes in general. Despite having some horrible movies, Punisher has always been about his own brand of justice. The only people he is not willing to kill are those who he himself finds to be completely innocent. Like with Blade, Punishers darker nature is part of what makes him appealing to audiences.
Considering everything that happened to his family, it makes sense that Frank Castle would become this person. Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that he is one of the most brutal forces for “justice” within comic books and movies alike.
2 Black Widow
At the moment, very little is known about Black Widow’s past. While the upcoming Black Widow solo film could change that, it is safe to assume that she is a very morally gray character. Even in the present MCU, Natasha Romanoff is capable of all sorts of things, including taking a life.
Though this depiction is accurate with the comics as well, her mysterious past is likely best kept hidden considering her standing as an Avenger. Though it isn’t clear as to what extent, Black Widow is very obviously far more ruthless than audiences may know.
In practically all of her live action depictions, Selina Kyle has toed the line between good and evil. Typically depicted as a thief, the villainess has almost always come through for Batman at some point in the film.
While more of her backstory is given in Batman Returns than it is in The Dark Knight Rises, the character has still caused almost as much trouble as she has helped stop. Though it seems as though she and Batman are destined to play this game forever, she is one of the more obvious morally ambiguous characters around.