We can all think of characters in stories who started out bad, but just became too likable as the story went on to continue hating. If you’re into anime, Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z is a common reference point, or in the world of comics, Deadpool originated as an antagonist. Sure, we don’t want to deplete every interesting villain from our favorite stories, but some of them just feel like a natural fit to make the switch, or that they have an interesting story just waiting to be told. In that case, we just can’t help wishing they would become a hero.
Now this obviously isn’t a definitive list of every villain who could work as a hero (we’d be here all day discussing that), but based on the latest news in movies, games, comics, and TV, these are characters who are going to be topics of conversation for a while. So while we’re already talking about them, we couldn’t help but think that these are 15 Villains We Would Rather Have As Heroes.
15 BOBA FETT
It really is incredible how much attention Boba Fett attracted for such a small role in the Star Wars franchise. It’s no wonder that Captain Phasma from The Force Awakens has been compared to Fett by plenty of people. They’re both scarcely seen characters with cool costumes, cool jobs, and severely underutilized in terms of actually contributing to any of the action.
But let’s be honest, a big reason why Boba Fett is featured in extended universe stories, had his father star in his own game, and receives so much attention in general is because his aptitude as a villain was pretty underwhelming and fans wanted to see better. Dude got taken out by something as silly as a giant sand clam. If he had been a hero, there’s no way he would have been treated that badly. Even if he died, he still could’ve gotten a memorable death like Han Solo.
We know Darth Vader is returning in Rogue One, so why couldn’t Boba Fett? He’s a bounty hunter, after all, meaning he works for whoever pays. Let’s see the good guys fork out the dough to get Fett on their side to take down some baddies, and get a story arc worthy of his popularity.
The first of several characters on this list who have actually been heroes at various points, and yet still can’t quite refrain from returning to villainous acts. It’s understandable given that Deathstroke is a mercenary and an assassin that some of his targets would include heroes, but his most well-known feuds have wound up being almost all heroes over the years. For decades now he’s feuded with the likes of the Teen Titans, Green Arrow, and Batman. But judging by his willingness to form alliances with some of those same characters, there’s got to be potential for him to stay among the heroes permanently.
Now that the DC cinematic universe has started planting its seeds and is introducing moviegoers to some of the brand’s biggest names, it’s only a matter of time until Deathstroke shows up as well. With his look and backstory he’ll probably be a strong candidate for a solo film, too. And if his parody from Marvel, Deadpool, can learn to be a hero despite his violent tendencies, then why not the original from DC?
13 GREGOR CLEGANE
This entry is probably one of the more far-fetched on this list, but it’s hard not to wish for it anyway. In A Song of Ice and Fire as well as on Game of Thrones, the Mountain is one of the more enigmatic characters of Westeros. We certainly know he likes fighting, and hurting people, and killing people. But why? Whatever happened to make Gregor Clegane such a monster while even his brother Sandor can show a heart?
We’re not asking for a look at the childhood of Gregor, because films like Hannibal Rising and Rob Zombie’s Halloween have shown one great way to kill the menace and intrigue of a character is to over-explain their motivations. Just some shades of grey would be nice. Westeros is hugely known as a place where there are very few purely good or evil characters. So whenever George R. R. Martin finishes the book series, why couldn’t we have a short story focusing on Gregor akin to his Dunk and Egg prequel stories? Just give us a glimpse of what drives the Mountain when he’s the protagonist, and show us a redeeming quality beneath the brutality. Maybe it sounds silly, but then you likely would have said the same about showing the good side of the Hound, and look what a little time with Arya did to make him more sympathetic.
We’re fully prepared for Ares to show up in 2017’s Wonder Woman movie and likely even as the main antagonist. And that’s fine. Casual fans haven’t even been introduced to him yet, so they need some time to learn just what the god of war is capable of (no not that God of War). But among the Greek pantheon of deities, a little destruction and genocide can be forgiven. Wonder Woman and Ares have already worked together at times during the comics, so why couldn’t they do the same in the movies? Superman and Batman forgot their grudge once Doomsday loomed on the horizon, so do you really think Ares and Wonder Woman couldn’t do the same?
Ares could even start off as a mentor to Diana as he did in the New 52’s universe, and from there he could slowly devolve into his typical villainous self. There are a lot of options for how it can be done, but we just know we want Wonder Woman working alongside the gods in her journey, and the god of war is near the top of that list. We’ll find out for sure what role Ares might have June 2, 2017.
Say whatever you will about the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, one thing they were good at was humanizing the main villain of the movie. Spider-Man 2 is still frequently called the best Spidey movie to date, and a big part of that is because of the nuanced portrayal of Doctor Octopus. And in Spider-Man 3, it looked like Raimi wanted to do the same thing for the Sandman. Unfortunately, then the studio forced Venom on him and the rest is sad and disappointing history.
But it’s not like Sam Raimi pulled Sandman’s heroic side out of thin air for the movie. Something some fans might not realize is that Sandman has already been a good guy in the comics, and was even a member of the Avengers at one point. Fighting alongside Captain America and the Hulk certainly sounds better than fighting beside Topher Grace. Go be a hero, Sandman.
10 SCARLET WITCH
The divided loyalties of copyrights have infamously led to the cinematic versions of The Avengers and the X-Men each getting their own version of Scarlet Witch. And while Fox has not utilized the version they're entitled to for the X-Men films, it’s still a possibility that’s always on the table, especially since both film worlds have their own version of her brother Quicksilver. But while she’s already become a hero in Marvel’s films, she could very likely be a villain in Fox’s, particularly due to her connection to Magneto.
We’re definitely open to Scarlet Witch joining the X-Men films regardless of whether she starts off as a hero or a villain, but the films could certainly use some more heroes. Hugh Jackman has already declared his closure with the franchise is coming after the upcoming third Wolverine film, so one of the main heroes will soon be gone. Why not bring in a new face to fill that gap?
And as for the Scarlet Witch of The Avengers, the differing shades of heroism we saw in Civil War was a good example of how to keep characters as heroes while still having conflict. We’re just glad she got to stick around as a hero instead of getting killed off like Quicksilver.
9 SHADOW THE HEDGEHOG
Probably the most noteworthy thing the Sonic games have done in the last fifteen or so years was introduce the character of Shadow. He was pretty typical of ‘90s era villains who had most of the same abilities and powers as the hero, except they were dark and evil. And during his introduction in Sonic Adventure 2, it worked. The problem is, his motivation for being evil was resolved at the end of the game since we learned he had amnesia and was misinterpreting his friend Maria’s dying message to protect the planet as destroy the planet. Hey, it happens.
The problem is, the games keep trying to shoehorn him back into that antagonistic role, and it just doesn’t work. The worst offender was the Shadow the Hedgehog game, which is one of the biggest black marks on the Sonic franchise. But even the more recently, Sonic Boom had him opposing Sonic, and no one really knew why. Shadow is the Sonic equivalent of Vegeta, sure he was evil for a bit, but now he should just be the group’s grumpy hero. Just “live and learn,” Shadow, “open your heart” and realize that in these recent conflicts with Sonic “it doesn’t matter who is wrong and who is right.”
Obviously, Catwoman is another character whose allegiance has shifted back and forth over the years. She was an antagonist to Batman in the movie Batman Returns along with numerous stories from the comics, then she became something of a frenemy in classic comic stories like The Long Halloween, and she even became his friend and lover in stories like Hush and The Dark Knight Rises. And honestly, she's at her most interesting when watching that cautious trust her and Batman have together. Batman has plenty of compelling villains, so we really wouldn't mind seeing him being able to consistently count Catwoman as another ally. It's not like Batman has an easy time making friends.
It's not that we don't enjoy what Catwoman is capable of as an antagonist, but her transition into being a hero feels like a natural evolution for the character. Characters grow and change over time, and Catwoman has usually felt like more of a petty criminal than an outright dangerous psychopath. In a world that has the likes of the Joker, Scarecrow, and Killer Croc, Catwoman just feels too nice to be lumped in with the villains. We would feel pretty fine with her just sticking with the good guys from now on.
7 VENOM (EDDIE BROCK)
Yes, the symbiote has bonded to multiple characters since its introduction into the Spider-Man comics, and we have even gotten a heroic Venom out of the deal. But the original Venom who has become synonymous with the symbiote, Eddie Brock, is still typically classified as a villain. And many people are likely fine with that since Venom was introduced as a way to basically make an evil character with Spider-Man's abilities. But ever since Carnage was introduced, Cletus Cassidy kind of trumped Eddie Brock in the evil department. There's no way Carnage could ever be redeemed as a hero, and having two evil symbiote characters always felt a bit redundant.
Now, Venom and Spider-Man have worked together numerous times against a common enemy, but their alliance never lasts. Spider-Man tries to maintain a code against killing his enemies, whereas Venom has no problem crossing that threshold. And in some cases, it's easy to understand why Eddie could be right that it's better to make sure a threat can't return to hurt more people. But the ease with which Eddie Brocks resorts to destruction makes him too much of loose cannon to trust. It's a shame, because if he could just control his impulse and learn some compassion, he could be one of Spider-Man's strongest allies.
One of the best things about the X-Men franchise is that its large cast of recurring characters allows for many different alliances and motivations to build new stories upon. Sure, there are the generic "destroy everyone" villains like the Sentinels, but there are plenty of nuanced characters like Mystique, too. And the more we see of Mystique, especially in the movies, the more sympathetic she becomes.
X-Men: First Class showed us Mystique is not a cruel person and joined Magneto’s cause from exhaustion with living in fear of humans. Then Days of Future Past was a very Mystique-centric movie that basically put the destruction of all mutants in her hands to ignite or avoid. And she chose the latter when Charles Xavier appealed to her to release her bitterness about having to hide her true nature. It’s hard to root against someone with such an understandable fear driving them. Plus, we could never hate the mother of Nightcrawler.
Of all the video game franchises out there, you don't see too many where one of the villains winds up becoming the mascot for the series over the hero. But make no mistake, even though Scorpion has never been a primary antagonist, his continued obsession with vengeance for the death of his family has driven him down the dark path of villainy. And yet, fans obviously really like him. Or at least they are more likely to think of him before the series hero Liu Kang when Mortal Kombat is mentioned.
All that being said, we're more than ready for Scorpion to let go of his anger and become an ally to Earthrealm. He nearly did it in Mortal Kombat X, but he just couldn't resist cutting off Quan Chi's head and screwing up the plot, and yeah, that's not how the good guys roll. But with Liu Kang and Kitana still left as evil revenants at the end of X, and Raiden embracing his dark side by killing off Shinnok, we're in need of some more good guys. No one can stay angry forever, so let's see Scorpion with some closure now that Quan Chi's gone, and step up to defend the Earth against the forces of Outworld—without brutally slaughtering people, that is.
4 HARLEY QUINN
Some will wonder why we're not nominating the Joker instead of Harley, but some characters just have too much blood on their hands. And after the Joker paralyzed Batgirl some people will never forgive him. Besides, we couldn't take away Batman's greatest adversary.
Harley, on the other hand, has a bit more of a heart. Sure, she's often been the Joker's biggest accomplice, but as her membership in the Suicide Squad shows, she can at least muster up the morals to rise into the realm of an antihero every now and then. So why not a full on hero? All she'd have to do is stop delighting in hurting people. Okay, that's a big hurdle, but characters who have done crueler things than Harley have made the jump.
Really we just want Harley to be a hero because she's too likeable for us to root against. She's quirky, funny, and her colorful outfits are sure to inspire a ton of teenagers seeking a "unique" look from Hot Topic after the Suicide Squad movie comes out on August 5, 2016. Who knows, if she winds up with her own movie after Suicide Squad like rumors are saying, but maybe that can be her start as a hero in the DC cinematic universe.
Before you go getting upset and saying we're trying to take away Final Fantasy's most iconic rivalry, understand that we're not talking about Sephiroth during the events of Final Fantasy VII. When the remake of the game rolls around, we definitely want to see the iconic events play out like they did in the 1997 classic. Yes, even with the loss of Aerith.
But as fans of Sephiroth know, he's appeared in multiple stories even after the game. The Advent Children movie, Kingdom Hearts and its sequel Kingdom Hearts II. A character that popular doesn't really stay gone, and that's only going to become more true after the Final Fantasy VII remake. So if/when Sephiroth appears again in a different game or movie why couldn't he fight alongside Cloud against a common enemy for a change? Can you really say you wouldn't want a chance to have Sephiroth as an ally in Kingdom Hearts III?
2 DARTH VADER
No, we're not trying to ransack all of the cool villains from the Star Wars franchise. You can keep Emperor Palpatine and the rest, but Darth Vader is another character who makes sense to be a good guy. In the original trilogy it became a test of wills to see whether Luke or Vader could be swayed to the other's side, or if they must destroy each other. And in Return of the Jedi, we finally got our answer as Vader defied Palpatine just as the Emperor was on the verge of killing his son. It looked like we were actually going to get to see Vader join the rebels and help dismantle the Empire. But of course, Vader's body gave out on him, and he only went on to give moral support to Luke as a force ghost in the closing moments of the trilogy.
You can't tell us you didn't want to see Vader help the good guys after saving Luke, and that was part of what made the prequels intriguing initially. We thought we'd not only get to see what led to Anakin's turn to the dark side, but also find out what awesome stuff he could do as a hero before he joined the Empire. Alas, the prequels were what they were, and, well, Darth Vader's infamous "NOOOOOOO" during his transformation about sums up the world's thoughts on young Anakin.
Magneto is another case of a villain who has done some pretty nasty stuff, but time has given a new perspective to his character. In the first three X-Men films, he was a major antagonist and it was easy to understand why he had to be stopped. But then the films started moving on to nastier villains and it got to the point that Magneto was downright sympathetic. And then in Days of Future Past, we see him side by side with his longtime rival Charles Xavier, willing to die beside the man at the hands of the sentinels when the world starts falling apart.
Whether in the comics or in the movies, Magneto is clearly too self-serving to stay on the side of good permanently. But we’re not asking for the impossible. How about we start with a movie where Magneto just doesn’t screw anyone over for the whole film, and actually works to stop catastrophe without adding fuel to the fire? The guy has to be trustworthy some of the time, otherwise all the mutants who follow him and his philosophy really start to look gullible.
Are there any villains in upcoming movies, shows, or games that you have always wanted to see as heroes? Tell us who and make your case for them turning good in the comments!