Typically in Hollywood movies, no matter what kind of obstacles are thrown in the hero’s way, they find a way to come out on top. James Bond always lives to fight another day, Superman sends Lex Luthor to jail, and the crew of the Starship Enterprise goes off on another mission through the Final Frontier. As feel-good as this can be, it does run the risk of getting stale, and sometimes the filmmakers have to mix things up. Every once in a while, the villain gets the upper hand to make life truly miserable for the protagonist and leave audiences feeling dire. Here are 10 famous movies where the bad guy actually wins.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Just from the title, you knew things weren’t going to go well for the Rebel Alliance in this Star Wars sequel. Darth Vader and the Imperials rebounded strongly following their defeat in the Battle of Yavin, wiping out the Rebel presence on Hoth, capturing Han Solo and freezing him in carbonite, and besting Luke Skywalker in a lightsaber duel. Just about everything went the villains’ way in this film, except for Luke joining the Dark Side of the Force. They say the second chapter in a trilogy is usually the darkest, and that tradition arguably started with this movie. When the credits rolled, many wondered how the heroes could ever come back.
The Dark Knight
The Joker’s goal in this critically acclaimed crime drama is to prove that deep down, everyone is corruptible and can commit heinous acts like he does. By the end of the film, it’s safe to say he was successful in those goals. Through his intricate plan, the Clown Prince of Crime brought Harvey Dent down to his level, transforming the district attorney into the evildoer Two-Face. And when Dent goes on a homicidal spree following his transformation, Batman takes the fall for the crimes, essentially lying so the people of Gotham can maintain their vision of hope. Anyone who can make the Caped Crusader become a Gotham police target clearly didn’t lose.
No Country for Old Men
One of the most chilling villains in recent memory is Anton Chigurh, who became the film’s most memorable character thanks to an unforgettable turn by Javier Bardem. The hitman’s mission is to track down and recover a briefcase of money, and he becomes a thorn in the side of Llewelyn Moss and Sherriff Ed Tom Bell. In the end, he bests all the come through his path, killing Moss and leaving Bell to face retirement having failed his last case. It’s true that Chigurh is brutally wounded in a car accident near the film’s end, but he got away alive – and nobody saw him.
The Silence of the Lambs
You know things have gotten dire when the authorities need the help of a serial killer to track down another serial killer, and that’s what happens in this film. Hannibal Lecter is an extremely cunning villain, and through a series of events, he’s able to escape incarceration and makes his way back into the free world. The cannibal promises to not pursue Clarice Sterling, but he cannot make that exception for everyone involved with the FBI. With the infamous line, “I’m having an old friend for dinner,” audiences know that Hannibal got what he wanted and is ready to unleash his terror on the world again.
Captain America: Civil War
In a film with two teams of Avengers fighting each other, Zemo is the main antagonist pulling all the strings. Seeking vengeance for his deceased family, Zemo sets out to tear Earth’s Mightiest apart by exposing one heartbreaking secret. Through a careful plan, Tony Stark learns that Steve Rogers’ best friend Bucky was the one who murdered his parents – which only worsens his guilt. Though nobody was killed, Zemo was still successful in fracturing the team, and it won’t be easy for them to get back together in Infinity War. There are a lot of personal issues left to be worked out, and hopefully future films explore this further.