Sometimes, our favorite movies are actually secretly terrifying. Upon even a cursory examination, logic can ruin even the most hallowed films. Be warned, then, that reading about some of these heroes with suspect morality might make it hard to ever look at them the same way again. See, these are movie heroes who were actually villains.
It’s important to note these good guys who did bad things are not your typical anti-heroes. These are straight-up protagonists. We’re rooting for them because they are supposed to wear the white hat. We've been conditioned to believe that these people are doing the right thing.
Really, however, these heroes who act like villains are just pretending to be good guys. For example, is Leonard from Memento really the sympathetic amnesia-afflicted pseudo-detective who only wants to find justice for his wife? Or, is Leonard much more sinister, simply someone in need of the chase? Regardless of any feelings of blind admiration, it's important to examine our idols critically. It makes you realize that some of your favorite protagonists are actually the worst movie heroes in history.
Also, MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD.
Leonard (Guy Pearce) suffers from a type of short-term memory loss that makes it impossible for him to make new memories. His condition turns the search for his wife's rapist and killer into a nearly impossible task, and it also makes Leonard one of the most unreliable narrators in the history of cinema.
In a plot-twist at the end, which is actually the beginning of the backwards moving narrative, we discover that Leonard duped us along. He already found the person who raped his wife. And, although Leonard won't admit it, he's actually the person who killed his wife. Well, probably. It depends on who you believe in a story where no one is quite believable. Either way, Leonard is an unquestionably bad dude.
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We were all duped as children, trained to believe that the Wicked Witch of the West was the villain in The Wizard of Oz. All along, it was the "good" witch Glinda who was actually responsible for all of Dorothy's problems in Oz.
After Dorothy's house crushes the Wicked Witch of the East to death in Oz, it is Glinda who takes the Wicked Witch's red slippers off her feet and transposes them onto Dorothy's feet. Of course, this is going to enrage the Witch's sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, and rightful heir to the red slippers. But Glinda wants to pick a fight with the west side witch.
Has there ever been a bigger d*ck move in the history of celluloid? Glinda essentially glues a prized possession to Dorothy's feet and turns her into a patsy. She is the master manipulator in Oz, and she pushes Dorothy into a fight with the Wicked Witch of the West in order for Glinda to be the only magic game in town. Glinda wants her adversary dead, she just doesn't want to get blood on her own hands. Can't tarnish that spotless reputation, after all.
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Grandpa Joe In Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Grandpa Joe has garnered such a bad reputation over the years that there is even a website called, Say No To Grandpa Joe: Exposing the Truth, which goes about outlining all the ways that he is actually the villain in the 1971 movie musical. The goal of the site: "is to expose the dark underbelly of the story. To reveal once and for all the truth about the only real villain in the movie (and no, it is not Slugworth). It is Grandpa Joe."
Upon further examination, Grandpa Joe is selfish. He spends money on tobacco while the other seven members of his family are forced to eat cabbage soup every single day. Another solid argument for Grandpa Joe as villain is that he is nothing more than a slacker. He could have been working the twenty years that he spent in bed, constantly criticizing his family, pretending to be too sick to help out. When Charlie tells his family that he has the coveted golden ticket, Grandpa Joe jumps out of bed and actually dances. His spryness is rather amazing for a man in his 90s whose feet have not touched the ground in two decades.
Thanks to the internet, there are countless fan theories out there. Most of them don't hold water, but every once in a while, something clicks and makes total sense. For example, good ol' Peter Pan probably kills Lost Boys when they get too old. In J.M. Barrie's book, which to date have been adapted into 10 movies, there's a passage that makes Pan sound rather sinister:
"The boys on the island vary, of course, in numbers, according as they get killed and so on; and when they seem to be growing up, which is against the rules, Peter thins them out; but at this time there were six of them, counting the twins as two."
So Peter Pan hate adults so much that he "thins them out." And no reasonable person can read "thins them out" as anything but a euphemism for murder.
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