A hero is only as good as their villain, right? And in many cases, a villain is only as bad as the heroes that oppose them. In fact, many of the most notorious screen villains were actually responsible - sometimes directly, others less so - for creating the very heroes who eventually brought them down. From simple (or exquisitely complex) plots of vengeance to more literal acts of creation, sometimes a villain is even the actual parent of their nemesis. More often, a villain brings their foil about, either through their own villainous acts, or through experiments that (inadvertently or otherwise) give someone else the power they need to stop the villain's reign of terror.
Here are a few cases of film baddies who maybe should have quit while they were ahead and instead created the hero who ultimately struck them down...
- Photo: Deadpool / 20th Century Fox
"Life is an endless series of train wrecks with only brief commercial-like breaks of happiness."
The Creation: Wade Wilson was a mercenary who was diagnosed with cancer of the... well, everything, pretty much. In desperation, he was recruited by a team led by Ajax, who claimed they could cure Wilson's cancer, which they attempted by injecting him with a serum designed to awaken latent mutant powers, and then basically torturing him for a long time.
The Hero: While he'll be the first to tell you he's no hero, Deadpool is a mutant whose powers include a healing factor that allows him to recover from just about anything, including the aforementioned cancer. Unfortunately, it also leaves him disfigured, leading him to seek vengeance against Ajax.
How It Ended: Despite the protestations of Colossus, an X-Man who keeps attempting to convince Deadpool to be a good guy, Deadpool ends up shooting Ajax in the head. To be fair, though, he does so only after Ajax did a bunch more bad stuff, including kidnapping Deadpool's former fiancee.Fatal villain mistake?
- Photo: Hellboy / Columbia Pictures
"I promised Herr Hitler a miracle. I'll deliver one."
The Creation: In 1944, on an island off the coast of Scotland, Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, working with a team of Nazi soldiers and scientists, opens a portal to "a place, a dark place, where ancient evil slumbers and waits to return." What comes through isn't what they initially expected, however...
The Hero: A red demon with a giant stone hand, Hellboy is taken in by the Allied forces who find him and raised by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. All grown up, he becomes an agent of the bureau, helping them to protect the world against "things that go bump in the night." The comics grant Hellboy a somewhat more complicated backstory and origin, but the general gist is the same as in this 2004 film from Guillermo del Toro.
How It Ended: It turns out that Hellboy's right hand is the key to unlocking a portal that will let the Ogdru Jahad, the "seven gods of chaos," destroy and remake the world. That's what Rasputin was initially trying to harness on that rainy Scottish island, and it's what he believes he's done at the end of the film. However, Hellboy chooses the human values he has been raised with, and breaks off his own horns, stabbing Rasputin with them.Fatal villain mistake?
- Photo: Conan the Barbarian / Universal Pictures
"Conan! What is best in life?"
"To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women."
The Creation: In the original stories by Robert E. Howard, Conan doesn't have much in the way of a backstory. He's just a barbarian reaver who goes about the world killing and stealing and fighting and doing whatever takes his fancy at a given moment, more or less. However, the 1982 movie directed by John Milius and written by Milius and Oliver Stone needed to give him a more movie-friendly arc, so he was given Thulsa Doom, a snake-worshipping priest who had slain Conan's family when he was a child, and against whom Conan vowed revenge.
The Hero: After Conan's parents were taken down in a village raid by Thulsa Doom's soldiers, he became a slave, toiling first at the Wheel of Pain and later as a gladiator. Conan becomes impressively muscular - as an adult, he's played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, after all - and skilled with a sword, eventually turning to the kinds of thievery and skirmishing he so often did in Robert E. Howard's original stories.
How It Ended: Conan's life of battle and raiding eventually brings him back into conflict with Thulsa Doom, when the king asks the barbarian to rescue the princess, who has become a member of Doom's cult. Eventually, in a moment that echoes the demise of his own mother, Conan manages to behead Doom with the sword that his father made at the beginning of the movie.Fatal villain mistake?
- Photo: RoboCop / Orion Pictures
"Give the man a hand!"
The Creation: While patrolling the mean streets of a crime-addled near-future Detroit, officer Alex Murphy is ambushed, tortured, and executed by a pack of crooks led by Clarence Boddicker. Revived as a cyborg as part of a new initiative by OCP, the private company that has been put in charge of the Detroit police department, RoboCop initially has no memory of his former life, though he gradually regains it over the course of the film.
The Hero: RoboCop is designed to be a machine, not a person. However, as Murphy's old personality gradually comes to the surface, he begins to retrieve memories of his former life, leading him into conflict with not only Boddicker and his crew, but also a senior executive at OCP.
How It Ended: RoboCop and his partner confront Boddicker and his cohorts at an industrial site, eventually taking down all of them. He takes out Boddicker with his data spike, a long spike in his fist used to inferface with OCP computers. This isn't the end, however, as RoboCop has previously learned Boddicker was in the employ of one of the top brass at OCP, whom he eventually confronts at their headquarters.Fatal villain mistake?