Teachable moments are all around us. Many of them come from the places we least expect, like from a muscle-bound guy in a breathing mask with a neutron bomb at his disposal or a serial killer who uses ironic torture devices and a vast cabal of faceless followers. The most frightening cinematic villains are often those who have a lesson they want to impart, whether the protagonists want to hear it or not.
Each of the following villains has a message and a lesson they want to teach their victims. Even at their most disturbed, these baddies aren't just being evil to be evil. Many of them want their targets to lead a more honest life and appreciate what they have rather than throwing away their days. Others simply see a flaw in society that they feel can only be fixed through violence and crime.
- Photo: Saw 2 / Lions Gate Films
Throughout the Saw franchise, Jigsaw - or John Kramer, if you prefer - forces people to put themselves through various Rube Goldberg-type traps to prove that they want to live. He's put bear traps on the heads of his victims, and he's put them in situations where they have to cut their own limbs off or even dive into a pit of hypodermic needles.
Jigsaw isn't just doling out ironic punishments because he can. After losing his unborn child in a horrible accident, he was diagnosed with an inoperable cancer and attempted suicide. When that didn't work, he came to the realization that life is precious, and he wanted to teach the world to appreciate every day as if it were their last.Lesson learned?
- Photo: Overture Films
After watching two murderers kill his wife and daughter in front of him, Clyde Shelton spends the next decade planning his revenge. He puts in 10 years as a government contractor so he can workshop his drone technology before savagely cutting down the men who destroyed his life. Shelton is arrested for his revenge killings, but he's able to orchestrate a widespread murder spree from his jail cell before using a drone to take out most of the prosecution team who helped one of his family's killers get a light sentence.
All of the murder, the intrigue, and the domestic terrorism that Shelton carries out in Law Abiding Citizen is part of a two-tiered plan. Shelton's broadest goal is to show everyone that the criminal justice system is inherently flawed and that its adherents would rather wheel and deal than pursue justice. However, he also wants to teach prosecutor Nick Rice that giving a criminal a lenient sentence in favor of putting in the hard work to put them behind bars is a cop-out.Lesson learned?
Out of all the villains in the MCU, Killmonger is the one who walks it like he talks it. Rejected by the people of Wakanda, Killmonger sets out to prove that a country that's so advanced has no right to keep their technology to themselves. Innocent people are murdered in his name, and he destabalizes Wakanda for a brief period of time all to prove a point.
Killmonger isn't just trying to teach T'Challa about the problems with isolationalist politics and hoarding technology. The guy wants to rule the most powerful nation in the world, but in the end he does impart knowledge to his adversaries. After defeating Killmonger, T'Challa takes his antagonist's advice and begins opening the borders of Wakanda.Lesson learned?
The Caller - ‘Phone Booth’Photo: 20th Century Fox
Stuart Shepard is one of the most despicable and selfish people in New York City. He's cheating on his wife, he gives his clients the run-around, and he doesn't even tell his mistress that he has a wife. That all changes when "The Caller" holds Stuart captive in a phone booth for a few hours while training a sniper rifle on him.
Throughout their time together, the Caller threatens to wipe Stuart off the face of the Earth if he doesn't start being honest with his wife and his mistress, and to prove his point, he pops a cap in a pimp before forcing Stuart to tell the entire city about his bad behavior at gunpoint.
It's not a barrel of monkeys that leads the Caller to hold Stuart hostage, murder a couple of guys, and waste the NYPD's budget over the course of an afternoon. He does all of that to teach Stuart to be an honest man and treat people with respect. To the Caller's credit, his plan works, and he gets a free pizza out of the deal.Lesson learned?