10 Best Movies Where The Villain Is Secretly The Main Character, According To Ranker

Many movies trick the audience into thinking that they're following the perspective of the ‘good’ characters, but, upon closer analysis, it's clear that the movie is more concerned with the villain's story.

This twist of traditional perspective has resulted in some dark and gritty films that end up taking unexpected narrative turns and catch viewers off guard who expected the story to evolve accordingly to the ‘good guys’ arc. Sometimes it's because of the actual script and sometimes it's because of a masterclass performance by the actor, but, in some instances, the villain slowly becomes the heart of the story. Ranker users have voted on the best movies that slowly become more about the villains than the initial protagonist.

10 Thanos In Avengers: Infinity War

With his arrival being foreshadowed for several MCU movies before Infinity War, Thanos finally enters in full force and ruthlessly executes his plan to collect the Infinity Stones, which finally allow him to purge half of the life in the universe.

Related: 10 Quotes That Prove Thanos Was Right In The MCU

The Avengers gather all their forces and display the best of their abilities and teamwork to stop Thanos, but he goes through their resistance and carries out his deliberate and barbarous plan. The movie is presented and named as an Avengers movie, but the film is structured with a much clearer plot arc when viewed from the Mad Titan's perspective. 

9 Terence Fletcher In Whiplash

Played by Miles Teller, Andrew is ready to give all of his blood, sweat, and tears to be a top-level drummer in Whiplash. However, it isn’t until he meets unpredictable and pitiless music instructor Terence Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons in one of his best performances, that he sees his will and strength really tested as he follows his obsession for greatness.

Whiplash presents Andrew as an ambitious and decided man with a dream, which would be an everyday story if it wasn’t for the introduction of a methodically brutal master that isn’t satisfied with a good job, and thus pushes the pupil beyond what is expected from everyone and himself. Whiplash presents the dilemma of what is needed to achieve greatness through Fletcher and his extreme drive to strive for excellence at any cost.

8 Miranda Priestly In The Devil Wears Prada

The fashion equivalent of Whiplash, The Devil Wears Prada follows Andy, an aspiring writer played by Anne Hathaway who lands a job as a juniors assistant to Meryl Streep’s Miranda, chief editor of a vogue magazine.

Andy struggles to keep her rhythm to Miranda’s demands, but she later realizes that she must evolve to keep playing the frantic game of the fashion industry. Miranda’s cruelty and ruthless requirements take Andy beyond her known capacities and beliefs, and she ends up becoming what she once despised. The film depicts the transformation of Andy, which is all driven by the morally opaque Miranda.

7 The Joker In Batman

Tim Burton’s Batman introduces one of the most memorable villains of history to the big screen, as a sociopathic mobster falls into a vat of acid and becomes the Joker, who would begin one of the greatest hero/villain rivalries ever seen in film.

Related: 10 Movie Villains Fans Were Rooting For (According to Reddit)

Soaked in Burton’s bleak style, Gotham and its protector fall victim to the terror of the Joker, an outcast who embodies the darkest side of freedom, which comes from being totally cut from the rules of society. The 1989 film is a Batman movie, but the birth of its nemesis overshadows its protagonism as Jack Nicholson’s Joker becomes Gotham’s affliction in a performance that would inspire many Jokers to come.

6 Mr. Glass In Unbreakable

M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable is a more realistic superhero film that follows David Dunn, a security guard who is the sole survivor of a train crash and who is influenced by Elijah Price, a comic book store owner played by Samuel L. Jackson, to realize he has supernatural abilities.

The first of the Unbreakable trilogy is a rare superhero origin story, as David is a simple man who at first doesn’t want to accept his condition and is guided by “Glass” to finally embrace his powers. It isn’t until the end that Glass is revealed as the mastermind of David’s superhero emergence, who he manipulates to finally confirm his beliefs and become a supervillain himself. Unbreakable is a superhero origin story inside a supervillain origin story.

5 Bill The Butcher In Gangs Of New York

Played by Daniel Day-Lewis in one of his most memorable performances, Bill the Butcher is a gang leader who kills another kingpin in a Catholic-Protestant confrontation. The victim’s son, Leo DiCaprio’s Amsterdam, returns for vengeance years later, after keeping the same knife that killed his father.

This historical drama directed by Martin Scorsese focuses on the quest of Amsterdam, but through his perspective, the audience sees the spectacular madness of Bill the Butcher as Amsterdam himself falls into a growing admiration for his father’s murderer. The violent depiction of the street life in 1862’s New York has its focal point on one of the most spectacular gangster villains of Scorsese’s filmography. 

4 Hans Landa In Inglorious Basterds

Played by Christoph Waltz, Hans Landa is an SS officer that became the best and consequently worst villain of Quentin Tarantino’s filmography, as he hunts its victims in occupied France until he is met by a gang of Jewish avengers.

In an unnerving and expertly-paced 15-minute introduction, viewers get to know the wicked wit and charm of Landa, the movie’s depiction of the evil of the German movement that struck terror over Europe. Brad Pitt's Aldo Raine and his team show up later to confront Hans and his fellow Nazis, and the standoffs are so frantic because the audience knows what they stand up to, an evil genius who ultimately is the driving force of Inglorious Bastards.

3 Amy Dunne In Gone Girl

Gone Girl is an eerie thriller centered around cheating and infidelity directed by David Fincher. It follows the disappearance of Amy (Rosamund Pike) and how her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) deals with it after becoming the prime suspect.

A master in creating tension and gradually uncovering the hidden parts of a mystery, Fincher creates one of the most unnerving villains ever as Amy slowly changes from an innocent woman to a disturbed and vengeful wife. Nick begins and ends the story talking about Amy, who doesn’t appear in most of the movie but instead pulls the strings for the wicked revenge game she plays on her husband. The movie mostly follows Nick’s perspective, but the plot belongs to Amy.

2 Vincent In Collateral

It appears to be just another night in LA when cab driver Max, played by Jamie Foxx, picks up Tom Cruise’s Vincent, who rents his services for the night. When Vincent reveals himself as a hitman, Max is stuck on the killing spree and must adapt to survive.

Related: 10 Movies Where The Hero Never Speaks To The Villain (According To Reddit)

Michael Mann’s Collateral is Vincent’s story as much as it is Max's. One man is taken away from his conformity and is tested to limits he didn’t know about, while the other is confronted by the moral decency of an ordinary man and riddled with his own violently indifferent existence. Ultimately, Vincent realizes his self-fulfilling prophecy, and Max learns about himself and life in the psychological and philosophical combat with the hitman. 

1 Anton Chigurh In No Country For Old Men

The Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men displays one of the most terrifying villains in movie history. Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh is a calm, intense murderer who is after a briefcase full of money. 

The two good guys of the movie, an old sheriff and the escaping welder, are struck by the depths of evil Anton reaches. The madman believes himself to be a delegate of death, deciding if the lives of anyone who crosses his path will be handed to chance. Anton is the character that makes No Country For Old Men one of the best neo-noir westerns of all time and the Coen brothers’ masterpiece, as his character is so intricately wicked that it convolutes not only the other characters but the audience as well. Anton is the best villain ever who is not directly the main character.

Next: The 10 Most Brutal Villains In Movie History



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