8 films where you just have to root for the villain

From Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn to Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator, sometimes the villain's just so good you have to root for them.

by | Published on 28th Feb 2022

Usually we want the good guys to win.

But from time to time, a film comes along where you just can’t help but root for the villain.

Be it because the villainous actor is so brilliant, the main hero isn’t cutting the mustard or we’re just channelling our inner Sith Lord.

Whatever the reason, we’ve put together 8 films which left us no choice but to root for the (loveable) villain.

1. Die Hard

Alan Rickman’s casting as the main antagonist, Hans Gruber, for 1988’s Die Hard was simply inspired casting.

It was also Rickman’s film debut that would kickstart a long and memorable film career.

Everything from Gruber’s voice to his suit to his ruthlessness was perfect.

While Bruce Willis’ John McClane was a loveable hero, you can’t help but root for Rickman’s devilishly delightful villain.

Hans Gruber has also gone down as one of the greatest film baddies in history and quite frankly, that tells you everything you need to know.

Alan Rickman’s performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” is also worthy of note here as another of Rickman’s villains you can’t help but love.

2. Creed II

In Creed II, Apollo is challenged to a fight by the son of the man who killed his father in the ring.

You’d think this would make it pretty easy to root for Apollo throughout right? Well, not really.

Thanks to some very neatly woven storytelling that ties back to the original Rocky films, we see the impact that losing to Rocky had on Ivan Drago back after the events of the fourth Rocky film.

Now, the two sons of former heroes have to duke it out to settle the score of the past once and for all.

The stakes for both characters have never been higher and you can’t help but want Drago to succeed.

He’s become a villain because he has to be one, not because he wants to – and that makes him all the more dangerous… and likeable.

3. The Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad is perhaps the ultimate film where you just have to root for the baddies.

As we meet them in the opening act of the film, they’re all already in prison for various crimes, including Idris Elba’s Bloodsport putting Superman in the ICU.

The American Government then covertly uses them as a black ops team to go on a suicide mission with the promise of time docked off their prison sentence should they be successful.

But should they fail to disobey orders or try to escape, they’ll be killed via an explosive implant embedded in the base of their skulls.

With odds against them like that, you can’t help but want them to succeed.

From Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn to John Cena’s morally flawed but ultimately patriotic Peacemaker and Daniela Melchior’s loveable Rat Catcher 2, there’s at least one loveable villain for everyone in the family to get behind.

4. Terminator

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic performance (as demonstrated by this infamous scene above) wins you over in a heartbeat.

Sure, he’s a time traveling robot from the future hell bent on killing Sarah Connor and thus ensuring an apocalyptic future, but how bad could it really be?

5. The Silence of the Lambs

If you haven’t seen Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lector, once you do, you’ll never forget it.

Incredibly eerie and terrifying, you also can’t take your eyes off him as he steals each and every scene he’s in.

While not even the main villain of the film, you’d easily believe he was. As a serial killer, cannibal and psychiatrist all rolled into one, the character may have been very easy to hate had someone else stepped into the role.

But Hopkins delivers one of the finest performances of his career, and that’s saying something.

Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling interacts with Lector incredibly well during the film as the two seemingly work together to hunt down another serial killer.

But no matter how much Lector makes you think he might not be all bad, he soon enough does something to remind you why he’s one of the worst of the worst, making you question why you were ever rooting for him.

6. Rogue One

Rogue One was arguably the best Star Wars film to come out of Disney so far.

While the Empire loomed large, there was one particular member of the Empire who loomed even larger.

So when we’d all thought we’d seen the last of him part way through the film, the last thing anyone expected was for Darth Vader to turn up again.

But boy oh boy he did and what an entrance he made!

Despite the terrifying situation we find the Rebels in, you just can’t resist wanting Vader to succeed in retrieving the Death Star plans.

7. I Care a Lot

Something a little different for this penultimate entry.

“I Care A Lot” tells the story of a shady legal guardian who lands in hot water when she tries to bilk a woman who has ties to a powerful gangster.

As serious and shocking as it gets, it makes you question which characters you should be rooting for.

Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage put on some great performances to ensure that making that decision is a tricky one for the duration of the film. Inevitably no matter which way you lean, you’ll be rootingfor a villain in one aspect or another. Genius.

8. Man of Steel

2013’s Man of Steel was an incredible breath of fresh air for Superman.

While Henry Cavill’s take on Kal El was fresh and full of character, his nemesis was exactly the same.

Michael Shannon’s General Zod is determined to re-establish Krypton on Earth and save the Kryptonians from certain extinction.

Bred for the sole purpose of ensuring his race survived, and backed into a corner and with no other options available to him, you can’t help but feel for Zod as he’s forced into battle with Superman to defend his new home on Earth.

Shannon’s performance is powerful, aggressively authentic and shows almost every other superhero film the correct way to make an effective villain.

You know his odds on winning against Superman aren’t good but part of you still hopes he’ll find a way to win. Zod is the perfect character to end this list with.



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Thiemo is a motorsports writer and podcast producer for ‘On the Kerbs’. A film connoisseur, he can easily give a two hour long dissertation on why Skyfall is the best Bond film. Like ever.

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