Villains are a staple of creating a central conflict in films. Having our heroes to overcome their fears and fight their foes in a battle is as exciting as movies can get. A trope most common in superhero films, antagonists are very much needed to drive films forward. Like they say, your hero is only as good as your villain pushes him to be, and that is very much true. Over the last few decades, we have had some of the best villains in cinema. From Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight to Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, these villains have defined cinema and given us some of the best performances ever. From Children of Men to Titane, 7 Good Films That Never Explain Their Mysterious Plot Twists!
Now what’s common between the above mentioned villains though? Well for first they both break down our heroes and win in the end. We as moviegoers are so used to watching heroes win that when the villains emerge on the top, it just changes the course of our experience. We don’t expect the bad guys to win after rooting two or three hours for the hero. It leaves us with a bittersweet feeling for the worse or the better, but when movies execute this idea correctly, it makes for a great experience. So here are 10 movies where the villains triumphed over heroes at the end. From Mission Impossible to Alien, 9 Movies Where the Protagonists are Introduced as Side Characters!
Upgrade stars Logan Marshall-Green as a man named Grey, who is left paralyzed after a gang kills his wife and leaves him for dead. He is provided with an AI called STEM in his body that helps him move and so begins his tale of vengeance. In a really dark ending, it turns out that STEM was behind everything and takes over Grey’s body. It comes out of the left field as you see Grey spending time with his wife after he tries to kill himself, but turns out it’s just a dream and STEM is now in control of his body.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh is one of the most iconic villains we have ever gotten. Some could even make the argument that No Country for Old Men is his film. So fans were ecstatic when it turned out that Chigurh actually won at the end. While Moss, the man Chigurh is hunting is killed off screen, Chigurh makes good on his threat and collects the money while murdering his wife. Chigurh is truly one of the most frightening villains we have seen in films.
In what is one of the most twisted endings ever, David Fincher’s Se7en sees two cops try and find a John Doe, who is committing murders based on the seven deadly sins. In the end, Doe has a box delivered to one of the cops containing his wife’s head. In a fit of rage, the cop executes Doe hence completing his twisted game of the seven deadly sins. It’s all kinds of messed up and while watching it had everyone’s jaw on the floor.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
One of the most recent examples of a villain winning during the climax, Avengers: Infinity War provided us with an ending that had all Marvel fans gasping for air. After finally getting all the Infinity Stones and snapping his fingers, Thanos successfully erases half of the living life in the universe. What makes this ending hard hitting is watching some of our favourite characters like Spider-Man and Black Panther die.
Christopher Nolan has a great penchant for putting his protagonists through misery, and Memento is where that was established. A man trying to find the two men who killed his wife, suffers through memory loss and uses photographic evidence to keep a track of everything. Well turns out our protagonist isn’t exactly the nice guy we were led to believe and that he has been hurting innocent people for a year, in pursuit of vengeance.
Gone Girl (2016)
Nick Dunne comes home one day to find that his wife Amy Dunne has been assaulted and kidnapped. In an effort to get her back, an investigation gets launched, but things aren’t really the way they seem they are. Gone Girl is a film filled with twists and turns and that will leave you shocked every 10 minutes. While halfway through the film it’s revealed that Amy set it up to frame Nick, at the end she comes back to him and has the upper hand. Nick being forced to live a lie while his criminal wife has a hold on her life isn’t really an uplifting ending.
Ex Machina (2014)
Ex Machina is one of the best sci-fi films of the last decade. Dealing with an android owned by the CEO of a company begging help from a programmer to be set free, this is one film that will have you on the edge of your seat. At the end, it turns out that the Android had been manipulating our protagonist all along, and leaves him all alone in an isolated place, while she boards a helicopter and blends into the world. It’s a downer ending that comes right out of the left field, and honestly one of the most breathtaking twists of the film.
Based on the hit graphic novel of the same name, Watchmen saw a group of superheroes try to live in a world where they were starting to get treated like outcasts. While the ending of the movie has a few differences with the ending of the comic, Watchmen saw Ozymandias fame Dr Manhattan detonate a bomb and annihilate New York City in an effort to gain world peace. It’s one of those situations where the heroes are just too late to stop the villain, and everything is turned into ruins.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The Empire Strikes Back was the first time in cinema where the ending actually hit many audiences in a big way. The ending for this just packs in so many things. Vader revealing he is Luke’s father, Han Solo being frozen in carbonite and the Rebel’s losing, it was just a heavy loss all around. At the time of release, it had perhaps the most divisive response for everyone, but thankfully over the years it has become a classic and great example of amazing storytelling.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Another Christopher Nolan film, The Dark Knight is the perfect example of a film where the villain wins in the end. In a certain aspect, sure Batman defeats Joker in a fist fight, but he is still successful enough in pushing Harvey Dent so far where Batman has to break his one rule and kill him. It’s an ending like no other where the fight isn’t won by punching someone or killing a bunch of people, but rather pushing a man to his limit where he has to do one thing he promised he never would.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 25, 2022 04:30 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).