For some time now, most of our media has been obsessed with the anti-hero. Many consumers are no longer content with straight-laced paragons of morality and instead want at least a touch of malice in their protagonists, a demand that creators are more than happy to meet. Our television shows, films, books, comics and video games all feature protagonists who are less than heroic. Many can be classified as straight-up villains and we love them all the more for it.
This preference for the less righteous characters has led some media outlets to give us the story directly from the anti-heroes’ and villains’ point of view. I heartily applaud this approach and I’d like to see more of it across genres and mediums. With the recent release and box office success of Disney’s Maleficent, a spin-off of Sleeping Beauty that shows how the legendary sorceress became the evil fairy we all know and love, it felt appropriate to look at some of the greatest small and big screen villains who would have interesting tales to tell if we saw things from their eyes.
One of the most popular villains to ever grace television, Giancarlo Esposito’s Gustavo Fring of Breaking Bad taught viewers that you didn’t have to say much to be completely terrifying. Appearing to have an amicable and mild mannered personality, Fring was as cold-hearted as they come. He presented himself as a philanthropist who owned a chain of chicken restaurants, but in reality, he was a ruthless drug kingpin who excelled at conquering the meth trade in the United States. He’s pretty handy with a box cutter too.
A spin-off series focusing on Fring’s rise to power would be fascinating. There have been only hints as to what happened in Fring’s past. His history with the Mexican drug cartels, his exile from Chile and his connections to the Chilean dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet are ripe for exploration. Plus, viewers would have a chance to see the true nature of Gus’ relationship with his dearly departed friend Max, whose death at the hands of Hector Salamanca ignited a decades-long campaign for revenge.
Idris Elba gets a lot of attention for Luther, and deservedly so. However, Ruth Wilson’s genius-psychotic Alice Morgan provides the show with a unique take on the classic femme fatale and is also worthy of praise. Morgan, responsible for the brutal death of her parents, was the first case that John Luther tackled in the BBC series. Morgan is a nihilist and frequently professes that nothing in life ultimately matters. According to her, love, death and sex are pleasures that one should partake in for enjoyment, but in the end they mean little. She provides a great foil to Luther’s own beliefs and often inserts herself into his life at unexpected times. Occasional stalking and manipulation are fun pastimes for her.
An Alice Morgan spin-off has already been rumored by Luther creator Neil Cross. If the show was to the go into production, it would be a mini-series focusing on Morgan’s time spent in America. I’m certain Alice’s sojourn to the States is full of compelling stories and perhaps a corpse or two.
Calling himself a “criminal consultant,” James “Jim” Moriarty is Stephen Moffat’s modern day take on the classic arch-enemy of Sherlock Holmes. Featured prominently in Moffat’s BBC series, Sherlock, Moriarty is every bit the opposite of Holmes. While Benedict Cumberbatch plays Holmes as an eccentric with a dry-wit, British actor Andrew Scott plays Moriarty like a cross between The Joker and Lex Luthor. He’s completely unpredictable and absolutely hysterical. He’s a psychopath with a sense of humor and often uses it to the annoyance of those around him. Still, as funny as it is to hear him say he wants to turn some poor schmuck into shoes, that doesn’t make him any less dangerous.
A BBC series focusing on Moriarty’s “criminal consulting” business and heists could be fun. Yes, he’s a psychopath who frequently enjoys stealing and killing people, but I’m sure he could share the humor that he finds in it with us.
It’s rumored that that the legendary criminal, Keyser Söze, was a Turkish drug lord who murdered his entire family, rather than surrender his entire criminal empire to business rivals. Instead of backing down, the ruthless Söze killed his enemies, the friends of his enemies and even the people that owed them money. He was a ghost story that criminals would tell their kids at night. He was myth, a man with no single identity and the Devil himself. At least that’s what they say in the Academy-Award winning film, The Usual Suspects. Featuring an impeccable cast of actors, The Usual Suspects kept audiences guessing as to who was the mysterious criminal.
A spin-off film or a television series that explores the mysteries of Söze’s past could be one interesting ride. Hell, a series that follows him decades later as an aging criminal mastermind attempting to hold on to his power in an ever changing world could be even better.
Marvel has always struggled when adapting its villains to the silver screen, but their biggest success yet has been Tom Hiddelston’s Loki. Already featured in three Marvel films, Loki has generated a fan following that eclipses that of his golden haired brother, Thor. Easily the most interesting character in the Thor series, Loki’s constant manipulations and monologues have been able to hold an audience’s attention just as well as any action scene. He was the best thing about Thor: The Dark World and his presence was always missed when he wasn’t in front of the camera.
A Loki film has not been announced by Marvel Studios at this time, but the possibility of a spin-off film isn’t out of the question. Loki is one of Marvel’s most popular cinematic characters. Seeing him going off on his own solo adventure could not only bring continued interest to Marvel’s cinematic universe, but also open up possibilities for future films about villains. Winter Soldier anyone?
Hans and Simon Gruber
Yes, the most recent Die Hard films have been absolute garbage. There’s really no way anyone can deny it at this point. Despite people’s general disgust towards the most recent entries to the series, Die Hard and Die Hard With a Vengeance are still some of the best action films ever made. A good action film always needs a suitably slimy villain. Thankfully, both films have just that. Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber and Jeremy Irons’ Simon Gruber are the best villains in the Die Hard franchise. Both of the Grubers posed as East-German terrorists in the films, while in reality they were professional thieves.
A spin-off film about the Grubers’ past heists together would not only give audiences a better look at the events that eventually led them to crossing paths with John McClane, but also provide a look into their relationship as brothers. As Simon comments in Die Hard With a Vengeance, he didn’t like his brother Hans, but still sought vengeance against McClane for his death. Watching these two interact with one another in a prequel movie could at least provide some context for Simon’s final thoughts on Hans. It would certainly be better than that Russian guy who tap dances and eats carrots in A Good Day to Die Hard. The Grubers would be so ashamed.
What about you readers? Are there any villains who you feel should get their own films or shows? Let us know in the comments below!