6. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Catch Me If You Can is a biographical film based on the life of Frank Abagnale Jr. who was a master of deception and an excellent forger. He posed as a pilot, doctor and a prosecutor and all before his 19th birthday. Soon Frank comes to the attention of the FBI, especially FBI Agent Carl Hanratty who makes it his primary mission to catch Frank and bring him to justice. The film was well received and was a financial and critical success.
Frank Abagnale Jr. may not come across as a typical ‘bad guy.’ But let us not forget that fraud and forgery are federal crimes and so essentially Frank is the villain of Catch Me If You Can, even if he is played by a baby faced Leonardo DiCaprio.
Saying that though, Frank Abagnale Jr. is one villain that the audience definitely doesn’t feel bad for rooting for. His deceptions and schemes are fun to watch and you cannot help but feel pleased every time he manages to stay one step ahead of FBI Agent Carl Hanratty. With Abagnale managing to pull off some absolutely brilliant cons, you can be forgiven for being on his side and hoping that he gets away with it all.
7. Collateral (2004)
Inspired by an idea that writer Stuart Beattie had when he was seventeen, Collateral sees cab driver Max discover that his passenger is a hitman who he has been driving from mark to mark. Soon it becomes clear that Max must prevent the hitman from carrying out his final hit, all without becoming the next casualty himself.
Collateral was a financial and critical success with its performances being particularly praised. Jamie Foxx who plays protagonist Max was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
There may be a multitude of reason to root for Vincent, the smiling hitman in Collateral, but perhaps the strongest reason at all is just that Collateral features Tom Cruise completely playing against type. And it’s brilliant.
We all know that Tom Cruise likes to do his own stunts, be the hero, and generally be the guy that always wins. So it is ironic that the one time that we really shouldn’t be rooting for him is the one time that we really are. And it is truly disappointing when Vincent is bested in the film’s final moments; the image of him slumped in the train carriage seat is genuinely upsetting.
8. Fight Club (1999)
Based on the 1996 novel of the same name by author Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club follows an unnamed protagonist, referred to as the narrator, who suffers from insomnia and is disillusioned with his work and life. He meets soap salesman Tyler Durden and together they form a ‘fight club’ with strict rules and invite other men to join who are bored with their mundane existences.
The relationship between the narrator and Durden becomes complicated when Marla Singer enters their lives. The film was directed by David Fincher and was considered a massive disappointment when it was released – polarising critics and not meeting expectations at the box office. However it has since become a cult film and is considered one of the best films of the 1990s.
It is not often that the bad guy is both the antagonist and protagonist in a film. But this is the case in Fight Club, where the two are so intricately wound together that invariably if you are rooting for one then you are rooting for the other as well.
It also helps that Durden’s confident swagger, relentless self-assuredness and unflinching views on life are to be appreciated, even if they are not shared. Durden may bring out the narrator’s worst qualities but he also brings out his best. With that in mind, Durden appeals to the audience as not only a bad guy to be rooted for but also as a bad guy to be admired.
9. Thor (2011)
The fourth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe follows Asgardian Prince Thor after he is banished to Earth and stripped of his powers. Whilst Thor must prove himself worthy and reclaim his hammer Mjolnir, his trickster brother Loki plots to take the throne for himself.
‘Thor’ was a financial and critical success and went on to spawn two sequels, Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok. There have been a number of villains of in the Thor films but Loki is always there as a constant thorn in his brother Thor’s side.
Marvel has always had a bit of a problem with having overly effective villains but possibly their most effective villain comes in the form of Thor’s younger adopted brother. Loki has the powers, he has the evil mind-set, he basically has all the necessary bad guy credentials – and yet what is so great about him is that he is that no matter what he does, he is still Thor’s annoying younger brother. And we all know how annoying siblings can be, am I right?!
With that being said, the fact that Loki is so relatable and actually has a proper backstory makes him a bad guy that you definitely end up rooting for. With his mischievousness, his affinity for a double cross and his amazing one liners, “I am burdened with glorious purpose,” Loki is probably the only villain that you felt bad for when he was being pummelled by the Hulk.
10. The Dark Knight (2008)
Directed, produced and co-written by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight is the second film in Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy. In The Dark Knight, Batman has been keeping crime rates low with the help of allies Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent. This newfound peace is threatened when a young criminal mastermind, known as the Joker, brings chaos to Gotham City and sends Batman down a dangerous path that will test him to the limit.
The Dark Knight is not only one of the most successful superhero films of all time, it is one of the most successful films of all time – making over one billion dollars at the box office.
In the case of The Dark Knight’s Joker you could make an argument for rooting for the Joker due to his scarily apt observations on the human psyche. He may be inherently evil and unremorseful, but he does have an uncanny knack of seeing people’s true nature. Several times he gives both Batman and other people the chance to choose the fate of others and then he sits back and watches events play out, knowing that human nature is inherently flawed.
However the real reason we may find ourselves rooting for the Joker in The Dark Knight may actually just be because he is arguably one of film’s best villains. Batman has never been so well tested as he is by the Joker in The Dark Knight.
The Joker just wants to watch the world burn and no one and nothing gets to him, making him a difficult adversary. The Joker also tests Batman’s morals to the extreme and invites him to kill, knowing that that is the one thing that Batman will not do. With an incredible, Oscar winning performance from Heath Ledger to boot, audiences find themselves warily rooting for the Joker.
Author Bio: Cara McWilliam-Richardson is a writer with a passion for films and filmmaking. She has written several screenplays, and is currently working on her first novel. Her favourite genre to write is fantasy and science fiction.