JT Film Review



While watching 12 Angry Men recently, I found myself paying close attention to Juror #3. He, if any, is the villain of the movie. Yet he is a very sympathetic character, and it got me wondering: What other sympathetic villains are there?

Let me clarify; these will not feature anti-heroes. There will be no Travis Bickle or Citizen Kane here. To qualify, the character must be the antagonist of the movie. To put it simply, he/she must directly oppose the hero/heroine, be the “bad guy” etc.

So here, in order of most sympathetic, is my list of…

“Sympathetic Villains”



7. The Penguin” – Batman Returns (1992)

The penguin may not be the obvious choice for this list. But just watch the opening of Batman Returns. His doctor recoils at the sight of him as a newborn, and his parents throw him into the nearest pond to get rid of him. He grows up amongst penguins. Who wouldn’t have a bit of a grudge after that? And just as a side note: Catwoman is Michelle Pfieffer, not Halle Berry! Ah, there we go…

hal-9000-eye 6. HAL 9000” – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Poor HAL. Sent out into space with largely nothing to do but play chess with Bowman and practice his lip-reading skills. In 2001: A Space Odyssey he lies to the crew, and purposefully sends one crew member out to his death to fix a non-broken AE-35 unit (darn those AE-35’s, eh?). However, if you were to watch the sequel, 2010:The Year We Make Contact (which I highly recommend you do) you will see he had been told to lie to his crewmates about the true purpose of their mission, by none other than the US government. As lying is against his programming, he went mad. Poor guy.

NormanBates 5. Norman Bates” – Psycho

He just wanted to impress his mother for goodness sake. He wanted to be a good boy, and how could he be a good boy if he killed her in a jealous rage? So he regressed into the split personalities of him and his mother. Geez, that shower scene: he probably just tripped when bringing a knife to get some gunk out of the bathroom sink of something. Sad, sad story.

commodus 4. Commudus” – Gladiator (2000)

Here’s a great role, a creepy little unloved kid; and its played wonderfully by Joaquin Phoenix (pre-rap I guess.) His father, Marcus Arelius, never took to his son the way he took to Maximus (played by Russel Crowe), so naturally Marcus kills Daddy, tries to have a son with his sister, and tries to have Maximus killed. Makes sense to me.

darth-vader3.Darth Vader” – Star Wars OT (1979-’83)

Now for the big guy. He is admitted into Jedi training at too old an age, he’s lied to and manipulated by Palpatine, his mom is killed off, he’s in love but forbidden to have a relationship. You’d have to be blind not to see it coming, wouldn’t you…

juror 32. Juror #3” – 12 Angry Men (1957)

Throughout the film this character makes reference to his son. Apparently their relationship was not a great one. Then we begin to realize the reason Juror #3 resists the “not guilty” verdict is that he is taking his rage for his son out on the boy on trial. It’s a great role, masterfully played by Lee J. Cobb. His final monologue is truly powerful.

gollum2 1. Gollum” – Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-’03)

We all love this little bug eyed creep. If you say you don’t you’re lying. He’s the ultimate crack addict; the Ring drove him mad when “it left him” and he spends the whole trilogy trying to get it back. Poor little guy goes through hell trying to get rid of the Ring’s hold over him but it never quite works out. Well, at least he survives the trilogy right? Nice comfy retirement? Nope, he does a belly flop (or back flop actually) into Mount Doom’s lava. But at least when he does so he has the Ring with him, together at last, with a creepy satisfied smile on his face. Poor little bugger…


I can guarantee I’ve missed a few good ones. Feel free to comment and name more!



June 10, 2009 - Posted by | List | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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