Misunderstood Monsters: Villains We Feel Sorry For
Frankenstein’s monster gets a really bad rap. It’s not like he asked to be created and he certainly never asked to get abandoned by his creator afterward. The poor thing just wanted to find love and make a few friends along the way! That’s not too much to ask, right? It’s not his fault that Frankenstein made him a LITERAL monster that not even a mother could love. If he’d been made to look like an adorable kitten he might just be living out his life with a loving family and enjoying charming activities like baking cookies or something.
But — like Frankenstein’s monster — we think there are a lot of villains out there who just get an unfair reputation. Being labeled a “villain” can lead to a lifetime of trying to prove there’s more to you than a monster or — the alternative — you might just decide to give in to the stereotype and become the monster. Here are a few of our favorite villains who we think deserve a little more understanding.
1) The Lion King: Scar & the Hyenas
With Disney’s Live Action The Lion King hitting theaters on July 19th, 2019, we’re getting excited to leave our worries behind and head back to the Pride Lands with Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa. However, we’re also hoping that maybe Scar and his army of hyenas get a little more love this time around. Don’t get us wrong, Scar is a terrifying and effective villain. But, in his defense, he was never well treated by his family or his community (which may have pushed him into becoming evil). In fact, Zazu even jokes with Mufasa that Scar would make a “handsome throw rug” and “whenever he gets dirty you can take him out and beat him.” GASP. Did Zazu just threaten to beat Scar up and turn him into a rug!? That’s dark. So, really, Scar’s villainy could just be seen as self-defense, right?
Even more so than Scar though, we feel bad about the hyenas. The hyena clan — led by the likes of Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed — have been banished from the Pride Lands. They’re forced to live out their life in an Elephant Graveyard, barely finding enough food to survive in the desolate wasteland. That’s no way to raise a family! Although they help Scar do unspeakable evil, they do it in the hopes of gaining a rightful place in the Pride Lands and never being hungry again. That seems like a fair and understandable motive to us. They have baby hyenas to feed after all! So, although Scar taunts and ridicules the hyenas the entire time, he’s their only chance at a better life. We’d turn to villainy if that was our choice too!
2) The Wizard of Oz: Wicked Witch of the West
The Wicked Witch of the West is considered the epitome of evil. Her claw-like hands and hideous green face is supposed to be proof that she’s a monster. Except… is she really? Okay sure she’s enslaved the inhabitants of Winkie Country, and she mercilessly bullies Dorothy and her merry band of friends, but we also think that maybe she deserves just a little more sympathy too. I mean, she did just watch her sister get crushed to death by a falling house. And then to add insult to injury, her sister’s priceless shoes are gifted to the girl who killed her sister. That’s pretty twisted. Everyone around the Wicked Witch might claim that she isn’t upset about her sister’s death, but that is an outsider’s interpretation. We never actually get to hear what the Witch thinks or feels about the death. We can therefore claim that she’s actually a hero who is chasing down the evil woman (and her little dog Toto too) who murdered and stole from her sister.
3) The Lord of the Rings: Gollum/Smeagol
As a young hobbit, Smeagol discovered the magical ring and was instantly entranced by its power. His life after the ring — murdering a family member and then living a solitary life as the slimy cave dweller Gollum — wasn’t exactly a life to be envied. And isn’t the sign of being a true villain getting something grand after committing the dastardly deed? Gollum just wanted to hang out alone with his Precious, wear that little loin cloth, and eat some cold fish. That seems harmless enough to us.
Oh Smeagol, it’s not your fault! It was that nasty ring that turned you into a monster. The ring is the true villain of the story. J. R. R. Tolkien's infamous Gollum is a complex and heartbreaking villain. We know he’s done his fair share of villainous acts, but his internal struggle between good and evil is proof that he’s more than just a simple villain. The ring might have brought out his darkest urges, but when it comes down to it, you can’t help but feel terrible for the poor Smeagol who’s caught in a never-ending guilt trip.
4) Jaws: The Great White Shark
We know that Jaws is a terrifying monster that ruined countless summer vacations with the mere thought of something lurking beneath the surface of the waves. Go swimming? No thanks, we’ll just hang out in the sand — covered in melted ice-cream cone, layers of sunblock, and hours of sweat — and look at the ocean instead. That seems fun.
It doesn’t really seem fair to blame Jaws or even call it a villain though. I mean, it’s a shark doing its shark thing. It’s swimming in the ocean and eating some grub. We’re the ones in its territory, not the other way around. If it walked into our bedroom and ate our leg, we’d be the first to call it a monster. Otherwise, you do you, Jaws!
5) Marvel’s Thanos
Okay, if you saw either Marvel Avengers: Infinity Wars or Avengers: Endgame then the idea of Thanos not being a villain is probably a hard pill to swallow. But, in his defense, that weirdo genuinely believed that he was helping people. In his own messed up way, he wanted to stabilize things for everyone around him. The fact that he had to destroy half of all living things to do it was just his not so great plan to get there. We wished that he’d put all that good intention into a less destructive plan, but at least he meant well? Okay, we give up. He’s a monster and we hate him.
In honor of all the misunderstood villains out there, get ready to support Scar and his hyenas with a little love and a DBH t-shirt at the premiere of The Lion King on July 19th!