The 8 Most Admirable Movie Villains You Can't Help But Respect

The best villains are complex, multilayered, and believable—to the point where you can't fault them, even if you disagree.
The 8 Most Admirable Movie Villains You Can't Help But Respect

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It's not unusual to agree with the villain in a movie. They may make certain arguments that have a degree of truth to them, and even if you don't agree with their methods, you understand them.

There are also villains who you don't necessarily agree with, but they possess certain qualities that make them admirable. Maybe they refuse to harm innocents or maybe they're extremely charismatic.

Here are some of the most notable movie villains who are definitely bad, but complex enough to make you think twice and respect them.

8. Colonel Miles Quaritch (Avatar)

Colonel Miles Quaritch is a most despicable human being, don't get me wrong. However, there's one reason why I think he deserves respect as a villain: his unending tenacity.

Of all the movie villains I can think of, there are few who are as brave and tenacious as Colonel Miles Quaritch, who throws himself into danger numerous times in order to protect an ideal.

His ideals are very messed up, of course, but his commitment to keeping them is admirable. Even if it means jumping out of a crashing space ship, there's absolutely no quit in him.

7. Henri Ducard (Batman Begins)

Whereas Joker is the antithesis of Batman, Henri Ducard is actually quite similar to the Dark Knight. Both believe in vigilantism as a way to bring about justice—they disagree on what justice really means.

Bruce Wayne beats up thugs and focuses on street crime, while Henri Ducard does the exact same on a more bureaucratic level.

Ducard believes Gotham is a pestiferous virus that cannot be cured, so he simply aims to eradicate the city so that it can be reborn.

Much like Avatar's Quaritch, Ducard is respectable in his drive to follow through on his goals. Though he's evil in his methods, his goal is noble: to destroy corruption at the root.

6. Doc Ock (Spider-Man 2)

Before he was Doc Ock, he was Dr. Otto Octavius, a good man with a desire to pursue the potential of renewable energy.

Though Doc Ock wanted to kill Spiderman—and actually did kill others—it wasn't really him. It was his artificially intelligent tentacles.

He may have done bad things, but he wasn't evil. He was a grieving genius who had his mind and body corrupted by a scientific experiment gone wrong. In the end, he heroically sacrifices himself to protect the city.

"I will not die a monster," he says. His desire to right his past wrongs is respectable, which is why he deserves a spot on this list.

5. Roy Batty (Blade Runner)

Roy Batty is the steampunk version of Frankenstein's Monster. He was both relentless and murderous, and he even gouged out the eyes out of his creator once he finally found him.

Why is he respectable, then? Because of his wisdom and the manner in which he faced his own mortality.

Isolated and hunted for simply being different, Roy Batty was forced to battle his pursuer, Rick Deckard.

But once he gained the upper hand against him, he refused to execute him in cold blood. Instead, realizing his time had come, he simply sat down and mused on his life and what it meant to him.

You have to respect the compassion and understanding that this character has, especially considering he isn't human—he's a machine.

4. Helmut Zemo (Captain America: Civil War)

After Tony Stark haphazardly creates artificial intelligence in Avengers: Age of Ultron, it runs amok and winds up causing all kinds of issues and collateral damage. In fact, many people are killed.

Due to Tony's arrogance and negligence, Helmut Zemo lost his entire family. While Stark is certainly a genius, his hubris often led to all kinds of suffering that others had to endure.

Zemo's ability to break the Avengers apart with nothing but his wits and cunning is very impressive and something you have to respect.

And ironically enough, this mortal man with limited powers ended up being one of the best villains of the entire Marvel series.

3. Koba (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)

Koba is a complex character. Possessed by a desire for revenge, he does terrible things in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, such as attempting to assassinate Caesar, the leader of their tribe.

However, the reasons behind his actions are complicated. For example, fearing that nearby humans are planning to kill them all, he resolves to strike first—and he leads the charge.

On one hand, you might suggest that pre-emptive strikes are never justified. However, Koba would point to the scars that decorate his body: "Human work. Human work. Human work." He has his reasons to distrust the neighboring tribe.

Koba is a brave individual who rides into the line of fire. He's cunning as he disarms a group of soldiers and takes them down on his own. He's also intelligent in his ability to whip up a mob and lead his people.

His only real problem is that he's a warmonger who relies on violence to solve his problems. But if you believe he's justified in his attitude, then you can see how he's an admirable character.

2. Ozymandias (Watchmen)

Perhaps the smartest villain on this list, Ozymandias comes from the DC Comics series Watchmen. In Zack Snyder's underrated film adaptation, we get to witness Ozymandias in prime form.

Why is Ozymandias admirable? Because he gladly risks death in order to save the world.

To be fair, the manner in which he does so is morally questionable since it involved killing millions of people. However, as he points out, he killed millions to save billions.

Seeking world peace is always an admirable goal, but some ways are definitely better than others. His way is far from the top.

Just as admirable, however, is the fact that Ozymandias has no ego attached to his plan. Unlike other villains—who foil themselves by monologuing—he only reveals his plan after it has succeeded.

His ability to outwit his fellow superheroes, coupled with his bravery in trying to take down Dr. Manhattan, make him a respectable character.

1. Magneto (X-Men: First Class)

If it's power that you admire, then there are few villains as powerful as Magneto. With the ability to control metal using only his mind and a few hand gestures, the world is his playground.

Though he repeatedly attempts to bring about the genocide of man, it's difficult to fault him for it. He's been the victim of bigotry and hatred his entire life, ostracized and hunted simply for being a mutant.

Still, he frequently demonstrates strength and fortitude of character. He's intelligent, determined, and willing to fight on behalf of all those who have suffered discrimination like he has.

He isn't perfect, of course. He's vengeful and lacks forgiveness, and you probably disagree with his methods. But beneath all that, you have to admit he's a man of action who fights for those whom no one else will, and that's truly admirable.