Every hero needs a villain; or in the case of comic books, many villains. For as long as the superhero has existed, so has the supervillain. Whether the villain is simply robbing a bank or bent on world domination, they pose a threat to our beloved heroes and must be stopped. Batman has The Joker, Superman has Lex Luthor, the X-Men have Magneto. The list goes on and on. For decades these villains and a plethora of others have antagonized our heroes and have become pop culture mainstays in their own right. There is no comic book story that is complete without its villain. There are some you love to hate and some you just simply hate for their pure evilness, but one thing’s for sure -- we have always been told to root against them.
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So what would happen if these villains were real? Would we really be against them? Some villains have a noble cause, even if they go about the wrong means of achieving their goals, and some villains are natural leaders and could easily garner a following. In real life, would these characters really be labeled as villains, or would people actually support them? Here we look at 15 villains to cheer for if they were real.
15 POISON IVY
Sure, she’s done a few inexcusable things in her time but Poison Ivy really does mean well. In fact, all she really cares about is plants and their eventually destruction at the hands of man. Ivy just wants to save plant life since it's treated so poorly by humans. This is a pretty great issue to care for, and a really relevant one at that.
Protection of the environment is a common cause in real life, with many people and celebrities advocating for the proper treatment of vegetation in our world. If Poison Ivy was real, she would most likely have a very strong following of activists who agree that plants need to be treated better. In fact, there’s not much to say against her main ideology. All she’s trying to do is save the environment.
The big twist at the end of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' landmark classic Watchmen comes in the form of a classic bait-and-switch. Ozymandias was one of the world’s masked heroes who subsequently goes on to brand himself and create a wildly successful company. After investigating said man and company, Rorschach discovers that Ozymandias is the one behind the murders of ex-heroes and that his ultimate goal is to bring world peace by forcing the world’s powers to unite against a common threat.
Yup, you read that right; in Alan Moore’s alternate reality, there is world peace. Ozymandias may have been the true villain of the story, but it would be impossible not to cheer on the man who figured out how to bring about world peace; that is, if you're a "ends justify the means" kind of person.
It may be an animated Pixar family film, but The Incredibles is widely considered to be one of the best superhero films of all time. Blending Pixar’s signature charm and heart with a comic book-inspired world, The Incredibles tells the tale of a super powered family in a world where superheroes are legally not allowed to fight crime. Of course, they’re forced to use their powers when the evil Syndrome kidnaps their father and attacks their city.
Syndrome did have an interesting endgame though. Shunned by the heroes he idolized as a kid due to his lack of powers, he became bent on turning everyone into a superhero. He’s the villain of the movie but in real life he would definitely have people lining up so he can give them superpowers. Every kid dreams of being powered and Syndrome provided everyone with the real opportunity to live this dream.
12 BOLIVAR TRASK
Mutants are a large part of Marvel’s universe, and the reason for their longevity and popularity comes from the societal issues they represent. Mutants have been used as an allegory for nearly every minority, as they are oppressed and feared by society. Bolivar Trask views mutants as a threat to humanity and invents the Sentinels; robots that hunt mutants.
Of course, we view the stories from the point of view the X-Men, and are therefore cheering on the mutants and rooting for them to escape the Sentinels and stop Trask from creating more. In real life, the public would probably not be rooting for the mutants to win. They are hated and feared by most everyone, so you would probably find yourself on Trask’s side and hoping that his Sentinels save humanity fromindividuals with extinction-level powers.
On the other hand, you could also find yourself rooting for Magneto. After witnessing firsthand the effects of the Holocaust, Magneto finds himself noticing similarities in the way mutants are treated. He attempts to save mutants from the same fate by taking over the world and allowing mutants to become the dominant species. Magneto stands for mutant rights and believes they should no longer be persecuted by humans.
While his approach to achieving this world where mutants are no longer oppressed and are in control are questionable, Magneto is ultimately a strong leader with a cause. Having been compared to civil rights leaders, Magneto is essentially one himself and would easily have many fans cheering for him in real life.
10 AMANDA WALLER
The creator of the Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller is viewed by many comic book readers and heroes as a villain. She has defied the commands of her government superiors and the pleas of countless heroes by keeping the Suicide Squad alive. Using captured villains to fight otherworldly threats in order to reduce their sentences, Amanda Waller has become a nuisance to many heroes.
In a real world scenario, most people probably wouldn’t be opposed to Waller’s tactics. The threats that are imposed in comic book stories are extremely unknown and dangerous, and sometimes the heroes struggle to save the world. Waller has found a way to fight threats without risking the lives of heroes, and has put criminals to an effective use. It is safe to say that she would be praised for creating the Suicide Squad in real life.
Apocalypse is another villain you would cheer for in real life, but for a completely different reason. One of the oldest mutants on the plant, En Sabah Nur wakes up in modern times, calls himself Apocalypse, and decides to take over the world. He is extremely powerful and dangerous, and it is basically useless to stand against him unless you have some sort of Omega-Level power. Apocalypse has many different superpowers, and even grants his followers with powers or upgrades to their own.
In the real world, no one would oppose Apocalypse out of pure fear. He is too powerful and is basically an ancient god, so it would be futile to resist his dominance. You would be better off joining him and being one of his supporters; plus, he will probably give you a cool power if you do... and literally nobody reading this list doesn't want powers.
8 THUNDERBOLT ROSS
The father of Bruce Banner’s love interest, General “Thunderbolt” Ross is also one of his oldest foes. Harnessing a hatred for Banner even more he became ol' Green Genes, Ross dedicates his life to capturing the Hulk. When reading a story where Bruce Banner is the hero, Ross becomes the villain by default, as he is trying to take him down. Thing is, the Hulk really is dangerous, so what is Ross really doing that makes him the villain?
The Hulk’s hook has always been that Bruce Banner wants to find a way to control his power since it is so destructive and is a threat to the world. Ross is only trying to stop this terrible threat from causing death and destruction everywhere it goes. In real life, the public would cheer on Ross as he attempts to stop the Hulk from causing more damage.
7 WEATHER WIZARD
The Flash has one of the most extensive rogues galleries in comic book history, so it’s easy to forget this next villain. Weather Wizard is a criminal with the ability to control and create weather. That’s right, the man can do anything he wants to the weather and he uses it for criminal activity. Using a wand based on his dead brother’s technology, Weather Wizard has complete control over micro-climates, which would be super advantageous in today's world!
Of course, even in real life, no one would support his criminal escapades, but he certainly wouldn’t be viewed as a terrible villain. The man has technology that has yet to be developed, which can prevent climate change and natural disasters. In the real world, Weather Wizard would be hailed as a genius and would go down as one of history’s most important scientists.
6 RED HOOD
After Jason Todd’s heartbreaking death at the hands of The Joker, a new vigilante comes to Gotham City: Red Hood. While Batman is the city’s protector, Red Hood took the more hard-lined approach of killing criminals. After all, Batman’s rule against killing did not work in eradicating Gotham of crime. It is later revealed that this Red Hood is a resurrected Jason, with an angry outlook on the city’s high crime rate.
Resulting in confrontations against Batman and other heroes, Red Hood’s antiheroic vigilantism lands him as a formidable foe to the Dark Knight. However, if Red Hood was real, he might be derided for his lethal vigilantism, but let's be real, he'd also be celebrated for effectively handling crime. Batman’s approach has failed for years, so in a real world setting, Red Hood would be cheered on as he lowers Gotham’s crime rate (despite his murderous tendencies).
Wilson Fisk embodies a real grey area when it comes to villains. He is a crime lord and has committed numerous violent acts, but he also has a sympathetic backstory and is generous with his large sums of money. The reason he’s so big is because he built his muscles after being bullied for obesity, and he used his newfound strength to become a mafia bodyguard and work his way up the ranks. That’s Kingpin’s origin and it is not just inspiring, it's the American dream!
In addition to having a touching history, Kingpin has used a lot of his money to aid charities; he has gone through heartbreak when the love of his life was killed, and he has even used his connections and wealth to help heroes during certain troubling times. Overall, Fisk could be seen as a good guy who just happens to be a crime lord, but you would want him to succeed solely based on his (public) heart of gold.
4 DOCTOR OCTOPUS
Everything this next villain does, he does in the name of science. Doctor Octopus might terrorize New York City with his four metallic limbs and harbor a strong hatred for everyone’s favorite wall-crawler Spider-Man, but he really isn’t so evil. All he wants to do is prove how smart of a scientist he is, but the poor man is so demented by radiation that he can’t do it properly.
In real life, he would be a tragic character and people would cheer for him and his scientific advances. Instead of cheering on Spider-Man as he beats a helpless man senseless, you would want Doc Ock to be given room to work and support his well-being, be it professional, physical or mental. He’s also a very strong leader, proven by his creation of the Sinister Six. If he can get six supervillains to work together, he can surely amass a following of civilians.
3 NORMAN OSBORN (GREEN GOBLIN)
Spider-Man’s other arch-enemy, Green Goblin, is another man who had good intentions but became poisoned and turned evil. A science experiment gone wrong left Norman Osborn with a twisted mind, forcing him to become the first Green Goblin and attempt to be the leader of New York’s criminal underworld.
Of course, no one really knew that Norman was the Green Goblin, so despite his criminal escapades, he would still have adoring fans. He is a famous businessman and scientist, the founder and owner of Oscorp, and his heavily publicized death was a shock to the world. Without the knowledge that he is actually a terrible villain, you would still be rooting for him in his quest to advance science and, most likely, want to be swept up in the jbs creation of his international business!
2 DOCTOR DOOM
Doctor Victor Von Doom, or simply Doctor Doom, is consistently ranked as one of the greatest villains of all time, but also one of the most evil. He has done some horrible things in his time as the Fantastic Four’s nemesis and will always be remembered as a despicable foe. So why would you cheer for him, you ask? Well, the answer is simple: he is a born leader.
Doctor Doom is one of the Marvel universe’s smartest minds and is a charming and manipulative man. Let's not forget, he leads his own nation, Latveria, and has tons of followers who love him, even as he terrorizes the world. Doctor Doom’s genius would have you supporting him as he blends magic and science to advance society.
1 LEX LUTHOR
As readers following Superman’s story, we know that Lex Luthor is inherently evil and is one of the world’s greatest villains. The general public, on the other hand, sees him as a powerful businessman, a genius, an innovator, and an inspiration. He may be bent on destroying Superman and taking over the world, but he is known to most as the man who owns LexCorp, has donated money to the city of Metropolis to fund infrastructure, and a technological genius. He has also saved the world on multiple occasions.
In real life, Luthor would have mostly everyone cheering for him as he advances the technological industry and helps fund his city. The man has even been voted President of the United States! No one really knows that he is responsible for so many attempts to kill Superman, of course, as he masks his evil self behind a friendly businessman façade, but even if they did, we're sure many folks would get behind defending America from a terrifying illegal alien.
Which villain do you think would actually be a hero in real life? Let us know in the comments!