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Dark Is Not Evil / Live-Action Films
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  • Tim Burton has based much of his career on this trope:
    • Batman of course.
    • Beetlejuice is yet another example. It features a sympathetic ghost couple who try to scare off a new family that moves into their house with the intent of giving it a massive makeover. The couple meet various other undead people along the way, some hideously disfigured. The dead are all portrayed as eccentric-but-decent people, with the sole exception of the film's eponymous antihero, Betelgeuse, who's really more Chaotic Neutral.
      • The Animated Adaptation is considerably Lighter and Softer, although it also plays into this trope. Lydia is a Perky Goth who enjoys horror movies, insects, rainy days, and other creepy things, and she's a very nice person. Similarly, the Netherworld ranges from freaky to downright bizarre, but very few of the ghosts there are actually malevolent.
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    • In Sleepy Hollow, the Witch of the Western Woods seems like a scary old witch, not least because of performing arcane rituals and getting temporarily possessed by evil spirits, but just wants to help by having them provide exposition and unfortunately gets killed for it by her own sister.
    • The witch from Big Fish.
    • His version of Alice in Wonderland (2010) has Chessur, an unbelievably unsettling version of the Cheshire Cat, although he is among the good guys. To a lesser extent, the Mad Hatter and the Ugly Cute bear/hyena/reptile like Bandersnatch (originally a bad guy, then changing sides); inthe end, the Red Queen's minions also stop being in her side. Yes, that includes the creepy card soldiers.
      • Meanwhile, the pretty and bland people of Alice's world are almost all shown to be hypocritical, boring, domineering, or shallow.
      • The White Queen fits in weirdly here, though. Her dominion seems to be dead things, which she uses in strange concoctions, even though she's perfectly nice, so it kind of makes sense.
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    • The moral of Edward Scissorhands is this. The town starts to judge him by his appearance of being scary and 'monstrous' when in fact he is the most human character in the movie, being caring and downright innocent...
  • Frank the rabbit from Donnie Darko certainly looks scary, and some of the things he gets Donnie to do seem downright sinister at first. However, he turns out to have been well-intentioned, and everything he told Donnie to do was for the greater good.
  • Jacob's Ladder features grotesque... things, that terrorise the protagonist throught the movie. They're actually trying to help him accept his death and ascend to Heaven.
  • Part of the twist ending to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, in which Mad Scientist Caligari is actually a perfectly kind psychologist, his sleepwalking hitman is just a harmless loony, and the hero turns out to be a paranoid psychopath. Although it is notable that after The Reveal, Cesare and Caligari look a lot less dark, and Francis looks a lot darker. Since Tim Burton gets all of his ideas from Caligari, this makes perfect sense.
    • ...Unless, of course, you see the very rare removed footage, which pulled a Double Subversion and twisted this back on again, by revealing in a Mind Screw moment, that the "kind psychologist" really IS Dr Caligari.
  • Guillermo del Toro's works:
    • Santi, the Creepy Child ghost in The Devil's Backbone.
    • It turns out that the faun of Pan's Labyrinth is entirely trustworthy, though not all of The Fair Folk - particularly the infamous Pale Man - are quite so benign.
    • The Orphanage, the intentions of the other children weren't quite as macabre as originally thought, as they were trying to let her know something crucial.
    • As if the Hellboy movie hadn't already the eponymous demonic protagonist, the sequel also introduces several magical creatures that, for most part, just want to be left alone. A notable example is the Angel of Death, which is pretty weird and macabre looking, but helps nonetheless.
    • In The Shape of Water, a scaly fish man who looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon is not only a good guy, he's the film's romantic hero.
  • The titular Freaks have deformities, but they're a bunch of good folks at heart.
  • Chris Adams of The Magnificent Seven wears rich, dark-colored clothing but is a hero.
  • Lawrence of Arabia - Sheriff Ali wears black robes to contrast our hero's white robes and khaki uniforms, but he's a loyal friend.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Tim the Enchanter looks like a evil wizard (black robe, horns and all), but he proves useful to our heroes and laughs off where they aren't serious about it.
  • The vampiric Daywalker Blade is not only dark, he's black.
  • The Man in Black, from The Princess Bride dresses like a villain, even acts like one in places (more in the book than in the movie), and is eventually identified as the murderous Dread Pirate Roberts - but at the end of the day it's all subterfuge, because he's really the presumed-dead hero Westley.
  • This trope and even more its reverse and its reverse are essentially the entire plot of Clive Barker's Nightbreed - it's the humans who all act monstrously. Especially the one played by David Cronenberg. However it is more complicated than simply not good and not evil in both cases. It does not hold true for all Midianites since some are willing to act on their cannibalistic urges and there are also humans with a conscience. It is more about a conflict that happens when Light Is Not Good and hates what is different and attacks it while secretly envying it, while the different side wants mostly to be left alone evil or not.
  • The cenobites in the Hellraiser film series may look like menacing, leather-clad demon lords, but they can be reasoned with if the Lament Configuration was solved by accident or against the person’s will. Also, the cenobites see the mutilations and body modification as a form of obtaining power out of hedonistic pleasure rather than torture. They usually only inflict torture on those who were stupid enough to get on their bad side.
    • The cenobite leader Pinhead looks like a typical slasher film monster with his head covered in nails, leather priest ensemble, and booming voice. However, he is an Anti-Hero and Reasonable Authority Figure who has helped the protagonist Kirsty Cotton (along with other protagonists) fight against much worse threats or against power hungry humans, even developing an Odd Friendship with Kirsty later in the film series. Also, while Pinhead and the cenobites do gruesomely torture or kill those stupid enough to solve the Lament Configuration or put them in a Fate Worse than Death, most of their victims often had it coming big time.
  • Heather Miller of Texas Chainsaw 3D wears dark clothing and has a penchant for making art out of chicken bones. However, she’s the heroine of the movie and also happens to be a long lost relative of Leatherface, making her a member of the Sawyer clan. This trope also applies to Leatherface in the film, who, after the rest of the Sawyer clan was killed, has simply protected the house from anyone who seeks to rob the place and he even becomes Heather’s personal protector.
  • The Yamomamo tribe in Cannibal Holocaust are a Cannibal Clan with creepy looking rituals and visages, but they are actually friendly towards people who are respectful towards them and God Forbid should anyone (like the ill-fated film crew they took a justifiable revenge on) try to incur their wrath.
  • The titular character of Darkman has a Nightmare Face and always dresses in gloomy black like a classic villain stereotype. Yet, his main goal is to fight the worst city criminals. He's sort of a cross between a super hero and one of the classic Universal monsters.
  • Firefox - In this movie, an American pilot steals a super-advanced Soviet fighter jet and is pursued for the last third of the movie across Europe by his Cold War counterpart. The American is in all black, and the Soviet is in almost pure white. (Does it make you the bad guy if you're performing grand theft aero for LIBERTY?)
  • Ladyhawke. Knight errant Etienne Navarre dresses in all-black armor with red flourishes, and turns into a wolf at night. His lover Isabeau wears a fair amount of black herself; by contrast, both the Big Bad (the Bishop of Aquila) and his Dragon wear white.
  • Men in Black:
    • They are "Men In Black" but also Earth's "best, last, and only defense against the scum of the universe". Lampshaded in Will Smith's music video.
    The good guys dress in black, remember that / Just in case we ever face to face and make contact.
    • Also true of aliens in general, who tend to be pretty strange-looking, although most of the ones on Earth are average guys trying to make a living. (And some are cab drivers, but "not as many as you think".)
  • The made-for-TV-movie When Good Ghouls Go Bad features this. The eponymous ghoul may look scary, but he's what's left of a harmless (and actually kind of cute) goth kid who just wanted to show off the statue he made of his mentor.
  • In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne's motivation to make his persona dark and frightening is explored via Super Hero Origin story.
    • The Dark Knight Trilogy deserves special mention as, probably more than any adaptation, it places a huge emphasis both on just how dark of a character Batman is, but also on how morally good and selfless he is.
  • In The Beastmaster, Dar encounters a group of bat people who eat their prey by dissolving them with corrosive liquid and drinking them up. However, they are far from evil, in fact getting a Big Damn Heroes at the end by saving the city from The Remnant
  • The Nega-Scott from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World looks downright evil, red eyes and all. However, he turns out to be a nice guy once Scott confronts him. The two even make plans for brunch.
  • At the end of Gladiator, Maximus wears his standard all-black armor for his final confrontation with the evil Commodus, who wears all white. Of course, Commodus is invoking the opposite trope by dressing in white, since he's casting himself as the heroic one.
  • Jetfire from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is an elderly Decepticon-turned-Autobot who turns into a sinister-looking fighter jet, specifically the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
  • Star Wars:
    • Mace Windu's fighting style, Vaapad, focuses on channeling his inner rage and bloodlust into strength and speed. He is able to go berserk on bad guys without losing control and falling to The Dark Side.
    • Played With in Return of the Jedi. Luke Skywalker wears an all-black costume throughout the film, having learned Darth Vader is his father. He also debuts a new green lightsaber, whose eerie light subverts the blue-good red-bad dichotomy that the earlier films had introduced (until the prequels established green as a pretty standard good guy lightsaber colour, anyway). But towards the end, Luke resists the temptation of the Dark Side, and when his shirt is unbuttoned, it's revealed to be white underneath all along. Just about every depiction of him in the Expanded Universe has him in some variation of that costume.
    • From the prequel trilogy, Anakin Skywalker started this way before he turned to the Dark Side.
    • The Pau'ans. They have black, unexpressive eyes, jagged teeth, pale skin, are nocturnal, and are obligate carnivores who feed on raw flesh. Despite this, they willingly help Obi-Wan, and apart from the Grand Inquisitor, they are generally a peaceful people.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: You mean the built-like-a-brick-outhouse shotgun-toting Badass Biker killer cyborg from the future who was also the villain of the previous film is a good guy this time?
  • Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
  • Oblivion (2013) :
  • Godzilla - Mothra's dark counterpart Battra (featured in the 1992 movie Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth) looks very scary and while he's certainly destructive, he's more of a Gaia's Vengeance type than an outright villain, and ultimately makes a Heroic Sacrifice to defeat Godzilla.
    • This sometimes applies to Godzilla himself, who varies between villain, anti-hero, and straightforward hero.
    • Zig-zagged in Godzilla (2014). While Godzilla is potentially as dangerous to humanity as the Mutos (if not more so), he also serves as a Destructive Savior. It is notable that this version of Godzilla does not go out of his way to destroy stuff like he usually does.
  • While in Maleficent, the titular character herself zig-zags between this and Dark Is Evil, her black clad, black haired, black eyed servant, Diaval, is one of the most gentle and caring characters in the film. Maleficent ultimately becomes this trope, as she pulls a Heel–Face Turn.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • X2: X-Men United: Nightcrawler looks like a dark blue demon, and is one of the good guys.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: The X-Men are all clad in black and are the heroes. The suits aren't theirs, anyway; they stole them from the Alkali Lake base.
  • Played with in Under the Skin. Through most of the movie, the aliens play up Dark Is Evil to its maximum, but the protagonist gradually develops a conscience and reveals her true form at the end, well past the Heel–Face Turn. This form is a black skinned humanoid with yellow eyes, something that lived up clearly to her previous malevolence, but has affected her development of empathy.
  • In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, District 13 looks decidedly more ominous and militant than the Capitol, but are presented as the good guys.
  • Captain Thunderbolt wears an all black outfit typical of a villainous Wild West gambler, but only steals from the wealthy Ranchers to feed the poor settlers.
  • Dark Angel: The Ascent: Demons are not inherently evil beings, but more or less the jailers and torturers of Hell who have been given the job to punish the wicked. They're part of the same cosmic order as the Angels of Heaven, and pray to God.
  • Vlad III Dracula from Dracula Untold, via Adaptational Heroism (the real guy was a pretty horrific war criminal). His Impaler armour is dark red with a dragon on it. Plus, you know, vampire. Nonetheless, he is a Wise Prince and remains heroic through the film. This was actually something the film got a bit of criticism over: playing Dracula as a good guy? Well, okay, there is precedent. But playing the historical Vlad the Impaler as a good guy rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
  • In WarCraft, Alodi's true form is a black cube, and it first appears to Khadgar as a shadowy, wraith-like figure. It aids Khadgar, and has been protecting Azeroth from fel for centuries.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Sirius Black can transform into a scary-looking dog. In his human form, he looks pretty disheveled, and is, you know, a wanted criminal. It's actually a pretty big plot twist that he's a good guy, framed for a crime he did not commit.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • Black Widow is a hero who wears an all-black sneaking suit.
    • Nick Fury lives in a black jacket and drives a black car, but runs the Big Good organization of SHIELD.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger. Steve Rogers realizes the SSR room he's woken up in is fake, but starts fighting the moment two black-clad S.H.I.E.L.D. guards enter. Having spent the entire movie fighting HYDRA mooks dressed in black, and seeing a bunch of agents in dark suits outside, it's no surprise that Steve doesn't stop running until he gets to Times Square and realizes he really is back in the USA, albeit 70 years on.
    • Rhodey's War Machine armor is a menacing black and gray, complete with an overdose of guns and a red-eyed helmet, but he's a Military Superhero who's more grounded than his best friend Iron Man.
    • Gamora, one of the Guardians of the Galaxy, wears an entirely black outfit.
    • In the third act of Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War, Loki's ensemble is mostly black with some green, and he has black hair. This is his darkest costume (barring Midgardian suits) in all appearances. Loki evacuates the populace of Asgard, saving them from Hela's Undead Mooks, and hours later, he dies defending Thor from Thanos.
    • T'Challa in Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War wears a black and silver costume with a full-face mask and claws, along with black royal suits when not in costume... and is one of the most noble characters in the MCU.
    • The creepy-looking, shapeshifting reptilian Skrulls who dress in black in Captain Marvel (2019) are not evil. They are first presented as vicious terrorists, but Skrulls are really refugees who wish to live in peace and are maligned by the Kree propaganda. The genocidal Kree are the real villains as they try to wipe out all Skrulls.
  • Hannah and R.L. Stine from Goosebumps.

Alternative Title(s): Film


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