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Greater Scope Villain / Live-Action Films

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  • The main conflict of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is centred around Lord John Whorfin's attempts to return to the 8th Dimension and become despot again. Banzai's Arch-Enemy, however, is Diabolical Mastermind Hanoi Xan, leader of the World Crime League. He's only mentioned in supplementary materials, but he is responsible for Banzai's wife's death.
  • In Air Force One, General Radek is this to Ivan Korshunov, who is trying to free him. A borderline case since he not only appears in a few scenes, he actually is killed off, but he fills enough of the criteria.
  • Alien:
    • The Engineers serve as this in Prometheus, since it is their bioweapon that plays an important role in the creation of the Xenomorphs.
    • David takes over the role in Alien: Covenant, having used said bioweapon to wipe out the Engineers and develop increasingly dangerous creatures with the intent of creating an Ultimate Lifeform, making him the actual creator of the Xenomorph species.
    • The Weyland-Yutani Corporation is the GSV for the original trilogy, set after Prometheus and Covenant, as they go through the trouble of trying to attain a Xenomorph specimen three times — sacrificing a civilian crew, an entire colony along with a squad of Colonial Marines, and a bunch of prison inmates in the process — so they can turn a profit for their weapons division.
  • Norman Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man. He is Curt Connors' boss, who is said to be dying and wants Connors' experiments to save his life, and he is never seen on screen and speaks through his assistant. It's also heavily implied he was involved in the deaths of Peter Parker's parents. With the character's (apparent) death in the sequel, it looked like Gustav Fiers/The Gentleman was going to be the Greater Scope Villain from this point on.
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  • American Renegades: Two of them appear. The Nazi officer who hid the gold in the village the first place during world War Two (and killed most of the locals) and General Milic, whose capture by the main characters caused his Petrovic to pursue the team to avenge him.
  • In Animal House, Mayor Carmine DePasto extorts money from the university that Dean Vernon Wormer runs, threatens him with physical harm when he complains about this, and pressures Wormer into taking more drastic actions against Delta.
  • The Mayan Emperor in Apocalypto to Zero Wolf, the slaver who destroyed Jaguar Paw's village and relentlessly attempted to hunt down Jaguar Paw.
  • Avatar: There's a scene where Parker Selfridge tells Jake that even though he's in charge of all RDA operations on Pandora, he does NOT in fact run the corporation. As of right now, the actual people who run the RDA are unknown but given that they send all the soldiers and mining equipment to Pandora, it's probable that they approve all of Selfridge and Quaritch's actions.
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  • In Back to the Future, Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen's lifestyle of bullying to get whatever he wanted set an example that his descendants, including Biff, followed closely. Biff proved to be the most nefarious of them all, however, since he proved savvy enough to set up a parallel universe in which he had achieved all of his villainous goals and then some - and could only be foiled by more time-traveling.
  • In Beauty and the Beast, we see that there is a French king who ruled his kingdom with an iron fist. Following his beloved wife's death, the king took his sweet son and raised him to be as arrogant and selfish through abuse, an act which eventually paid off when a curse struck a castle after the prince rudely denied shelter for a visiting enchantress, resulting the prince to become a beast and his servants to become household objects for the next couple of years. Needless to say, the king's personality reflects to that of Gaston (the Big Bad of the film).
  • Big Game has Herbert and the Vice President, who turn out to have been masterminding the entire operation of killing the president to restart the War on Terror.
  • In Blacula, as well as its sequel, Scream Blacula Scream, Count Dracula is and remains the vampire who turned Prince Manuwalde into a vampire and named him "Blacula" as a bad joke.
  • The Tyrell Corporation and their founder, Doctor Eldon Tyrell of Blade Runner, which created the replicants and the resulting social hierarchy between them and humans.
  • The Jason Bourne Series:
    • Though the Big Bad of The Bourne Supremacy, Ward Abbott could be considered this for Identity as Alexander Conklin answered to him, but he's probably not because it's implied that much of what Conklin has done is not on his orders or behalf and in the end of the movie, orders Conklin's death because he went too far off the rails and started to draw more attention rather than divert it away.
    • The Bourne Ultimatum has two possibles in Ezra Kramer (who keeps suspicion on Bourne to divert attention away from Blackbriar despite Landy's reservations) and Dr. Albert Hirsh (who recruited Bourne into Treadstone and ran the facility where all the program's agents were trained).
    • The series' over-arching one would be Eric Byer from The Bourne Legacy as Treadstone, Blackbriar and Outcome all were created by him and everything that's happened ever since is because of him in the first place.
    • The fifth movie gives us Robert Dewey. While Byer made have created Treadstone, Dewey killed Bourne's father in a False Flag Operation in order to protect the program's secrecy, which led to Bourne joining up in the first place. Without him, the events of the series never would have happened.
  • Brightburn: Brandon's alien race, or at least the one who programmed his pod. Whoever or whatever they are, the effects the ship has on Brandon suggests they didn't have noble reasons for sending him to Earth.
  • Bumblebee has Soundwave as its Greater-Scope Villain who is leading the Decepticons in the war back on Cybertron. He becomes Optimus Prime's main enemy as while the Big Bad Duumvirate remains as Shatter and Dropkick. Megatron was at first intended to be the overarching antagonist but Travis Knight was not allowed to include him in the movie. Knight did want to connect Bumblebee to the Michael Bay-verse by ending the film with Megatron frozen and contained by the US Government as a Sequel Hook, but Hasbro Studios mandated he go without establishing ties to the 2007 Transformers film which left him bitter. Megatron was also axed from the opening battle on Cybertron, but whose decision it was to cut him hasn't been disclosed.
  • The Cabin in the Woods: The Director is the immediate Big Bad, and the Nebulous Evil Organization to which she belongs is implied to be the Greater Scope Villain to every other horror movie Big Bad ever; however, she only kills or tries to kill the main characters in order to placate The Ancient Ones, who will cause The End of the World as We Know It otherwise.
  • Carlota Joaquina, Princesa do Brasil: Napoleon Bonaparte is the closest thing to an main antagonist the movie has, since he forces the Portuguese family to flee to Brazil for refusing to sever ties with the British. He is never seen or faced by the main characters during the movie, and he is fated to be eventually defeated by the Coalition forces in Waterloo. Nevertheless, his actions shape the main characters' lives.
  • In Chronicle, Richard Detmer's abuse is what led his son Andrew to a Protagonist Journey to Villain. While a little more direct than most examples, it could also double subvert him as an unknowing Big Bad Wannabe who only wanted to torture his son.
  • In the Child's Play movies, the serial killer Charles Lee Ray aka Chucky was able to cheat his way out of death by transferring his soul into the body of a plastic Good Guy doll through summoning a Voodoo spell to plead to Damballa for the voodoo magic to work. Damballa is a Haitian Loa death god of voodoo. For the 2019 reboot film, Damballa is Adapted Out and instead Chien, a Vietnamese factory worker who tampered with an artificial software-run Buddi doll that would then call its Chucky, is the overarching antagonist.
  • Félix Reyes Torreno from Collateral. He hired Vincent for the sake of killing everyone involved (lawyers, witnesses) in the investigation of his persona.
  • Drug lord Fransisco Cindino to his henchman Cyrus Grissom in Con Air. Cyrus put together the whole hijacking to get away from prison, but Cindino is the one who employed him to do so.
  • Daryll Lee Callum is this in Copycat. Peter Foley, the actual copycat of the title, is a fan of serial killer Callum who is committing his killings in an attempt to impress the imprisoned Callum.
  • Cube Zero has Jax, a Faux Affably Evil member of the shady government group responsible for the construction of the cube. He acts as The Heavy and is the highest ranking member we see. He is not the leader of the group though, and receives a call from his own higher ups telling him to get on with his work. The unseen higher ups could be considered the Greater Scope Villains.
  • In Demolition Man, Doctor Raymond Cocteau is the man who set Serial Killer Simon Phoenix free to wreak havoc in the ultra-peaceful society of 2032, in order to assassinate on of Cocteaus's enemies. Furthormore, Cocteau is the creator and leader of the Crapsaccharine World that is San Angeles.
  • In The Departed, the FBI are this to Frank Costello, who keep him around as an informant at the expense of the Massechusetts State Police.
  • The Devil's Double: Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, is treated this way. His Ax-Crazy son Uday is the real villain, but Saddam is making Uday's activities possible. In his few appearances he's always The Dreaded, including to Uday.
  • In Die Hard 2, the Big Bad Colonel Stuart is trying to release Ramon Esperanza, a deposed The Generalissimo who is being extradited. A Good Day to Die Hard has Yuri Komarov as the hidden Greater-Scope Villain with his daughter Irina being the Big Bad and final antagonist.
  • The entire reason for the murders in Don't Open Till Christmas are happening is because the killer watched his father murder his mother while wearing a Santa suit.
  • President Patel, the leader of Elysium. While he personally disapproves of Delacourt's methods for enforcing the status quo, he sits at the very top of a tyrannical system that can only be sustained through the continuous exploitation of Earth's inhabitants.
  • The Fast and the Furious
    • The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift has DK as The Rival and main antagonist to Sean, Han, and their friends. But it is made very clear that in the grand scheme of things, DK is a glorified school yard bully playing gangster and the real power in his family, actually comes from his Yakuza Boss uncle.
    • Fast & Furious 6 reveals that Owen Shaw was this to Braga's cartel in Fast & Furiousnote , as the reason they were able to become such a threat and easily kill any mole the authorities tried to plant in their organization, was because Shaw's massive intelligence network feeding them information.
    • The Fate of the Furiousnote  has Cipher, the Greater-Scope Villain of the entire The Fast And The Furious series, especially the third, fourth, sixth, seventh, and ninth movies, as she was the one who employed Owen Shaw note (and by extension Arturo Braga) and Mose Jakande to steal the Nightshade device and acquire the God's Eye, respectively. Fast And Furious 9 sees her providing Jacob Toretto with the resources he needs to take down his brother, Dom.
    • In Hobbs & Shaw, Brixton is taking orders from a mysterious figure represented only as The Voice with unique electronic synthesizer bar whenever they tap in to talk. Brixton is technically The Dragon, but Hobbs and Shaw thought he was the top of the chain and are not aware of anyone else involved until the very end.
  • In Gangs of New York, Boss Tweed is this trope to Bill Cutting. Bill Cutting is the target of Amsterdam Vallon's personal vendetta and a powerful crime lord in charge of the Five Points, but even he is working as enforcer for Boss Tweed, who is the most powerful politician in New York. Tweed is willing to work with both Cutting and Amsterdam for personal gain, even trying to eliminate Cutting when proves to be a liability. As a result, Cutting severs his alliance with Tweed, and is subsequently killed by Amsterdam in a duel. The film ends with Tweed still in power, since Amsterdam fulfilled his personal goal of killing Cutting.
  • In Get Out (2017), Roman Armitage was the creator of the brain transplant procedure that his descendants capture Chris Washington for, but being long dead he only appears on a video recording explaining, with copious Dissonant Serenity, the procedure to its unwilling participant. In the film's final twist, though, it turns out he is still around, having had his own brain transferred into the body of the family groundskeeper.
  • The main antagonist of Ghost, Carl Bruner, turns out to be a money launderer for a larger drug-dealing organization. We never hear much about them, but it's clear that he's terrified of what'll happen to him if he can't come up with the money they're expecting from him.
  • The main villain in Ghost Ship implies he is working for Satan, or at least Hell. He says he needs to find enough souls to make "management" happy, and he needs the current salvage crew to fix the Graza for him to accomplish that mission.
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel has the Zigzag Party, a Fascist organization that seeks to take over Zubrowka during the 1930s. Big Bad Dmitri Desgoffe-und-Taxis is a supporter, but his Evil Plan proper is unconnected to them; even so, their rise provides a foreboding backdrop throughout the film. Which pays off when they come to the foreground at the end and cause the film's shocking and tragic ending by cold-bloodedly murdering Gustave.
  • Krona in Green Lantern, posthumously. He is the Guardian who absorbed the yellow energy of fear, with Parallax as the result.
  • Home Alone 3 has the Korean terrorist who orders the criminals to look for the chip.
  • Horror franchises sometimes have Greater Scope Villains.
    • In Scream 3, the Ghostface killer, Roman Bridger, is revealed to have told Billy Loomis, the killer in the first movie, about Billy's father's affair with Roman's mother Maureen Prescott and convinced him to kill Maureen, in order to get revenge on her for turning him away when he finally contacted her. The killer here is thus responsible for the events of the first movie and, by extension, the second one, whose killer was motivated by a desire to avenge her dead son Billy.
    • The dream demons in A Nightmare on Elm Street, who gave Freddy Krueger his powers. They do make an appearance by way of flashback in Freddy's Dead, but they are never directly involved in the plot.
    • In the Hellraiser films, there is Leviathan, the god of hell. The films' Big Bad Pinhead is the leader of the Cenobites, who are Leviathan's foot soldiers, but Leviathan itself only appears in the second movie. It has a slightly more active role in the comic spin-offs.
    • In Friday the 13th, Pamela's killing spree and subsequent death in the first film is what drove her son, Jason Voorhees, to become a Serial Killer for the remainder of the series.
    • Halloween has the Man in Black who is really Dr. Terrence Wynn, the leader of the Cult of Thorn, and who placed the Thorn curse on Michael in the first place causing his entire murder spree. They wish to aid or possibly control Michael. He is only directly involved in the fifth and sixth films.
  • Indiana Jones:
    • Adolf Hitler and the Nazi leadership are this in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, seeing as Dietrich, Belloq, and Toht in Raiders, and Donovan in Last Crusade all follow their orders to search for the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail respectively. Indy does briefly meet Hitler in The Last Crusade, when he autographs Indy's father's journal.
    • The Soviet Government in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Spalko works for the Soviet Government, and in 1957 when the film was set Nikita Khrushchev was Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party and Nikolai Bulganin was Chairman of the Council of the USSR, making them the Greater-Scope Villains. Neither are actually mentioned, although an effigy of Khrushchev is briefly seen at the anti-communist protest during the motorcycle chase. Despite the film taking place four years after his death, Josef Stalin is name-dropped a couple times, no doubt because his historical reputation is much more negative than that of Khrushchev.
  • In James Bond, this crops up a few times, usually in the early films, but it's returned for the Craig movies. Generally the Greater Scope Villain is either a Nebulous Evil Organization like SPECTRE or Quantum, or some unnamed client country that is generally implied to be Red China.
    • Red China is implied to be behind the actions of the titular Big Bad in Goldfinger. They're also behind Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun.
    • While Dr. No, Rosa Klebb, and Largo are the villains of their respective plots, they all directly answer to Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the nefarious head of SPECTRE.
      • Dr. No: In turn, it's implied SPECTRE was hired by Red China to sabotage American and Russian nuclear tests.
      • In You Only Live Twice, the Chinese are implied to be backing Blofeld's plot to hijack Russian and American spacecraft, though Blofeld blatantly extorts money from them at one point under their protest, and makes it bluntly clear who is Eviler Than Thou in several ways, making it more of a Big Bad Duumvirate, or that Blofeld was a Dragon-in-Chief.
    • The Soviets are this trope in some of the later movies (For Your Eyes Only and A View to a Kill, for instance).
    • While Quantum and Mr. White happen to be behind the villains in Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace in the Daniel Craig era, it's later revealed that Franz Oberhauser is the true mastermind behind everything since Casino Royale, being the real villain behind Le Chiffre, Mr. White, and Dominic Greene. Oberhauser also backed Raoul Silva's schemes in Skyfall, but takes center stage as the Big Bad of Spectre. It's later revealed that he renamed himself Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum: The High Table's presence looms over the entire film, but John never gets to directly confront them.
  • Dodgson in Jurassic Park is the one who hires Nedry to steal the dinosaur embryos for Biosyn, InGen's main competition. Because of this, he's inadvertently responsible for the disaster at the park.
  • While Darkseid was axed from the theatrical Joss Whedon cut of Justice League (2017), he was fully restored for the Director's Cut Zack Snyder's Justice League as he is the master of the Big Bad Steppenwolf who is forcing him to fight the Justice League and retrieve the Mother Boxes so that Darkseid may take over Earth.
  • In Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, Master Pain (later "Master Betty") is the delegate of the mysterious Evil Council, who seem to be set up as one side of a larger conflict. ("Behold, the symbols: One... over here. The other... over there.") All the audience knows about them by the end, including their long-term goals, is that they're aliens... and French. It makes just enough sense to be weird that we don't learn more and seem like material for a sequel.
  • The German movie The Colony (2016) tells the story of a young woman who willingly joins "Colonia Dignidad" (Dinity Colony) in order to rescue her boyfriend who's held in the compound set up in a remote area of the Chilean Andes. The Big Bad is Paul "Pious" Schaefer, the leader of the Cult who preaches that the love between a man and a woman is wicked and sinful, but the love between man and child is Godly and pure. Schaefer is able to get away with his actions because his compound is also used for detaining disappeared political enemies of the Augusto Pinochet regime, making guns for the Chiliean military, and apparently testing chemical weapons.
  • In Legend (1985), the unseen Father is implied to be this to his son, Darkness. We don't see him, but we hear what is implied to be him giving instructions to Darkness.
  • Lincoln: The President's main opponents to passing the Amendment abolishing slavery are the Copperhead Democrats of the House, but the background menace is the Confederate rebellion. There is only a single onscreen battle, but they loom over the Amendment due to many undecided voters' fear that abolishing slavery will escalate the war. Not until the end of the film does Lincoln meet their leadership, represented primarily by Vice President Alexander Stephens. President Jefferson Davis doesn't appear in the film at all.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thanos is a genocidal galactic emperor with vast armies at his command and the most powerful villain in the series. He has served as The Man Behind the Man to three different Big Bads: he is the true commander of the Chitauri army he has lent to Loki in The Avengers, Ronan the Accuser's benefactor in Guardians of the Galaxy, and the initial owner of the Scepter that is used to create Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The heroes never meet him face-to-face in either film. Thanos finally faces off against the Avengers (as well as literally everyone else in the MCU) in Avengers: Infinity War. In the film, Thanos's power is astronomical as he curb stomps the Hulk in the opening scene, while also wiping out Xandar and Knowhere off-screen. And then he gives Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Spider-Man, and the Guardians of the Galaxy the fight of their lives on Titan. He even drops a moon on them. To makes things more dire, the space-gang nearly defeat him but ultimately fail, and Captain America and Black Panther's forces in Wakanda are a cakewalk after that. Thanos is so omnipotent that in the 14 million different futures Dr. Strange foresaw, the heroes only won 1 outcome. He is also the only villain besides Zemo who employs the The Bad Guy Wins trope.
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier has Arnim Zola, who is revealed to be the instigator of Hydra's infiltration into SHIELD. In addition, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, who is revealed in the mid-credits scene to be one of the current leaders of the modern-day Hydra, although he is mentioned to be on the same level as the Big Bad Alexander Pierce. Due to Hydra's involvement, Strucker's influence also extends to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2.
    • The Mandarin in the Iron Man films. He is the leader of the Ten Rings, the terrorist organization who held Tony Stark hostage in Iron Man, and he personally appears as the Big Bad in Iron Man 3. In actuality, 3's Mandarin is just an actor named Trevor Slattery who was drugged and hired by the real Big Bad of the movie, Aldrich Killian, as a cover for his failed Extremis experiments. Killian stole the mantle of the Mandarin for himself, and he refers to himself as such near the end of the film. All Hail the King reveals the existence of the true Mandarin, on whom Trevor's (and Killian's) portrayal was loosely based. Said true Mandarin is finally set to appear on screen in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, as portrayed by Tony Leung.
    • In Ant-Man, Mitchell Carson acts as the investor for Darren Cross to sell the Yellowjacket suit and the Pym Particles to HYDRA.
  • In The Manchurian Candidate, Eleanor Iselin is the Big Bad running the evil plan to turn the United States into a dictatorship, but she's being bankrolled by Communist China, who she intends to nuke back to the Stone Age once in power for selecting her son to be their brainwashed agent.
  • In The Mask of Zorro, Big Bad Don Rafael Montero is funding Mexican dictator Santa Anna with gold for the Mexican War in exchange for California. However, Montero is ripping Santa Anna off by mining the gold from Santa Anna's land. When Zorro exposes Montero's scheme, Montero is so terrified of Santa Anna's wrath that he is (reluctantly) willing to cross the Moral Event Horizon in order to cover his tracks.
  • The Matrix: The original film's Big Bad is Agent Smith and his fellow agents within the Matrix. The film presents only a hazy understanding of there being a society of machines in the real world that are the masters of the Agents and the direct threat to humanity. Other than their attack dogs, the squids, they aren't seen in the film. The sequels flesh out machine society and make it more of a focus in the story.
  • Miami Vice has Arcangel de Jesus Montoya, the drug lord who's behind the neo-Nazis in Miami as well as Yero, who is the Big Bad.
  • The Mummy Trilogy has Anubis saddled with this trope in the second movie. In the backstory, the Akkadian warrior known as the Scorpion King made a deal with Anubis for an unbeatable army that he could use to destroy his enemies in exchange of his soul. When he achieved just that, Anubis came knocking to collect the Scorpion King's soul and turned him into his servant. With this, the newly resurrected Imhotep seeks to destroy the Scorpion King so he could gain control of the Army of Anubis.
    • The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior had the evil goddess Astarte, who was worshiped by the main villain Sargon and provided him with his magical powers. Despite being far more powerful and dangerous than him, its Sargon who is the real target of Mathayus' revenge for his father and brother's murder.
  • My Pet Monster: The statue that transforms Max and transforms Schneider at the end.
  • The Neighbor: Troy and his family of kidnappers are only one part of a massive organization that will be targeting John now that he's disrupted one of their operation.
  • In The NeverEnding Story the Nothing is the actual Big Bad; that is, the one threatening the world. G'mork acts as The Heavy but hints that there is a Greater Scope Villain.
    G'mork: I am the servant of the power behind the Nothing.
  • In Next, Mr. Smith is the Big Bad seen throughout the film, trying to detonate a bomb on Los Angeles, but he and his subordinates are being paid to do so by Mr. Jones, who only appears once. (This ironically puts Smith in the reverse position of Max, the Greater-Scope Villain from Season 2 of 24, as both are portrayed by Thomas Kretschmann and plan to detonate a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles)
  • 100 Tears: The entire reason that the Teardrop Killer kills is because he was falsely accused of rape by a fellow carny named Roxanne. She becomes his first victim.
  • Parasite (2019) has Geun-se, a homeless man leeching off a richer family in their mansion's bunker that they don't know about, as its main antagonist. He is responsible for drilling PTSD into their youngest son's head, and comes into odds with a Lower-Class Lout family who were also leeching off this rich family, but even they didn't know about him at first. Geun-se's wife Moon-gwang, who used to be the richer family's housekeeper, claims that Geun-se is hiding there to escape loan sharks who trapped him in their debt since if they find him, they'll cut him open and put his organs on the black market.
  • The unseen King George III in The Patriot, ruler of the British Empire. He's only ever referred to in passing, but Cornwallis and the other Generals ultimately answer to him. And Tavington is such a central figure Cornwallis himself might count as this.
  • In John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness Satan, the Big Bad in this dimension, turns out to be just The Dragon for his father: the Anti-God, who is in a mirror-universe waiting to be summoned.
  • The Purge: The New Founding Fathers are responsible for the annual Purge's existence, along with the millions of people murdered as a result of it and what the main characters go through, yet none are shown or directly confronted in the film or its sequel. They finally show up in Election Year to take a more active role as antagonists.
  • Rambo: Last Blood: Don Miguel, the head of a massive human trafficking operation that Hugo Martinez and his brother Victor are trying to enter into business with. He casually mentions that he exported 17,000 sex slaves in the past year.
  • Red Dawn mostly centers on American teenagers resisting an invasion by North Korean aggressors and that China and Russia has joined in on the anti-Western cause by attacking different parts of the United States. Kim Jong-un, who authorized the invasion on the U.S., appears in footage shown by news at the beginning. The film's screenwriters at first wanted China to be the true main antagonists but to secure access to the promising Chinese box office changed the villains to North Koreans, yet were still denied access.
  • The Salvation: The film's Big Bad Delarue is just the hatchetman for oil tycoons trying to buy up the town and turn it into an oil field.
  • Throughout Sherlock Holmes (2009), Sherlock and Watson work to stop the evil plot of Lord Henry Blackwood, except that Holmes realizes that a few details just don't add up. At the end of the film, he finally learns that Irene Adler is working for a more powerful villain with loftier goals: Moriarty.
  • Sky High (2005): The powerful supervillain Baron Battle. He's presently serving a quadruple-life sentence and never gets out at any point in the film, but he greatly influences the backstory and is strongly implied to be far more evil than Royal Pain. Word of God says that had the planned sequels actually been made, he would've put in a personal appearance.
  • The first Sleepaway Camp film centers around a serial killer who only ended up as one because the killer's demented Aunt Martha forced Peter to live as his deceased sister Angela because she 'always wanted a daughter', soon after losing her and their father in a boating accident.
  • In the Starship Troopers films, Behemecoatyl is retroactively the Greater Scope Villain of the first two films when it's introduced in Starship Troopers 3: Marauder. It is the absolute leader of the Bugs, but is never seen in the previous ones, in which the humans only fought its minions.
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back have the Emperor as their Greater Scope Villain. He's never directly confronted in either film, but he's the master of the films' Big Bad, Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader respectively, and leader of The Empire. The Emperor is promoted to Big Bad of the final film in the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi.
    • Darth Vader is this in the pre-New Hope spin-off Rogue One that told the story of how the Rebels stole the plans for the Death Star.
    • The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones have Darth Sidious as the Greater Scope Villain. The Phantom Menace has the Trade Federation as its villain, and Attack of the Clones has Count Dooku as its main villain. Only in Revenge of the Sith does the film focus on trying to thwart Darth Sidious directly (and reveal his true identity).
    • The Force Awakens: Mirroring A New Hope, Supreme Leader Snoke is the Greater Scope Villain, being the master of the film's Big Bad Kylo Ren and the leader of this film's version of The Empire. He's only seen in a holographic communication.
    • In The Rise of Skywalker Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious is revealed to be the creator of the aforementioned Supreme Leader Snoke (and by extension everything related to the First Order and Kylo Ren's fall to the Dark Side) and thus making the Emperor the true Greater Scope Villain of the Sequel Trilogy. With this entry, Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious is the ultimate Greater Scope Villain of the entire Skywalker Saga.
      Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious: [to Kylo Ren] My boy, I made Snoke. I have been every voice [in his own voice] you have ever heard [in Snoke's voice] inside your head [in Vader's voice].
    • Solo: Dryden Vos is the film's Big Bad, but he's merely the subordinate to the real top dog of Crimson Dawn, Darth Maul.
    • Revenge of the Sith introduces Darth Plagueis, Palpatine’s dead sith master(as well as the previous dark lord of the sith). Sure, he may be dead by the time the movies happen, but Palpatine never would’ve managed to become Emperor, create the Empire and become a horrifyingly powerful Sith Lord if Darth Plagueis hadn’t taken him under his wing and taught him the ways of the Dark Side. Heck, before Palpatine became The Man Behind the Man of all the other villains, Plagueis was The Man Behind the Man for Palpatine. If the stories about him are true, he may have been even more powerful than his treacherous apprentice, which is probably why Palpatine felt that the only way to kill him was to assassinate him in his sleep. Speaking of which, even after his death and despite his rather small role in the movies, Darth Plagueis’s influence can still be felt and he still has a big impact on the story, because Palpatine uses his master’s story to help him turn Anakin to the dark side(via the promise of finding a way to save Padme by using Plagueis’s alleged powers over life and death), thus causing him to become Vader, and the rest is history.
      Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious: Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis The Wise?
      Anakin Skywalker: No.
      Chancellor Palpatine: I thought not. It's not a story the Jedi would tell you. It's a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midichlorians to create life… He had such a knowledge of the dark side, he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.
      Anakin Skywalker: He could actually save people from death?
      Chancellor Palpatine: The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.
      Anakin Skywalker: What happened to him?
      Chancellor Palpatine: He became so powerful… the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power, which eventually, of course, he did. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice killed him in his sleep. Ironic. He could save others from death, but not himself.
      Anakin Skywalker: Is it possible to learn this power?
      Chancellor Palpatine: ...Not from a jedi.
  • Stitches (2001): The main threat is the manipulations of Mrs. Albright. Near the end, it is revealed that she's doing all this because the Devil challenged her to.
  • Skynet and the Machines in The Terminator. They're the ones who sent the film's direct antagonist, the Terminator, back in time to kill Sarah Connor, but they aren't confronted directly due to existing in the Bad Future.
  • In Training Day, the Three Wise Men are this to Detective Alonzo Harris. Alonzo thinks he's above the law because he works for the Three Wise Men, who are corrupt cops in high-ranking positions. It's through them that Alonzo gets permission to rob and kill his long time drug contact. However, the alternate ending revealed that it was the Three Wise Men who sent Hoyt to make sure Alonzo didn't pay off the Russians. The Russian Mafia arguably qualify as well, because even Alonzo is so terrified of them that he spends the entire film trying to get the money to appease them, and is eventually killed by them when he fails.
  • Transformers Film Series
    • The Fallen is revealed to have been one to Megatron in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, being the true founder of the Decepticons.
    • Lockdown's employers in Transformers: Age of Extinction. They're the ones who sent Lockdown to hunt down Optimus Prime and it's revealed that they were the creators of the Transformers.
    • Unicron is established as this in Transformers: The Last Knight as while Quintessa and Megatron were the Big Bad Duumvirate. It turns out that Unicron is indirectly responsible for the wars the Transformers have been fighting for five movies now.
  • War for the Planet of the Apes: Though killed at the end of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Koba still casts a dark shadow over the film. The entire war between humans and apes that is occurring is all his doing. In addition, he is referenced numerous times as Caesar edges on the slippery slope himself. Caesar has visions at a few points in the film of Koba taunting him and his faltering moral high ground.
  • In The Westerns Utu, Mad Dog Morgan, Ned Kelly (1970), Ned Kelly (2003), The Outlaw Michael Howe, and Van Diemen's Land, the Evil Brit colonialist officials commit atrocities in the name of the British monarch.
  • The main antagonists of Wicked Little Things are a bunch of zombie kids. The kids are only undead because Edmond Carlton ordered the mine they were working in to be blown up.
  • Wild Wind has Hitler himself as the unseen Big Bad.
  • Wizards of the Demon Sword: The conflict is driven by Lord Khouta trying to obtain the Blade of Aktar, but the only reason that the blade exists is that it was made to defeat an ancient demon named Aktar.


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