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Villainous Valour / Film

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  • Scarlett O'Hara of Gone with the Wind is a Villain Protagonist. What's undeniable, however, is that she can be as brave and determined as she is reprehensible, selfish, and ruthless. In the wake of her home being destroyed by Union Army looters and everyone she knows either abandoning her or being useless, she is left utterly broken, penniless, and starving, with no one left to rely upon. After forcing herself to choke down whatever rotten scraps she can find in the ruins, proclaims "With God as my witness, I will never go hungry again!" She doesn't.
    • Scarlett is also noteworthy for defying many social norms of the time and being unafraid of doing whatever it takes to protect herself. She coldly shoots a would-be rapist in the face with a hidden pistol, and later is completely uncaring of the social stigma that befalls her for owning her own small business as a woman in the 1800s - an extremely progressive portrayal for the time. Unfortunately, she's still Scarlett.
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  • Phantom's lackey in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen throws himself between our heroes and the Phantom after the tables turn on the villain in Dorian Gray's library. Instead of being just another faceless, soulless henchman, he screams "Run James!", and courageously sacrifices himself to allow the villain to escape. If we didn't already know the Phantom was the bad guy, a newcomer would be excused for thinking that this villain was an innocent man on the run from armed thugs.
  • Freddy Krueger in Freddy vs. Jason displays this, oddly enough, when the climatic battle finally goes down. Freddy is a lot more vulnerable and less practiced with killing somebody face to face than Jason is. Yet, even after being pulled into the mortal world, where he is at a severe disadvantage (for starters, he can actually be killed), he doesn't hesitate for a moment to stand his ground and starts duking it out with Camp Crystal Lake's killing machine.note 
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  • In the film United 93 the youngest terrorist (who looks about 14) puts up a disturbingly valiant fight when he's rushed by half the plane's passengers at the end of the film.
  • In Scanners, Revok plots a daring infilitration of ConSec headquarters to assassinate their last scanner, and then escape. As the head of a major scanner underground he could have sent in underlings, but he decided this was something he had to do himself. Also, toward the end of the movie, it's The Hero who pulls the Not So Different card instead of the villain.
  • In Five Minutes To Live, the evil gangster played by Johnny Cash takes a hostage (six year-old Ron Howard) in order to escape from the police. He quietly tells Ron that he has nothing to fear; Johnny would never kill a kid. When this doesn't stop the police from shooting at him, he's outraged, and you can't help but agree with him.
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  • Colonel Miles Quaritch from Avatar is a killer who attacked a civilian (though the line between military and civilian among the Na'vi is very blurry) target with a massive firebombing, but some people can't help admiring his sheer determination when things don't go his way. At one point he is set on fire and he waits until his AMP suit is prepared to drop before putting the fire out. It helps that he plays A Father to His Men very straight and battles alongside them on the frontlines, and of course that the Na'vi are Unintentionally Unsympathetic.
  • The Nazis in several scenes of Inglourious Basterds come across as very noble.
    • The Basterds capture a group of soldiers and threaten to beat them to death if they don't reveal the locations of their compatriots. The officer in charge is very clearly petrified but refuses to betray his men, at the cost of his own life. If he weren't a Nazi, he'd be hero of this scene.
    • Shosanna seems impressed by Zoller's tale of bravery, despite her burning hatred for Nazis. Even for the audience, as the film's primary target audience is Americans, given that Zoller is hailed as a hero for single-handedly killing hundreds of American soldiers.
  • In Ryuhei Kitamura's Versus, "The Man" finds himself lying battered, lacerated and hacking blood before the newly energized hero. However, when the hero tosses him his sword, he rises and prepares to give a good accounting of himself even though he knows he doesn't stand a chance. In the Director's Commentary, Kitamura described that as the "spirit of Versus." Also, depending on how you take that business in the epilogue, it's possible that the whole movie was a case of Valiant Villainy.
  • When Blonsky (with a little help from some Captain America serum) first fights the Hulk as a human in The Incredible Hulk, you can't help but be impressed by the guy. Sure, he's a creepy jackass, but this is an almost ordinary man trying to go hand-to-hand with the friggin' HULK!
  • The Nigerian gangster boss Obesanjo from District 9. You really need huge balls to laugh at the hero while he aims a Big Fucking Alien Gun at your head, that had just smashed your bodyguards through a wall seconds ago.
  • Riley Biers from Eclipse. Fighting for his lover, and actually putting up a good struggle against a werewolf after losing a hand.
  • The Jamaican gangster King Willie from Predator 2, who believes that the titular Predator is actually a demon spirit. Despite this, after it approaches him, he calmly whips a sword out from his cane and duels the damn thing, even though it had single-handedly slaughtered a large portion of his gang as well as the rival Colombian gang.
  • Ironbar in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. At one point, while he's hanging from a pipe extended off the side of a speeding train, the train goes over a bridge, and he repeatedly has to hoist his body over metal substructures studded along the span's length. It's impressive that the actor/stuntman was even able to shoot the scene.
  • Mutiny on the Bounty: Lieutenant William Bligh is a tyrant who terrorizes his men until the eponymous mutiny. He's then set adrift in a rowboat with some of the men who didn't join the mutiny, so many that the boat's sides are just inches above the water. In this seemingly hopeless situation, he manages to navigate them to Timor without losing a single man. This was Truth in Television. In spite of his Historical Villain Upgrade, Bligh was a brave and decent man, and a truly incomparable seafarer.
  • The Sheikh's Number Two in Taken puts up quite a fight against Liam Neeson's character, even after being wounded by him. He's fighting for his Sheikh, after all.
  • Uncle Les in Braindead spends most of the film as just a lecherous, repulsive Jerkass. Then the climax hits, and he surprisingly becomes quite a zombie-killing badass, where he single-handedly takes out about twenty of them with a pair of cleavers.
  • In Battleship, the aliens show signs of this many times. Throughout the movie, they're clearly outnumbered and outgunned by the combined forces of Earth, and their mission seems to be "fight off the superior human fleets and try to send a distress signal back to the homeworld". The most apparent part, however, is when they launch a rescue mission to save one of their number who had been captured by the human heroes. The fact that they seem to be Noble Demons in a White and Grey Morality setting certainly helps.
  • Scarface has a variation of this trope for Villain Protagonist Tony Montana. In by far the most famous scene in the movie, he gets high on cocaine, grabs a M16 assault rifle with an M-203 grenade launcher, and takes on a veritable army of Sosa's assassins alone. Even when badly injured by gunfire, he stands and taunts his assailants. It takes both barrels of a double-barrel shotgun to the back at point blank range to finally put him down for good.
  • Captain Vidal in Pan's Labyrinth. A monster whole and through, but he's also capable of doing The Slow Walk into battle, without taking cover, while firing at the enemy. Vidal inherited a clock that his father crashed when he fell in battle to mark the time of his death, and he wanted nothing in life but to die in battle and do the same, passing the clock to his (unborn) son.
  • In Jurassic Park, the last raptor attacks the T.rex despite the Tyrannosaurus killing her remaining partner with a single bite and outweighing the raptor by several tons.
  • Shingen Yashida from The Wolverine. Jerkass or not, throwing yourself towards an immortal adamantium-boned warrior with just a Katana takes some balls.
  • Imhotep from The Mummy Trilogy is presented as a ridiculously powerful, unstoppable supernatural menace in the first film. In the climax of the second film, Anubis takes away all of his powers and makes him a mortal, but he still elects to take on the Scorpion King, and even fights Rick to a standstill.
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Koba may have been a psychotic, human-hating monster, but how many bonobo apes do you know that can take on entire squads of humans behind fortified defenses by holding an assault rifle in each hand, and destroy a tank single-handedly?
  • In The Interview the control room technician put up not only a valiant fight against Seth Rogen's character, but a truly vicious one as well. Case in point: he bit Seth Rogen's character's finger off to stop the live feed. To top it off he didn't stop fighting even after he was planted on a control stick that went up his butt and only stopped when shot in the head.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Gazelle fights Eggsy one on one during the climax after Merlin takes out all of Valentine's other soldiers by hacking their loyalty implants to explode. It's a very close fight and delays Eggsy long enough that while Valentine is eventually stopped the likely consequences are far more injuries and fatalities across the world.
  • The General from Lord Jim. Any other villain in a Hollywood movie would have tried to escape when they had the chance. Not the General. When the heroes launched their second attack, he stayed and fought, eventually going out in a blaze of glory while wounded and trying to put out a fuse, instead of trying to save himself escaping through a secret tunnel like Cornelius did.
  • The General is very reminiscent of Eli Wallach's earlier role, Calvera from The Magnificent Seven. Although Calvera usually sent scouts to fight and steal, during the climax he fought along with them.
  • Star Wars:
    • Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones. Despite having nothing but good training and his own quick wits, he takes on space warriors with effectively magical powers who usually cut through enemies like himself in an instant. That takes guts, especially in the finale when he fights Mace Windu, one of the most powerful Jedi in the Order, in the middle of a massive, chaotic firefight and manages to hold his own, at least for a bit.
    • Captain Needa in The Empire Strikes Back. After he botches his job and the Falcon escapes, he realizes that Darth Vader will almost certainly kill someone for this colossal failure. Needa's response? Take responsibility for the screw up and apologize to Vader personally, because if he does than Vader won't kill the men under Needa's command. Even Vader sounds somewhat impressed when he inevitably executes the captain. "Apology accepted" indeed.
    • In The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren treats the Dark Side like a knight's code of honor (he actually worries aloud at one point that he's being corrupted by the Light Side, then follows through with a horrifying interpretation of Honor Before Reason when he tries to prevent this by putting the Dark Side before his family). His Determinator attitude when starting and eventually losing his duel with Finn and Rey, even after being shot by Chewbacca also smacks of this.
    • The same film has the random riot control trooper (aka "Nines") who, upon seeing Finn wielding Luke fricking Skywalker's lightsaber, responds by whipping out a shock baton and dueling Finn one on one with it! And he almost wins, only failing to kill Finn because Chewbacca and Han intervene. You have to wonder whether Nines ever got any training from the Praetorian Guard.
    • Speaking of them, Snoke's Praetorian Guard from The Last Jedi definitely qualify. Despite having no apparent powers and being the bodyguards for a power-hungry intergalactic tyrant, they don't hesitate to charge Kylo Ren and Rey to when the former kills their master, and fight to avenge him like the Ronin of old. One of them even appears to charge in without a weapon to draw aggro when Ren has the guard's friend at a disadvantage. They'd probably have all made excellent Jedi.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • Ajax from Deadpool (2016) puts up a good fight against Deadpool, and unlike a certain henchman of his, stubbornly refuses to beg Deadpool for Mercy, and refuses it when offered, instead taunting the latter until he kills him.


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