It’s rather common for a villain to go hero during a series. Sabretooth has been a member of the X-Men and X-Factor. He even teamed up with Wolverine at the end of the Origins: Wolverine movie. Let’s not forget Darth Vader killed Palpatine, Spike joined forces with Buffy, and Doctor Octopus sacrificed himself to save NYC. That’s just what I casually saw on my DVD stand. Makes one wonder how many villains stay evil for the duration of a series.
Now, this is typically done for a few reasons:
- Shock Value! This villain is the not the true villain, so now he is betrayed by the true villain and wants revenge. You thought he was the big baddie this whole time, but he was the lackey and now he’s been cast aside. Revel in how he kinda, sorta causes conflict within the group of heroes. Yeah, I’m not that big a fan of this one because most times the villain is only a hero to get revenge.
- Forced by magic or technology to work with the good guys. A villain like this tends to be a henchman who never hit the level of big villain. Now, Spike and Sabretooth had the microchip in head thing, so it does happen to big baddies. Yet, we know how this always ends. A change of heart when the chip is destroyed or they turn on the heroes to return to evil ways.
- Villain was being mind-controlled or manipulated the whole time. A kidnapped family member falls into this one. I like these only because they go for redemption after they’re free and I love redemption characters. Not revenge, but the act of attempting to make up for horrible mistakes. Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2 is a good example even though it was brief.
- Change of heart can happen too if they’re shown that they’re doing something against their own moral code. A villain who thinks he or she is helping humanity can change sides when they see that they’re causing harm. Not sure I can think of an example for this one.
- Villain is still a villain and just playing the heroes for fools. I don’t think I have to say any more about this.
I personally don’t mind it when a villain turns good as long as it’s done well. There should be a reason and they should have challenges after the turn. A sudden ‘I want to be a good guy’ and ‘I am forced to be a good guy’ don’t appeal to me. I like it when it’s part of a character growth. Again, Darth Vader is a great example of what I look for. He was evil and then he was forced to make a choice that is typically reserved for heroes. That’s the kind of character development I like to see.
What do you think of villains turning into heroes? Any personal favorites?