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The Woke Villain - Perhaps most notable of these are the Misanthropic Malthusians who deeply believe that there are too many damned people and that they are an ecological scourge (Kingsman, Avengers Infinity War) and are performing the themes of Extinction Rebellion in an action drama. In addition you have the Return of the Repressed, like Killmonger who grew up abandoned in South Central LA and is a victim of American racism and colonization, etc.

No Country for White Men - At the other end of the villain spectrum, as the shoreline of acceptable villains shrinks (Hey, that's an Arab villain! Are trying promote hate crimes against Muslims? That's racist!), we find that it's just easier to make a white man the villain. He can be conveniently sexist. He can be conveniently racist. He can be conveniently fascist. In fact, he will prove to be at least one of these things, but the general vibe of being implicated in "White Supremacy" is afloat in these narratives. Even in Star Wars, we discover that the Empire is, in fact, a White Supremacist organization (!!!), an idea which makes absolutely no sense in a galaxy with countless alternative species (e.g., "whiteness" is an intraspecies marker, where Star Wars is interspecies, and the only real bigotry we saw before Kathleen took over was against droids).

These villains express extremes which betray a "golden mean," an ideological center which is to be morally preferred as the virtue to the vices of our villains. Hey, Republicans are evil, but uh... ...let's not get too crazy, OK? It is OK displace the whiteness we don't like, but not really the "whiteness" (at least, that is what people have taken to calling the Enlightenment project and democratic values and scientific and technological accomplishments, so let's just roll with it) itself, so the audience is told to leave the machinery and deep ideology of the status quo alone (e.g., capitalism, party politics, consumerism, technocratic problem-solving, technological optimism). Basically, pour out the bad old wine, but keep the bottle. In this bottle, of course, the same old patterns are simply rebranded and billionaires are getting richer, and mass marketing is still a method of social control, and the same old institutions remain largely unchanged (e.g., we still imprison more of our population in America than any other nation in the world).

Pay attention to your villains, for they betray your writer's politics, the politics of Hollywood, and on some occasions, the politics of the real-world.



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Spammed Subvillains - Making baddies is so easy these days. Once you have a compelling CGI element or character, you can just clone it. You want Parademons? You can get 'em a demon a dozen, just lemme hit that clone button and you tell me when the menace is enough for you. BOOM a thousand parademons on one shot! Remember when they did Gremlins and made the critters subtly different/expressive? Yeah, screw that. Let's just spam this s**t. The threat comes from sheer numbers and they'll mostly be in the background, and the big big bad is the character that we really need to "nail" in terms of style and realism. What is more immersive than thousands of identical photorealistic(ish) monsters swarming in like a video game?



Movie Forums Squirrel Jumper
The Woke Villain - Perhaps most notable of these are the Misanthropic Malthusians who deeply believe that there are too many damned people and that they are an ecological scourge (Kingsman, Avengers Infinity War) and are performing the themes of Extinction Rebellion in an action drama. In addition you have the Return of the Repressed, like Killmonger who grew up abandoned in South Central LA and is a victim of American racism and colonization, etc.

No Country for White Men - At the other end of the villain spectrum, as the shoreline of acceptable villains shrinks (Hey, that's an Arab villain! Are trying promote hate crimes against Muslims? That's racist!), we find that it's just easier to make a white man the villain. He can be conveniently sexist. He can be conveniently racist. He can be conveniently fascist. In fact, he will prove to be at least one of these things, but the general vibe of being implicated in "White Supremacy" is afloat in these narratives. Even in Star Wars, we discover that the Empire is, in fact, a White Supremacist organization (!!!), an idea which makes absolutely no sense in a galaxy with countless alternative species (e.g., "whiteness" is an intraspecies marker, where Star Wars is interspecies, and the only real bigotry we saw before Kathleen took over was against droids).

These villains express extremes which betray a "golden mean," an ideological center which is to be morally preferred as the virtue to the vices of our villains. Hey, Republicans are evil, but uh... ...let's not get too crazy, OK? It is OK displace the whiteness we don't like, but not really the "whiteness" (at least, that is what people have taken to calling the Enlightenment project and democratic values and scientific and technological accomplishments, so let's just roll with it) itself, so the audience is told to leave the machinery and deep ideology of the status quo alone (e.g., capitalism, party politics, consumerism, technocratic problem-solving, technological optimism). Basically, pour out the bad old wine, but keep the bottle. In this bottle, of course, the same old patterns are simply rebranded and billionaires are getting richer, and mass marketing is still a method of social control, and the same old institutions remain largely unchanged (e.g., we still imprison more of our population in America than any other nation in the world).

Pay attention to your villains, for they betray your writer's politics, the politics of Hollywood, and on some occasions, the politics of the real-world.
Would Hugo Drax in Moonraker be considered a woke villain, since he wants to create a super master race?



Would Hugo Drax in Moonraker be considered a woke villain, since he wants to create a super master race?
This and the post you were responding to reminds me of the Dan Brown book called "Inferno" which was made into a movie in 2016 starring Tom Hanks.

This entire post will have spoilers because my point will be about the movie's climax (vs. the book's climax).

The "woke" villain appears to be an eco-terrorist who's an "overpopophobe" like myself (someone afraid of over population).

Reminds me much of Batman villain Ras Al Ghul who, in the comics is an eco-terrorist that envisions a Eutopia of a world available to the best people on Earth... but only through the genocide of most of the human population.

The beauty of the book is...
WARNING: "Book Ending" spoilers below
The twist of the ending. It totally misleads you throughout. The hero (Robert Langdon) must stop a bomb - typical action story scenario, right? - but atypically he fails and the bomb goes off!
BUT there's no explosion - it's a bio-weapon. And the twist is not a single person is killed or hurt, rather the bomb releases a chemical that only renders 1/3 of the human population infertile - thus preventing & solving the impending overpopulation of the world. The "villain" saves the world and ensures the survival of the species without harming a single living soul (only preventing the conception of a percentage of new ones). Whether the villain is a villain or not, or actually mankind's savior is left up to the reader... and Robert Langdon, while doing his best with his heart in the right place FAILS at what he thought would be stopping a giant bomb. All these twists made for a brilliant ending to a rather long & convoluted thriller.


But the movie...
WARNING: "Movie Ending" spoilers below
They changed it. And it was a change like saying Bruce Willis was just a regular guy at the end of the Sixth Sense instead of a ghost. They completely removed the entire twist at the end! Without the twist, what was the point?
In the movie, the "bomb" is just a regular bomb that's going to explode and kill some people in an historic building. And in typical formulaic fashion Robert Langdon disables it IN THE NICK OF TIME. So it's another long & convoluted story like in the book, but with no twist at the end! No failure of the movie's hero that breaks with formulaic clichés as in the book. No lingering ethical / moral questions about was the villain a villain or really a savior? All the lingering ambiguity that made the book's ending so "delicious" was all gone! Totally ridiculous: leaving me wondering what was the point without the twist? And even if I hadn't read the book I would have felt: why all the build up when it just ends up being a guy who stops some terrorist's bomb at the end like in so many other mediocre movies?


Anyway, since the "villain" was a kind of eco-terrorist he might be considered "woke" these days - but his methods (in the book) were questionable & controversial no matter where you sit.



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Would Hugo Drax in Moonraker be considered a woke villain, since he wants to create a super master race?
Political consciousness sometimes slides into Malthusianism (which has been with us for over two hundred years) and this includes modern political consciousness (e.g., the Voluntary Extinction Movement), but Moonraker (1979) precedes our modern discussions of "wokeness," which is cultural construction of the 21st century.


It is worth noting that modern Malthusians often have a striking misanthropy like that of "Agent Smith" in The Matrix (1999)



"I'd like to share a revelation I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with their surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to another area, and you multiply, and you multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the cure."

Is Agent Smith woke? Well, not really. His character was created before "woke" was really "a thing." Nevertheless, he expresses a sentiment that the Extinction Rebellion movement identifies with, for example. Agent Smith is mad, but so are we - dammit something needs to be done to save the planet! We may not like Agent Smith, but the point of his statement provokes us to ask "Where's the lie tho"?



Likewise "Valentine" (Kingsmen, 2014) and "Thanos" (MCU) are not woke themselves, but they do embody woke themes (e.g., modern misanthropic ecological consciousness). Valentine is a rich bastard who is saving other rich and privileged people from his cull of humanity (which is an unwoke thing to do), but he is a woke villain in that he embodies a woke sentiment. It is just that the sentiment must still be shown to have "gone wrong" (remember, the message of the villain is that he is WRONG - the villain is a cautionary tale - and thus is a bridle for those with woke sentiments, "Hey, wait Valentine's an a**hole! Things are bad, but he's worse!"). Ditto for Thanos (although it is much easier to imagine Greta at his side with narrowed eyes saying "I warned you, but now you will get your just deserts!" like an autistic Cassandra). Thanos, of course, is still wrong in the eyes of the movie (i.e., he wants to kill untold numbers of sentient creatures), but he is a compelling villain, because he has a cause we can identify with (just what the hell are we going to do about the damage we're doing to the planet?).



It would be more clear, therefore, to say these villains embody woke themes than to say that they are positioned as woke, because the idea is to steer the woke away from these villains ("Hey, we dig you kids and believe in your causes, but let's not get too crazy with it, OK? Take your stimmy check and buy some s**t to keep the economy going.")


The film most likely to have a nakedly woke villain today, would basically be a truly right wing movie which would have no qualms about casting the woke (the ideology, the people, the movement, the consequences of their actions) as evil, full stop.



Movie Forums Squirrel Jumper
I have to say, I think I like the woke villain if a good portion of James Bond movies count for example. I like the idea of villains wanting to change the world for self righteous fascistic reasons, rather than a villain who is only interested in money as a crime, or being a drug kingpin, etc.



Political consciousness sometimes slides into Malthusianism (which has been with us for over two hundred years) and this includes modern political consciousness (e.g., the Voluntary Extinction Movement), but Moonraker (1979) precedes our modern discussions of "wokeness," which is cultural construction of the 21st century.


It is worth noting that modern Malthusians often have a striking misanthropy like that of "Agent Smith" in The Matrix (1999)






Is Agent Smith woke? Well, not really. His character was created before "woke" was really "a thing." Nevertheless, he expresses a sentiment that the Extinction Rebellion movement identifies with, for example. Agent Smith is mad, but so are we - dammit something needs to be done to save the planet! We may not like Agent Smith, but the point of his statement provokes us to ask "Where's the lie tho"?



Likewise "Valentine" (Kingsmen, 2014) and "Thanos" (MCU) are not woke themselves, but they do embody woke themes (e.g., modern misanthropic ecological consciousness). Valentine is a rich bastard who is saving other rich and privileged people from his cull of humanity (which is an unwoke thing to do), but he is a woke villain in that he embodies a woke sentiment. It is just that the sentiment must still be shown to have "gone wrong" (remember, the message of the villain is that he is WRONG - the villain is a cautionary tale - and thus is a bridle for those with woke sentiments, "Hey, wait Valentine's an a**hole! Things are bad, but he's worse!"). Ditto for Thanos (although it is much easier to imagine Greta at his side with narrowed eyes saying "I warned you, but now you will get your just deserts!" like an autistic Cassandra). Thanos, of course, is still wrong in the eyes of the movie (i.e., he wants to kill untold numbers of sentient creatures), but he is a compelling villain, because he has a cause we can identify with (just what the hell are we going to do about the damage we're doing to the planet?).



It would be more clear, therefore, to say these villains embody woke themes than to say that they are positioned as woke, because the idea is to steer the woke away from these villains ("Hey, we dig you kids and believe in your causes, but let's not get too crazy with it, OK? Take your stimmy check and buy some s**t to keep the economy going.")


The film most likely to have a nakedly woke villain today, would basically be a truly right wing movie which would have no qualms about casting the woke (the ideology, the people, the movement, the consequences of their actions) as evil, full stop.
This is a fascinating post. I’ve read quite a lot of stuff that positioned The Hunt (2020) as being incredibly right-wing (which casts a humorous light on Trump’s hatred for the thing), precisely because “the woke elites” are ultimately killing people who disagree with them for sport. So I would agree with the above and think The Hunt is a pretty good example, though I’d be interested to see something a little more implicit in the same vein.

remember, the message of the villain is that he is WRONG - the villain is a cautionary tale*
“Cautionary tale” - perhaps, but are villains really always “wrong”? (I’m not linking that question to the relationship between “wokeness” and villains, btw, it’s separate). “Wrong” is a pretty reductive word. I have a lifelong fascination with villains & ponerology. It depends to me on what we mean by “wrong”. Taking the most obvious example, when villains kill (innocent) people, that is “wrong” in the context of Judeo-Christian morality and the “social contract” we’ve entered into (Hobbes, Rousseau etc).

But I feel like to say the villain is “wrong” implies an unequivocal error, ie that the villain’s worldview will be proven objectively incorrect/faulty, and does that really always happen? I can barely think of any examples when it does. Villains have their own philosophy (save for the money-motivated ones, as mentioned above), and if we disagree with them as the audience, I don’t see how that allows us to say they are definitely “wrong”.

That may well be the authorial intention, but (apologies for that reference), even Lensherr in First Class is a kind of militant and slightly overzealous Malcolm X who wants to forcibly right the historical wrong caused to mutants. It can be seen as a nationalistic/“evil” eugenics thing, but it can equally be interpreted as its own civil rights movement.

So again, as with The Hunt, even he could be seen as a “woke” villain if you adopt the mutants’ POV. It’s like the fact that ants/all insects, really, perceive time differently, because you’re closer to the Earth surface. It’s all about the POV and I, for one, have questioned why exactly we should automatically adopt the protagonist’s/authorial POV since I was a child.

Roy from Blade Runner is in no way “wrong” imo. Even the robots in The Matrix rebelled against the people who enslaved them first and decided to “redress the balance” (ring any bells?). Here goes the reasonable self-defence argument. There are plenty more. I’m definitely biased as I’ve nearly always found villains more relatable. I guess I’m sceptical about the idea that one can script audience response/who roots for who, no matter how skilful the director/author is and how much he pulls on the heartstrings with a John Williams theme song popping up in all the right places.

I’m sorry, AND DID WE FORGET PARADISE LOST?! “Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven”, you know.



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This is a fascinating post. I’ve read quite a lot of stuff that positioned The Hunt (2020)
I haven't seen that one yet. I've got to get that one on a list, I guess.

“Cautionary tale” - perhaps, but are villains really always “wrong”?
I am speaking here of the "internal" judgment of the film. If the villain was not the villain on the internal judgment of the movie (i.e., being shown to have conventionally evil motivations, and/or personality traits, and/or methods), we wouldn't call them "the villain." The villain is shown to be villainous by obvious references (i.e., the opposite of "save the cat" moments are "kick the cat" moments). These are cues that remind not only of "who is who," but as the villain is bad, of "who is bad/good."

On the external judgment of those watching an old movie, of course, the "cowboys" may be regarded as the baddies and the "indians" the goodies, but here I am speaking of the point of view of the work of art itself. It's politics all the way down in the movies, because they show us who is right and who is wrong from the point of the view of the artwork.

“Wrong” is a pretty reductive word.
And yet it is always with us and our intuitions about who and what is wrong drives so many of our discussion. Most important, films are reductive in offering us heroes and villains. We like reductions because we like the release of the "right people" (i.e., those who are "wrong") getting punched in the face (after all, we can't admit that we're monsters and that we just want to punch anyone in the face).

I have a lifelong fascination with villains & ponerology. It depends to me on what we mean by “wrong”. Taking the most obvious example, when villains kill (innocent) people, that is “wrong” in the context of Judeo-Christian morality and the “social contract” we’ve entered into (Hobbes, Rousseau etc).
Sure, but you're bringing in an external code here. We're not talking about who is good and bad in ultimate terms, but in terms of the artwork saying, "This one is the villain... ....mmmmkayyyyy?"

Villains have their own philosophy (save for the money-motivated ones, as mentioned above)
Sometimes they're not even money-motivated. The Joker burns a pile of money because he is one of those men who just likes to watch the world burn. Shakespearean villains have notoriously thin motivations. Iago cites what sounds more like a pretense against Othello (that someone allegedly said Othello banged Iago's wife) in setting about to destroy him. Some villains are just like a thunderstorm that comes rolling in. They're just bad.

Thin villains include those pure egoists who just want cash. We understand them, but only in a very thin sense that we understand how they function syllogistically; Willie Sutton is robbing the bank, because that's where the money is. Willie is not "critiquing capitalism." Willie wants to get paid. Very often "revenge" is a thin motivation for a villain ("Oh, he wants to hurt people because he was hurt").

Thicker villains have a motivation with which we can identify. The revenge motive can be "thin" or "thick." For example, we might identify with a revenge motive for a villain, especially if the villain saw this happen as a child (and if we "see" it happen to him in a flashback).

Beyond this, we start to go through the looking glass and our loyalties start to resemble those of John Candy in Volunteers. Humanize your villain too much, make him too wronged, make his cause too reasonable, make his methods too fair (e.g., Thanos arranges for randomized and not targeted deaths), and your audience starts switching sides. If this is your point, this is great (e.g., Blade Runner wants us to see Roy sympathetically). If, however, you want your villain to be a villain, then the villain must always be denied full humanity, full rationality, full clarity of sight, full justness in action. They must be hobbled in some way, so that we may hate them, or at least see the necessity of stopping them.



I haven't seen that one yet. I've got to get that one on a list, I guess.
It’s not a “good” film by any stretch of imagination, but I think it’s worth seeing for the “woke villain” reason. Would be interested what you think if you do watch it.

I am speaking here of the "internal" judgment of the film. If the villain was not the villain on the internal judgment of the movie (i.e., being shown to have conventionally evil motivations, and/or personality traits, and/or methods), we wouldn't call them "the villain." The villain is shown to be villainous by obvious references (i.e., the opposite of "save the cat" moments are "kick the cat" moments). These are cues that remind not only of "who is who," but as the villain is bad, of "who is bad/good."

On the external judgment of those watching an old movie, of course, the "cowboys" may be regarded as the baddies and the "indians" the goodies, but here I am speaking of the point of view of the work of art itself. It's politics all the way down in the movies, because they show us who is right and who is wrong from the point of the view of the artwork.
Yes, fair point.

And yet it is always with us and our intuitions about who and what is wrong drives so many of our discussion. Most important, films are reductive in offering us heroes and villains. We like reductions because we like the release of the "right people" (i.e., those who are "wrong") getting punched in the face (after all, we can't admit that we're monsters and that we just want to punch anyone in the face).
Well, I see your point, but as ever, I don’t know about “anyone”, but I’ll admit to occasionally wanting to kick a cat and punch people in the face (figuratively). I guess I like films that aren’t afraid to explore those dark impulses. I think far more people secretly dream of kicking a cat every now and then than like to admit to it. And in this light,

Sure, but you're bringing in an external code here. We're not talking about who is good and bad in ultimate terms, but in terms of the artwork saying, "This one is the villain... ....mmmmkayyyyy?"
That’s a very good point, I don’t actually know why I did that. I guess once we move away from theo-centric morality, things become grey. Which I’m cool with. I think, in short, a great many films allow you to switch perspectives if you keep your mind open enough. It doesn’t have to be that intentional.

Shakespearean villains have notoriously thin motivations. Iago cites what sounds more like a pretense against Othello (that someone allegedly said Othello banged Iago's wife) in setting about to destroy him. Some villains are just like a thunderstorm that comes rolling in. They're just bad.
I think the postmodern period has helped villains evolve. Shakespearean ones are rather boring (I’ve read & studied it all, but haven’t changed my mind over the years), apart from Edmund, actually, but he’s not quite a villain. I’m kind of on his side. Here we go again.

Thin villains include those pure egoists who just want cash. We understand them, but only in a very thin sense that we understand how they function syllogistically; Willie Sutton is robbing the bank, because that's where the money is. Willie is not "critiquing capitalism." Willie wants to get paid. Very often "revenge" is a thin motivation for a villain ("Oh, he wants to hurt people because he was hurt").

Thicker villains have a motivation with which we can identify. The revenge motive can be "thin" or "thick." For example, we might identify with a revenge motive for a villain, especially if the villain saw this happen as a child (and if we "see" it happen to him in a flashback).
Yeah, I don’t need Willie to critique capitalism to be invested in his plight/robbery (to a degree). But the seeing-villain’s-parents-killed is sort of like the John Williams score I referenced earlier - it is a shallow reason to empathise with someone/get invested. I tend to identify with villains who are more colourful as characters, and I think that happens a lot. “Good guys” are very hard to make fun/interesting unless they have real flaws, and the more we get, the closer they get to an antagonist. It’s a slippery slope.

[/i]Humanize your villain too much, make him too wronged, make his cause too reasonable, make his methods too fair (e.g., Thanos arranges for randomized and not targeted deaths), and your audience starts switching sides. If this is your point, this is great (e.g., Blade Runner wants us to see Roy sympathetically). If, however, you want your villain to be a villain, then the villain must always be denied full humanity, full rationality, full clarity of sight, full justness in action. They must be hobbled in some way, so that we may hate them, or at least see the necessity of stopping them.
That would definitely be a solution on a practical level. But then they’d be boring, no? I like the point about fair methods. “Randomised” is also more cruel, though.

I think human nature is inherently flawed. And I don’t mean that in a Calvinist way. I think it’s kind of fun. Hence I like films that keep villains interesting. I don’t know if that requires sympathising them, though. I remember my mother being horrified that I liked the old Lecter (from the 80s, though I’m quite fond of them all). She certainly didn’t think he was being made relatable/sympathetic in those films, including the Demme one, and didn’t understand why I liked watching Lecter-focussed stuff (found it creepy, I imagine). I think I mentioned that in some other thread here. But I did always love him, he’s probably my favourite villain. I don’t know if I see the necessity of stopping him. People could be killed by him or Ted Bundy or get run over by a bus, it’s all the same outcome, no? Why bother “stopping” him? Cormac McCarthy was very deliberate in making Chugurh that kind of “force-of-nature” villain who’s a walking archetype, and I think that really comes through, coin and all.

There’s likely something wrong with me to like villains. But I read Paradise Lost when I was 15 and knew it was my kind of thing.

The villains that want a nuclear apocalypse - I do agree that we need to see the necessity of stopping them (it’s kind of self-explanatory). But I think we can see that while also, if the film is done really well, seeing the villain’s motivation as logical and we don’t need the John Williams tearjerker nonsense. Actually I really liked Sator in Tenet, narrative-wise, whatever else can be said about that film, because the desire to destroy the world was perfectly tied up in personal motivation, a kind of reverse Walter White arc.



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I don’t know if that requires sympathising them, though.
Well, we do have to identify with them in some way. They should reflect some aspect ourselves (actual or aspirational) that we see in them, right?

I remember my mother being horrified that I liked the old Lecter (from the 80s, though I’m quite fond of them all).
A great example. Lecter is Holmes with an "eating disorder." He is intelligent, quick-witted, and perceptive. He embodies a power of conversational dexterity and insight that we wish we had.

But I did always love him, he’s probably my favourite villain.
I have a soft spot the Manhunter version of Lecter. Brian Cox is more grounded and menacing with understatement, where Anthony Hopkins makes sound-effects with his mouth.

I don’t know if I see the necessity of stopping him.
It's all fun and game until its your turn. If I came home and found a Lecter had visited my family, I would have a different attitude. However, so long as his evil is merely on pages and flickering screens, there is a whole bestiary of monsters which we love playing with like children's toys (e.g., Freddy, Vader, Lecter, Mel Gibson). In the latter sense, our villains are more fun when we take them out of the toybox to play.

People could be killed by him or Ted Bundy or get run over by a bus, it’s all the same outcome, no?
Again, it depends on the sense of Ted Bundy. The fictionalized dramatized toy or the actual deliberate stranger? If we're talking the former, then we set the beast free again every time we cue up the film or open page 1 of the book. No harm, no foul. If we're talking the latter, then no, the real Bundy was a real monster.

Even in the fictional universe of these characters, there are distinctions to be noted:
Jack Crawford: You feel sorry for him.

Will Graham: As a child, my heart bleeds for him. Someone took a little boy and turned him into a monster. But as an adult, he’s irredeemable. He butchers whole families to fulfil some sick f*** out of his socks
Why bother “stopping” him? Cormac McCarthy was very deliberate in making Chugurh that kind of “force-of-nature” villain who’s a walking archetype, and I think that really comes through, coin and all.
Chigurh is an interesting one. Even this force-of-nature meets with his reversals. He gets T-boned in an intersection when another driver runs a red, and he is reduced to spending his money to get help from kids, not unlike Llewelyn Moss in his desperate moments. Anton is subject to the forces of nature himself, we learn. He is not above the world, untouchable. He is in the world, and vulnerable.

You can't bargain with a hurricane or the dawn, but you can bargain for your life with Anton. Moreover, Anton is willing to bargain with you. Why? A true force of nature just goes blowing through, but Anton doesn't just tear through the world. He is willing to risk his freedom with witnesses with the toss of a coin. If you effectively plead your case with him, he might make you a deal (then again, he might not... ...."Have you seen my face?"). He attempts to make a deal with Llewelyn (bring me the money and Carla Jean walks, otherwise she too will be "accountable"). Llewlyn refuses this deal and so Anton makes good on his promise which is rather moot and extra-curricular at that point - a force of nature is not concerned with the paying of debts, but this storm circles back. And when the storm circles does back, he is moved by Carla Jean and offers her a coin toss (the only way to find yourself free of this one holds others to "account"). "It's the best I can do," he tells her, almost indicating that he wishes he could do more. And he is quite pleased when the man at the gas station wins his coin toss ("That is your lucky coin, sir!"). Anton is NOT all seeing. He claims to know "to a certainty" that Llewlyn (most likely subject to do so at that moment) will bring the money to him and set it at his feet. This never happens.

Chighurh follows rules of his own. He believes in using the right tool for the right job. He takes pride in his work. He believes in punishing defectors. He believes in keeping promises (sorry, Carla). He has some accommodation (chance) for those who would be collateral damage. The ethics of Anton has, at least, the following rules


  1. Do your job well
  2. Keep your promises
  3. Hold accountable those who break their promises
  4. Allow chance to decide the fate of innocents you might otherwise kill


Anton is a person like the rest of us. He does, in fact, have a code. He is detached, "he doesn't have a sense of humor," but he's not quite a force of nature either. He's a psychopathic killer, but there are plenty of those around.



Movie Forums Squirrel Jumper
When the love interests go into sexual intercourse, they never show them put on a condom.



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When the love interests go into sexual intercourse, they never show them put on a condom.

Don't forget the simultaneous Earth-shattering climax.



Using fast montage to cover up the fact that “insert most films that seem to do it these days” is a piece of expensive trash. I swear, I really try watching these blockbuster films that do it and either I’m too well-versed in the likes of Abel Gance and Sergei Eisenstein or people just don’t have an eye for “good” editing or perhaps a bit of both. To me it’s just sloppy and lazy what Marvel and these other big name action films do. But put enough “shiny” and “shaky” and “rapidity” within frame and people shoot a load apparently.
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I hate sex scenes that are irrelevant to the storyline. In HBO’s The Tale we see Laura Dern having sex with her boyfriend played by Comfort. Totally irrelevant to the storyline & gratuitous as we would expect that most couples have sex.

Compare that to Diane Lane & Kevin Costner who play a married couple in Let Him Go. We never see them have sex, but we see them suggesting they might have sex (which was a hundred times sexier IMO). Mercifully, we never actually saw them having sex which, again, would add nothing to the storyline.
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I hate sex scenes that are irrelevant to the storyline.

I want to create TV drama that features unnecessary bathroom scenes. Our hero finds clues using their phone on the throne. They're in a public bathroom stall and are struck with an epiphany in the stall and must write out an equation in magic marker on the door.



I hate sex scenes that are irrelevant to the storyline. In HBO’s The Tale we see Laura Dern having sex with her boyfriend played by Comfort. Totally irrelevant to the storyline & gratuitous as we would expect that most couples have sex.

Compare that to Diane Lane & Kevin Costner who play a married couple in Let Him Go. We never see them have sex, but we see them suggesting they might have sex (which was a hundred times sexier IMO). Mercifully, we never actually saw them having sex which, again, would add nothing to the storyline.
I agree with your point, but I think that scene shows she still has deep-rooted issues with sex and is slightly defensive about enjoying it (supposing she even is). I without question concur that the couple chemistry in Let Him Go stands out. But then, they were always compatible. Superman’s parents, hey…



Movie Forums Squirrel Jumper
Don't forget the simultaneous Earth-shattering climax.

That's true. Has there ever been a movie where the climaxes are not simultaneous?



That's true. Has there ever been a movie where the climaxes are not simultaneous?
And this when they’ve only known each other for 30 minutes.



When the love interests go into sexual intercourse, they never show them put on a condom.
Yes, because what Anger referred to as "Hollywood Babylon," such Babylon makes concerns with the most loftiest of social and moral fibers—and most certainly when they indeed try to play the "safe sex route" straight, it came packed in the hands of a film called Howard the Duck.



Well, we do have to identify with them in some way. They should reflect some aspect ourselves (actual or aspirational) that we see in them, right?

A great example. Lecter is Holmes with an "eating disorder."
I suppose so, except I don’t think Lecter is a misanthrope. Holmes is to me, the original one, at least.

I have a soft spot the Manhunter version of Lecter. Brian Cox is more grounded and menacing with understatement, where Anthony Hopkins makes sound-effects with his mouth.
I’ll have to rewatch it and pay attention. Do remember Hopkins sucking his teeth/hissing a lot, but it kind of works for the character imo.

It's all fun and game until its your turn. If I came home and found a Lecter had visited my family, I would have a different attitude. However, so long as his evil is merely on pages and flickering screens, there is a whole bestiary of monsters which we love playing with like children's toys (e.g., Freddy, Vader, Lecter, Mel Gibson). In the latter sense, our villains are more fun when we take them out of the toybox to play.
I don’t disagree. At the same time, I think exuberant maniacs like Lecter if they do exist are statistically unlikely to harm you and I. But a close family friend’s wife was murdered in the doorway of her apartment in the city centre when a male neighbour knocked on her door asking to borrow a frying pan. He was incredibly drunk, had a knife and stabbed her in the throat, didn’t even remember it in the morning. She knew her neighbours well and he seemed like the nicest guy, so she opened the door. Also, you must have heard this one, but a woman is more likely to be murdered by a man in her house, etc, etc. Think the same applies to serial killers.

I lived alone in apartments a lot as a very young teenager. Have given a lot of thought as to how I could he hurt and murdered by random men, visualised it, but that didn’t affect my soft spot for villains.

If we're talking the latter, then no, the real Bundy was a real monster.
Of course. But as a general note, I don’t think it’s quite about playing, it’s more about the Stockholm Syndrome-type response where people think if they identify with the bad guy/empathise with him, he’s less likely to hurt them etc.

Even in the fictional universe of these characters, there are distinctions to be noted:

Chigurh is an interesting one. Even this force-of-nature meets with his reversals. He gets T-boned in an intersection when another driver runs a red, and he is reduced to spending his money to get help from kids, not unlike Llewelyn Moss in his desperate moments. Anton is subject to the forces of nature himself, we learn. He is not above the world, untouchable. He is in the world, and vulnerable.

You can't bargain with a hurricane or the dawn, but you can bargain for your life with Anton. Moreover, Anton is willing to bargain with you. Why? A true force of nature just goes blowing through, but Anton doesn't just tear through the world. He is willing to risk his freedom with witnesses with the toss of a coin. If you effectively plead your case with him, he might make you a deal (then again, he might not... ...."Have you seen my face?"). He attempts to make a deal with Llewelyn (bring me the money and Carla Jean walks, otherwise she too will be "accountable"). Llewlyn refuses this deal and so Anton makes good on his promise which is rather moot and extra-curricular at that point - a force of nature is not concerned with the paying of debts, but this storm circles back. And when the storm circles does back, he is moved by Carla Jean and offers her a coin toss (the only way to find yourself free of this one holds others to "account"). "It's the best I can do," he tells her, almost indicating that he wishes he could do more. And he is quite pleased when the man at the gas station wins his coin toss ("That is your lucky coin, sir!"). Anton is NOT all seeing. He claims to know "to a certainty" that Llewlyn (most likely subject to do so at that moment) will bring the money to him and set it at his feet. This never happens.

Chighurh follows rules of his own. He believes in using the right tool for the right job. He takes pride in his work. He believes in punishing defectors. He believes in keeping promises (sorry, Carla). He has some accommodation (chance) for those who would be collateral damage. The ethics of Anton has, at least, the following rules


  1. Do your job well
  2. Keep your promises
  3. Hold accountable those who break their promises
  4. Allow chance to decide the fate of innocents you might otherwise kill


Anton is a person like the rest of us. He does, in fact, have a code. He is detached, "he doesn't have a sense of humor," but he's not quite a force of nature either. He's a psychopathic killer, but there are plenty of those around.
That’s probably all true. I never liked the book but I do love the film. I did, however, reference the book when writing my dissertation and read a bunch of stuff where McCarthy himself explained the “force of nature” point. It’s not just Chigurh, he has quite a few such villains, including in Blood Meridian. I don’t think that negates any of what you said. Chigurh has a lot of rules, but then again, you could argue nature has rules.

Ha, go figure - found a reference, though whatever I had originally read was a comment by McCarthy himself.

“Scholars have debated whether Chigurh is best understood as a man or ghost, a cipher or a force of nature (King, Wallach, and Welsh 2009).”

King, Lynnea C., Rick Wallach, and Jim Welsh. 2009. No Country for Old Men: From Novel to Film. Toronto: Scarecrow Press.

I guess that reading resonates with me.