7 Movie Villains Teaching Valuable Life Lessons


Mythical and epic stories from around the world are something everyone is familiar with and have witnessed at least once in their lifetime. In this modern world, as we enter a different mode of storytelling, movies have become an integral part of our lives.

Growing up, we have encountered numerous heroes and superheroes through the prominent movies of Marvel and DC comics. Besides these comic-based movies, numerous films have given us a sense of what is good and bad. Based on the plot and the story, some movie characters have also shown us what should be done, no matter how bad.

Most movies focus on an angle that portrays the good side of the story or shows the so-called ‘Hero’ is a good spotlight. Focusing entirely on the character’s good will and deeds, the character development of other characters is often border-lined, especially with the character of the villain.

In this center stage of the story that majorly focuses on how to be that ‘GOOD GUY’, the element of storytelling is somewhere lost. While the audience awes in admiration of the lime-lighted character, the most important teaching through movies is often taught by the so-called ‘BAD GUY’ or villains.

As a career advice, let me ask you a question: What is the line that you have heard or encountered the most in your career or during your schooling?

Well, it might not be the most encountered line, but surely you would have crossed paths with it. ‘If you are good at something, never do it for free!’ as you read this line, it might have been pretty sure where you would have heard it, right?

This line is from a world-class superhero movie directed by arguably the best director of all time, Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight. Starring Christian Bale as The Dark Knight, aka The Batman. However, surprisingly to those who do not know, the line mentioned above is of the villain of the movie, who is also the star villain of the movie and DC Comics, The Joker, played by the legendary Heath Ledger.

While the line somehow shows the good side that everyone should look forward to, it becomes hard to believe that it has come from probably the most complicated antagonist the movie industry has ever witnessed.

Those are the lessons that are often ignored by the masses but stay with us when witnessing the struggles of reality when it comes to life or building a business.

So, after spending hours in front of different dimensions of different screens, here is the list of 7 movie villains that have taught us lessons that would not only help us in life but also in the context of building a business empire.

Gladiator – Roman Emperor Commodus: Don’t be that Guy

The Roman Empire, during its reign, was the most advanced civilization to walk the face of the earth. Even today, the example of the roman empire is given to lead a civilization or even the lifestyle we follow. But as the saying goes, ‘every dynasty must come to an end’, the fall of one of the greatest empires on earth started with the coronation of the Roman Emperor Cesar Commodus. However, the movie is loosely based on the real-life events of Cesar Commodus, the general to his father, Marcus Aurelius.

Having said that, the lesson learned about this royal villain, which also happened to be a real person, is that ruling is doing what you like; instead, it is being responsible for the growth and keeping everyone safe. Below are the few jotted points that the fictitious Emperor Commodus taught us not to be, so don’t be that ‘Guy’ or do not be Commodus.

  • Don’t force your rule on anyone
  • Inheritance is not a gift but a responsibility
  • Title and Position do not define you

The Lion King – Scar: Your Company Matters

The lion king villain, Scar, is one of Disney movies’ most critically anticipated characters. He literally defined the old saying of ‘all is fair in love and war’. He rose to power with clever strategies and used the king’s strength against him to become the king of the hill. Though the movie portrayed him in a completely negative light-filled shadow of jealousy, the lessons that this animated character of a lion teaches us are listed below:

  • Be kind; it is a strength and not a weakness.
  • Stay away from hyenas, loosely translating to make good friends.

The Merchant of Venice – Shylock: A Ghost of Jealous Past

If there is a court of writers and storytellers, then William Shakespeare is indeed sitting on the throne. His theater and play writings are still used as the main storyline in many classic and landmark films. The Merchant of Venice is one story that plays around strong characterization, ideologies and beliefs. Shylock, the antagonist, is a typical money lender who lends money for profit and being the villain of the story is a rich jealous man.

When one of the protagonists fails to return the money, he asks for one pound of flesh from Antonio as debt. His story teaches us that to build a business empire, you need to be cruel but simultaneously be human and kind. Treating oneself as equal is the greatest quality that he teaches us, and the repercussions of not treating one as equal are beautifully dialogued and depicted in the story. So, the lesson learned from the past ghost is to be kind to everyone.

The Prestige – Robert Angier: Greed vs Passion

Who doesn’t like to witness a good magic trick? It is fascinating to leave the audience in confusion for a moment and take them by surprise the next. The storyline of this movie is similar, revolving around two magicians who want to perform a good magic trick for the audience. While the protagonist of the movie Alfred Borden played by Christian Bale, is performing magic tricks with passion, with the sole intention of giving the audience a good magic trick, the antagonist magician Robert Angier played by Huge Jackman, is driven by greed and ambition to be a better magician than Alfred.

The character learns the opponent’s magic tricks, and despite being a great magician himself, he finds himself stuck on one magic trick that Alfred masters. Lessons from a bunny drawing magician like Robert Angier is that being ambitious is a quality of a success-driven man but mixing it with greed results in failure.

The Dark Knight – The Joker: The Villain of Injustice, Hypocrisy and Societal Exploitation

If there is one movie that made every person fall in love with the antagonist of the story is Christopher Nolan’s directed, The Dark Knight. The Joker, played by Health Ledger, is a product of injustice, society, hypocrisy and exploitation. Ever heard of a villain with no moral? Well, The Joker is the name you get.

Some of his dialogues are also the lessons that he taught us. A few of such dialogues are:

  • If you are good at something, never do it for free!
  • Why so Serious, my friend?

Apart from that, a few lessons from the world admired antagonist is that one should have forgiveness and learn to ignore things that do not matter. Rather than having all the qualities to be a leading antagonist of the DC comics, our beloved Joker differs in his ideologies, making him the most loved villain of all time.

Fight Club – The Narrator: Happiness Doesn’t come with Brand Labels

Fight Club is arguably one of the greatest inspirational movies in its genre. The protagonist and antagonist are one and the same. The movie shows a class of people who label happiness with the brand; confused and irritated with this lifestyle, the Narrator develops a dissociative identity disorder, and he starts a fight club to get out of that context and in search of happiness.

Setting the movie’s message aside and focusing on the villain of the movie, the Narrator. The villain is often inside us, making us do things we don’t want to. Two things can be learned from this; the Narrator, one, happiness does not come with labels and brands and second, the villain is often inside us that we need to fight.

Harry Potter Series – Severus Snape: The Villain of Morals, Responsibility and Love

Jotting down and streaming movies for making this list, the Character of Severus Snape has bound to be on this list. While portrayed in movies and novels like ‘The Potion Master,’ Severus Snape is a villain of morals, responsibility and above all, love. Making it to the top of the list, a number of things can be learned from the beloved Slytherin house head, prof. Severus Snape, aka The Half-Blood Prince.

Point out a few things that are learned from this character in black robes who wave the wand to fulfill his responsibilities are:

  • Love is eternal
  • With great powers comes great responsibility
  • Morals are held as high as one’s head

Be a Hero but Admire a Villain

It is eminent that a hero is incomplete without a good classic villain. Though the world focuses on the goodness of heroes, the villains teach life lessons. The villains or the antagonists often portray a passion for knowledge and great abilities.

In Ramayana, when Lord Laxman asked Lord Ram for wisdom, he asked to seek it from The Demon Kind Ravana. That is the significance of a villain. Concluding with a note to be the hero of your lives but aspire the villain to not be ‘That Guy’.


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