Engaging character development is often one of the hallmarks of good storytelling – there are few things that are more satisfying than watching a character change and grow in interesting and sensible ways over the course of the story. And one of the most popular types of character development is the arc of redemption.
Everyone loves a good villain, but some of the best villains end up turning out to be good. When done well, redemption arcs can be one of the most engaging and emotionally impacting aspects of a particular story. Here are a few of the classic big-screen recovery arcs that have resonated with audiences everywhere.
The opening with Darth Vader is almost cliched when discussing the movie’s famous redemption arcs. However, sometimes the most obvious example is obvious for good reason. Darth Vader is introduced in 1977 as the worst evil man among them all – a terrifying and tyrannical Dark Lord who is said to have murdered our hero Luke’s father, Anakin Skywalker. All over the original star Wars And the bulk of his sequel, Vader isn’t portrayed with much more nuance. It’s not sympathetic or multifaceted, it’s just pure evil. And then, the end Empire strikes Turns the whole story upside down.
In the most famous episode in film history, Vader reveals to Locke that he didn’t kill Anakin Skywaker – it’s Anakin, who has been transformed into a monster through the emperor’s manipulation. While Luke was initially terrified by this revelation, Return of the Jedi He sees him trying to bring his father back to the bright side. While Vader initially remained loyal to the Emperor, he ended up choosing his family over his master, saving Locke from Palpatine at the cost of his life.
What follows is a heartbreaking farewell between father and son, as Anakin Skywalker finally sheds Darth Vader’s mask for a brief moment before becoming one with the Force. It’s not only the perfect conclusion to Anakin’s story, but it also limits Luke’s development, proving that he was right in believing in his father. It’s a scriptural example of the lovable redemption arc, and it gets even more difficult after watching the beginning of Anakin’s story in the Prequel trilogy and clone wars.
Between his main stature and his likable character, Jules Winnfield – Samuel L. Pulp Fiction He is not usually seen as a villain. But despite his fondness for quoting from the Bible, he is not a saint either. Jules is a professional assassin who uses crime lord Marcellus Wallace, who initially shows no remorse for killing his targets. But after a near-death experience, Jules becomes convinced that his survival was divine intervention, a sign from God that he intended something better. While we don’t ultimately see the consequences of Jules’ decision to end his criminal life, the dinner scene in which he reveals his change of heart is nonetheless one of the most famous scenes in the movie.
2010 DreamWorks movie honorary character Megamind He is likewise not a typical villain. While super committed to the aesthetics of the archetypal villain, Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell) is more of a mischievous troublemaker than a truly malevolent force. But even if he is not dangerous in his own right, he still begins the story as a character of pure interest, only interested in proving his superiority over his opponent Metroman. But once his mistakes create an even greater threat, Megamind is forced to confront his own selfishness and take on the role of the hero. Megamind It’s a clever, comedic, and charming story of a villain learning to change for the better – if you haven’t seen this classic animation yet, it’s well worth a watch.
Speaking of superhero movies, the MCU has no shortage of villains who see the error of their ways. There are plenty of other characters that would easily have ended up on this list, from Yondu to Wenwu to just about any villain from Spider-Man: There’s no way home. But the most notable arc of redemption in the MCU is undoubtedly the arc of Loki, the Asgardian crook and brother of Thor. Loki is presented as a cunning, power-hungry villain, ready to destroy entire worlds if it means establishing himself as a worthy heir to Odin.
However, after his defeat in AvengersLoki transitions from Thor’s opponent to his troubled ally, and collaborates with him in… dark world And the Ragnarok Before he finally sacrifices himself to save his brother from Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. But even though this was the end of Earth-616’s Loki, a small accident in time travel game over It leads to a multi-worlds variant of the trickster on his own journey to redemption in loki TV series. And while Loki’s story continues, it’s safe to say that the days of the Asgardian bastard are long gone.
It might be cheating to list three characters at once, but 2015’s action masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road It is a story all about redemption. The central theme of the post-apocalyptic film is the struggle to find hope in a hopeless world, and nowhere is this more evident than in its three main characters. Max, Furiosa, and Nux are all on their own journeys to make up for their past mistakes.
Max was once a “road warrior searching for a righteous cause,” but has since been lost to a ruthless opportunist haunted by the memory of those he failed to save. Forced to become a warrior for the immortal tyrant Jo, Furiosa now seeks to atone for her crimes by freeing Jo’s wives from captivity. Meanwhile, Nux begins the film as a loyal soldier of Joe, indoctrinated through propaganda his whole life and obsessed with a noble dying in battle. The three protagonists begin the film as broken and troubled people with a dark past, but who end up having a positive impact on each other.
By the end of the story, Max opens up to his new companions and once again becomes the selfless protector of the innocent. Going from Joe’s servant to his murderer, Furiosa succeeded in freeing the people from his rule. Freed from the cruel ideology he was brought up to follow, Nux finds real death not for glory, but to save his new friends. Despite its bleak and violent surroundings, way of anger It is ultimately a story about how compassion and teamwork can make people better, no matter how irreparable they may be.
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