As though they didn’t have enough trouble from them already, there are many movie heroes who unwittingly created their own villains. This is often a useful device to generate dramatic tension because a villain created by a hero will usually come back to put the hero in peril, inspiring a fierce rivalry that can propel the entire plot of a movie. In these instances, this conflict allows a hero to explore the innermost recesses of their turmoil, because often the darker parts of them are reflected in the villain who acts as a mirror, or even a cautionary tale meant to inspire them on their altruistic path.
These situations can also inspire empathy and even mercy when a movie hero becomes aware of the damage that they’ve done to someone who, without their intrusion or misguidance, might have turned out entirely differently. Sometimes, it’s the movie hero’s ego that leads them to believe they can change someone who is, for anyone else to see but them, on a path to self-destruction regardless of their intervention. A hero will generally always try to make a villain rethink their purpose or master plan, until the point where it becomes too late, and redemption is a futile attempt.
10 Mr. Incredible Created Syndrome (The Incredibles)
All a young Incrediboy wanted was to spend time with his hero Mr. Incredible, but as so often happens after spending time with a hero, unfulfilled expectations lead to despondency and resentment. In the case of Syndrome being let down by Mr. Incredible, it leads to him becoming a super villain with a plot to destroy Mr. Incredible’s entire family. Just as The Incredibles was a great introspective look at the reality of superhero life, it was also a scathing examination of ego and delusions of grandeur long before The Boys came along.
9 Tony Stark & Bruce Banner Made Ultron (Avengers: Age Of Ultron)
After the two brightest minds in The Avengers start tinkering with Artificial Intelligence in their labs, they inadvertently make a self-aware super villain in the form of Ultron. What was once a useful tool to Tony’s work becomes a cybernetic killer, resentful of being under the yoke of a fragile species that would sooner destroy its own kind and the planet it lives on than try to use technology to preserve it. Ultron very near destroys The Avengers while representing a cautionary tale that is an indictment of hubris on the part of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
8 Kick-Ass’ Actions Led To Red Mist (Kick-Ass 2)
After Kick-Ass kills his father, Frank D’Amico, Chris D’Amico adopts the super villain identity Mother F****r, eschewing his superhero identity Red Mist and vowing revenge against his fellow teen superhero. Originally reluctant to harm Big Daddy or any of Kick-Ass’s friends, Red Mist showed no mercy once his mind was made up, a far cry from the idealistic boy he once was. Red Mist comes to embody the notion that superheroes and super villains are often only separated by “one bad day,” as The Joker once famously told Batman.
7 M Was Responsible For Silva (Skyfall)
M let Raoul Silva, a former MI6 agent, rot in a Chinese government prison in 1997 rather than risk exposing her and top-secret intelligence vital to his mission. Almost two decades later, Silva commits several acts of terrorism as part of a plan to draw her out and hold her accountable for her betrayal in Skyfall. M’s willingness to leave agents, including James Bond, high and dry for the sake of the mission and the betterment of British Intelligence proved how callous the spy game was, and created a sympathetic villain in Silva, who was an orphan just like Bond, and the impulsive side to his sociopathy.
6 Black Panther Created Killmonger (Black Panther)
Erik Killmonger began Black Panther as the cousin of King T’Challa, whose father N’Jobu was killed after attempting to steal vibranium to arm people of color across the globe against oppression, and was banished as an orphan to Oakland, California. When Erik returned to scold the Wakandan court, he cited its refusal to help those who looked like them in other countries with their superior technology and resources. Killmonger became a tragic and complicated villain when he vowed to take the throne by force, his actions compelled by the complexities of Pan-African grief and his own complicated feelings of abandonment, leading many to believe that Killmonger was right.
5 Batman Created The Riddler (The Batman)
Earlier versions of the Caped Crusader were responsible for making The Joker and other members of Batman’s Rogue Gallery, but in The Batman, Batman is responsible for making a version of The Riddler. After a lowly accountant discovers corruption involving Wayne Enterprises and Gotham’s mobster elite, he tries to decide what course of action to take, ultimately inspired by seeing Batman save a woman from a mugging. Ironically, Batman leads him to adopt the moniker The Riddler and torture Gotham’s high-profile leaders until they reveal their part in its degradation.
4 Kevin Flynn Made CLU (Tron Legacy)
After Kevin Flynn creates Tron and enters The Grid, he creates CLU, the perfect program, to build a digital utopia in Tron: Legacy. Except for the real world and a son draws Flynn away, leaving CLU to eschew his maker in favor of furthering the agenda of the programs he believes Flynn to have betrayed. When Flynn and his son attempt to alter The Grid, CLU rebels, leading to a different reunion of father and digital son, who doesn’t understand why he was abandoned for an inferior life form.
3 Neo Turned Smith Into A Super Virus (The Matrix)
After Neo’s final encounter with Agent Smith in The Matrix, the diabolical program changed into something neither Neo nor the Machines had ever seen. As Smith himself explained to Neo in the sequel The Matrix: Reloaded, some part of Neo imprinted onto some part of him, and turned him into a super virus with Neo’s abilities and the freedom to travel between digital worlds. This developed into not only a rivalry but an unprecedented connection that culminated in the entanglement of their lives being integral in providing equilibrium to future versions of the Matrix itself.
2 Luke Skywalker Turned Ben Into Kylo Ren (The Last Jedi)
Luke Skywalker is often associated with being the hero of the Skywalker saga and George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy, but a moment of weakness created one of its greatest villains, Kylo Ren. Prior to Ren’s turn to the dark side, he was Ben Solo, the son of Rebel Alliance heroes Leia Organa and Han Solo, but training under his Uncle Luke revealed a propensity for evil. Luke contemplated killing his nephew in order to prevent him from becoming the scourge of the galaxy the way his father, Darth Vader, had been, and Luke’s betrayal of Kylo Ren became a self-fulfilling prophecy that changed his character as well as Luke’s.
1 Aquaman Created Black Manta (Aquaman)
Even though Aquaman was the protector of the Seven Seas, he failed to save a father’s life and thus turned his son, David Hyde, into a sworn enemy. Aquaman super villain Black Manta arose from Aquaman’s refusal to rescue his father in a time of crisis, and he vowed to enact revenge on him and his entire family. Aquaman’s choice in letting Black Manta’s father die rather than render aid stemmed from his previously killing sailors, thus introducing a cycle of retribution that in the end showed Aquaman the error of his own need for revenge.