Five Movie Characters Who Walk the Line Between Good and Evil

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A man brutally murdered comes back to life as an undead avenger of his and his fiancée's murder.
Photo Credit: Miramax Films
April 16th, 2014

Over the course of cinematic history, movies have been filled with black-and-white characters that represent either good or evil. Although the protagonist may have a few flaws, his heart is always in the right place. The antagonist is always ready to oppose the protagonist with evil and mischief. However, a few movies have brought unique characters to life that seem to walk the narrow line between good and evil, making them more intriguing, unpredictable and realistic.

 

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Photo Credit: Miramax Films

The Crow From "The Crow" and Its Sequels

The Crow is a fictional character created by James O'Barr for his graphic novels series, but the story was soon turned into a live-action film that spawned a number of sequels. The Crow was once a guitarist named Eric Draven who was murdered along with his fiancé by a group of ruthless criminals. When he is resurrected in order to exact revenge, he paints his face black and white and seeks out each guilty criminal with the help of a supernatural crow. Although the Crow is seen as a murderer by the police, a young girl named Sarah, who knew him as Eric, sees him for who he truly is. The Crow's killing spree could be seen as pure vengeance, but it is clear that the character also wants to protect others from the evils of these heartless men.

 

 
 
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Photo Credit: Buena Vista Pictures

Jack Sparrow From the "Pirates of the Caribbean" Film Series

Jack Sparrow is an off-the-wall fictional pirate whose heroic deeds are just as common as his acts of selfishness. In "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," the pirate is sentenced to be hanged after rescuing the governor's daughter Elizabeth. When Elizabeth is later kidnapped, a love-struck Will Turner frees Jack Sparrow when he agrees to help him rescue her. However, Jack has ulterior motives that may have doomed Will. In the next installment, Jack tricks Will once again, and he continues this pattern of betrayal and selfishness in all four films of the series. However, Jack's self-centeredness is balanced by his acts of unexpected heroism and camaraderie. For this reason, audiences never know what to expect from the charming pirate.

 

 

 
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Photo Credit: United Artists

The Man With No Name From Sergio Leone's "Dollars" Trilogy

This character, expertly portrayed by Clint Eastwood, is a stoic, mysterious man who possesses an eccentric but strong moral code, and he uses his sharp revolver skills to serve justice. In the 1964 film "For a Few Dollars More," the character rides into town and decides to play both sides in a war between factions, hoping to get rich out of the deal. Although he captures a woman from one of the groups to give to the other as leverage, his heart changes when he learns of the injustices done to the woman. He frees her, leading to him being brutally beaten by one of the factions. Throughout the film series, the character continues to complete questionable tasks for a profit, but his strong sense of justice never lets things go too far.

 

 

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Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Rorschach From "Watchmen"

Rorschach is a comic book and movie antihero who plays an important role in the Watchmen, a band of masked superheroes determined to prevent the destruction of their own kind. Rorschach was born Walter Kovacs to an abusive prostitute mother and an unknown father, and he eventually grew up to become a masked vigilante. His black-and-white mask, which resembles the Rorschach inkblot psychological evaluation tool, is symbolic of his black-and-white sense of justice. The character frequently kills deserving individuals in gruesome ways, which is normally taboo in most superhero stories.

 

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Photo Credit: AVCO Embassy Pictures

Snake Plissken From "Escape From New York" and "Escape From L.A."

The fictional character S.D. Bob "Snake" Plissken, portrayed by Kurt Russell, is a former Special Forces operator who has become a criminal in a dystopian future after World War III. In the films, he becomes the protagonist when  the U.S. Police Force uses him to extract top-secret people and items from New York and later Los Angeles, which have both been turned into mega-prisons. Although Snake is shown to be very cynical, having turned to a life of crime after seeing the hypocrisy of the U.S. government, his stern ways are accompanied by a code of honor that leads him to fight off anyone in order to defend the things that matter to him.

These five characters keep audiences constantly questioning their motives and trying to guess their next moves. Although characters like Jack Sparrow are fun and quirky, most of these characters are relatively dark. Although they straddle the fence between good and evil, no one can deny their magnetic, crowd-pleasing appeal.