Vader Still Sucks: 5 Characters Who Aren’t ‘Redeemed’ At All
Great redemption stories convince us that we, too, can overcome our flaws and learn to be better people (that is, if we actually wanted to improve ourselves in any way). But sometimes, a redemption story gets so caught up in the swelling music and the dramatic close-ups that they forget the part where the characters actually change and, y'know, redeem themselves.
In Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader Could've Saved Thousands Of Lives With A Single Word
Who's in charge of the Empire? The Emperor. Who's second in command? Darth Vader. So when the Emperor dies, now who's in charge of the Empire? Right: It rhymes with Smarth Brader.
Which is probably the name of one of these idiots in Jabba's palace, but don't be an asshole.
Yes, Vader is the one who murdered the Emperor in the first place, so maybe his claim to authority isn't super legal, but the only witness to that crime is Luke Skywalker, who isn't exactly eager to see Imperial justice get served. Besides, it's not like anyone would be challenging Vader for command in the middle of a giant space melee. The Empire's too busy getting their ass handed to them by a pack of feral teddy bears to comb through the Death Star's detailed succession bylaws.
The point is, Vader is now in total command of the Imperial fleet and has ostensibly returned to Team Blue Saber. He could just grab a radio and legally order all Imperial forces to cease fire and stand down, then broadcast surrender to the Rebellion. Doing this would save thousands of lives at Endor -- both Rebel and Imperial (and potentially scraping this moment from our childhoods) -- and would pave the way for an orderly, legitimized transfer of power. This final heroic act would ensure a noble, selfless end for the fallen Skywalker.
As long as everyone is willing to overlook certain things.
Instead, he sees the death and chaos and panic going on all around him, and he ignores it, because it's more important to get in a nice chat with the son he was trying to kill ten minutes ago. Hey, Skywalkers: It's great that the family feud is over, but you maybe wanna wrap up the space war that's killing all your friends before you start shooting that Hallmark commercial?
Anakin turned to the Dark Side in the first place because he couldn't accept the loss of a loved one, and instead he sacrificed other lives in a vain attempt to satisfy his own emotional needs. Now, in his final moments, he's doing the exact same thing. He could, in his own words, "end this destructive conflict," but all he cares about is sneaking in one last backyard catch with his li'l Jedi slugger.
Metaphorically speaking, that is.
Liar Liar's Fletcher Is Still A Self-Centered Shitheel
In Liar Liar, hotshot L.A. lawyer Fletcher Reede is a selfish piece of crap who constantly lies to his ex-wife, Audrey, and son, Max. He's also Jim Carrey, looking like this:
Get a goddamn tailor, Carrey.
So right off the bat, he's not super likable.
Fletcher promises he'll attend Max's birthday party -- your classic "I wouldn't miss it for the world, kiddo" scene, the kind that usually foreshadows the dad flawlessly honoring his word -- but oh no! He doesn't. He ends up missing the party to have sex with his boss, thus maximizing his character's hateability. That is too a word. Don't make us move you up a notch on the Hateometer.
"We're getting a reading of over 25 MegaTrumps!"
So Max makes a birthday wish that renders his father magically unable to lie for 24 hours, and after Fletcher spends a day embarrassing himself with wacky antics, he learns a valuable lesson about honesty, then wins back the hearts of his son and ex-wife with the twin powers of zaniness and hijinks.
Fletcher may have learned why lying is bad, but he hasn't learned why honesty (or empathy, for that matter) is important. Audrey is about to move from L.A. to Boston to marry her boyfriend, Jerry, whom she and Max both love. That means she quit her job, pulled Max out of school, canceled utilities, packed their stuff, threw a goodbye party at a slightly-too-far-away bar and guilted everyone on Facebook into sending excuse texts -- all the normal moving stuff. But none of that means anything to Fletcher. He expects her to instantly reverse a life-changing decision on a whim, just on the off chance that his ten-trillionth promise to "do better" is the one he'll finally follow up on.
It's not exactly an abusive cycle, but ...
Also, if all Fletcher really wants is to be in Max's life, why wouldn't he just move to Boston himself? It's not like he has any ties to L.A. now that he's lost his job and his family's leaving. But that never occurs to Fletcher, because deep down, he still expects everyone to bend over backward to accommodate his desires, and to applaud him for finally meeting the bare minimum standard of decency. All hail Fletcher! He marginally improved, after being magically compelled to do so! Now fuck your connecting flight -- GROUND THAT PLANE!
Oh wait, so what about Jerry, who's still an objectively better person than Fletcher and always has been? Fuck Jerry! Obviously fuck Jerry. Nobody likes a "Jerry," Jerry.
Jerry. Hey. Hey, Jerry. Fuck you.
Good Will Hunting's Title Character Is An Aimless Loser Stuck In A Rut (Now In California!)
At the end of the Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting screenplay, Dr. Sean Maguire is delighted to find a note from Will Hunting (really, movie? Really?) stating that he's heading off to California to be with the Love Interest. Good for you, Will! Now that you've come to terms with your abusive childhood and taken Maguire's advice on seizing the day, you're going to be OK!
"Oh Captain, my Captain!"
Actually, Will isn't taking Maguire's advice at all. Nor is he heeding what Dr. Lambeau said earlier, about using his talents and genius to its full potential. He's practically swimming in opportunities to do both of these things, and he blows each and every one of them all the way off.
Will is just fleeing from Ben Affleck's unbearable passive-aggressive guilt trips, as are we all, in one way or another.
"Imma nag you wicked hahd."
When Will tells his best friend, Chuckie, that he's fine just bumming around South Boston, bouncing from one menial job to another for the rest of his life, Chuckie responds with a bitter rant about how he wishes he'd never see Will again, just so he wouldn't have to keep being jealous and resentful of someone way smarter than himself. This -- not anything profound that Lambeau said about "fulfilling his potential" or Maguire said about self-determination -- is the thing that makes Will finally up and leave.
Earlier in the film, Will sabotaged all the job interviews that Lambeau went to considerable trouble to get him, because they would have been too much of a break from the comfortable rut that Will inhabited. He doesn't leave Boston because he's going to find a new life: He leaves because his best friend broke the rut and made things uncomfortable. Now he's chasing the familiar -- a girl -- as opposed to making some use of his own genius. Remember: The movie wasn't about how Will Hunting can't get a girlfriend, it was about him wasting his potential. He's still doing that, just in California. Which is the official state of Wasted Potential, so at least he's got that going for him.
Frank Cross From Scrooged Nearly Orders A Man To His Death -- After Turning "Good"
After a terrifying encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Future, network TV executive Frank Cross is so full of Christmas cheer that he easily talks down disgruntled former employee Eliot Loudermilk -- you remember the shotgun-toting Bobcat Goldthwait character from the original Dickens novel, right? -- from murdering him. He offers to rehire Eliot at double his former pay if he agrees to help Frank hijack a TV broadcast so they can deliver a special message of love and charity.
And commit so many felonies in the process.
If Frank had stopped at "You're rehired at double your salary," he would have fixed the damage he caused to Eliot. Instead, Frank goes on to take advantage of Eliot -- someone who's both drunk and suicidal at the time -- all to make sure everybody knows what a great guy he's suddenly become.
All in all, Frank Cross is still the same sociopath he always was -- he manipulates people, he takes credit for their actions, he doesn't think of the potential consequences for them -- but now he loves Christmas!
And only Christmas.
Mel Gibson In What Women Want Just Learns How To Manipulate Women Really Well
When chauvinistic Nick Marshall gains the ability to read women's thoughts, he uses it for selfish purposes. First, he telepathically steals ideas from his new boss, Darcy, and ultimately gets her fired. Then, he mind-rapes Marisa Tomei's Lola into sleeping with him. But eventually, he learns to empathize with women and changes his ways. He lets Lola down easy, swallowing his pride and falsely confirming a suspicion she has that he's actually gay. Then he gets Darcy her job back, simultaneously confessing his sabotage and his feelings for her, thus winning her heart and bringing a happy end to both the movie and Mel Gibson's last days of viability as a romantic lead.
Let's look at the ending scene, with Nick's big confession to Darcy:
The fact that Helen Hunt did this whole scene without making a fart noise or jerk-off motion is Oscar-worthy in and of itself.
By this point in the movie, Nick has lost his mind-reading powers, so it's intended to be "sweet" -- how he convinces her to forgive him without that advantage. But take a closer look at his behavior. He says things to make himself seem vulnerable ("I'm the one that needs to be rescued") and deliberately draws attention to the fact that he has "accidentally" done so ("Now I'm embarrassed I told you I needed to be rescued") in order to guilt Darcy into chasing him when he finally starts to leave (a process that he drags out as long as he can). Nick may not be able to read women's minds anymore, but that's OK, because he learned how to manipulate them all the same.
And that's nothing compared to how Nick handles Lola: After Nick sleeps with her once and loses interest, Lola confronts him with a rather bizarre question -- he's gay, right? This becomes slightly less random when Nick hears Lola's thoughts during this conversation and realizes she basically "needs" him to be gay, because thanks to her shitty self-esteem, she can't handle the alternative of simply being undesirable.
And it's not like there aren't dozens of other women who would happily fuck a wealthy, attractive guy and never talk to him again the next day.
Nick could easily talk her down -- he's a smooth-talking psychic; how could he not? -- but instead, he shrugs his shoulders and goes "Ya got me! Gay as hell." The movie presents his fake sexuality as a sacrificial swallowing of pride, when he's really just taking the first offramp the conversation has to offer. The right thing to do would be to confess to her as well, placing the blame firmly on himself, not shifting it elsewhere and risking inadvertently creating some bizarre low-self-esteem subconscious homophobia conspiracy in her brain. But then that's what the internet is for, so she's probably at least found her people by now.
Riley Black didn't want a Twitter account, but he lost a bet with us, so here it is.
For more ways you've read famous characters all wrong, check out 5 Movie Villains Who Were Completely Right The Whole Time and 9 Famous Movie Villains Who Were Right All Along.
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