Sometimes a bad guy has more appeal than the hero, especially if the so-called villain is as ruthless in his pursuit of the heroine as he is in achieving the rest of his goals. Here are five science fiction and fantasy movie villains whose characters could become enthralling romance heroes, given some moral fiber.
King Einon from DragonHeart
King Einon: Next time stab more flesh. Less cloth.
Kara: I’ll pierce your heart!
King Einon: You already did.
King Einon certainly wasn’t lovable, but with a few doses of the honor and chivalry Dennis Quaid’s character tried to teach him, especially when it comes to his courtship techniques, he could be hero-worthy. Father was a brutal warlord, check. Possesses a magical heart, check. Falls in lust/love with the heroine who accidentally wounded him when they were children, check.
Jareth the Goblin King from Labyrinth
“Everything I’ve done, I’ve done for you. I move the stars for no one.”
The Goblin King needs an heir for his kingdom, so how about a romance novel in which he goes making a baby the old-fashioned way? Much of the film involves him putting the heroine through trials and seduction. Create a grown-up woman with the wit and determination to survive the maze, amp up David-freaking-Bowie’s sex appeal, and give them a happy ending. BDSM elements optional.
Memnon from The Scorpion King
“And when I become the king of legend, then you shall take your place beside me, on a throne and in my bed.”
(Consent would have made this line so sexy.)
While Memnon might not have seemed like much, in comparison to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, make him the star of his own story, and the sword-wielding conqueror has powerful appeal. To make him admirable, subtract some of his Napoleonic tendencies. More importantly, instead of enslaving a sorceress from childhood and scheduling their upcoming marriage without her consent, he could protect her, use her visions to save his kingdom, and they both gradually fall in love.
Lord Rothbart from The Swan Princess
So this sorcerer might need a bit of a facelift and a new hairstyle, but he can turn into “The Great Animal,” and dragon shifters are all the rage these days. Retell his side of the story, in his vendetta against Odette’s father, so he seems unjustly persecuted. His methods of courtship need re-doing because, as is, it’s reminiscent of “Leda and the Swan.” Now if he transforms her for her safety, we’re getting somewhere. Besides, let’s be honest, Prince Derek was a bit of a tool.
Lord Vaako from The Chronicles of Riddick
The fact that Karl Urban is a broodingly gorgeous man may have some influence on his nomination for this list. Subtract Lady Macbeth from the picture, and you have a rising commander of a malevolent army. Emphasize his having been brainwashed and tortured, so we’ll forgive his past crimes and make readers’ hearts weep. Put him on a righteous rather than ambitious mission to kill his overlord, then introduce him to a valiant heroine on a planet he’s invading and presto.