It has been said many times over that a good villain is the hero of their own story. Couldn’t agree more.
Personally, I like villains with complex backgrounds and high ideals that make perfect sense if you squint. Y’know, like Magneto. He has lived through terrible things and is a product of those struggles. (Plus, him breaking out of his plastic prison in X-Men 2 is my favourite scene from any action movie EVER.)
Think about Walter White or Tywin Lannister. Arguably, Tywin is the more noble of the two – yes, he lies and schemes and kills his foes, but his declaration that his actions are all for his family and his legacy actually ring true when you hold his words up against Walt’s endless lies and ego.
Sometimes it is all in where you stand. Daenarys Targaryen is a conquerer as much as a liberator, and shows no mercy to those who have wronged the weak. Remember, this is the woman who has crucified people (OK, so they had just done the same to a bunch of slaves…) She fights fire with fire and rules in some cases by asserting her values onto several different ancient cultures (not that they were necessarily GOOD, of course.) Would the people of Meereen and Pentos and Yunkai see her as a villain or a hero?
I adore a good villain and I love a solid antihero. Got any favourites?