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The Hollywood heroes that turned to the dark side #TheLastJedi

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Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) brooding attitude in The Last Jedi trailer means one of two things. Either he’s started listening to Radiohead, or he’s flirting with the dark side.

Could such a treasured hero really turn bad? It's not out of the question – here we've ranked some of Hollywood's greatest fallen heroes.

6. Harvey Dent/Two Face

First appearance: The Dark Knight

Evil turning point: The death of his fiance Rachel

"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain" – the perfect Harvey Dent quote to kick-start this list, as it could apply to any one of these fallen heroes.

Dent was initially a beacon of hope in Christopher Nolan's Batman epic, his skills as Gotham’s district attorney helping Batman (Christian Bale) rid the streets of crime. But “one little push” from the Joker (Heath Ledger) led him on a mad murder spree in pursuit of revenge for Rachel's (Maggie Gyllenhaal) death.

But it wasn’t his actions that were most troublesome. It was that the Joker was successful in proving that any one of us can be pushed towards the dark side.


5. Smeagol/Gollum

First appearance: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Evil turning point: Murdering his friend Deagol

As soon as Smeagol was seduced by the ring of power, murdering his best mate in the process, his life went to ruin. Outcast by his friends and family he was forced to live alone in the mountains.

It's even more tragic when we consider the number of opportunities he had for redemption. We’ve seen former villains redeem themselves so often in Hollywood that we were convinced Smeagol would finally make up for his misdeeds. But sadly there was no such happy ending (although the ring did ultimately get destroyed, so every cloud and all that).


4. Peter Pettigrew aka Wormtail

First appearance: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Evil turning point: Betraying Harry's parents

It’s debatable whether Pettigrew (Timothy Spall) could ever be considered a hero. But let's not forget he was a former member of the Order of the Phoenix before he betrayed Harry’s (Daniel Radcliffe) parents, James and Lilly Potter.

This foul sin becomes even fouler when you realise how close of a friend he was to James before his cowardice influenced him to join Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Sure, Pettigrew rarely ever killed anyone, other than poor Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) of course, but hiding behind Voldermort’s skirt somehow made him even more vile.


3. Michael Corleone

First appearance: The Godfather

Evil turning point: Murdering Sollozzo and McCluskey

At the start of Francis Ford's Coppola's masterful gangster opus, Michael (Al Pacino) arrives home a decorated war hero. Attempting to stay out of his mafia family's criminal activities, he eventually rises through the criminal ranks to become a feared and despicable character.

The tipping point comes when he avenges his father Don Vito's (Marlon Brando) attempted assassination – after this, Michael is never the same again.

It’s hard not to think what Michael’s future would have had in store if he had never pulled the trigger on those responsible, Sollozzo and McCluskey. Would he have lived a happy, crime-free life, or did he have villainy in his blood?


2. Erik Lensherr/Magneto

First appearance: X-Men

Evil turning point: Watching his mother being killed in front of him

Telekinetic mutant Lensherr (played by both Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender) probably has a more valid reason than anyone else for having his head turned by the dark side.

Not only did he witness his mother get killed in a Nazi concentration camp, but he’s also seen repeated attacks on his mutant brethren. He truly believes that violence is the only way to stop mutants from being persecuted by regular humans.

But enough empathy – he’s also committed several atrocities including countless deaths and attempted genocide, which are impossible to forgive. Still, it’s hard to forget his budding bromance with Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart/James McAvoy), even if Erik was to blame for Xavier’s paralysis as revealed in origin story First Class.


1. Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader

First appearance: Star Wars: A New Hope (as Vader); The Phantom Menace (as young Anakin)

Evil turning point: Killing the younglings

We didn’t have to look very far from Luke Skywalker's home of Tatooine to find our number one choice.

Cited as the ‘Chosen One’, Anakin Skywalker (played by Jake Lloyd as a youngster and Hayden Christensen as a teen) had been expected to bring balance to the Force and defeat the Sith.

Instead he joined them and claimed countless lives in the process, including those helpless younglings. Eventually he embraced his dark destiny to become the galaxy's most feared villain: Darth Vader.

There’s not much Vader hasn’t done, from killing the elderly Obi-Wan (Alec Guinness) to helping destroy entire planets. That said, after committing so many evil deeds his final good-willed act in killing the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) and saving Luke redeems him in our eyes.

It doesn't change his status as an iconic cinema villain, though.


So what about Luke Skywalker?

First appearance: Star Wars: A New Hope

Will there be an evil turning point? Remains to be seen

Looking back at previous fallen heroes there seems to be a common theme as to why they turn to the dark side.

Three of the six characters on this list were motivated by revenge. It’s hard to see Luke Skywalker doing the same as this would seem to go against his nature – although given he was betrayed by student Ben Solo/Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), maybe vengeance isn't entirely out of the question?

Two other characters on this list turned bad from greed and cowardice (Gollum and Wormtail respectively), but again, it wouldn’t fit Luke’s character. A Jedi isn't meant to harbour materialistic greed. 

It’s much more likely that Luke’s simply had a change of view on what it means to be a Jedi. Maybe his line, "It's time for the Jedi to end" signals the demise of the old light side/dark side order – a popular fan theory puts weight behind the notion that he's become a gray Jedi, somewhere in the middle of thise two poles. 

That's potentially what betrayal and forced isolation on the island of Ahch-To can do to a man. But you never know… We'll find out for sure when The Last Jedi arrives on 15th December.

Ryan Jones is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.


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