The Seven Classic Monsters Who Should've Been the Hero

February 22, 2010

Everyone knows that the real monster in Frankenstein is not the hulking beast stitched together from the dead bodies of convicts. The real monster is the insane doctor who decides to test his theories on reanimation by creating an unstoppable killing machine with the brain of a killer. A closer look at some of the most famous monsters of all time shows that a lot of them were victims of circumstance beyond their control.

Photo: Gary Nolton/Stone/Getty Images

By Geoff Shakespeare

 

7. Godzilla

Godzilla, King of all Monsters, has been bitch-slapping the Tokyo skyline for almost 60 years. The star of countless Japanese monster flicks (we're pretending the awful 1998 reboot never happened and we recommend you do, too), Godzilla has a reputation as a radioactive s***-kicker who loves nothing more than stepping on screaming Japanese people. What those films don't tell you is that Godzilla may bring it old school once he's provoked, but he never starts a fight.

The exact details of Godzilla's origin are never made clear. In the original movie we learn that he was created by some kind of nuclear experiment gone wrong. At one point, Godzilla was presumably a normal sized amphibious lizard monster who mutates into a giant amphibious lizard monster. After this happens, Godzilla is understandably a little confused. The idiot scientists who screwed up their experiment don't help matters by immediately attacking him. Look at it from the giant amphibious lizard monster's perspective. He's out having a swim, maybe grabbing a bite, when all of the sudden he's 100 times his normal size and a bunch of total strangers are trying to kill him. Is it any wonder he flips out and goes to destroy their home? In the words of the great 20th Century philosopher and poet John Rambo, "They drew first blood."

 

6. The Wolfman

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Photo: Universal Pictures

Feared for generations due to his menacing teeth, unbridled bloodlust, and unsightly bikini line, the Wolfman is really just a regular guy with a nasty infection. Before he becomes a half-man/half-wolf monstrosity, The Wolfman is just a regular dude who returns to his ancestral home to sort out some heavy stuff he's going through. Bitten by another werewolf while trying to patch things up with his father, the Wolfman is almost immediately shunned, feared, and hunted by the local yokels. Instead of the top-notch medical care he needs, he gets hassled by a bunch of yahoos armed with silver bullets and terrible poetry. The dude couldn't even get a tetanus shot. Even his own flesh and blood cuts him loose.

In the 1941 film, his old man beats him to death with a walking stick, all because he's contracted a horrible disease from some wild animal. Imagine what they would have done to him he'd gotten the clap from some seedy brothel. Ugh. What do you think he'd turn into under a full moon then?

 

5. The Creature From The Black Lagoon

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Photo: John Kobal Foundation/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A classic B movie from the '50s, The Creature From the Black Lagoon is one of the more tragic stories on this list. The "creature" (also known as Gill-man), is portrayed as an inhuman monster with an appetite for kidnapping women in tight sweaters. In reality, he's just a really lonely guy looking for someone to love.

The last of his species, all Gill-man wants is someone to share his murky puddle with. For his trouble, he gets riddled with bullets by the toughest, fightinist group of Marine Biologists to ever classify a phytoplankton. From the movie's point of view, a hideous menace was put down. But turn things around, cast Matthew McConaughey as Gill-man, Sandra Bullock as the girl he loves, throw in a sassy sidekick, a slamming Adult Contemporary soundtrack, and bang! You got yourself a $35 mil opening weekend and a ton more on DVD and pay-per-view.

Instead, Gill-man gets iced and the girl ends up with some hotshot ichthyologist who shoots first and asks questions later. He may have been a monstrous reptile thing that lived in a ditch and stunk of old fish, but all the dude wanted was a little love.

 

4. The Mummy

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Photo: Universal Studios

The bane of grave robbers everywhere, the Mummy is always portrayed as a bloodthirsty killer hell-bent on revenge. People dig him up, hate him, fight him, and eventually send him back to his dusty tomb. But no one ever stops to wonder why he's so messed up and angry. If they sat down and talked to Imhotep (his real name if anyone bothered to ask), they might see that his story isn't so cut and dry.

Imhotep started out as your everyday ordinary Egyptian High Priest. Unfortunately, he was also a dude with everyday ordinary dude needs. Even more unfortunately, the only woman who could satisfy him happened to be the mistress of an especially jealous Pharaoh. This Pharaoh was so into his mistress that he kept her locked up and refused to allow her to be touched by another man despite the fact that he wasn't man enough to put a ring on her finger. Imhotep actually loved her and tried to free her from her toxic relationship and give her the life she deserved. What a hero, right?

If Imhotep would have escaped with the girl, he would have gone down as one of the great Romantic heroes of all time. But he didn't. The Pharaoh caught up with him and took him out. And just for laughs, he buried him alive and cursed him to an eternity of being eaten alive by giant beetles. Is it any wonder that when the white dudes busted into his tomb 800 years later he was a little screwy? We don't know about you, but it would take us about one minute of being buried alive with flesh-eating insects to totally lose our s***.

 

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3. Smaug

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Source: L George Allen & Unwin

In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, Smaug is the evil dragon that Bilbo, Gandalf, and the thirteen surly dwarves go to pull a heist on. Filled with lust for the piles and piles of treasure said to be kept in Smaug's mountain lair, the "heroes" fight trolls, giant spiders, themselves, and other assorted monsters to steal the booty that Smaug has amassed. Now, we're not sure how the criminal justice system works in Middle Earth (although their zoning laws are pretty lax--almost everyone lives in a hole or a cave), but around these parts, if someone breaks into your home with the express purpose of stealing your gear, nobody's going to bat an eye if you waste them with your fire breath. Sure, Smaug probably stole most of the stuff himself, but where does it stop? Is everything up for grabs in Middle Earth? No wonder everyone kept stealing that bloody ring. Possession has got to count for something.

And once the dwarves get their hands on the treasure, they're even bigger dicks about keeping it than Smaug was. The only reason they end up sharing it is because they need help fighting a war. In the end, the moral of The Hobbit seems to be whoever doesn't end up with a sword in the belly gets to keep the cash. The same lesson is told with a lot more swearing (and cooler tunes) in Reservoir Dogs.

Surely the story would have taught a better lesson if Smaug was the hero. Generations of kids would grow up to be responsible homeowners if only they read Smaug: The Mighty Dragon Who Defended His Property From a Bunch of Little Bastards Who Wanted To Take What Was His.

 

2. Medusa

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Photo: MGM

One of the few lady monsters with enough game to hang with the big boys, Medusa seems like she's striking a blow for female monster rights. She's all alone in a man's world, terrorizing just as many heroes as any man monster, and for half the pay. But a closer look at her back story reveals a weeper that would be right at home on Lifetime.

Once a beautiful maiden, Medusa's first mistake is to fall for the Sea God Poseidon. Now, maybe it's because he lived at the bottom of the ocean or maybe it's because he was Greek, but Poseidon was one seriously freaky dude. Once he wins her heart (or "gets her in the sack" for those unfamiliar with Greek Mythology), Poseidon doesn't just take her back to his place or even a seedy motel. Instead, Captain Kink convinces her to bump uglies in a temple. Not only that, but this temple is one dedicated to the worship of Athena. Who is his niece. We told you he was freaky.

Anyway, after Athena finds out, yells "Ewwww," and disinfects the place, she plots her revenge. Since she can't go after Poseidon himself (there was some kind of union rule) she takes it out on Medusa, turning her into a hideous monster with snakes for hair. And because Athena's a bitch, she also makes it that whoever Medusa looks at turns to stone. Medusa has to move in with her sisters, gives birth to a winged horse, and then gets her head cut off from some jerk who wants to pimp his shield.

But don't take our word for it. You can see the whole tragic story in the upcoming TV movie, Dance With a Stranger: The Medusa Gorgon Story.

 

1. Lucifer

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Source: Ary Scheffer

You don't get much more reviled than the big red guy with the horns. Once the dopest angel in heaven, Lucifer made one cardinal mistake that forced him out of paradise everlasting and into an eternity of agony in the worst basement apartment in the universe. And what was this great crime? This dastardly offence that demanded an eternal punishment the likes of which has never been seen before or since. The dude was a bit of a blowhard.

Lucifer was used to being tops in God's heart and when God created man, he got a little sore. God, not understanding that kids sometimes get jealous when they get a new brother or sister, says "deal with it." Satan gets mad, takes a vote, and convinces one-third of the other angels that God is being so totally unfair that it's not even funny. There's a fight, God wins, and the upstarts get chucked into a lake of fire for the rest of time to think about what they did.

God's no idiot, and he can do what he wants, but any good boss will tell you that if 33% of your employees have a grievance, you should at least throw them a bone. Instead of condemning Lucifer to burn for all eternity, would it have killed God to let him form a fact-finding committee and hold a few hearings or something? God could still go ahead with his plans, but at least Lucifer would feel like his thoughts and feeling were valued. But no, old brassballs had to put his foot down and now every suburb in the world has at least one daycare that's actually a secret house of demonic worship. Thanks a lot, God!

 

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