Movies That Unnecessarily Made Real People Into Villains

History | June 22, 2020

It’s impossible for a movie based on historical events to be 100% accurate. If it were, that would make for a boring movie. Still, it’s one thing for a movie about medieval England to have the wrong candlesticks; it’s another thing entirely for a movie to completely misrepresent real people for the sake of a better story. And just as historical movies can make people like Scottish knight William Wallace much more heroic than he was in real life, they can also make someone much more villainous than they actually were. 

Earlier historical figures lived so long ago that it’s impossible for modern historians to know exactly what they were like. Often, everything known about a distant historical figure comes from later historians who had a vested interest in portraying them negatively. In those cases, a movie might just be continuing a longstanding tradition of trashing someone’s reputation. But with more recent historical figures, about whom we have plenty of information, it’s clear that certain movies have turned them into villains for the sake of entertainment. Stories do need conflict, after all. 

Here are some historical figures who were much less villainous than movies would have you believe.

Sophia Iztok


Sophia is a recent graduate from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. She is a freelance journalist based in New York City writing about everything from music to LGBTQ issues.

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