Nazis as Movie Villains: The Evolution of a Cliche

Not all cinematic Hitler fans have been unambiguously depraved, but these ones were

Films use Nazis as bad guys for good reason: They were bad guys. But all too often, genocidal Germans act as cartoon crutches for storytellers looking to pit good against incontrovertible evil.

In films like the just-released Captain America, the outcome is blandness. In other cases, the presence of Nazis provides cover for gratuitous violence, or as shortcuts to creating a sense of persecution among the movie's protagonists.

Not all cinematic Hitler fans have been unambiguously depraved, but these ones were:

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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Spencer Kornhaber is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers pop culture and music. He was previously an editor at Patch.com and a staff writer at OC Weekly. He has written for Spin, The AV Club, and RollingStone.com.

Daniel D. Snyder is a writer based in New Mexico.

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