Nazis as Movie Villains: The Evolution of a Cliche

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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, Spencer Kornhaber, & Daniel D. Snyder

Eleanor Barkhorn and Spencer Kornhaber are associate editors at The Atlantic, where they edit the Entertainment channel. Daniel Synder writes and produces for the Entertainment channel.

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