Welcome to Raccoon City Redeems Its Greatest Villains

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, in theaters now.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City reintroduces several infamous villains straight from the Resident Evil video game series, from the traitorous Albert Wesker to the evil scientist William Birkin, as the machinations of the Umbrella Corporation wreck havoc on the Midwestern town of Raccoon City. However, while the cinematic reboot is largely a faithful adaptation of the first two video games in the long-running survival horror series, Welcome to Raccoon City actually redeems three antagonistic figures from the game or, at the very least, paints them in a considerably more sympathetic light than the video game source material.

Making their cinematic debut in Welcome to Raccoon City is Lisa Trevor, a character mutated by Umbrella's genetic experiments as a young girl to transform into a misshapen monster. First meeting Claire Redfield in the Raccoon City Orphanage thanks to the building's secret passage connecting it to Umbrella's underground laboratories, Lisa recognizes Claire when she returns to the orphanage as an adult, guiding her into the secret passage. This comes as a contrast to the original Resident Evil video game, where Lisa attempts to kill Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine when they investigate the Spencer Mansion, only to leap into the abyss after being confronted with her mother's headstone before later being finished off by Wesker as he escaped from the mansion moments before its destruction in 2007's Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.

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Wesker himself is depicted as a much more conflicted character in Welcome to Raccoon City than in the video games where he was portrayed as pure, unrepentant evil. Welcome to Raccoon City presents Wesker as a much warmer, friendlier figure before his heel turn, forming genuine friendships with his fellow S.T.A.R.S. officers, including a noticeably close rapport with Jill. When Wesker receives a message from Umbrella notifying him it is time for him to turn against his friends, he is visibly torn by this but ultimately complies. Comparatively, Wesker consciously lured both S.T.A.R.S. teams into an ambush at the Spencer Mansion in the video games before taking on an even greater antagonistic role in subsequent Resident Evil games.

And then there's the matter of Raccoon City Police Chief Bryan Irons, who was originally introduced in 1998's Resident Evil 2 as a murderously corrupt lawman that was secretly on Umbrella's payroll like Wesker. Irons grew increasingly unhinged as Raccoon City was overwhelmed by zombies, ultimately being killed by the mutated William Birkin in the orphanage where he had taken refuge. In Welcome to Raccoon City, Irons is still a cankerous, overbearing figure on the police force largely looking to save his own skin but ultimately helps Claire and rookie officer Leon S. Kennedy escape before being torn apart by a Licker in the orphanage.

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While Welcome to Raccoon is not without its sneering villains, the movie does take the time to add more depth and sympathy to these three characters who originally came off more as one-note antagonists. And though Wesker ultimately does follow his traitorously villainous destiny, Lisa and Chief Irons aren't depicted as villains at all but rather ill-fated and unlikely allies that help the survivors escape from the city at the cost of their own lives in a surprise twist from the original source material. And while Welcome to Raccoon City is a largely faithful adaptation of the Resident Evil games, the changes here to these characters are certainly welcome.

To see how Lisa Trevor, Albert Wesker and Chief Irons differ from their video game counterparts, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is in theaters now.

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Sam Stone is a 10th level pop culture guru living just outside of Washington, DC who knows an unreasonable amount about The Beatles. You can follow him on Twitter @samstoneshow and ask him about Nintendo, pop punk, and Star Trek.

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