Welcome to Racoon City's New Villain?

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

The Resident Evil franchise is certainly not at a loss for villains, with plenty of nefarious figures working for the Umbrella Corporation and beyond threatening to unleash all manner of monstrosities upon humanity. The cinematic reboot to the franchise Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is no different, bringing in a whole myriad of antagonists directly from the Resident Evil video games. However, Welcome to Raccoon City also repositions one of the villains from the early games as more of a primary, overarching antagonist than he had been in the video game source material to terrifying effect: William Birkin.

Birkin was first introduced in 1998's Resident Evil 2 as one of Umbrella's lead scientists who was working to perfect the T-virus with the more advanced G-virus. However, after completing a trial sample of the G-virus, Birkin is betrayed and killed by Umbrella troops before ingesting the prototype G-virus and transforming into a mutated version of himself, massacring his attackers and inadvertently spreading the T-virus into Raccoon City's sewers. And while the games portray Birkin as largely subservient to fellow Umbrella figures Albert Wesker and Ozwell E. Spencer, Welcome to Raccoon City makes the scientist far more sinister.

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Birkin is not only a major researcher for Umbrella in Welcome to Raccoon City but also the man who adopts Chris Redfield after he and his younger sister Claire are orphaned from losing both of their parents in a tragic car crash. While putting Chris through school and the police academy, Birkin is revealed to genetically experiment on orphans in the city for years as part of his longstanding program to perfect the G-virus. Claire nearly becomes one of Birkin's victims before fleeing from the orphanage and city when she is nearly forcibly taken to the secret Umbrella laboratories underneath the orphanage. Years later, Birkin attempts to cover up his experiments when he learns the T-virus was been unleashed on the city.

Whereas Birkin was a more pathetic figure in the Resident Evil games, betrayed and reduced to a mutated monster before his ultimate destruction at the end of Resident Evil 2, Welcome to Raccoon City makes Birkin more a competent, confident villain. Rather than working alongside his wife Annette on the G-virus, Birkin works alone on the experiments, with his wife left completely in the dark of the true nature behind her husband's work. And while Birkin is eventually betrayed in the film, it is by Wesker himself, here a more conflicted figure rather than the sneering antagonist who was clearly taking advantage of Birkin's research the entire time.

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Playing a more active, long-running role in Umbrella's ruination of Raccoon City, Welcome to Raccoon City also positions William Birkin as a surrogate father for Chris Redfield with a wholly dark secret. No longer an unappreciated scientist who is murdered after he is no longer useful, Birkin is a committed villain long before he is mutated by his own G-virus. And while many of Resident Evil's familiar foes are redeemed over the course of Welcome to Raccoon City, Birkin is made all the more malevolent and conniving in his plot to forcibly trigger the next step of human evolution in his fiendish image.

To see a new villain take his place, 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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