Common storytelling knowledge dictates that a good villain often believes themselves to be the hero of their story. Their motivations are relatable and the moments where they break bad are often tragic and, in a way, understandable.
This narrative trope extends to the Arrowverse, where for every moustache-twirling baddie running amok, there is a character who, for one reason or another, went down the path of villainy only to find redemption and commit to a life of good.
Sometimes, the heel-face turn is short-lived (or situational), and once the villain has achieved their objective they return to a life of crime. In other cases, the villain goes on to be a hero and accomplish, and even sacrifice, a lot for the greater good.
Such a shift in alignment can be a goldmine of narrative opportunities, as the creative team is able to explore the former villain’s new dimensions and sensibilities, and provide an interesting contrast to their former life.
From former mercenaries and assassins, to thieves and tech geniuses, this list is filled with layered backstories and memorable redemption arcs that have defined the Arrowverse’s story over the years.
The older sister of Mari McCabe (the present day Vixen), Kuasa did not live as heroic life a her grandmother or sister. Due to her tragic and lonely background, the would-be protector of Zambezi forged alliances in the criminal underworld, and this left a young Kuasa slipping off the edge into full-on villainy.
She was motivated by a burning desire to retrieve her grandmother’s Spirit Totem and get revenge for the tragedy her family and community suffered at the hands of the Zambezi ambassador, Benatu Eshu. This led her to crossing paths with Mari, who had already bonded with the Totem and gained its abilities.
After an intense fight, Kuasa was defeated and incapacitated after being poisoned by her sister. Later events saw her die at the hands of Eshu, be revived at the hands of the demonic Mallus, and clash with her time-displaced grandmother, Amaya Jiwe
Despite her antagonistic tendencies, Kuasa has on multiple occasions put aside her vengeful objectives and desire to possess the Spirit Totem and work with her family, often at great personal cost.
Fortunately, through the Legends’ intervention, Kuasa never went through her childhood trauma and instead became a hero alongside her younger sister.