COG Considers: There He Is. The Best Worst Boy.
Today on COG Considers, let’s talk about one of Resident Evil‘s most iconic characters. Albert Wesker is a man with a dream. Unfortunately for everyone around him, that dream mostly involves stealing high-profile zombie bioweapons for fun and profit, ruthlessly using anyone who trusts him, and racking up more betrayals than Revolver Ocelot. Despite this, he’s still one of the series’ most beloved antagonists, and for good reason. Even after the complete disaster that was Resident Evil 5, Wesker’s actions continue to haunt the protagonists. He was responsible for the events of Resident Evil 7 long after his death. Now that’s some good villainy right there. But why do we all love Wesker so much?
The first reason is as simple as it is obvious: he’s just cool. He made an honorable mention on our top ten list of Most Wickedly Evil Video Game Villains, where we described him as a “stylish pain-in-the-ass”, and I can’t agree more with that statement. While his slicked-back hairstyle may be a bit out of date, Wesker’s coolheaded approach to monstrosity, ice-cold demeanor, and smug demonstrations of superiority never go out of fashion. Add in superhuman abilities, eyes like glowing coals, an obsession with protagonist Chris Redfield (and to a lesser extent, Jill Valentine), and the occasional glimpse of something maddened and frenzied under the affable mask, and you have one interesting bad guy. Plus, he’s responsible for just about everything that goes wrong in the series. Effectiveness is sexy. Just look at this cosplayer if you don’t believe me.
The second reason is a bit more complicated: in a series that straddles the line between B-movie horror tropes and social commentary, Wesker unites both parts of Resident Evil‘s horror. He’s both the traitor within your ranks and the corporate executive who cares more about his bottom line than peoples’ lives. This means he represents a form of faceless, corporate evil as well as more traditional fears of the undead–in fact, his relatively polite facade and complete moral bankruptcy lean much harder toward the horror of being at the mercy of giant corporations, which adds a looming background threat to every installment. The main characters may be able to take down the zombies in front of them, but they can’t stop Wesker from causing another outbreak later and taking what he wants in the chaos.
The third reason on my list is just that, well, a high-functioning zombie is a really neat idea. After the events of RE1, Wesker is infected with a variant of the T-virus. Although he can still pass for human, he’s very clearly become something other. He can dodge bullets, punch through stone walls, and his ever-present sunglasses serve the practical purpose of hiding his glowing red eyes. Much like Resident Evil Village‘s Big Vampire Lady, it’s very fun to try and figure out how his biology works and what he’s truly capable of. Would he purr when happy? Can he carry even the notoriously giant Chris Redfield in his big, strong arms? Does he suffer from the same horrific hunger that drives the rest of the zombies in Resident Evil mad? Who knows! Maybe that’s why he went off the deep end in RE5. Zombies need brains to function, after all. Maybe he was just running low.
Regardless of what decisions Capcom has made in the last ten years, Albert Wesker’s legacy continues to live on within the series and in pop culture. One thing is for sure: fans will be demanding more of this dearly beloved horror game villain for a long, long time.