Everyone Has Forgotten About The Best Resident Evil Villain
The internet loves Lady Dimitrescu. They’ve loved her since she was first revealed in a Resident Evil Village trailer and that fervor hasn’t cooled down since the game’s release. There’s going to be plenty of Dimitrescu fan art, fan fiction, cosplay, and all manner of other internet worship devoted to her for years to come. She’s essentially the new Bowsette.
I could see the argument for her being included among the best baddies in Resident Evil history along with Wesker, Nemesis, Jack Baker, and other similarly evil individuals who turn into gooey monsters with chainsaws for arms. But for as great as she is, she’s far from my favorite. In my humble opinion, there’s one guy who never gets brought up in the conversation of all-time great Resident Evil villains. That would be my main man, Ricardo Irving, who is quite possibly the dumbest character in the entirety of Capcom’s hit horror schlockfest. Which just so happens to make him one of the best.
Now, it’s understandable that you don’t hear much about Irving. For one thing, he’s only featured in Resident Evil 5, which is far from the pinnacle of the franchise. It’s a fun game to play in co-op, but its success led to Capcom focusing too heavily on turning the series into multiplayer action games with horror elements rather than horror games. As a result, it’s partially responsible for the existence of Resident Evil 6, which is enough to hurt anything’s reputation.
He’s also not a huge part of the game. Much like Lady Dimitrescu, he’s the first villain you run into and he’s nothing more than a pawn in the grand scheme of things. Meanwhile, Albert Wesker’s over-the-top, Saturday morning cartoon villain behavior completely overshadows everything else. It’s hard to remember anything else about Resident Evil 5 when you got Wesker teleporting and going kung-fu moves like some kind of zombie Neo from The Matrix.
Irving’s appearance is often forgotten because everyone remembers Wesker doing his best Keanu Reeves impression and Chris punching a boulder inside an active volcano. And that breaks my heart because this bug-eyed little man deserves way more love. Every moment Irving’s on the screen is sheer gold. There’s not a wasted line that comes out of his mouth.
I mean, listen to this guy and tell me he’s not the greatest:
Irving is what would happen if Bugs Bunny became a human being, got addicted to drugs, and decided to work for a zombie-making terrorist group. He’s the absolute best.
I don’t know how Capcom came up with his character, but I’m eternally grateful for his existence. I adore everything about him. His high-pitched, exaggerated, 1920s New York-gangster way of speaking. The fact that he dresses like a cocaine smuggler from Miami Vice. I also love that this weasely creep is somehow the target of international anti-terrorist agencies and important enough that Jill Valentine in a plague doctor mask has to keep saving his ass from Chris and Sheva.
The only thing I don’t like is the way Resident Evil 5 does him dirty in his boss fight. His monster form turns him into a giant tentacled fish-thing with his human body hidden inside its mouth. It kind of feels like a retread of the monster form of Resident Evil 4’s Ramon Salazar, who coincidentally is my second-favorite RE villain for similarly stupid reasons. Still, he does get to shout “I just had an extreme makeover!” during his transformation, which is one of the only pop culture references I’ve ever heard a character utter in any Resident Evil game. That alone deserves recognition.
I get why some people may not like him. He’s certainly among the lower tier of RE villains when compared to someone like Wesker or William Birkin. He’s annoying, he’s loud, he’s not very intimidating, he sounds like a cartoon, etc. In short, he’s a dumb character that says dumb things and then dies a dumb death as a dumb fish monster.
But here’s the thing that I don’t think many fans realize: Resident Evil is a very dumb series.
When you sit back and think about it, it’s a whole franchise built around the idea that a massive corporation develops special monsters to sell to militaries and terrorist organizations. That’s not a sustainable business model. To make things even goofier, the research that Umbrella conducts somehow results in the creation of zombies, giant spiders and crocodiles, werewolves, bug people, a 9-foot-tall vampiress, and a little girl who can telepathically control a Louisianan family with magic mold. And despite these creatures being nigh-unstoppable killing machines, all it takes to bring them down is some dude with an upgraded shotgun and a magic herb that can cure gaping wounds.
Also, as I mentioned before, Chris punches a boulder while inside an active volcano. This ain’t Shakespeare folks.
Resident Evil may have regained its edge and reputation as a true horror series, but I believe it has always needed a balance of scares and stupidity. Going too far in either direction gives you something like Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which was so seriously scary that it almost didn’t feel like a Resident Evil game (although it was quite good.) Alternatively, it can go far too stupid and give you something like Resident Evil 6, which was so stupid that it featured a man turning into a tyrannosaurus rex (although that was stupidly awesome in its own way.)
That’s why you need villains like Irving. Resident Evil has plenty of scary villains like Mr. X and plenty of “cool” villains like Wesker. With Lady Dimitrescu, it now even has villains that we can all fawn over before they crush our throats with their stilettos. But silly, cheesy villains like Irving don’t get enough praise. They lighten the mood in the beginning so that when the real baddies show up later it has more of an impact. They make you put your guard down because you think, “how could this loser be a threat?” And then boom! Fish monster! Without villains like Irving, a Resident Evil game is just a straight line of boring, jacked-up supermonsters. And that would get old real fast.
I wish there was some way to revive Irving or bring him back in a prequel just so I could hear the bizarre inflections of his voice once again. But alas, the life of a Resident Evil villain is a short one. I’ll always cherish the precious moments that I got to spend with that glorious slimeball. And I’ll always make sure to be a “businessman with standards” in his honor.
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