The Powerful, Complicated Women of ‘Resident Evil’

When Capcom revealed Lady Alcina Dimitrescu as a character in the upcoming Resident Evil Village, the giant vampiress became an instant meme classic. Lady Dimitrescu’s stature and style has already endeared her to lovers of the macabre—cries of “Step on me, Mommy” have flooded social media since her reveal—but she’s far from the creepiest or most dangerous femme fatale in the Resident Evil series.

The franchise has a long history of major female roles. In a time when women as playable characters were relatively rare in gaming, series protagonists Jill and Claire were positioned equally to male counterparts like Chris and Leon. Alongside these brave women, the Resident Evil franchise has produced a rogue’s gallery of some of the most frightening and powerful female antagonists in media history.

In fact, nearly every single Resident Evil entry places a woman as either a protagonist, a deuteragonist, a crafty villain, or both in some instances. And these women aren’t all cackling, stereotypical mad scientists. Some of their stories are truly tragic in nature—and you’d never know it if you didn’t take the time to get to know them. In honor of Resident Evil Village‘s Friday release, let’s all amble out from Lady Dimitrescu’s lengthy dress hem line for a moment to appreciate the villainous women of the Resident Evil universe.

Lisa Trevor, who first appears in Resident Evil (2002), is arguably the strongest enemy in the series, but not voluntarily. Lisa was a young girl when her father worked as an architect on the iconic Spencer Mansion, the setting for the first game, and the private mansion that housed the secret bioweapons lab where the game’s iconic zombie virus was initially developed. 

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Unfortunately, Umbrella Corporation—the multinational company that developed that virus and the franchise’s primary antagonist (aside from the zombies, that is)—couldn’t allow its twisted plans for the manor to come to light, so it captured and experimented on Lisa and her mother. Lisa survived, but her experiences left her mind fractured and broken, and she became convinced that a researcher who was imitating her mother to gain her trust was actually wearing her mother’s face

Thus began Lisa’s predilection for ripping women’s faces off. Despite that horror, the game justifies it in that Lisa somehow thinks she can bring her mother back if she can only get the right face. Her quest to collect faces eventually ends in her demise, but not until she fully realizes her superhuman strength and regenerative powers, escapes her captivity, and vanishes for years before returning for revenge against those who had mistreated her. 

Years later, players would encounter Marguerite Baker in Resident Evil 7. A famed cook and entomophile, Baker is one of the most frightening enemies in the series. And while she slaughters and serves her “guests” to her family at worst, and tries to convert them into inhuman monsters like her at best, the game’s narrative again gives her actions a justification. What makes her so dangerous is that she’s just a typical housewife doing the best she can, and she has no idea why everyone is so ungrateful. Both Marguerite and Lisa lose their humanity because of machinations beyond their control. 

Even that same title’s big bad Eveline is pitiable. She’s a unique character in Resident Evil in that she is the only bio-organic weapon players fight who wasn’t a human first. The Connections, a crime syndicate that—like everyone else in the game apparently—experiments with bioweapons, designed Eveline to enter a location and use her mold to infect and control others. The syndicate gave her the appearance of a 10-year-old girl so that she could infiltrate an area more easily. However, she took this role to heart, and her desire for a family causes her to sow havoc. Obviously, she lacks a conscience and shows no remorse for her actions, but can she be blamed? She’s a monster who was told it’s a little girl and wants to be loved like one.

Not every woman who turned into a monster in Resident Evil was transformed into or engineered to become one. One of the most dangerous villains in the series, Alexia Ashford from Resident Evil: Code Veronica, willfully embraced the opportunity to shed her humanity. Alexia is one of the few foes in the franchise that genuinely wanted to take over the world. She intended to do so by infecting herself with the t-Veronica virus, designed to give its host superhuman abilities without destroying their minds, as previous iterations of the virus had done. Her megalomania was only contained because series protagonists Chris and Claire Redfield prevented her from leaving Umbrella’s Antarctic base. 

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