Who Is the Real Villain?

Who is the villain in The Devil Wears Prada? The most obvious answer to this question is “The devil,” aka meryl streep‘s Miranda Priestly character, boss of budding journalist Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway). That’s certainly what this 2004 satirical comedy, based on Lauren Weissberger‘s book of the same name, suggests. Yet, villainy in the context of a high-pressured office situation can be quite subjective.

fans of The Devil Wears Prada often find that the film’s true villain changes depending on the specific fan’s age, occupation, and life experiences. Is the villain actually the protagonist, who judges everyone around her, then suddenly adopts their lifestyle and beliefs de ella before ultimately deciding she is, in fact, too good for all of them? Is the devil really the protagonist’s boyfriend, who belittles her job de ella and inexplicably sulks when his girlfriend de ella ca n’t celebrate his birthday de ella on a busy work night? Is the villain the male higher-up at Miranda Priestley’s magazine who forces her to become sociopathic in order to maintain her status as the woman in charge? Or is the central thesis of the film correct and is Priestly just an amoral bully?

COLLIDER VIDEO OF THE DAY

One thing is clear: the villain is most definitely not Emily Charlton (Emily Blunt), nor is it Nigel Kipling (Stanley Tucci). They are both delightful and hilarious and shall not be demeaned. But there are plenty of other characters who are prime candidates for one of hell’s many circles. So gird your loins, toss on a pair of Jimmy Choos, and let’s analyze each potential evildoer in this deceptively complex film and make a case for why, in the offices of the fictional runways magazine, evil bounds.

RELATED: Real-Life Jobs Hollywood Always Gets Wrong

Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep)

The most insight the audience gets about Miranda Priestly is at the end of the film, when her assistant Andy is about to quit. Miranda tells Andy that they have a lot in common, specifically that they are both willing to betray someone they care about in order to advance their own career. This observation is, of course, true and it’s the final straw for Andy, who then quits being Miranda’s assistant in dramatic fashion, by tossing her work phone into a Parisian fountain. Miranda also emphasizes that difficult choices, such as hurting someone close to you, are part of climbing the ladder in the media/fashion world. She could never have obtained her position from her without making such choices. Andy rejects this worldview and it’s easy to see why. With all of her power from her, is Miranda actually content with herself or does he merely convince herself that everyone admires her? Is she introducing her many suffering assistants to the cold reality of her industry or is she just perpetuating all that’s wrong with her industry and hurting innocent naive women in the process?


Miranda clearly is a villain when seen from the perspective of those who are left in her dust. Andy’s life is torn apart due to working for Miranda. Nigel’s personal life also collapses due to his devotion from him to Miranda who, at the end of the film, betrays him. It’s easy to see the many evil forces that have built and continue to control Miranda’s industry from her. Yet, despite all her power, she seems totally uninterested in changing her industry. In many ways, Miranda is the cold, calculating, manipulative person she is often accused of being.

Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway)

Andy, played by Anne Hathaway, is supposedly the heroine of this story. She initially cares little for fashion and only takes a job as Miranda Priestly’s assistant to advance her career in journalism. She aspires to write about more meaningful subjects for prestigious magazines and journals. Instead, she gets caught up in a competitive, whirlwind industry. In the end, she reverses course and saves her soul from her… or so some would like you to believe.


What does Andy’s behavior really say about her? Despite seeing herself as a virtuous woman briefly tempted by evil, she may very well be a woman without any real ethics at all. She hates people who betray others but she betrays others herself. She hates the fashion industry but enthusiastically participates in it. She desperately wants a career in journalism yet she endlessly complains about the grunt work necessary to achieve it. In the process of redeeming herself, she hurts people close to her in ways that may be irreparable. Although she spends much of the film judging the people around her as devils, it turns out Andy herself is certainly no angel.

Nate (Adrian Grenier)

Andy’s boyfriend Nate (played by Vincent Chase himself, Adrian Grenier) is a chef who practically personifies an unsupportive significant other. Nate criticizes Andy for not doing her job of her with integrity but what does that mean exactly? Is she supposed to dress in such a way that everyone at her office, including her boss, she thinks is inappropriate, lest she lose her “integrity”? Is she supposed to despise the magazine she works for rather than at least attempt to appreciate some elements of it? Is she supposed to ignore her boss all the time and lose her job?


Nobody who criticizes Andy’s alleged loss of integrity seems to know what keeping her integrity should look like. If Andy is going to bear the burden of a tough job for a year or two so that she can advance her career, it makes sense for her to enjoy the perks: free designer clothes and accessories, networking with industry bigwigs, and a trip to Paris. Nate, rather than be supportive, just sulks and criticizes Andy. His criticisms of her of her are decidedly unconstructive and he seems oddly intent on blocking Andy’s career advancement of her. Many people with high-pressure jobs know what it’s like to have a partner like Nate, and they often end up tossing their Nates to the curb where they belong.

Irv Ravitz (Tibor Feldman)

Irv Ravitz, played by tibor feldman, is the corporate suit who serves as a stand-in for the legacy media men of yore. Ravitz is troubled by ballooning budgets and attempts to beat Miranda in a coup attempt. He ultimately cuts a deal that leaves most people satisfied, except of course Nigel who is completely screwed over and humiliated. In order for Miranda to keep her job from her, she is forced to make a deal with Irv. It’s not a deal that Miranda wants to make but in an industry filled with people like Irv, Miranda is compelled to play her game if she wants to retain her power and influence. Irv is perhaps the most subtle villain in this film but when one realizes how many strings he’s pulling, it’s hard not to recognize how cutthroat the publishing world has become due to people like him. Irv sets up the chessboard and all the other characters just play on it.


Christian Thompson as Simon Baker

Christian Thompson, played by simon baker, is a celebrated freelance journalist who seems to spend a lot of his time trying to sleep with Andy, despite the fact he knows she has a boyfriend. He mixes his her romantic (or perhaps just purely sexual) pursuit of her with some vague promises to advance her career. It’s the type of slimy behavior that has ended more than a few careers in media. Despite trying to get Andy to admit she hates Miranda (even though she is at least somewhat sympathetic towards her), it turns out Christian is just a backstabbing, career-advancing devil like everyone else. He is part of the coup attempt that would use Miranda and replace her with a rival. The coup backfires but Christian’s detached and smooth person is revealed to be a fraud. One could easily see Christian as the most deceitful and duplicitous character of all.


ricki-and-the-flash-meryl-streep-slice

Her: Meryl Streep’s Joyful, Unrestrained Sense of Art, Life, and Experience

Read Next


About The Author

Leave a Comment