He was breathtaking in Cyberpunk 2077’s announcement last year and he’s even more so in the game, quite literally, since he initially kept trying to off the protagonist. Still, what most of us thought would be an awesome unlikely good ally turned out to be quite a morally grey individual with some traits that are hard to swallow. Johnny Silverhand is a mixed bag, one of the most complex characters CD Projekt RED has made.
While he does only exist as a digital ghost in the player character’s head, Johnny Silverhand’s influence is undeniable as a secondary character. While he mostly existed as a somewhat friendly brain parasite, Johnny Silverhand’s negative traits also make him a strong candidate for what could have been the game’s most compelling and surprising villain. So to reiterate just how breathtaking Keanu Reeves’ character is in Cyberpunk 2077, here’s how flexible he can be personality-wise.
10 Good Guy: Rebel With A Cause
Seeing his actual in-game introduction, it’s easy to paint Johnny Silverhand in a good light. He’s a rock band vocalist who believes in anarchistic ideals. He hates bureaucracy and capitalism, making a multinational corporation like Arasaka a prime target.
Apart from Arasaka, Johnny Silverhand is also a known rebel warrior rocker boy whose disdain for anything corrupt, such as the US Government in the game, has inspired many others to fight back against unjust authority. In that regard, Johnny Silverhand has come to represent the masses’ version of justice and retribution.
9 Villain: He’s Too Destructive
So how exactly does Johnny Silverhand act upon his rebel tendencies and fulfill his ideas in practice? By detonating a nuke in the middle of a city. It’s not exactly the most productive way of making a fairer society as most of the people that died in the accident were innocent.
Moreover, simply bombing a building didn’t even put a dent in Saburo Arasaka’s capacity for corporate dominance. Apart from bombing and acts of terror, Johnny Silverhand is prone to impulsive actions that sometimes lead to others getting hurt or careful plans falling apart.
8 Good Guy: Cares About His Bandmates
He might have been generally a bad friend but there’s something heartwarming about how Johnny Silverhand treats the people closest to him. His colleagues in his band named Samurai apparently looked up to him and respected him.
In turn, he also appeared to take care of them and even gave one of them valuable life advice when he exited the band. It goes to show that while Johnny’s destructive tendencies cause him to ruin relationships, he still cherishes the few genuine and clean ones he has.
7 Villain: He Prioritizes Drugs
As part of Johnny Silverhand’s trademarks, he’s always high, at least back when he still had an organic body of his own. He might as well be a walking pharmacy with how many drugs he ingests on a daily basis whether on-stage performing for his band or shooting some Arasaka thugs.
We can’t help but wonder if he’s got some cybernetics to prevent himself from overdosing.
6 Good Guy: Generous Artist
If there is one thing you can’t fault Johnny Silverhand for, it’s his being an artist, particularly a good guitarist and vocalist for his band. Moreover, Johnny seems to not care much about his band’s profits or income and just wants to express.
He definitely didn’t have any problem leaving the band. He also wasn’t too worried about other people recording their songs without permission. As part of his revolutionary ideals, he’s neither materialistic nor concerned with extrinsic success.
5 Villain: Casual Misogyny
While Johnny Silverhand treats some of his friends badly, he’s even worse to the women around him. It might have been a result of his girlfriend, Alt Cunningham, dying to Arasaka gangsters or not but Johnny Silverhand regularly degrades the women in his circle.
He was already quite repulsive when Alt was still alive but it got worse as he simmered in his own tantrums as a biochip. From snarky remarks about prostitutes to how he resents old comrades like Rogue, Johnny Silverhand likely wouldn’t make his mom proud.
4 Good Guy: Became A Wise Friend To V
Just as Johnny Silverhand gave some rare doses of wisdom for his bandmates, so too did he help V get through some tough psychological times and through the muck of Night City. By the end of the game, V has the option to figuratively shake hands with Johnny as a friend.
Sure, some might chalk it up to Johnny’s biochip taking over V’s DNA and consciousness like a virus, but V didn’t seem to mind and Johnny was at least honest about taking over V a bit. Their smoking sessions are also some of the most peaceful moments of camaraderie in the game.
3 Villain: Narcissism
On paper, Johnny likes to view himself as a champion of the oppressed and the masses— someone who supposedly does it all for the victims of corporate wars. In practice, he acts more like a psychopath drunk on his savior complex.
He constantly berates his friends and believes that only he has what it takes to fight Arasaka and other big power players in Night City. It’s true that he has a vision, but most of the time, he believes that the ends justify the means and he wouldn’t hesitate to sacrifice anyone but himself to achieve it.
2 Good Guy: He Helps V
V might have been a promising mercenary with better potential than others but he/she wouldn’t have made it without Johnny Silverhand’s help. Even V was a clueless rat race competitor until Johnny Silverhand straightened up his/her life.
He gave V some much-needed motivation to go against Arasaka and the people responsible for all their misfortunes. More than that, Johnny Silverhand’s street smarts were too valuable as he knew Night City’s guts better even after 50 years later.
1 Villain: He’s More Memorable As A Villain
Still, with how charismatic, manipulative, and narcissistic he is, Johnny Silverhand might have worked better as the final villain or even a conditional one. With how much anger he has and how driven he is to burn down the mega-corporations ruling Night City, he could have easily turned into a vengeance-crazed cyber-ghost.
Of course, that could depend on the players’ choices whether they decide to continue Johnny’s half-century-old mission or not. However, it’s still a refreshing change of scenery to see Keanu Reeves as a villain.
Next: 5 Ways Cyberpunk 2077 Is CD Projekt Red’s Best Game (& 5 It Will Always Be The Witcher 3)
- Cyberpunk 2077
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