|“||Ya'll notice, he didn't mention any of the lives I've taken?||„|
|~ Ben Wade|
Ben Wade is the protagonist anti-villain in the 1957 western film 3:10 to Yuma, and its 2007 remake of the same name. He is the leader of a violent and merciless gang of western outlaws who are known for robbing coaches, murdering innocent people, and generally terrorizing the old west.
He was portrayed by the late Glenn Ford in the original version, and Russell Crowe in the remake.
Looting the coach
Wade is first seen watching as his loyal gang execute a coordinated attack on an armored stagecoach which is carrying a delivery of cash. Despite the best efforts of Pinkerton agents and the best weapons possible, the gang is still able to overtake and destroy the coach. As Wade's gang begin to execute survivors, Wade looms over his nemesis, Byron McElroy, a Pinkerton agent who he has apparently had run ins with before but does not kill him. Just then, a surviving agent holds one his men hostage but Wade shoots both of them and executes him for "endangering his crew". He then notices Dan Evans and his sons watching from the hills. He knows that they pose no threat to him. He approaches them and returns Dan's cattle which he was using as a road block but takes Dan's horses to prevent them from following him and says that he can pick them up on the road to Bisbee, Arizona.
In Bisbee, Wade and his men enjoy a celebratory drink at the local Saloon. After wooing a female bartender, Wade unexpectedly encounters Dan while he is attempting to confront Glen Hollander to whom Dan owes money. Wade politely pays Dan for the missed day's work but begins to grow impatient when Dan demands more. But this was actually a distraction: railroad guards then rush in and arrest him.
On the road to Contention
The railroad owner then enlists McElroy, Doc Potter and Tucker, to deliver Wade to a prison train where he will be taken to Yuma Territorial prison where he eventually be hanged. On the way to the train in Contention, Wade kills Tucker for annoying him and McElroy for insulting his mother. In the wake of attacking McElroy, Wade takes his shotgun and is nearly able to escape but Dan's son, Henry Evans appears and holds Wade at gunpoint, angrily fires a warning shot, and orders Wade to drop the gun. Wade complies, realizing he's beaten for the moment. However, the next night, Wade does escape during an Apache attack and ends up at a Chinese laborer camp but is captured by the foreman for killing his brother. The group eventually catch up and regain custody of the prisoner. Potter is killed in the ensuing shootout but the group are able to escape and head to Contention.
Last ditch effort
By this point, Wade's gang, led by Charlie Prince, have begun to catch up with the group. Everyone begins to abandon the mission except for Dan who refuses to be bought off or intimidated regardless of the fact that Prince has bribed the entire town into joining the effort to free Wade. After a prolonged and chaotic shootout, Dan successfully escorts Wade away from the town but Wade suddenly attacks and nearly escapes but relents after Dan reveals the reason why he cares so much about fulfilling the mission: It would serve as an accomplishment that would erase his reputation as a coward and earn him a legacy his sons could be proud of. Wade, out of pure kindness, allows Dan to put him on the train, knowing that he can escape and Dan wouldn't care due to the fact that his contract only includes putting him on the train. However, Wade's gang do not know about this. Wade boards the train and congratulates Dan but at that moment, Dan is gunned down by Prince despite Wade shouting "NO!!". As Wade looks solemnly at Dan as the latter is dying, he turns towards Prince and the gang and shoots the thugs with lightning fast shots. Wade grabs Prince who is still standing and after a tense moment of silence, executes him in revenge for Dan's death. Henry Evans appears and draws his gun on Wade but lets him go and turns towards his dying father after telling him that he is proud. Wade boards the train and surrenders his gun. After pondering the situation, Wade whistles and his horse gallops after the train.
Personality, Weapons, and Skills
Ben Wade's personality is complex. The character of Wade is strongly implied to be an allegory of Lucifer on multiple occasions (he is even referred to as the devil directly by Walter Boles in an alternate scene). As such, Wade represents all of the devil's power and all of the devil's positive qualities; including an "angelic" side that is capable of redemption.
The Devil is often presented as a dapper man, dressed in black, possessed of great talent, wealth, power, and seduction. Ben Wade takes after these qualities. He is handsome, sharply dressed in dark clothing, a talented artist, a worldly man, enormously wealthy, the deadliest fighter, the smartest military tactician, and extraordinarily seductive. He has a taste for the finer things in life: wealth, power, and beautiful women.
While Wade is the leader of a marauding gang of murderers and bandits, he is not particularly violent unless provoked as opposed to his right-hand man, Charlie Prince, who shoots and tortures innocent people at random and for little to no reason at all. In fact, Wade is often affable in his interactions. He goes out of his way to tempt people with wealth, power, and freedom when he could kill them.
Should Wade be provoked though, he gets a distinct snake like look in his eyes before he becomes violent. When Wade gets like this he is ruthless and nigh unstoppable.
Wades approach of offering tempting bribes is symbolic of half of the power of the devil, while his gang represents the other half. Wade will offer fabulous bribes to his enemies, knowing full well that his gang presents an overwhelming threat to them. Wade's enormous carrot and enormous stick cracks almost all of his foes, causing them to forsake their honorable vows and let evil have its way. It should be noted, that those of his foes that do succumb to Wade's bribes or threats routinely come to ruination throughout the course of the film.
Ben Wade possesses extreme degrees of perception, intelligence, a talent for storytelling, and charm. These qualities make him immensely charismatic and persuasive: a representation of the seductive nature of evil. Wade will often ask questions of his captors and tell engaging stories to ensure they answer his questions. Owing to Wade's perception and mind, he can use any information he receives from a conversation to ply his peer's temptations or exploit their psychological weaknesses. This makes him a constant danger to those around him. Dan Evans is well aware of Wade's abilities and frequently reminds his companions not to engage in conversation with Wade.
In spite of being a brutal gang leader, Ben Wade has a highly developed sense of morality. As a boy, he was abandoned by his mother who told him to read a bible she had given him while waiting for a train. He had read the entire Bible and developed an encyclopedic knowledge of it. Being that Wade is abnormally perceptive and intelligent, it is likely that Wade was able to weigh the Bible's positive teachings against the way that people behaved in society and came to the conclusion that most civilized people are immoral hypocrites. Evidence of such is that Wade will often point out such behavior in his captors: Mr. Butterfield listed off all of Wade's monetary crimes but none of his murders, Byron McElroy was protecting settlers from apache but used that to absolve himself of any guilt for his atrocities against them, and Wade makes a point of asking the Marshall of Contention how much Butterfield is paying him. In the immoral hypocritical world, Wade saw, he came to the conclusion that "It is man's nature to take what he wants, that's how we are born."
Ben Wade himself is nearly without hypocrisy about his own crimes. When asked by Dan how many families he destroyed to live his life of power, Wade freely admits that he has ruined many lives. When asked by Doc Potter if he blew up a wagonful of people, Wade corrects him by admitting he blew up a whole train of people. Wade notes his own crimes and the actions taken by his profoundly evil gang subordinates as proof that he is as "rotten as hell."
Despite what Wade claims, he is not as bad as he portrays himself as and commits almost as many good deeds as he does bad. Wades interactions with others are often amiable and empathetic. While he does fight for himself, he underestimates how much he does for others. Although Will didn't fully appreciate Wade's evil nature, Will was able to accurately see good in a number of the actions Wade made during the journey to Contention.
Interestingly, Wade's offer of making a life with Emmy south of the border implies that Wade does desire a conventional life with a woman, away from the cruel gang lifestyle. An alternate scene shows Emmy asking Wade as he was being arrested if he was serious about life in Mexico and Wade said he lied. However, Emmy had already turned Wade down by then and Wade was clearly saddened as she said no.
Ben Wade takes a personal interest in Dan Evans, his most formidable captor. Wade actively probes into Dan's background, looking for weakness and temptation. He finds tremendous strain in Dan's life and yet is not capable of corrupting him. By the time that Dan makes it clear to Wade that he will escort him to the train, no matter the pressure, Wade comes to respect Dan as a hero and a force to be crushed. It is when Dan admits to Wade that he had a dishonorable war record and wasn't a hero, seeking redemption to show his son the right path, that Wade sides with Dan. Wade and Dan also develop a true respect for each other. This is shown when Wade kills his gang in revenge for Dan's death but was clearly not keeping up the act for Dan's son as he didn't know Will was there. From Dan, Wade learned that righteousness, in rare cases, can unbreakable and that men who have sinned can seek redemption. In Dan, Wade saw the righteousness that he didn't see in others.
His ultimate redeeming factor is allowing Dan to put him on the prison train to create an accomplishment that his sons could be proud of. Despite knowing that he could escape at will. It must be noted, however, that Wade's redemption is debatable. Wade kills his gang but it is not clear whether this the gun's curse or Wade's own personal revenge. Wade undoubtedly escapes at the end of the film but it is not explained what the motivations for this are. What is clear is that Wade's time with Dan awake in Wade a powerful state moral self-reflection.
Wade carries a Colt Single Action Army revolver as his main sidearm. The gun is said to be "cursed". As anyone who touches it, other than Wade is eventually killed. He is also extremely fast and accurate,being able to outdraw several other characters throughout the film, even his own men.