It’s kind of like a thing now to humanize villains, which I have no problem with, I actually like it. However, there is backlash when a villain is evil. I genuinely like both approaches and feel the hate for villains who just enjoy being evil is unwarranted. Not everybody should have some twisted humanitarian goal, they could just be bad. Thoughts?
Example: unpopular opinion but I prefer endgame thanos to infinity war thanos. He was just more mad, and I (this may seem twisted) like rooting for the villain when they are evil. It’s much more fun. I enjoy hating the villain not feeling sympathetic towards them
I always enjoy a good mindless villain who just loves to kill without reason or agenda. Just because they find it fun.
It’s hard to find those types now days because there’s such a demand to “connect” or relate to every character, sometimes it might even come off as forced so we’ll see se villains have this legnthy backstory of why we should feel sorry for them, or they may switch to the good side and back to being bad or maybe even have kids.
This is a good question because it makes me miss when stories just had villains you’d live to hate and when writers allowed us to stay distant from their personal lives in effort to make sure we root for the good guy.
The Joker is the perfect example. When he’s mad and creating havoc for particularly no reason he is much scarier than villains that have a sympathetic back story. He’s the embodiment of the fear that anything bad can happen to you or someone you love for no reason and over which you have no control.
@Gibby Exactly, I don’t want to connect to the villain, that can be done in moderation. I just want to hate them. Even in the real world, there are criminals who do it for fun
I enjoy both styles myself. The huminization approach works best imo but the old fashion comic bookie/cartoony villain can still be intriguing.
The Joker with the mysterious backstory and being so cruel and evil while having dark humor still works just fine when executed well. His character fits perfectly with this approach while others are better with a tragic situation like Mr. Freeze
@TX Same, I do enjoy both but my problem lies with putting down purely evil villains because they aren’t humanized
Honestly, The best qoute I can ever use to support this doesn’t even come from DC. Just a villian being a villian.
Villains you can empathize with, I find, are actually in rather short supply in DC. Harley Quinn and Two-Face are the only ones that come to mind at the moment. In fact, I always felt that DC was better at creating villains that were nothing but monstrous, depraved, and cruel to the very core (i.e. the Joker, Zsasz, Brainiac, Darkseid, Vandal Savage, Arcane, post-Crisis Black Manta, Trigon, Superboy Prime, Anti-Monitor, Dr. Destiny, Reverse Flash, Grodd, and Captain Zahl just to name a few.)
I feel a guy who loves being evil results in some brain dead stories. I’m not talking about only comics, I’m talking about every form of storytelling. But this way can also be implemented correctly. For example, Dark Knight is the perfect way you can execute a villain who just ‘wants to watch the world burn’. I prefer the route were you feel for the villain. I loved Endgame, primarily because it focused on the heroes. But I felt Thanos was a downgrade. But it didn’t matter because Endgame was about the original characters so I still thought it was great. In Infinty War, I felt for Thanos. I could see were he was coming from. But Endgame made come back to reality and made me realize that Thanos is a genocidal maniac. That’s great storytelling.
To quote Marv Wolfman, the villain is the hero of their own story. (Although he is not the first to say it. The axiom dates back at least to Shakespeare’s time)
I believe many have thought that to make a villain relatable and the audience needs some empathy understand the villain. This need not be the case and often leads to a lesser villain.
IMO, The Joker has been brought down as a villain simply because of the desire to try and make him more relatable going back to The Killing Joke. The “what happens if you have one really bad day? It can drive you mad.” Makes him weaker. Having a Joker who is fully sane, within his entire view and has no desire for sympathy or empathy. A Joker who as you passed him on the street, might kill you for no provocation or give you $1000 is a much stronger and and more terrifying villain.
@Desade Yeah. I believe that terrifying aspect is what makes a villain. The fact that the choices they make aren’t what a normal person would make but rather unpredictable and usually evil
I believe the problem is people look at villains through their own lenses, that is that somebody wouldn’t make such a wicked decision without suffering. I think people fail to realize that villains have a twisted morality compared to the general population
@TheLegendKillerX Sometimes those relatable villains do suffer when making those horrible decisions, which can be used to write some fascinating stories. However, I agree that not all stories are built for those kinds of characters. Sometimes a story is better with a purely evil villain.
One of my favorite all time villains was Lex from Smallville. Too often when he tried to do right, someone (often Clark) lied to him or blamed him for things he didn’t do. His story was the tragedy of a man who was destined for evil, even when tried to turn away.
IMO, the best villain in lit, is Shakespeare’s Richard III. (While not historically accurate) He kill his way to the throne, with no regard for anyone else. Shakespeare makes no attempt to have the audience empathize with him. He is 100% pure villain and he was supposed to be.
He wakes up one day and says there are like 9 people, to of them children, that stand between me & the throne. Eeeh…I’ll just kill ‘em all. And he reveals in it. With joyful abandon.
I always thought of the Joker in this fashion. Far more disconcerting than the idea that he is actually delusional or tragedy.
It’s the best bit in under the red hood after killing all of black mask’s bodyguards.
“I’m gonna need some guys. Not these guys cuz, well, they’re kinda dead.”
I definitely think there is room for both types of villains. I’ve seen/read stories with both types done well and both types done poorly. I think a lot of how a villain turns out depends on the type of story being told. Forcing a sympathetic backstory can be just as annoying as ignoring/under-developing a character - sometimes even more so because of the time/space that backstory took away from something I found more interesting.
Question is, why do people usually think a villain with a purpose is superior to a mindless killing machine?
That’s like saying the Terminator isn’t an interesting villain or isn’t as interesting as a living villain with a tragic backstory. We all know that this just isn’t true.
What can elevate a mindless killing villain without real purpose or agenda to the level of villains with all the meat in their story? Or better yet, why does this generation feel the need for a broad explanation on topics like genocide in order to validate them and dethrow moral compass?
I have made only valid points in “questionable” form (literally). It will be interesting to see how members answer them
@Gibby I feel the same way. I believe it’s because many people don’t want to see people making bad choices without being pushed to the edge. In my mind, a mindless killing machine is just as interesting as any other type of villain provided the story is good.
@Gibby, if a villain has a purpose it makes us think and question his or her justification. We therefore interest with the story more so we are more involved. A villain with no purpose doesn’t make us question or think.