I will always take brilliant but evil over good but stupid, every time. I love villains, I love creating them, I wish I could write every story solely with villains, and I like to think that it’s possible. I love villains because they’re the characters most often representing change and progress, the intelligent connoisseurs of culture and history. I’d like to bring up some interesting examples of “villainy” in popular culture.
|Mmm, that's good elseworld.|
By which I mean superhero comic books. Most people do, but I do enjoy a large number of non-superhero comics. Anyway, I find myself enjoying heroes, but those heroes are very much symbols of the stagnation of modern society. They often claim to fight for the good of all people, and while we’ll ignore the good of all people being immeasurable and relative, they’re often stopping the most forward-thinking and motivated individuals in the world: the supervillains.
In terms of supervillains, think of someone like Lex Luthor. He is supposedly one of the most brilliant minds in the world, and in stories like Superman: Red Son, we see how that kind of genius can play out. There are villains who are basically fighting for the rights of their people, the only catch being that their people are not human, and therefore… what? Not as good as us? Some are much, much more competent as species and probably would do a lot better things with the resources we have, all considered.
No, I’m not turning my back on my race for the mole people. I like the mole people, but they just don’t have a secure enough government system to succeed in our world.
I’m not a huge fan of wrestling, but I’ve seen a fair share, and I think it would be a lot of fun to write something for it, just because it’s in dire, dire need of an improvement in that area. But what’s notable about wrestling is the concept of Heels and Faces. Heels are the villains, Faces are the heroes. Heels characterize themselves by generally dirty pool. For instance, pulling a sledgehammer from ‘neath the ring and smashing faces (Ha!).
Anyway, and this does not exactly come from a reputable source, the Heels are wrestlers who seem to embody the older eras of wrestling. Some of the most notable are older wrestlers, and in contrast, the Faces are the younger wrestlers, and appeals to the younger generation of fans. The prime example is John Cena, who is so popular among the younger fans that he is basically unable to cleanly lose a match.
At Wrestlemania this year, The Rock will be returning. The Rock is a symbol of the older era, and we’ll have Team Rock VS Team Cena, and this is a great event for fans, both young and old. The young have the ability to support their great heroes, and to the children Cena is a hero, take on the legends of the past while the older generation of fans get to see their heroes brought back and face off with a new wave that represents a change many of them resent. The writers are in a tough position with this, they can allow the older generation with the older, long-time fans rooting nearly entire for The Rock, to win, or the younger ones, possibly to become long-time fans. Good luck, writers.
Who are the villains of video games? Well, in many more recent games, it’s whoever you, as the player decide. In Fallout: New Vegas, is it Caesar, the NCR, or someone else? In Dragon Age II, is it the Templars or the Mages? (Templars. Mages forever!) This trend is more recent, and I think something games should continue to shoot for, when a villain is necessarily. The ability to choose one’s heroes and villains lets us understand our experience and learn something about ourselves.
|The seething eyes of madness.|
But what other kind of villains do we see? Well, we see them from all over literature and other stories. Everything from the story of the knight defeating the dragon to the jilted lovers. Games have drawn on every kind of literature, but I don’t know if games yet to have a villainous trope all their own. The ability to choose your enemy is important, but that does exist in other media, if in a less dramatic form.
There are even games that claim to let you play as the villain, but I don’t really feel it every comes across well. Games like Evil Genius, Overlord, and games like the Fable series claim your need for villainy can be assuaged. But none of them truly get across that ideal-borne journey against the archaic concepts of the world, none of them lead you in representing a “villainous” cause, and none that I’ve encountered really engage in a discourse on what villainy truly is.
Personally, villainy is just whatever you personally find disdainful, tempered by your opinions on the views and laws of society. I really feel that the villains are the most interesting characters because so often in media they represent change in our world, and fearing change leaves us stagnant and unchanging: locked in what we could perceive as utopia. But by locking ourselves in it, we defeat the cause of human achievement, which most “mad scientists” and “super villains” are all about. They are the best of us, that we toss aside for fear of them.
I will always love villains. If I had a superpower, it would be weather control, and I fly around in a raging storm, wielding the awesome power of nature against anyone who denied the truth of achievement and the need for improvement. It would be a gloriously fantastical, if gloriously silly, future.