Thursday, June 5, 2008

Got Villain...?

Great villains are like hot sex—endlessly addictive. I know I can’t get enough. Let’s face it: villains are cool. Stylish, commanding outfits? Check. Witty, smarmy one liners? Check. Creator of the most powerful weapon/ship/army/invention ever? Double check!

Villains are incapable of thinking small. Fer gosh sakes, how many times have we read about one of them scheming to take over the galaxy? The cosmos? I mean, talk about ambitious! If the hero and heroine aren’t careful, the villain will steal the show, and often does. Isn’t it just wild that the resident baddie often possesses more pizzaz than the hero & heroine combined in some stories? Color me fascinated.

Though they often receive their just desserts, villains are (mostly) people too. It’s especially rockin’ when one of these characters has an actual personality, a character arc, and finds redemption. You don’t encounter them too often, but when you do, it’s breathtaking to see it unfold. IRON MAN comes to mind. For another example, partake of Susan Grant’s YOUR PLANET OR MINE? and HOW TO LOSE AN EXTRATERRESTRIAL IN 10 DAYS (keyword: Reef).

Sometimes the villain isn’t a person at all--it could be a deadly environment, a corporate or military conglomerate, or an alien species. Talk about love under pressure!

And is it just me, or are the villains we all love to hate found most often in the science fiction universe (not that I’m biased or anything)?

In no particular order, here are some memorable villains:

Darth Vader (STAR WARS, duh)
Lex Luthor (SUPERMAN)
Cancer Man (THE X-FILES)
Diana (V)
Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (DUNE)
Agent Smith (THE MATRIX)
Char Aznable (GUNDAM)

In the “what the heck, let’s include them” category:

Dr. Doom (FANTASTIC FOUR—-but not the egregious film)
Dr. Octopus (SPIDER-MAN)
Dr. Zachary Smith (LOST IN SPACE)

I think what these villains all have in common is that they are noble at heart, but events conspired to warp them psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually to the point that their values became woefully maligned. It’s really kind of sad, to think about the type of heroes and heroines they might have been.

Know what? That paltry list above doesn’t even scratch the surface. Tell me about a villain who surprised you. Chat about a villainous character with actual nuances, or complex psychological makeup that defies stereotype and two-dimensionality.

My vote goes to Dr. Hans Reinhardt from THE BLACK HOLE. Not an SFR movie, but he was a man with a vision...and he did pass some awfully smoldering looks to Dr. Kate McCrae. (Too bad he couldn't pass along a few needed script rewrites as well!)

Joyfully yours,