Thursday, January 2, 2014

Readers' Write (1) - What Makes a Good Villain?

While Karen and Doug are on vacation in January, our readers have been entrusted with carrying on the daily conversations.  Today's Open Forum is a do-it-yourselfer.  As we've done in the past, the first commenter gets to pick today's topic of conversation.

Generally speaking, the Open Forum is for broader topics.  For example, in the past we've started conversations such as "The Role of Inkers" and "What's So Great About the Bronze Age?"  Start with a topic that is broad enough to elicit an ongoing conversation, and that even might lend itself to tangential musings.

Thanks for holding it down for us!

The Prowler wants to know:  What makes a good-looking villain?  His suggestion is the boots...


18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just a quick reply to the person looking to get their collection graded. It nice to have comics in good/great condition if you want to collect comics. If you want to read comics, your comics are going to look read, not great. My suggestion is to find someone certified (LOL) someone with credentials to assess your collection and place a value on it. Get it insured and then, in the words of Cliff Claven (?) stage a motor vehicle accident. That may be the only way you get what your collection is worth. If you WANT to sell you collection, some places near you may run auctions once a month.

My proffer for today's topic, if I may be so bold, is a rip off of the old Fruit Roll Up - Marvel create a Villain for Spider-Man contest. What Makes A Good Villain? If I was creating one I would start with BOOTS. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

The Prowler (from the old Spider-Man Crawlspace)

david_b said...

Well, perhaps someone with a GRUDGE.

(Sorry, seems like a slow start today..)

I'd add a touch of originality, which would knock off 'Hobgoblin'.

HINT: New villains should join Rogues Gallery until they learn the ropes enough to be a real villain (Mirror Master, Matador, etc..).

Perhaps start small with taking over a Jack-In-A-Box or Taco Bell, perhaps move on to capturing a K-Mart, then work their way up to Cleveland or something..

Matt Celis said...

Steve Ditko and Bill Finger, that's what!

Redartz said...

Good call, Matt!
As for the question, I would add that some character depth helps. Think of the development given to villians like Dr. Doom , the Joker or the Green Goblin. We see their motivations and conflicts. Then there is the Vulture, who seems a one-man (bird?) Anti age discrimination campaign.

Contrast this to, say, Hydro-man. Basically just another thug who stumbles I to a super power. So basically, it takes time for a truly great villian to evolve from an ordinary "rogues gallery" filler.

Edo Bosnar said...

What makes a good villain? Hmmm, a megalomaniacal ego coupled with some depth of character, a la Dr. Doom, and possibly Lex Luthor. Or a grudge against humanity with tragic back-story, like Magneto. Or some kind of compelling insanity, like the Joker or Green Goblin. Or just plain old, rotten-to-the-core evil, like Red Skull (friggin' Nazis always make great villains, and not just in comics).

J.A. Morris said...

A grudge is a good thing to have. But it only works up to a point. Zemo was a good villain for Captain America because Cap "killed" his father.

But you get to a point where every member of a rogues gallery is carrying a grudge, and it's not so interesting.

For instance, just about every Spider-Man villain has a grudge against Spidey simply because he caught them & sent them to prison. That gets old.

Garett said...

How about intelligence and style? I'm thinking of Hans Gruber after watching Die Hard over Christmas.

Matt Celis said...

I think a good motivation is key, especially if it is sympathetic. For instance, Magneto and the Vulture. Dr. Doom as well, depending on his depiction.

Hard to say... there are some I like who really have neither of those things: Lex Luthor, Riddler, the Flash's rogues ( no real motive except to show they can beat the Flash).

david_b said...

I'd include Thanos in the sympathetic category.

His vast-scalled attempts to impress/woo Mistress Death is whole other kettle of fish..

Matt Celis said...

I never cared for Thanos so haven't re-read any stories with him in them...what was his motivation and his goal? Really don't remember...never went much for "cosmic" stories (Silver Surfer, Starfox, Thanos, Warlock, Galactus, etc., have always left me cold).

Karen said...

Sometimes having some sort of personal connection between hero and villain really ups the ante. The Reed Richards- Dr. Doom rivalry, even if it was almost entirely on Doom's end, made their meetings more dramatic. The Green Goblin was always Spidey's most dangerous foe because he both knew Spidey's identity and friends, and because Spidey felt restrained when fighting him, as he didn't want to hurt his best friend's father. The Thor-Loki situation was always painful, but the films have made it even more poignant.

david_b said...

Matt, just look the summary up Thanos's years of vast exploits on wikipedia.

Hoosier X said...

The most important thing is lots of green and purple!

Anonymous said...

I think what makes a good villain is the mindset and motivation behind the character - why does he/she behave evil? In Magneto's case it's his desire to rule over humans stemming back to his negative experiences being a Holocaust survivor. In Doctor Doom's case it's his overwhelming pride, being unable to accept Reed Richards as an equal intellect and suffering horrific injury as a consequence. In the Green Goblin's case it's his personal connection to Peter Parker, being mentally unsound and willing to torture Parker at every turn.

So you see, it's all in their psychological makeup!


- Mike 'shrink to the baddies' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Unknown said...

When a villain's weakness is his motivation. Dr Doom believes he is alone in the world and that he is ugly inside and out. He builds robots, armor and dreams of world domination.

Familiarity or a relationship with the hero. That personal link makes the fighting personal and messy. It isn't a sterile silver age encounter. Hank Pym and Ultron.

A long history of the heroes fighting the villain. The Time Trapper and the Legion.

Rip Jagger said...

I follow the conversation, but I have to admit I miss the days when baddies just wanted to rob a bank and or an armored car. Greed, pure and simple avarice is the classic motivation for a villain. I admit it gets complex when the villain and the hero are connected, but it also (after a while) gets harder to buy.

Rip Off

Anonymous said...

If we were to informally sum up a villain's makeup it would be motivation determination and style but most of all be interesting and stay interesting. Make us care that you're back for another crack at the hero. Even if your means to an end is getting rid of the hero so nothing stands between you and Cleveland (or total global socio-economic domination). And lots of green and purple and a good pair of boots.

The Prowler (from the old Spider-Man Crawlspace).

Joseph said...

One thing that can make a good villain is a measure of charm and (gulp) likeability. Some of the best Hitchcock antagonists had characteristics that were more likeable than the actual hero.

Magneto comes to mind - someone who could be seen as on a heroic quest. The Sandman, for a time in the 70's and 80's, was a tragic bad guy who you could root for because he showed a depth, a soft side.

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