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Super-Villains!

By Lorenzo


Heath_Ledger_as_the_Joker
I love Superhero-from-comics movies. Not every one of them, but the genre. With such examples as Christopher Nolan‘s amazing Batman BeginsThe Dark KnightThe Dark Knight Rises trilogy, they include films which are at the peak of the film-maker’s art.

I have never been much of a comic/graphic novel reader.* I believe I read most of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. Otherwise, my comic reading has mostly been a version of The Bible done as a comic, John Blackburn’s Coley stories (NWS) and Patrick Fillion‘s works.

As a young lad, I did enjoy the Fantastic Four animated cartoon series and the Spider-Man animated cartoon series. But it is the films that get me in.

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Part of the fun is having an ambiguous reaction to the villains; having a good villain being particularly central to the Superhero genre. Heath Ledger‘s Joker was splendidly creepy and chilling in The Dark KnightSir Ian McKellen‘s Magneto provided an insidious classy gravitas to the X-Men movies. Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki was good charismatic wicked fun in Thor and The Avengers.

The Joker in The Dark Knight was a psychopath pretending to have reasons apart from joy in destruction. But you got where Magneto was coming from in the X-Men movies and, as for Loki in Thor, he had a point about Thor (as Odin dramatically conceded) and then had to cope with one damned thing after another.

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Part of why I enjoyed the Fantastic Four TV series is that I thought Doctor Doom was rather cool, in an evil sort of way. He was uber-cool, in an evil sort of way, when played by Julian McMahon in The Fantastic Four and The Fantastic 4: the Rise of the Silver Surfer.

In 2009, celebrating 75 years of comics, IGN published a list of the 100 top comic villains.  It’s top 10 villain list is:

(1) Magneto

(2) Joker

(3) Doctor Doom

(4) Lex Luthor

(5) Galactus

(6) Darkseid

(7) Ra’s Al Ghul

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(8) Loki

(9) Dark Phoenix

(10) Kingpin.

All of whom have had major role in film block-busters and/or long-running TV series. So, who is your favourite super-villain?

This is also the Saturday chit-chat post.

ADDENDA *It was only in doing this post that I discovered that Ra’s Al Ghul, who plays such a pivotal role in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, was a pre-existing comic villain. The commitment of Bruce Wayne’s mentor Ducard (played by Liam Neeson) to a notion of the good that had no connection to actual people is a form of villainy that has a particular resonance to the evils of our time.

3 Comments

  1. Dave Bath
    Posted June 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Magneto was pretty cool, altruistic in the sense of not being about himself.

    But … Casanova Frankenstein … gotta love him

  2. jtfsoon
    Posted June 15, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Doctor Doom, Ra’s Al Ghul and Lex Luthor also fit in the mould of the altruistic anti-hero like Magneto (depending on the writer). In the most recent Future Foundation series, Doom is actually recruited by Reed Richards (Mr Fantastic) to help stop an invasion by ‘evil’ parallel universe versions of Reed Richards. He reveals himself in one battle to be self-sacrificing (though he survives).

    Ra’s Al Ghul is of course an eco-terrorist (long before this became topical) who plots his ‘evil’ deeds to reduce over-population. In some older Batman comics he too teams up with Batman to stop other villains whom both regard as more self-serving and destructive,

    Lex Luthor at various times comes across as a sociopath but also one genuinely concerned that mankind’s reliance on Superman hinders its own potential for advancement – and this is the cause of his eternal enmity with Superman.

    Even Kingpin (no 10 on that list) has some noble qualities like his genuine love of his wife.

    Of the people on that list only Joker fits the mould of the self-serving criminal sociopath (though Darkseid and Dark Phoenix are malevolent, they are aliens and so could be said to have motives that transcend human interests in survival)

  3. Mel
    Posted June 19, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    An interesting idea:

    Experts often suggest that crime resembles an epidemic. But what kind? Karl Smith, a professor of public economics and government at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has a good rule of thumb for categorizing epidemics: If it spreads along lines of communication, he says, the cause is information. Think Bieber Fever. If it travels along major transportation routes, the cause is microbial. Think influenza. If it spreads out like a fan, the cause is an insect. Think malaria. But if it’s everywhere, all at once—as both the rise of crime in the ’60s and ’70s and the fall of crime in the ’90s seemed to be—the cause is a molecule.

    Nice.

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