In an age of superhero movies, the stories of multiple superheroes are thrown in our way. While some of the movies are as original and less complicated as Deadpool, some movies such as Captain America: Civil War make us ponder a lot about the way different people look at the same problem. I am not a comic book fan. However, I am a great fan of comic book movies.
A hero is always someone who rises above the rest because he wants to do the right thing. When it comes to a superhero, that same heroic qualities are assisted by some kind of power. A villain, on the other hand, is a perfectly selfish individual who uses whatever resources and powers he or she has to achieve his or her own selfish goals. It is clear that these two individuals are different in their judgement. Then, do they have anything in common? Actually, they do. In my opinion, what they do have in common is their struggle.
Specially, in an era, where heroes are not white characters and villains are not black characters but both have become grey characters, this struggle is evident. Their struggle may be different but they are all in a constant internal and external struggle. Let me explain.
Captain America: Hero
Captain America is a good choice for a superhero. Captain America is an idealist. He believes in doing the right thing. He has no room for compromises, yet again and again he has to make some compromises to survive. He is a man with a great internal struggle as he is trying to fit into a world he does not belong.
Due to his frozen slumber, he loses 70 years of his life. When he wakes up, the only people who he knows are the love of his life, now a very old woman and his best friend, now a trained assassin for the same organization (Hydra) he fought against. Then, he has to watch the organization he fought against devouring his home, S.H.I.E.L.D. His external struggle is trying to do the right thing in a world where lines between right and wrong are blurred. Sometimes he has to choose one friend over the other. That can be the worst kind of struggle.
We can all understand that every superhero faces a struggle. How can that be the same for villains? Usually, the struggle a villain faces is simply the obstacles he or she has to face in achieving his or her goals. However, when it comes to Loki from Marvel Cinematic Universe, we see a villain, who has clearly become a villain due to his internal struggles.
Loki from Norse mythology is someone with whom it is hard to sympathize. That is because that God of Mischief is ready to kill a person if that person annoys him. Who does that? However, Loki from Marvel Cinematic Universe makes it hard for us not to sympathize with him to some extent due to what happens to him.
I am sure most of us would not try to destroy a world just to take revenge from a family that refused and betrayed us. Loki does exactly that when his father, or the person he thought as his father, finally reveals the truth about him and tells that he will never be accepted as one of the family. Amidst the conquering of Midgard and deceiving his brother, Thor and the whole of Asgard by ruling as Odin, we see glimpses of Loki's humanity when he mourns his mother's death and helps Thor to rescue his love and Asgard.
Apart from a few villains who have no humanity in them, such as Thanos and Ultron, most of the villains too have their own internal struggles.
It is quite clear then that at the core, what makes a superhero or a villain is how they deal with their internal struggles. A superhero would not lash out at the world for the his or her sufferings. But, a villain would.