So you want to be a villain do you? Have you truly committed yourself to the path of evil? Are you gonna go through one of those redemptive phases at the last possible second because of intense pressure from some smarmy little do-gooder? If you answered that last question "yes", you've already blown it. You can't be a truly memorable villain unless you stand your ground and refuse to recant your evil ways. But just how do you become such a villain? Fortunately, I have answers. (Don't ask how I got them. If I tell you, I'll have to kill you.)
Step 1: DON'T Be Like THIS Guy...
Okay, all joking aside, make sure that you assess your enemies' weaknesses BEFORE entering combat. Failure to do this has been the downfall of many great villains. But you know better than THAT, right?
Step 2: Always Have A Smug Grin
As a villain, you should always have an evil grin. Why? Because, people pay more attention to you when they think you're up to something. Sure, the heroes know that you're bad to the bone, but somehow, they find themselves drawn to your insane amount of confidence anyway.
Step 3: Keep Your Actions Classy (Especially Your Evil Ones!)
Everything you do should simply scream class. It reminds people that you are, in fact, the best kind of villain: the kind that is evil to the deepest core of their being, but doesn't let that tarnish their image as a gentleman.
Step 4: Don't Be Afraid of Showboating
You shouldn't sugar-coat your evilness, but there's a delicate balance that must be maintained between elegance and evilness. Sure, you can glamorize it to the point that your henchmen think it's all fun and games and there's no chance of being captured and/or killed, but if you do that for too long, it can start to mess with your brain and you yourself begin to buy into the very lies you tell your minions.
Step 5: DO NOT, FOR ANY REASON, MONOLOGUE!
I can't stress this point enough. Wanna tell the captured hero your evil scheme? Bad move. How about gloating to your hero's trapped significant other? Not a great plan. So many villains who had so much potential fell off the bandwagon right here. It's never a good idea to let the hero know what your plans are. That just gives them a greater edge in figuring out how to stop you before you set your plan into motion. Subtlety is the name of the game. The hero should have their hands so full with the current phase of your master plan that they don't have time to focus on your endgame. Don't make their job easier by practically spelling out your methodology! Keep them guessing as long as possible! Also, if you feel the need to reveal your master plan, only reveal the next phase. NEVER, under any circumstances, should you disclose exactly what your entire plan consists of. Your plan should only be revealed on a need-to-know basis. If they don't need to know, they're better off not knowing. They'll find out soon enough...
^ DO NOT DO THIS! ^
Step 6: Always, Always, ALWAYS Make Sure Your Hair Is Perfect
On the surface, this might seem like it's not a major part of being a villain. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Having even one single strand of hair out of place can totally spoil your big moment. My advice after my years of research? Always carry extra hairspray. Or, just take a cue from Lex Luthor and go bald.
Step 7: Make An Entrance
This goes back to what we talked about before with showboating. When you walk into a room, you should be able to just roll up with your entourage and take over the party! Exploding doors accompanied by a quippy one-liner are ideal for this purpose.
Step 8: Travel In Style
As a villain, you need a vehicle that is both practical and fashionable. Whatever your preferred mode of transportation is, make sure that it truly reflects your personality as a villain. For example, if you want a car that states, "I'm a man with class and refinement", your best bet is probably some sort of fancy albeit heavily armored limousine. However, if you're more of the strong and forceful type, you'd be better off with a tank. But no matter what type of vehicle you choose, make sure that when your enemies see it, they secretly or even openly wish they had one like it.
Step 9: Bring Serious Drama
This is a major part of becoming a truly epic villain. Some lesser villains would adamantly oppose this and say that you must remain a secretive manipulator who only operates from the shadows, but if you do that, some undeserving glory hound will swoop in and claim the credit for your handiwork! And you, as a self-respecting villain, cannot possibly allow that! People love a villain that overdramatizes everything. It's like Tony Stark said when he was describing Loki.
"He's a full-tilt diva, right? He wants flowers, he wants parades. He wants a monument built to the skies with his name plastered..."
And every good villain worth his evil laugh DOES want these things. Villains who prefer to manipulate events from the comfort of their giant throne tend to come off second best.
Step 10: Have the Best Wardrobe
This step is essential. You need a suit that really reflects your personality. Want to go for the gentlemanly street thug? Try a top hat with a black leather suit jacket, tie, and pants while holding a cane made of metal sewer pipe. Rather have the brightly-colored costume of a supervillain? Just make sure you've got some killer accessories to match. You need something that screams, "The big bad is in the house and don't you forget it!" Sure, we can't all have Infinity Gauntlets, but a good jumpsuit-cape-necklace-sunglasses ensemble is pretty hard to beat. Armor is also a wise choice, whether it is worn above or below your jumpsuit. And if you wear a mask, pick one that actually looks cool and not like you have Darth Vader's mouth guard covering the front of your face.
Step 11: Never Apologize For Your Ambitions
You got to where you are through courage, fortitude, dedication, and just a little luck. Okay, that's a lie. If you're truly a good villain, then you most likely got to your present position through deception, backstabbing, manipulation, and an insane amount of luck. I mean, really, what's the point of being evil if you're not willing to do whatever it takes to make your dreams reality? You got to the top of the food chain by dreaming big, so why quit now?
Step 12: Always Stay At Least 89 Steps Ahead of Everyone Else
In this giant game of chess, there are so many moves you can make, but there are only a few that will ensure victory. The best way to achieve your goals is to not be seen coming. This is not at odds with showboating, but actually goes hand in hand with it. You should not reveal your plans beforehand, but once they've been successfully carried out, revel in the accolades of your adoring followers (or whoever you choose to surround yourself with), but don't rest on your laurels while your enemy is still out there. Continue planning for every eventuality until their untimely comeuppance has been dealt with accordingly.
Step 13: Make A Great First Impression
When you first meet someone, infuse just the right amount of personal charm, but be sure to lace it carefully with maniacal overtones. Remember, it’s always better to make them envy you than to show that you envy the fact that you weren’t invited to their smarmy little do-gooder party.
Step 14: Don't Come Off As Too Rehearsed
While it is critical that you have your routine down to a science, remember that others may view it as being slick, deliberate, and calculating. You have the master plan, but if you overplay your hand, you could easily come off as manipulative. Do something which shows that you do in fact have a human side. Something like causing someone to slip on a banana peel for example.
Step 15: Play To Your Strengths
This is extremely important. You need to have an idea of what your weak points are and try to minimize or delegate things you're not as good at. But while you're minimizing your weaknesses, it's also important to know your strengths and capitalize on them. For instance, if you lack people skills, delegate that job to a high-level henchman or conversely, if you are incredible at creating weapons, work at it until you perfect it.
Step 16: Have A Whole Henchmen Army
Sure, you're the guy with the master plan, leadership qualities, and that certain evil charm, but sooner or later, you've gotta have someone to make donut runs, guard your stolen loot, and keep tabs on your enemies. That's where henchmen come in. They are truly the backbone of your success. Remember, finding henchmen is one thing. Keeping them is something different. If you want to inspire loyalty, instill fear. And if you want one henchman to become a trusted lieutenant (or whatever title you prefer), you must cultivate their talents and groom them to ultimately take their place at your side. However, a word of caution on this point, make sure that they remain loyal. If you groom them to be your second-in-command too well, sooner or later, they will decide that they no longer need you. Always have your eye on them and just in case, keep a loaded gun handy.
Step 17: Master the Classic Villain Swagger
You should radiate epic villainy just by the way you walk into a room. As previously stated, exploding doors are a major part of a dramatic entrance. You need to have such high levels of confidence that everyone else recognizes it.
Or be like the above henchman referring to his boss: "He doesn't really have to go through all that smoke and stuff. He just does it because he thinks it looks cool."
Step 18: If You Kill Your Boss/Nemesis, Make Sure They're Really Dead.
More villains fall off the wagon at this point than any other. So many have thought they had finally defeated their adversary once and for all only to find that they had not and be summarily defeated. Or, alternatively, suppose that you did away with your boss and took control of their criminal empire. Make sure there is no possibility that they will return to reclaim it. Likewise, you must also guard against your own minions doing the same to you.
Step 19: Epic Battle Scenes Are A Must
You can't just have a washed-up sci-fi slapfight. Any run-of-the-mill gangster off the street can do that. You need to take it to the next level: I'm talking about a full scale showdown, preferably involving ridiculously large high-powered weapons and clever banter between you and your opponent.
Step 20: Allow Yourself To Be Vain
You know as well as everyone else does that you're not a beloved figure like the hero is, so why shouldn't you be your own biggest fan? Why should he get all the attention just because he's the good guy?
Step 21: Subvert Expectations
We've already discussed this, but it's important to remember that you should keep people guessing. One huge factor in the success or failure of a villain is their ability to keep their enemies from figuring out where and how they will strike next. If your enemies are still trying to figure out your next move, you can already be planning three jobs ahead of them.
Step 22: Have An Impressive Evil Lair
No villain is better than his hideout. Whether you've got an underwater base, a ruined castle, an abandoned oil refinery, or even just a good ol' fashioned sewer to call home, you need some place to plan your maniacal machinations from. You need to choose a base that is reflective of your personal style. If you prefer retro, look into finding a deserted castle. If you're more of a futurist, a moonbase or underwater headquarters of doom might be the way to go. But no matter what kind of hideout you decide upon, make sure that it possesses top-of-the-line security measures. You don't want your hero or anyone else to get in uninvited, after all. Plus, you should also strive to make creepy real estate look appealing. Your inner sanctum should be stylish, but still completely impregnable.
Step 24: Kick Some Serious Tail
Now, we all know that the villain life is not successful for everyone. We can't all succeed in world domination, after all. And often, our plans are interfered with by the intervention of some good-for-nothing do-gooder. However, that doesn't mean that you should throw in the towel and retreat to the sanctity of your villainous hidey-hole. On the contrary, it means you need to fight that much harder to get what you want.
- The Final And Most Important Step -
Step 25: Have An Epic (If Gratuitous) Song-And-Dance Number
Yes, villain friends, that is the true secret of villainy. Epic songs are the real trademark of a villain. Having a Broadway-quality show tune with a snappy dance routine is the best way to convince the world of just how bad you are. That, and you can use your song to accomplish a variety of tasks. It can be used to convince your enemy's significant other to fall for you, inspire your troops, gloat over past victories, explain your history, reveal future plans (That's a big no-no!), or even just plain exist for itself just to show the world how truly epic you are.
There you have it. You’ve got a lot going for you when it comes to badness, i.e. henchmen, style, a sweet ride, incredible music, being labeled the “Police’s Worst Nightmare”, you know, just the basics. Plus, you’re just the best villain ever, if only for reasons of evil genius-ness and having great hair. These, and all the reasons listed above, are the reasons that you’re good at being bad. Not so good that you turn your life around and become a good guy, but so amazingly awesome at being bad that you are literally the best ever at being bad.