Whether they are flashy, grim, funny, or over the top, we all like a good villain & what we love even more than that is a great super villain. Their ambition, pure hatred, and the pain they inflict on the innocent... it is what you call a guilty pleasure, I guess. In the end, it is entertainment that we crave, if that means putting your favorite protagonists through hell, than so be it. Of late, has it seemed that the super villains are not as important as the superheroes they face? Are they being portrayed as evil as they can be or allowed do dastardly things in the name of evil? While there are still new villains on the rise as per new superheroes movies that are released, are they or they going to leave a lasting memory in your mind that will have you saying..."Now that was a bad guy!"? I don't think we have had the collection of baddies that I thought we would have based on what is out there on the movies currently.
Who has stood out lately?
Not many, movie wise. I can say The Winter Soldier has been the biggest standout of late, but I would have to go all the way back to Loki and Heath Ledger as The Joker. I'm sure I'll be using him again as an example in this post. So from there, I have to gravitate towards the TV series. Lately, the superhero shows like Arrow, The Flash, and Daredevil has had better and more compelling villains. Why is that? What are they doing that the movie industry is not doing?
TV shows have certainly have more time developing their villains with backstories and events that converted them to the dark side or did things to show they are truly super villains. Even though movies have a smaller window to get this done, between 120-140 minute film, there are things they could do to make an impact.
Very important to a story, I think the days of a super villain robbing a bank is a cliche in films, it doesn't have quite the same impact as if they blew something up with people in harm's way or kill someone close to the protagonist.
When a villain is allowed to do bad things to good people, it allows the viewers to feel the pain of the victims and the heroes that are suffering from it. It's not that we need to see a superhero cry like a little girl....Sorry Tobey... but I believe the superhero has to be put through something because it is not about just about them flying around saving the day. Giving them a villain that disrupts their job or their lives is important to avoid stale storytelling.
Look at Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke from Arrow. He had serious beef with Oliver Queen and did everything possible to break him down into submission. He even went as far as making Oliver choose which loved one dies. He was a great super villain.
Another example of great development was Daredevil's Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin. His story is a tragic one, but you quickly forget it once you see him decimate someone with his bare hands... and a car door. If you haven't seen it, you have no idea what he is made of. His type of ruthless erratic nature is missing in the superhero cinematic universe.
...are superheroes depicted so much stronger than the supervillains in the movies?
Why you may wonder there isn't great super villains in very good looking superhero movies. These superhero movies nowadays have A list actors playing these popular protagonist allowing them to shine in a grand fashion, while the villain is there for them just show how much more superior they are compared to them. Why are they not having the super villain challenge the hero to where they are suffering some serious adversity? What's the point of having them facing a super villain if they are not a strong enough foe? Isn't the point to having a strong super villain to elevate the strength or need for the superheroes. I would like to think so.
...should superheroes always win?
Superheroes always win at the end of the movie. They suffer some adversity at the midway point of the film or early on, but they turn it around in the end. There may be only a few movies where the villains actually win, so if the villain should always lose, shouldn't he or she lose being at their very best?! Or, what if the villain was to lose, but ripped a permanent hole in the hero's heart forever.?
Or what would happen if you let the bad guy win? Would you say the movie was horrible because the superhero failed? Isn't there a lesson to be learned in his defeat? Now I am not saying kill the superhero, but simply show the lows of being a superhero. I think Batman is a great example of this, with a great nemesis to boot.... who? Uhhhhhh, this guy.
In the Dark Knight, The Joker from the very beginning of the film, he was in complete control of his plans, the people, and pretty much the entire movie. Now this was called "The Dark Knight", but this almost could have been called "The Joker". He essentially won, he beat Batman killing Bruce's old flame and making him a murderer of Harvey Two-Face and took the blame of multiple deaths that were dealt by Harvey himself. Now was this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Was this a concern when Marvel or DC went about choosing their villains? Who knows. I am not saying the Heath Ledger Joker scared them out making compelling villains, but aside from Loki, which has been entertaining but not nearly as menacing, why are they and the Winter Soldier, are the only super villains that stand out?
...are they taking a backseat?
I mean come on, these are super villains we are talking about here. The chaos makers, the antagonist extraordinaires, the A'holes. You have to loathe these guys, they should do really bad things so awful that you can't wait for them to die. Having token villains can bring down or even ruin a movie. One that had a lackluster villain but the movie didn't suffer greatly for it was Guardians of the Galaxy. Ronan had a ton of potential, but he was a lot of bark, some lazy action, and very little bite. He could have actually killed the Guardians and a planet but fell for the old dance off trick, which was hilarious but embarrassing if you are a bad guy enthusiast. If it is in them to be big and bad, let them. We can't let him destroy the planet the heroes are standing on, but they can at least make them a punishing obstacle.
Isn't it up to the super villains to keep the superheroes from being redundant and or unnecessary? I would like to think so. What's that old saying....behind every great man, there's a great woman? That should be the same for the superhero and super villain.
It is working relationship, really. There is nothing more awesome when the protagonist and the antagonist understand each other, but are bound by their beliefs and convictions. The fact the villain is only bound by their need for the hero's existence verses evil itself, which really means their is no conflict between right and wrong, but having the hero survive the carnage he or she inflicts just to see the him or her suffer more and more is almost an addiction. We have truly one example on film, and like I said, I will keep going back to because it is the only shining example, The Dark Knight.
In a pivotal scene, my personal favorite of the movie, we see Batman and the Joker face to face. Even though this is not their first encounter together, it feels like the first time they are really meeting. The Joker took over the conversation completely, but having already know who the Batman is, The Joker was simply letting him know who they both are. The Joker knows the hero inside and out and can and will exploit him anytime he wanted to, yet he does not want to kill him. The Joker was just having so much fun. That element is missing from the villains in these movies... that killer instinct.
Can a superhero look like a bigger super villain than the villain himself?!
Heroes have had their dark moments on film, whether it is Superman turning dark because bad Kryptonite, or Spideman gets a black goo makeover that makes him a Spider jerk and Peter Parker an EMO douche bag, or Tony Stark making a killer monster that almost blew up the planet. Yeah, not exactly a villain but bare with me.
In the Marvel series, Tony Stark has proven time and time again that his inventions can be very effective if used for good, but in the wrong hands, it could be very dangerous and deadly. Products of evil were made due to his technological advances resulted in these creations:
The Iron Monger
The Harriers from Captain America The Winter Soldier
In Avengers Age of Ultron, Tony was the danger. Before the end of their mission at the beginning of the movie, Tony had already been developing new A.I. that would reduce if not keep the Avengers from ever being needed. He used Loki's staff that had an Infinity Stone to advance his A.I. to make him more real... enter Ultron. He almost destroyed the entire planet and Tony didn't share any responsibility for his own creation, NONE. He rode off in his shiny expensive car. Yet, he apologized for his role he played in creating Aldrich Killian in Iron Man 3?! Think about that. He is apologizing for a guy that went evil because he was mad at Tony for standing him up on a rooftop? You can't blame Ultron for what he had done because he didn't get there on his own. Tony may not have been a direct villain, but he does things that creates villains. I think you can classify him as an indirect villain. Doesn't he, of all the Avengers, has the highest potential for being a super villain? I think if he turns dark, he could be the worst of all the villains in the MCU. We'll have to see what they have in store for him Captain America Civil War.
What is the future of these superhero movies if this continues?
I think there will be less appeal for superhero movies in general. You can't expect fans to keep coming back to see the villain return to be the same villain for nearly every movie or series....
Magneto was the final villain in all 5 X-Men movies.
X2, after Striker was defeated
X-Men 1st Class, after Sebastian Shaw was defeated
X-Men, Days of Future Past, during and after Mystique was stopped
...or having your super villain so downplayed to the point where he has no effect to the movie or he or she is so radically different from the comic book version that you don't even recognize him or hate what they did to them....
...or they are saving the more competent super villains for the big movie while we have to suffer the somewhat abysmal villains or setup movies until he arrives?
Iron Man 2 for Avengers
Amazing Spider-man 2 for The Sinister Six (Which will not happen now)
Avengers: Age of Ultron for Avengers: Infinity War
Fant4stic for Fant4stic 2 (Which may not happen after the early bad reviews)
I think setup movies could be the DOOM of superhero movies (pun intended). With such high production for these films, it would be awesome if they would stop making the end of the world movie plots and watered down super villains and make the material for characters more enticing to the human brain. I think the super villain corrupting society or putting them in a hostage state of mind is more effective than the mass destruction plan.
I may or may not be all over the place with my areas of concern, but I think there is validation for my concerns. I love superhero movies, I really do! But there have been so many since the early 2000's that they could become very redundant very fast. While it seems that some productions are looking to be more inventive with their movie projects, some may not catch on to the major errors until it is too late. Ether way, I am hoping for better villains to keep our superheroes on their toes and make the stories more interesting and not so much cookie cutter stories.
What do you think? Comment below.