ByBrandon Milby, writer at Creators.co
I appreciate art and stories wherever I may find them. That's why I'm so drawn to video games, movies, and most forms of literature.
Brandon Milby

My favorite type of story telling is the kind that takes on the villains' perspective. However, these stories are not told as frequently as I'd like. It's more common to see a villain turn hero, if only for a short while, than it is to see an actual villain story. That being said, we should consider the villain's side because there's a lot of merit to looking at their worldview in contrast to the hero frame we usually set up.

Villains Are People Too (Mostly)

Most villains are human, or at the very least possess human character traits. With that in mind, it's good that most heroes attempt to arrest villains to reform them and view them as fellow human beings.

However, there are a select few that don't share this world view:

Deadpool and Punisher
Deadpool and Punisher

These two will mercilessly kill anyone that stands in their way at their own discretion. Both of these characters have arcs where they kill the entire Marvel Universe. While Deadpool's story is more brutal and has a longer run, it's not to say that The Punisher didn't also have a hand in the "vs The Marvel Universe" arc wherein he had a hand in trying to end a cannibalism virus spreading across Earth by killing anyone and everyone.

Neither of these characters really have such a grip on reality that they understand the humanity of the people whose lives they're ending. Deadpool might, but uses humor to cope with the termination of life whereas The Punisher is driven so whole heartedly by revenge that regardless of the crime, there's a high chance the criminal will become his victim.

The Punisher/Frank Castle
The Punisher/Frank Castle

Now think about that from the villain's perspective: These two psychos are running around brutally murdering your friends and associates for any reason from petty theft to, say, trying to take over the city, country, world, etc. Isn't that just a little bit disconcerting to you?

But you have to be reformed because you're in the wrong here. Apparently the end justifies the means for these antiheroes so long as they still align themselves with S.H.I.E.L.D., the X-Men, or some higher power at the end of the day. For all they know, you're doing this because you're out of options or under the control of someone else. Instead of getting the people that want to help you, you're stuck with them acting as judge, jury, and executioner.

On the off chance you actually did something to upset them, they're more likely to fall into the fundamental attribution error and say it's your villainous personality that is to blame not the circumstances. In these crucial situations that may result in death, you are the victim, but they'll never see it that way. This is also just the tip of the iceberg for the victimization of villains.

Villains Can Be Relatable

As stated previously: most villains are human, or at the very least possess human characteristics. This not only makes the villain more believable, but more relatable. However, their motives can also make the most inhuman of villains seem more relatable.

In my mind these two villains stand out:

Thanos and Death
Thanos and Death

Thanos's motive resonates with me in a way unlike any other villain that I've ever studied. The devotion to someone you love .— or are essentially obsessed with — is a scenario that hits closer to home than I'd like to admit. Thanos is obsessed with Death and does everything he can to appease her. That is to say that he kills as many living beings as he can because that is what Death desires.

However, she does not love Thanos. Her heart belongs to someone more fun: Deadpool. She's drawn to Deadpool's carefree attitude and natural inclination towards casual slaughter. She wants someone fun and entertaining instead of someone so serious, demanding, and fueled by rage.

Deadpool and Death
Deadpool and Death

Ultimately, Thanos's acquisition of the Infinity Gems proved to be his own undoing. Death decided that he abused the power she granted him and became far more powerful than even her.

This rejection was a betrayal beyond Thanos's comprehension and drove him to take a new path: He kills for himself. He lives and dies for no one but himself. He offered Death as much carnage as she could ever ask for and it still wasn't good enough for her, so he gave up on trying.

I can understand this rage, this utter hatred for a person you once loved. Instead of crushing him, he lets this fuel his desire to kill and thus makes him a stronger villain. He now lacks the emotional weakness he once had and whatever "humanity" he once had is long gone. All that remains is the psychopathic shell that will kill anyone and everyone that stands in his way.

Ozymandias — Before Watchmen
Ozymandias — Before Watchmen

Alan Moore's Watchmen run plays heavily on the theme of absolutes: absolute morality, absolute peace, absolute power. Watchmen takes place in an alternate 1970s wherein superheroes have been deemed a menace to society and have been outlawed. Ozymandias is one such former hero whose ideals rest entirely in serving "the greater good" to bring about absolute peace. The end for this man always justifies the means so long as the number of people that benefit is greater than the ones that are harmed.

Watchmen's time period grants a story set in the midst of the Cold War. That being said, a man like Ozymandias would put a lot of effort into ending said war single-handedly by any means possible. However, his plan to use the fear of an alien invasion was not supported by the few people that knew about it. Thus, Ozymandias had them killed in order to get his plan to work. Ultimately, Ozymandias did manage to end the Cold War by convincing the world an alien invasion was imminent — after said alien killed millions of people in New York City.

Watchmen — Ozymandias's alien
Watchmen — Ozymandias's alien

As tragic an event as this may be, he still achieved his goal of world peace. I can understand taking extreme measures to solve a problem because humans are often dead set on their ideals. The Cold War serves as a stark reminder of a 50 year period where two countries stood in such stark opposition to each other that the concept of a "First, second, and third words" was created. However, much like his namesake, no one thanked Ozymandias for what he did - the few people that knew resented him for it.

I could have also put Ultron and Mr. Freeze here instead of these two; however, I felt that two villains with similar motives or villains from the same comic brand creates something of an unwanted bias. Any of those four characters could fit here.

Two Sides Of The Same Story

Lego Batman: The Videogame did something that I've missed in the Lego Batman sequels: stories from the villains' perspectives. The game had the six story format that can be seen in other games like Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga; however, this game has a secondary narrative to explain how the villains managed to put their plans in motion. Such a format not only integrates the use of villains in the larger game, but also gives a unique perspective on the villains' motives and thought processes.

In terms of a larger narrative, there aren't too many stories that are actually told from the perspective of the villain. Joker grants us the perspective of a henchman following Joker's return to Gotham after being released from Arkham Asylum, yet even then it's an outside look at Joker's life.

The 'Joker' graphic novel
The 'Joker' graphic novel

The closest I've ever really seen are The Killing Joke and the Suicide Squad runs. The former dives into The Joker's psyche and gives one origin story that has been accepted as the norm whereas the latter acts more as an ensemble collection of villains. Marvel has something similar going with various incarnations of the Dark Avengers and Thunderbolts. Other than that, we don't see too much from the villains and I really would like to see more.

So that's my take on super villains and their lack of consideration. Sure they're evil and their intentions may be a bit extreme, but that doesn't necessarily mean they deserve everything that comes to them. Some villains just need a second look to see their true nature.

Have You Ever Considered The Villains' Perspectives?

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