The stereotypes of superheroes and supervillains (insight detailing #9) part 2

By adamhunts | October 24, 2010

I want to be able to type this whole thing in less than 20 minutes, a tall order.

So supervillains, we’ve all seen them, some are geniuses, some are sheer brute force, none ever win. Whether it be The Joker in the Dark Knight, or The Asbestos Man against Johnny Flame, they never win

My favourite supervillain.

I love the naivety of the Asbestos Man. So what are the stereotypical attributes to these dastardly villains? Here’s my list;

  • Predominantly male.
  • Muscular.
  • Normally thinner than heroes.
  • Desire for power.
  • Desire for revenge.
  • Desire for money.
  • Bitter/angry.
  • Giant egos.
  • Evil names, usually relating to their powers.
  • Sometimes work in groups, these groups usually provide…
  • Short lived alliances between villains.
  • A lot have henchmen.
  • Bald.
  • Facial hair, moustache, goatee, etc.
  • Masks.
  • Suits.
  • Gadgets/weapons.
  • Deformities, scars.
  • Dark clothes.

Something I like is the overlap of anger, how both good and evil are angry. I must admit that this list is a lot more general than the superhero one, not all supervillains are bald, but a shitload are. The muscle thing was pretty weird as well, like I said some are rippling, some are complete weeds. A couple of these things interest me; giant egos, desire for revenge, bitter. More than a couple.

The question I want to answer before delving in to these is this: “Why would anyone want to be a supervillain?” For this section of this particular insight, I’m really looking at a sort of dystopian future, yeah it would be great if everyone would go around and help each other, but in reality would that really happen? I’ve already said why I think we’re all societal supervillains and this post is looking at how we can advance that. If we’re all villains, wouldn’t somebody want to be the best at it, the most powerful? Could it in fact be good; what if somebody used these stereotypical traits to become the most powerful, then used his/her influence to do good throughout?

  • Giant egos – The term “egotistical maniac” can be placed on to pretty much any supervillain, their delusions of grandeur are usually the beginnings of their demise. It usually means they cast off anyone willing to help them, in order to do it alone. So with that in mind how can this transfer into the real world? Some sort of ego masseuse? A little contraption which would periodically announce how great you are, how truly awesome all your plans are? A reassurance machine. I’m guessing a bit here, but I’m sure enough of that would surely start to make you think you were a lot better than you actually were, making your ego a little bit bigger. With that in mind, what bruises our egos? What makes us shrink back into ourselves a litte? Jealousy. Being in the presence of somebody a lot better than you. I said jealousy, but it’s only jealousy if you have a big ego, for anyone else it’s humbling. So what if you had another little machine to accompany your reassurance machine? Something that every now and again would show you somebody worthy of the title “Superhero”, Usain Bolt, Obama, Kubrick. Rough ideas, but with all that ego enlarging going on, would you still be humbled, or would you just feel jealous and jilted? Thinking you were better than them because you’ve been told it so much. Much like the side kick for hire idea, what would it be like to just rent a minion out, have him say how powerful you are for a day?
  • Desire for revenge – A little similar to the last one, but ever so slightly different. Revenge is a recurring thing for all supervillains, constantly being foiled by their counterparts, the desire for revenge increases. It’s similar to anger actually, the anger from the fact that they keep getting caught, turns into a vow of revenge. We all harbour little grudges, even the slightest thing can stick in our heads for a while. An idea I had for this is a sort of revenge bank, something you would establish yourself, writing and noting all the times somebody wrongs you. Eventually, you would forget, just because it’d usually be something trite like using toilet paper, but your machine wouldn’t forget, and would sporadically tell you. Would you see this and seek revenge? Why not? Forgive and forget or forgive and remember.
  • Bitter – Ach, this is again really similar to anger/revenge, but it’s kind of interesting. Supervillains are bitter toward the world, society usually labels them as an outcast, a horrible disfiguring facial scar usually does that though. Nobody wants to be a social outcast, I can’t imagine it to be so pleasant, but in a future where the more self-centered you are gets you more money or reverence, would it be so bad? Friends provide distractions, without them you can spend as much time as you want on your own, working away tirelessly. So let’s say, for example, somebody actually wants to be a social outcast, how do they go about doing that? Get a scalpel, run it down your face, that’s sure to work. It’d fucking hurt though. As people look onto you with horror tell yourself: “One day….one day they’ll know my pain.” in true villain style. Any other ways? Maybe don’t shower for a while, or get a little object that releases a foul stench. I suppose if we’re going down the future route, what if you could place a mask over your face that would disfigure it? It’s a little abstracted though, because usually it’s not the supervillains fault he has a horrible scar on his face. So tweaking that, what if the mask bases what scar to generate by looking at factors that you can’t control, how many people cross the road, how many cars are parked in the nearest car park? Then it’s not really your fault, so you can blame the rest of the world and curse them as they walk past.

Wanna know how I got these scars?

I failed in my 20 minute challenge. Pretty miserable attempt as well, seeing as it’s almost been an hour. On the positive side though, I’ve typed 1118 words in 58 minutes. That means that I could write my dissertation in about 7 hours! Disregarding the fact that this is all opinion based so I can write pretty much whatever I want, and also how this topic is something that genuinely interests me, and everyone can seem to relate to.

So there’s some stereotypes, I’d love to hear any I’ve missed, or if there’s any you think I’ve got catastrophically wrong. You all know where the comment box is.

Cheerio. x

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