I have been asked on occasion who my favorite villain is, and with such a vast menagerie of evil to choose from in both reality and fiction, this makes for a difficult question to answer. I tend to enjoy really evil villains who have few to no redeeming qualities — individuals who you feel no commonality or sameness with. Villains who, in point of fact, express only what we dislike or even outright hate about ourselves and each other. A villain that the audience hates is a villain who is doing his or her job.
This is a difficult task for the villain, though, especially when I am in the audience. I tend to believe that no one is beyond redemption and that anyone can atone for wrongs they’ve done, even if it takes the rest of their lives… or longer. I also tend to think that most people have their reasons for turning to a life of ill-repute. That’s why I like truly evil villains. To get them right you don’t just create a bad guy, you create a monster within and without. Make no mistake these people exist — they are not simply conjurings of the imagination. Most well-conceived villains are based on actual people. Buffalo Bill, Leatherface and Norman Bates are all based upon the same actual person, a serial killer named Ed Gein.
Speaking of serial killers, let’s talk about the joker. A sadistic sociopath with little to no regard for the suffering he causes his victims, except, perhaps, if it happens to be funny. He delights in hurting people, in damaging people mentally, physically and if he can, spiritually. He can’t be intimidated, bought, bribed or coerced. He would kill a kid in front of its mother if he thought he’d get a laugh out of it. Compared to this, Galactus, Devourer of Worlds seems like just some hungry dude, looking for a snack and makes Lucifer, the original villain for some, look positively cuddly.
The Clown Price of Crime is just the first selection, though, there are a ton of villains that emulate those evil qualities but are lacking in the dramatic (or rather comedic) department. Let’s deviate from comics for a minute and look at a villain from a very popular show right now. Joffrey Barathean from Game of Thrones. Now I’ve read all the books twice and let me tell you, he is one evil son of a bitch….literally. He is singularly the most hated figure in fiction currently. Everyone just wants to watch him die. This is because he is hated, but not feared, or at least hated SO much, that it out ways whatever fear one might have. There is a calming manatee that hates this person.
So who is my favorite villain, though? Digging deep, I have to go to one of my favorite series, Star Trek The Next Generation. Of all of the interstellar malefactors to plague the star ship Enterprise, none is more memorable than the omnipotent and arrogant god like being known simply as Q. I love Q, not for his mastery of time and space, or his witty repartee with Jean-Luc Picard. I love Q as a villain, because he is, in fact, not a villain. An obstacle? Of course. An adversary? To be sure. But for all of his schemes, for all of his antics, he leaves the crew of the Enterprise, and in particular its captain, in no worse shape when he leaves than when he arrived. In fact, he leaves Picard far wiser than before the encounter, every single time.
He exposes humanity to the Borg….so that we will be able to confront them and not be wiped out. He kidnaps Picard’s lady friend and takes her to a different dimension….to show Picard that she is not what he thinks. For every malady he throws at humanity, he reveals the truth to us that he IS “merely trying to assist a pitiful species.” Q is Loki (The real one). He is Anansi. The trickster who shows us how foolish we are really being, so that we can help ourselves. He is a teacher, albeit an unwanted one…..though as I type that I realize that those teachers are the ones that teach us the most, even if we don’t want to learn the lesson they are teaching.
Who’s your favorite villain?
I really want to know! Leave a comment below telling me who and why, and as always, have a wonderful day!