Right after raptors with laser guns, villains are the thing that brings all stories to life. Who would Batman be without the Joker if not just a nerdy meathead in a silly Halloween costume? And if it wasn’t for liberals, Fox News would not be the bastion of unintentional comedy it is today. Everyone needs a villain. But sometimes writers are so eager to create a nemesis for their protagonists that they forget the most important thing: the villains’ motives. Be it revenge, insanity or simply their desire to bang the hero (I am looking at you Agent Smith), it is the motivation of the villain that ultimately sells the character. The following 10 examples failed at that miserably:
All in all, none of the baddies from Captain Planet are good villains. We’re talking about the kind of people who if handed a tanker full of gasoline, would use it to burn down a penguin nursery, instead of exchanging it for a semi-truck filled with gold, considering today’s prices. Even then, Dr. Blight is the worst example out of the bunch.
Why? Because we’re potentially talking about the smartest person on the planet, who once invented a rocket which can travel to Venus in a matter of hours AND a freaking time machine (for reals). And yet, somehow she cannot figure out that with one little upgrade that would stop her latest invention from strangling baby ducks with robot tentacles, she could become the richest human on Earth in a matter of days. Her baffling career choice pisses me off the most because out of all the Captain Planet villains she’s the one with actual potential, like a nun with DD knockers.
9. Captain Cold (The Flash)
Captain Cold, arguably The Flash’s greatest enemy, is your typical ice-themed villain scientist. Think Mr. Freeze, with one notable difference: Captain Cold is not insane. So why exactly is he a villain? Nobody snows (zing! I’ll let myself out…)
See, the thing we have to make clear is that, when you get down to it, there really is no point to supper villainy if you have other options. When you’re a super villain you have to constantly live in fear, knowing that the heroes can at any time storm your iceberg shaped fortress, takes away your loot and throws you in rapetastic jail. But there is squat they can do if you make your living the legal way.
Captain Cold has other options. He’s a technological genius whose gun can create insanely low temperatures. That simply has to have some super important applications in real life. True, the only one I can think of is flash freezing booze to make ice cream, but I am not the totally sane genius like Cold is.
8. Radioactive Man (The Avengers)
Not to be confused with the Simpsons’ character, Marvel’s Radioactive Man is one Chen Lu, a Chinese nuclear physicist who gains powers of manipulating radiation through the magic of science. His first task was to kill Thor, after which he became the recurring villain for the Avengers, though the comics did skip out on one, tiny little thing: Why? Why in tap-dancing Jesus’ name is Chen a villain?
You might try to make the case that he seeks revenge on the Avengers because… Thor defeated him after Chen tried to brutally murder him? No. This guy was a nuclear scientist. He obviously is quite smart, so it should take this guy about 2 to 3 seconds to figure out all the cool, legal ways he could make a living with his powers of radioactivity, including but not limited to, oh I don’t know, virtually free energy or repairing nuclear reactors? You know, start small, and move up. I heard Japan could really use some help right about now.
7. Toyman (Superman)
Toyman is the on-and-off Superman villain and a mechanical genius who turns seemingly innocent toys into weapons of destruction and chaos… because he could not find a job as a toymaker. Let’s back up a bit…
We will have to go all the way back to the character’s original version, because his current incarnation is admittedly insane and thus not suitable for leveled, logical analysis (which is exactly what I am doing here, shut up). In the beginning, Toyman was just a Limey toymaker who apparently got put out of business by Lex Luthor. After this minor setback he only did the most illogical thing possible: he turned to crime, using high-tech machines he probably built out of dismantled bicycles. That’s like inventing a new type of nuclear-powered laser to blow up the Apple Store that fired you: as in, completely missing the point. While I am at it.
6. Mysterio (Spider-man)
You might know Mysterio as the fish bowl Spider-man villain and only man in existence to make Lady Gaga go “Want to maybe tone it down a bit, buddy?” He is (or maybe was? It’s impossible to keep up with modern comics without a complex chart and a new type of math algorithm) a master illusionist and hypnotist, a career he consciously went into because he felt his job in Hollywood was going nowhere.
In his pre-idiot days Mysterio was a special effects wizard who wanted to make it big in the moving pictures. Then, one day, he decided this whole “pursuing your dreams” thing was a dead-end and he became a super villain whose abilities could revolutionize entertainment as we know it. To give you the idea of the scope of Mysterio’s powers: he once hypnotized Spider-man to think he was 6 inches tall. If this guy only applied half of his expertise to his original job, he could reinvent the very idea of a movie (and especially porn) and make exactly a 100 billion dollars. But then he wouldn’t have the excuse to dress up as an anthropomorphic sperm-head, so at least we know it must have been a tough decision.
5. Mirror Master (The Flash)
Mirror Master first appeared in Flash #105 over 50 years ago as a small time crook who only had one dream: To go inside a mirror reflection. There is a double twist to his origin story when MM actually succeeds in stepping into a mirror with the help of Science! (exclamation mark mandatory) and it’s revealed that he actually wasn’t mentally retarded this whole time. But then he had to go and be a criminal.
When a person completely revolutionizes our understanding of the laws of physics, the proper thing to do is to apply for your Nobel Prize and start issuing numbers to those infamous Nobel sluts you keep hearing about. That’s just for publishing the theory on how the frick does one go inside a mirror, but that’s not all. Mirror Master’s devices also let him travel at basically the speed of light, enter other dimensions and explore other plains of existence (like… the afterlife?) The possibilities for legal profits in this case are what scientists refer to as “humongahugealicious” so the only logical conclusion is that Mirror Master is suffering from a rare condition where he can only achieve sexual satisfaction while stealing old ladies’ jewelry and making horrible life decisions.
4. Electro (Spiderman)
Originally the Spider-man villain Electro was just Max Dillon, an aspiring electrical engineer convinced by his mother to settle for a lesser job of an electrical lineman. Dillon’s story had all the necessary elements of a good villain origin: feelings of inadequacy brought on by his mom, yearning to be respected and magical lightning, which ultimately transformed Max into Electro.
As a giant, walking capacitor Max of course could have made a living for himself the legal way, but he had something to prove. He wanted everyone to know that he is not a failure, that he is powerful, that he is to be feared etc. Awesome. The problem? Electro, like all comic book villains, loses to the main hero, constantly. He may get in an electric punch every now and again, but in the end Electro can’t “win” over Spidey, for reasons obvious. And he doesn’t even hatch up most of his evil plans, more often serving as an accomplice (or lapdog if you will) to other, smarter villains. Ultimately Electro would have better luck gaining the respect of the world if he just stayed home and managed to not choke to death on a dinner roll.
3. Livewire (Superman)
The origin of Leslie “Livewire” Willis is a Rube Goldberg machination of lazy writing and face palms, but in the end it all came down to magic lightning which turned Leslie into basically pure energy. With one small accident she has evolved beyond the imperfect human body into, quite possibly, a new state of being. Unfortunately, it was a state of bad life choices and slutty clothes. In conclusion, all higher beings are idiots.
The main reason why it’s hard to take Livewire’s villain motivation seriously is because before the accident she was a female Howard Stern, a shock jockey making a living out of saying weird stuff into a microphone every night. I’d buy it if after transcending humanity her first order of business was to take over the radio ways and Rick Roll the planet or transmit porn audio books through the Vatican’s airways. Super villainy though? Pretty low on the list.
2. Reverse Flash (The Flash)
Wow, I am really ragging on Flash’s villains, aren’t I? OK, you got me. A Flash villain touched my bathing suit area when I was 19. Yes, it was technically a costumed prostitute whom I paid to do exactly that, but still, I wanted you to know that.
Anyway, Reverse Flash. There actually were about 3 characters that donned the mantle of Reverse Flash and outside the original one, all of them were insane, so they’re off the table. Ed Clariss however does not get off that easy. Clariss was a scientist who believed he was the one who had invented the formula that gave the original Flash his powers but no one believed him. So, naturally, he turned to crime despite already being a renowned scientist in Europe. This is not really a case of a supervillain going legit, but rather a stable minded scientist driven to crime due to lazy writing. Yes, turning yourself into a speedster villain will surely convince the people that you’re a scientific genius. That’s why when people doubt my Ph.D. in Smartmaking I prove them wrong by setting their deceased loved ones on fire.
1. Lex Luthor
He’s a Superman villain. You might have heard of him.
In the DC Universe Lex Luthor is considered one of the smartest, if not the smartest, humans on Earth, but the problem with genius character is that in most cases a non-genius is writing them. This can be quite troublesome because regular people make simple mistakes and miss stuff which geniuses would not. This brings us to Luthor’s villainy.
Luthor is smart, rich and ambitious, and yet every now and again he jumps into a huge exoskeleton powered by Kryptonite and Penis Envy and battles Superman in space. Luthor’s deal is that he feels a bit threatened by the demigod in blue tights and wants to destroy him. It does make him petty but it doesn’t ruin the character. What does do that is how Luthor decided to go about it. Usually Lex is a complex, well-written character, but as a villain he’s on the same level as Snidely Whiplash: He’s obvious, he’s stupid, he’s rash, he’s emotional etc. If Lex was serious about killing Superman he would be all smiles and puppy hugs on the outside, pretending to be Sups’ ally and friend for years, and when he least expected it BAM, Kryptonite enema. But until he figures that out, Luthor has no business being evil because it undermines his very character.
by Rick Raule