Back to One: Sympathy for the Devil

It's Good to be Bad

Maybe it’s the previous four years or maybe we’e running out of stories to tell, but it seems like lately, villains are having their day. Let’s look at our favorite God of Mischief – Loki. He may not have become the King of Asgard but he did manage to get his own Marvel series. More recently, who would have thought that puppy murderer Cruella DeVille would be the star of her own redemption movie. And, not too long ago the Joker himself won an Academy Award.

In a lot of shows, the bad guy/girl is usually the more interesting character, or at the least, more memorable. I can’t even remember what Tom Cruise’s character’s name is in Legend or who the love interest was(it’s Mia Sara, I looked it up)but I sure as hell remember Tim Curry as The Lord of Darkness. Whether it’s Gordon Gecko in Wall Street or the good ol Sith Lord himself Darth Vader – someone has to antagonize our heroes and be the big bad. They come in all shapes and sizes and levels of sociopathy – usually, the more intelligent and cunning, the better the story. TV Tropes has so many types of villains, that they have to be listed on separate pages alphabetically. Here are just a few of my faves…

There are a lot of articles about how our collective love of villains lets us explore a dark side of ourselves that we wouldn’t get to in the real world. I guess that’s true for some – I mean I love Hannibal Lecter, but I’m not remotely interested in becoming a cannibal or serial killer – no matter how hot Mads Mikkelsen makes it look.

Now, I know I’m not interested in being a Vampire or a Scientologist, but there’s something kind of endearingly unhinged about Tom Cruise as Lestat in Interview With a Vampire. And, yes, I know the movie is campy and not remotely as good as the book – but I still kind of love it.

Then there’s Roy Batty, Blade Runner’s philosophically murdering replicant. He is legit scary but also someone you wouldn’t mind having a drink with at a bar in LA’s not even close to rainy future. Just be careful not to get murdered.

The Rolling Stones certainly know about being bad boys.

So, Deadsplintalorians, who do you love to hate? And as always, thanks for your support and stopping by.

The answer to last week’s poll is A) Will Ferrell is a lot like Buddy the Elf – super nice and kind of goofy but not remotely as naive.

This week’s poll:

Who would you think is the nicest villain I've worked with?
17 votes · 17 answers
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28 Comments

  1. I only went with Jason Isaacs because he’s the only one who’s never been divorced. He’s been married to his first and current wife for 20 years, so doesn’t that count for something? 

  2. I’m guessing Max Von Sydow, just because I have this (probably naive) notion that he had been around long enough to have learned the lesson of treating people with respect.  It’s either that, or he’s the biggest asshole out of all of them.

    I’m going with Q from TNG.  I think mostly because it was so multi-dimensional (pun very much intended) as a character.  I had a very brief encounter with John DeLancie at the Aspen Music Festival.  He was set to narrate for a performance of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and at some point before he was going to go on he’d run into Stephen Hawking.  He’s looking for someone, anyone, to gush to about this chance meeting and I’m the closest person he sees.  So, he’s trying to tell me how awesome it was to meet Dr. Hawking, but I’m carrying a 50 lb monitor that he’s going to need to hear himself on stage and I’m not really in a position to stop and chat.  So, I smile and nod and “oh, that’s great!” and just keep right on going.

  3. oh man…i dont know any of the names in the poll …probably know the faces tho
    anyways…the best baddie ever is clearly raul julia…as general bison

    :D……ah now that was an awesomely bad movie!

  4. The “sympathetic villain” trope has been really overdone in recent years, but even from childhood, Magneto’s story always got me. Unlike Professor X, he lived through what happened when the government knew enough about what it considered undesirable citizens (and had the power to follow through on it). But the idea that sometimes they were on the same side and other times they weren’t — and that they both wanted generally the same thing but in very different ways — is how you do that sort of villain correctly.

    • I used Magneto as a contrast example for explaining to my parents why the Cruella deVil movie sucked! 

      You can understand Magneto’s behavior entirely based on what his experience was with the Nazis. He’s reasonable and coherent in what he does. 

      Cruella had no useful way to do an origin story because they wouldn’t let her lean in to being a batshit nuts villain.

  5. Steerpike from Gormenghast from the BBC miniseries. So beautiful, so smart, so manipulative, and murderous. But I couldn’t help rooting  for him a little. 

  6. Okay, I thought of an actual ‘love to hate’ guy – Colm Meaney’s character (Durant) from Hell on Wheels.  Holy shit was that a good show.  If you haven’t seen it, start tonight.

  7. OMG, enough with the villain’s origin story already. Especially because it’s all tied to comic book or Disney IP. There’s enough independent cinema with original stories I’ll never be able to see because the pabulum clogs up funding avenues. 
    Also, as we see with the recent Cruella, isn’t it a lazy and tired way to get to a the portrait of a sympathetic villain if writers just pull out the trope of a fridged character? (Rabid Dalmatians killed her mum????) 
    So let’s go with the original appealing antihero, Satan from Paradise Lost. Or maybe just say Killmonger was correct: almost nothing in the British Museum is actually British.  

  8. Also up until fairly recently, at least for animated movies about girl characters, the only interesting female character was the villainess.

    Magnificent is waaaaay more interesting than Aurora (animated original, I thought the Angelina Jolie one also was shitty since it felt like if she just had a child she wouldn’t be so angry!)

    Ursula the Sea Witch vs Ariel? Oh come on Ursula hands down is waaaaay more interesting. 

  9. Billy Zane’s cameo in Zoolander cracks me up so I picked him.

    Bowie of course was the best cameo in that movie, seconded by David Duchovny. But Billy Zane’s cameo was also great. 

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