The Media Mapping Guy™ now presents another hair-pulling, narrow-minded point of view only he could provide: The Baddest Bad Guy.

Disclaimer: All this is just my opinion. A follow up article may be made with more research.


A story is only as good as its villain

With bland-ish heroes currently occupying the nooks and cranny of popular modern visual culture, only a really “colorful” and “interesting” villain can really save the day. (Bad guys are more often than not, uninhibited by the so called ‘blandness quotient’; whereas anti-heroes are an entirely different story) Note that when I say colorful, I don’t mean the villain has to be gay. And when I say interesting, it means what it should mean. (Wow, that was really weird)


The “Interesting” Villain

The kind of bad guy I’ve sorta enjoyed seeing in print an on screen is the bad guy who… isn’t exactly the “bad” guy at all. The only reason they’re considered “bad” is due to the Judeo-Christian belief of what is supposedly ‘right and wrong’. You know – angels and demons and all that. These guys aren’t bad. Just… misunderstood.

Added depth?

This is the kind of bad guy writers write to "challenge" the audience... to let them decide for themselves if they truly are villains in the first place. From comics to televised media to novels, these a**holes supposedly give a certain amount of ‘depth’ to the story. What do I mean? Well, here’s a few that I remember from the top of my head:

Ex. 1: Iron ManThe Marvel™ Civil War™ began because Iron Man wanted superheroes to register their secret identities. Those who fail to do so get arrested. The American people have had enough with freelancing heroes failing to take responsibility for the destruction they cause when performing their superhero activities. Obviously, Iron man fights against Captain America and his cronies because of freedom and rights and all that. Marvel fans naturally sided with Cap, and Iron Man is seen as a bastard.


"'Do it?' Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my masterstroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago."

Ex. 2: Ozymandias of Watchmen – It is an alternate 1980’s, where the American-Russian Cold War reaches subzero (Hardy har har). A retired ‘superhero’ (or costumed adventurer) turned billionaire known as Ozymandias orchestrates a plot to destroy a part of New York City in order to prevent the coming Nuclear War with the Ruskies. Ozy’s plan is… successful – Peace between the two countries is achieved. The protagonists grudgingly accept this new reality.

Ex. 3: Trevor Goodchild from Aeon Flux- A complex "villain". His plans vary from episode to episode in the innovative animated series Aeon Flux. One episode 'Demiurge' had him trying to 'deliver' a real live God to the world, but Aeon, the "good guy" wouldn't allow it because its existence would jeopardize how she may have to live her life. Who's the selfish one now?

Moment of clarity
Most folks like these jerks cuz they give that weird “No way!” feeling, when the villain starts discussing his plans to ‘improve the world’ or some “face reality” crap. Naturally, the master plan would involve something unthinkable like the deaths of millions, in order to save billions.

The really good bad guys are the ones that convince you that it’s the good guy’s cause that is wrong! These stories really deliver an impact, and have me thinking about the ramifications for days.


Bad person with a bad heart

Of course, there are times when you just wanna sit back, and have a villain that’s bad, for bad’s sake. You know… the kind who wouldn’t think twice in raping the protagonist’s mother (I can name a few in my country’s House of Congress). They’re cartoon-y and pretentious, and they don’t give a f**k what you think. The best examples can be found in animation such as Megatron from Transformers, The Joker from Batman and Khyron from Robotech. The classic comic books has its share of crazy megalomaniacs and brazen killers/crooks. No depth. They’re just bad.


The hybrid villain-type…

How about the hybrid villain type? The one that combines both types of bad guys?

When it works, it’s great. The bad guy who does bad things cuz’ he’s an asshole, and yet still believes he’s doing something for the “sake of society”. They’re delusional, and I think it Half-Life 2’s Dr. Breen fits this very well.

Dr. Breen is the (George Orwell’s novel, 1984) “Big Brother” of the video gaming world. Dr. Breen’s plan involves taking humanity ‘beyond the stars’ to achieve enlightenment… at least, that’s what his alien overlords say. This jerk’s vision doesn’t sit too well with the remaining populace on Earth, so the good doctor orders systematic genocide. His other evil deeds include: Repressing humanity’s biological urge to procreate, contaminating the water to make people forget the past, turning insurgents into mindless flesh creatures and forcing people to live in oppressive military-controlled cities.

Believe it or not - the guy is likeable! (as far as villains can be...) He doesn’t look over the top, like many comic-book cartoony villains. He is just an old coot, which makes him all the more menacing. (P.S. If you aren’t seeing the point I’m trying to make, I apologize)


A villain that fails

The villain that hands down fails to achieve any kind of likeability hails from a forgotten comic-movie-tie-in entitled “Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles”. It’s a five-part comic series based on an 80’s show called Robotech, and it features a villain named Thomas Reilly Edwards or “T.R. Edwards”. This guy has had quite a history back in the 90’s in an obscure comic release called “Robotech: Sentinels”. I won’t go into detail on that since it may be irrelevant. Lets just say he’s the bad guy, and his motivations stink.


Can you guess who is this Rick Hunter and Edwards guy in the right cover above?

The Prelude comics were made a decade after the release of the 90’s Sentinels comics, and a new T.R. Edwards is a revamp of the classic character. In the original 90’s version of Edwards (the laughing maniac in the two covers above), he was a power hungry commander with a grudge against one of the main characters named “Rick Hunter”. Everything evil that Edwards did, he does because of his hatred towards Hunter. Y’see, Hunter supposedly left him to die while the base was being evacuated. He carried that grudge years and years later, until the two rivals were more or less “equals” in terms of rank.

He was never really a compelling villain, so people thought the new comic-movie-tie-in would update his motivations and make him a more effective and believable villain. People were wrong. The update made people realized just how cartoon-y this loser was. And the added “depth” just added insult to injury.

The updated T.R. Edwards retained a lot of the elements from his predecessor. However, there were notable changes. A big change was that this Edwards guy was left behind by Hunter again, but this time, Edwards wasn’t alone – he was holding his dying girlfriend. This little “change” has helped elevate the new Edwards to new heights of lameness.


Click the image to read the 'unbelievable' dialogue. Edwards even preaches about how self-determination is what is preventing humanity from doom and blah-blah-blah!

Also note that this event happened twenty-odd years later after Hunter supposedly "abandoned" Edwards and his dying girlfriend!

The writers also thought they could add an element of humanity to Edward’s evil choices by having him say that he did everything to save the remainder of mankind from other marauding alien invaders. This pretension is shattered as his age-old grudge with Rick Hunter comes back in full force. Hunter and Edwards fight each other in a way that only seems possible in the magic of sequential arts.


Edwards eventually falls into a mutating pit of goo and turns into this...
God, forgive the writers, for they do not know what they are doing.


One of the hallmarks of a great villain is delivering snappy comebacks at appropriate times. “The Hunter becomes the hunted!” is not one of those lines.

The story comes to a conclusion so bad and contrived; it makes a filler episode of “Naruto” episode seem Shakespearean in comparison. This type of schizophrenic writing totally ruins great villains. And guess what? The people who wrote this garbage are veterans in the comic industry! It pains me to see how crap like this reflects badly on these writers.

*Phew!* The question now is… will I be able to adhere to all these points I covered today? Who knows? Maybe?? We shall see.

Now, I conclude this inane article, with something of substance. It’s James the Nintendo Nerd’s top-ten list of the Baddest Bad Guys of all time!


2 comments

  1. Xev Says:
  2. Hmm...... wow. I really loved reading your blog, so thought out! And the youtube vid had me laughing a few times.. in a really strange way I see what this guy means, maybe its all up to us who the "baddest" is. Thats a whole other novel. lol.

    I just wanted to say that I split the badguy category up into sections. I never thought of "good guy" and bad guy. Its just not that black and white to me.

    So say you have a "bad guy" (quote).. alright, how did he get that way? born? made? created? possessed? It matters. The one greatest thrill for me at the movies is seeing the Villain. You know who I mean, the one that gets the hero to tears when he/she dies. The one that you sense some kind of humanity within. Usually because that person is trapped being who they are being and doing what they are doing. Either because they think there is no escape from it, or because they know for a fact they are sick (see Hitcher the original for John Ryder, a man who knows he is wrong, sick, and can't stop himself from killing.. so he seeks out a hero to kill him.) Villains are incredible to me to watch. I really think they are vital to stories because they show humanity in some of the facets that we don't quite like to look at. People want black and white. It just doesnt exsist.
    Then of course there are the other categories..
    So basically I have a little list of types of bad guys..maybe you agree maybe not..
    1. pure evil: possessed or born or made that way, there is nothing left of this person but evil.

    2. psychopathic: the must kill Killer, with no remorse or sense of humanity or philosophy.

    3. crazed Lunatic: no help can stop this character, they are purely a crazed mind with barely any thoughts.

    bad guy grunt: Usually he is called on by the genius or the leader to do lots of dirtywork which he sees as fun (pure bad)

    5. evil genius: his mind is so fantastic and able to think up ways of expressing his inner evil that he cant get over himself or his plans and keeps plotting

    6. The A hole: This one is just an abusive, violent jerk. No real reasons except maybe hes a sadist.
    An exception could be a horrible past. But he still doesnt measure up to the villain because he wouldnt want to be redeemed if you gave it to him on a platter, because he doesnt understand the meaning or use of it.

    ..and then there's the villain.
    Which I described above..
    What do you think? Did I miss one?
    Probably. lol. Lots of NUTS out there.. but I always always had a weakness for the villain. Some examples are anakin/Vader, John Ryder in the hitcher, roy batty, and others.. One has me a little bewildered.. Trevor goodchild in aeon flux the anime, I just cant see him as a bad guy in any category, villain may fit, but he never intends ANY harm.. only the benefits.. good intentions that hurt with harsh love. Maybe he is a type of "good guy" that no one really made a category for. Hmm.
    please tell me your opinion :))

    ps
    awesome blog I had to say again :)

    Lady Xev

     
  3. Xev Says:
  4. oh! I did miss one! The NEMESIS. We all know exactly what that is. :)

     
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ChrisK
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