Understanding Supervillains

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Understanding Supervillains

Supervillains are fictional characters portrayed in comics. They represent a variant of villainous characters who sometimes possess superhuman abilities. Female supervillains are sometimes denoted as supervillainess. They are the antipode of superheroes, benign fictional characters who sometimes have superpowers such as Superman, Spiderman, and Supergirl. This thesis describes who supervillains are, what makes them supervillains, their purpose in stories and life, and the importance of having supervillains, using the example of Joker, a well-known villain of the DC comics line.

In story writing as well as scriptwriting, there is often a protagonist as well as antagonists. The antagonist in comic books is often the villain and supervillain. There are categories of the villain, the bad guys. The types of villains used in the screenplay are given in an article as; The mastermind, the anti-villain, the evil man, the minions, or the henchmen ( “The 4 Main Types of Antagonists”). The mastermind, in the case of comic books, earns the title of a supervillain. They are the main antagonists—the most notorious and crooked characters in the comics. Supervillains work with other people, but they operate under them or are not recognized as much as they are. Together with the supervillains, together with their subordinates, operate outside the law and bring havoc upon cities and countries. They depict evil in society.

A perfect example of such a supervillain who works together with other more minor villains is The Joker. The Joker’s setting is within the city of Gotham, where Batman is the Hero. The Joker lives under the persona of a clown who robs banks, stela valuable items, and works to destroy the city of Gotham. He works with other villains who are not as powerful as him, who do all the dirty work and answer him. Harley Quinn, Scarecrow, Arkham Knight, Poison Ivy, Hugo Strange, and The Riddler are examples of his henchmen. They work together to destroy Gotham city and be a problem to its Hero, Batman. This is a perfect illustration supervillain’s structure of operations.

In every story, there must exist an antagonist and a protagonist. A hero cannot exist without a villain, and likewise, a superhero cannot exist without a supervillain. Their primary function within a comic book is to present a problem that needs to be fixed. They stir up havoc, commit felonies, and plan bad things. They operate outside the law, though the same can be said about superheroes. Superheroes, however, replace the law with some significant justice, while supervillains’ primary purpose is to overturn law (Brainbridge 370). They break the law in the most catastrophic and diabolical ways imaginable.

Joker is portrayed as a psychopathic clown. He commits murders; for example, in one of the stories, he attempted to kill the governor of Gotham. While killing, he forces his victims to laugh to death by intoxicating them with deadly laughing gas, and he commits robberies in the movie (“The killing Joke”).

Supervillains are the bad guys, and so, they are given the bad guy look. Comic books are made to be easily interpreted for the reader they hardly leave room for ambiguity (Ballenzetegui 322). Supervillains are made out to appear monstrous, and they are given a face of evil attached to their persona. Ballenzetegui claims that supervillains are often identified by deformity, mutation, and deformity (322). Supervillains are given an aesthetic code, one that portrays them as monstrous (323). For example, Joker is an evil clown. His identity resulted from a chemical burn on his face, and he, therefore, wears a gruesome mask (“ The Killing Joke”). Another example is Joker’s henchman, The scarecrow, who is just a living scarecrow. This quantifies the nature attached to the conclusion arrived at by Ballenzetegui; Supervillains are differentiated through nasty facial features that visually codify their criminal nature.

Supervillains have psychopathic tendencies. A grotesque nature is added to their persona, and the making of a complete monster is achieved. They are given ugly backgrounds and live very unrealistically painful lives. Staying on Joker, he meets with the doll maker, who surgically removes his face at his request then stitches it in his story. ( “ The Killing Joke”). On the same level, Joker also intentionally tries to kill himself in a bid to escape Arkham Asylum (“The Killing Joke”).

Supervillains may or may not possess superhuman powers. For example, The Joker does not have any superpower but is still regarded as a supervillain. However, his henchmen have superpowers, for example, Poison Ivy, who can manipulate plants and two-face, who can change his appearance on demand. This same attribute applies to superheroes. For example, Batman has no superpowers while Superman possesses superhuman abilities such as superstrength; he can fly and shoot X-rays from his eyes.

Supervillains are worthy opponents for a superhero rival. The supervillain must possess the qualities that can prove he is worthy of contending a rival superhero. Joker is an ideal and worthy opponent for his enemy Batman (Yimming). Be it by superpowers, strength, or intellectual ability, and one must be a counter for the other. The supervillain must constantly compete with his rival, and a winner should be hard to deduce. The Joker has been in several scuffles with Batman where he manages to escape and sometimes gets caught but can often escape again.

The comic book characters have an important place in a screenplay as well as in telling stories. They provide a basis for an argument. They are antagonists for the protagonists in every story, and they offer a moral lesson on every level. The introduction of supervillains spells the creativity of the writer. Supervillains encourage imagination and expand minds beyond human perception.

Supervillains are a symbol of society. They portray the two sides of contemporary society, the negative and the positive. Characters such as the Joker inspire creativity and attract the masses through his ideologies and characteristics. He is a creation of many complexities that can be compared to none other (Yimming). He is described as a fascinating character who is charming, whose ideology creates fear and terror (Yimming).

In conclusion, the imaginary world of comic books and the natural world are very similar and share identical features. Supervillains are imaginative adaptations of real-world criminals and psychopaths, and they represent the natural world in more than one way. Their space in the world of screenplay and creative writing is limitless. There will always be a supervillain in every story.

Works Cited

Bainbridge, Jason. “Beyond the Law: What Is so ‘Super’ About Superheroes and Supervillains?” International Journal for the Semiotics of Law – Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique, 22 June 2017, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11196-017-9514-0?error=cookies_not_supported&code=0b83d446-d068-4c39-837d-15e212c68b5b.

Yimming, Dong. “Supervillains, Chaos, and Violence in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008) and Tod Phillip’s Joker (2019) | VDU CRIS.” CRIS, 13 June 2020, www.vdu.lt/cris/handle/20.500.12259/108421.

Ballanzetegui, Jessica. “Hollywood Supervillains and the Digital-Material Dialectic.” Taylor & Francis Group. 2018. Pg 322-330.

“The 4 Main Types of Antagonists”. Masterclass articles.20 Sep 2021. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/the-main-types-of-antagonists#the-4-types-of-antagonistsThe Killing Joke. Directed by Sam Liu. Performances by Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy, and Tara string. DC Comics.2016.

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