Film Studies: The complexity of villians in films and why society is drawn to them

Why I choose the Villains

Villains are the backbone of any film. In history, they have become more complex, evolved, and even harder to decipher if they're a villain in the first place. Everyone believes that heroes reflect the desire of humankind. They praise them with every action and portrays the idea of heroes protecting the ideals of everyone. However, villains are the desires and the secrets that humankind actually desires. Although their fictional characters, they are the portrayal of the dark desires of humankind but seen as the actions society would deem unacceptable

The project will focus on two things: the complexity of villains throughout history and attraction the audience has to them. The heroes are the face of the films, but the villains are the backbones of the films that sell everything. All my life, I never really rooted for the good guys in films or television shows. For some reason, I never connected with them on a personal level. They were too perfect and modest; never connecting to reality. Villains always had a more complex storyline and emotions. In fact, they were more like human beings than the heroes everyone desired to see.

The Fallen Hero: Darth Vader

This complex villain first appearance was in 1977 in the film, Stars Wars: A New Hope. He was a broken soul consumed by darkness. He's literally liked an icon for all Villains to live up too. Before he became Darth Vador, he was Luke Sky Walker. Luke was impulsive and obnoxious in every decision he made. With his obsession with the 'Force", he started to borderline a personality disorder in film. As his evil nature came to the surface his popularity did also. Everyone was drawn to fight within himself to choose the light or the dark side. Most like normal people today fight to either avoided situations or instigate evil thoughts. He was popular more with teen fans because he displayed social awkward and borderline personality disorder

How is a villain who only showed his self 36 minutes in all the First trilogy of Star Wars become the best Villain in history? Out of all the characters in Star Wars, I believed he was the most human. Humans are easily manipulated and confused. In fact, I feel that we were made to sin on earth. Every other character in Star Wars were beyond our reach. The level of "goodness" they reach could be considered unreachable for a regular human being. That's why I believed Villains in films are easily the most liked.

The Foundation of Villains tendencies

The normal description of villains is to have a sociopathic tendency. In a sense, people have the persecution that villains were good people, but then had a dark circumstance that made them evil. However, they are villains who are psychopaths whose motives are unknown or just for their own enjoyment. For instance, the legendary psychopath Joker.

The Joker

The first appearance in the Batman series was in the comic book Batman April 25, 1940. He is one of the greatest villains with no superpower, however; he's a master’s in chemical engineer, poisons, and lethal pathogens. He became a psychopath because originally in the comics was because he fell of chemicals which bleach his skin, colors his hair green and his lips red, and drives him insane.

Everyone in the entire universe knows that the reason everyone loves the Bateman series is because of Joker. If you ask anyone, the Joker makes the whole entire franchise comes alive. The reason everyone loves him is because of once you lay eyes on him, you become intrigued by his personality. He's so compelling because he has no rules, no plane but just pure instincts. My favorite scene in the Batman Trilogy is the scene where Joker has a huge pile of cash in a warehouse. It was literally millions and he burns it all. This tells you that he knows ordinary man mad that's why he's Batman's greatest villains.

Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos…

Why everyone loves the Joker:

  • 1. He has no plane
  • 2. His background is so mysterious
  • 3. His Humor is dark but hilarious
  • 4. The way he talks brings you into his world
  • 5. The urge to madness in the world

Criminality Derives from Four different Spheres - Kelsey McClure

  1. criminalistic subcultures or other situational factors
  2. psychopathy or mental illness
  3. aspirations for a better life
  4. bad biology aka ‘born bad’”

Confronting our Hidden Selves

Humans are fascinated by villains because the portray the hidden nature of human nature. The idea that humans are drawn to being selfish and liars. They are the physical potential of shadow selves that every human has in them.

In the article "Why do supervillains fascinate us?" author, Travis Langley, describe the psychological understanding of human confronting their hidden selves through the villains. He uses Joker and Bateman as an example of a healthy and unhealthy portal of confronting the darkness within oneself. "Healthy confrontation with our shadow selves can unearth new strengths (e.g., Bruce Wayne creating his Dark Knight persona to fight crime), whereas unhealthy attempts at confrontation may involve dwelling on or unleashing the worst parts of ourselves (as the Joker tries to get Batman and Harvey Dent to do in The Dark Knight)."

Lord Voldemort

Lord Voldemort: The Legendary Villain in J.K. Rolling books and films, Harry Potter. In the films, you never truly understand where his origin started. Their glimpses in into are passed of why he became a villain. His Darth pass is more revealed in the novel than in the films. He was born a Voldemort wanted to become an all-powerful wizard, so he tore his soul apart in 8 pieces which would lead him to be inhuman. Most villains that I named above where evil because they wanted to be, or outside forces influenced the, However, he became evil because he separated his soul too much causing him to be more violent, emotionless, and null to empathy.

There is no good and evil. There is only power, and those too weak to seek it.

Dan Esberg - Creator of the Formula of Super villains

"A good villain can take the narrative of a movie or television show to the next level. They make the story worth watching and create complex and interwoven storylines in relation to the main character that gives the program purpose. Shaping a villainous character to simply be evil or against the main character doesn’t do much for story development and is a major downfall for a lot of programs. It’s important whenever crafting a villain, that they have the motives and morality that allow them to be the opposition."

Society Embracing a Villain for his Own Society

If you ask anyone in the world, who's their favorite X-men, they all probably say Wolverine. Yeah, he's pretty cool, but the most dynamic character in X-men is Magneto. He's the perfect example of the Hero-Villain everyone loves. He has the power to control magnetic fields. In my opinion, he's superior to all the mutants. The fact that he's a Holocaust survivor proves that he has seen what human nature can be when hatred is against one group of people. His attitude towards the war vs. mutant can be justified.

“They wish to cure us. But I say to you we are the cure! The cure for that infirm, imperfect condition called “Homo sapiens!” They have their weapons… we have ours. We will strike with a vengeance and a fury that this world has never witnessed! And if any mutants stand in our way, we will use this poison against them! We shall go to Alcatraz island, take control of the cure, and destroy its source! And then, nothing can stop us!” - Megnto Quote

There was always a moment in the Thor story where everyone said, "Honestly I like Loki more than Thor. Why because he was the type a villain who you could relate too. Honestly by the end of the series you couldn’t even call him a Viliian anymore. Just Thorns half annoying brother with the amazing jokes.

According to psychological research by Jens Christiansen, society loves for villains is rooted in the evolutionary psychological. Our minds are drawn to mystery and the discovery of the unknown. When we encounter the unknown, our first instincts are fear; however, we are drawn to it.

Christiansen suggest that “during the early days of human civilization, humans living in small groups needed to weed out and punish those who didn't conform to altruistic or benevolent social norms (the villains.)” This suggests that modern filmmakers make villains ugly and undesirable because they want us to believe that they are “sin” itself.

Tom Hiddleston as Lok was probably one of the best versions of Loki ever. His version is smooth, charismatic. Since people tend to be superficial assholes, they tend to ignore just what you pointed at. Loki is a sneaky, backstabbing bastard and a mass-murderer. He had a well-rounded background; I can understand his motives.

Good Vs. Evil - Theology Perspective

When it comes to Evil, Theology suggest that their is no evil itself. Evil does not stand alone in itself. There is evil in the world, however evil is the abscence of good.

If God is good, then all He created was good. In this situation, “evil” does not and cannot exist in the physical or spiritual reality that God created. In other words, evil does not exist.

This goes against the inherited background of the creation of super villains. They suggest that super villains are inherited evil and the pure essccesne of it. Then ther infer that super hero's are the inherited esscence of good. Human nature understands that everything in the world is not white and black. The esscence of good will always create bad things because it is the cycle of life. In our lives we lose some of the "good things" in our lives. Once to much of the good is taken away, we are left with just the bad. Society understands this perspective when understanding an Villains thought process and tramatice background to thier stories.

As darkness only “exists” wherever light is absent, and “lost” only exists when nothing familiar is present

Harley Quinn

A fictional character created in 1992. Original before becoming Harley Quinn, her name was Harleen Frances Quinzel. She was a physician and psychologist. She is an accomplice of joker and they met when she worked in Arkham Asylum, where joker was a patient. Harley’s first appearance was in “Batman: The Animated Series,” an episode called “Joker’s Favor.”

  • She’s am animal right activist
  • Her great punch lines in the new suicide squid movie
  • She actually has a degree
  • She a mother figure to villains like Poison Ivy
  • She almost killed batman than joker
  • She stands up to sexism

Villains Ultimately Do It Better

In our generation, we like to see people with flaws just like us. We don’t want to see come who the perfect example of “An American Hero”. They’re too perfect and it’s hard to look up to them and follow their example if it’s out of our reach. We like to see people with mixed morals because in our reality that is what real. In our generation, we are surrounded by corruption, selfish motives, and moral dilemma. In a sense, the villains make us feel better about ourselves. They make us feel better about the lies and betrayal we have done in the past. We look at them and see pure evil. Then when we look at ourselves we say, “must be a good person because I was never done anything like that”

The Criteria of a Great Anti-Hero


Super Villains and Philosophy

In the novel Supervillains and Philosophy, Ben Dyer analyze the understanding of madness and evil. “It will "consider the supervillain's life, his or her relation to morality and society, and the intellectual boundaries and puzzles that keep us interested" in them. He talks about the nature of evil itself.

The best superhero comics, in addition to being tremendously entertaining, introduce and treat in vivid ways some of the most interesting and important questions facing all human beings--questions regarding ethics, personal and social responsibility, justice, crime and punishment, the mind and human emotions, personal identity, the soul, the notion of destiny, the meaning of our lives, how we think about science and nature, the role of faith in the rough and tumble of this world, the importance of friendship, what love really means, the nature of family, the classic virtures like courage, and many other important issues. - Douglas Wolk


I created this project to showcase a personal interest I always find in Villains. I wanted to explore the idea I why I and other people find villains more interesting in films. I wanted to explore the science and psychology of the connection between humans and villains, as a society, most people find ourselves rooting for the villains because we see an oral ambiguity within ourselves. It’s our chance to confront the hidden nature of human nature. people have the perception that villains were good people, but then had a dark circumstance that made them evil. Villains are the backbone of any film. In history, they have been getting more complex, evolved, and even harder to decipher if they are a villain in the first place.

Source: https://www.wired.com/2012/07/why-do-supervillains-fascinate-us/


Created By
Zachary Thomas


Created with images by Javier García - "untitled image" • jplenio - "the dark hedges armoy ireland" • Mohamed Nohassi - "untitled image" • federicoghedini - "star wars jedi morals" • Skitterphoto - "mcdonalds ronald joker" • Itay Kabalo - "untitled image" • Larm Rmah - "untitled image" • Pavel Nekoranec - "untitled image" • Hermes Rivera - "untitled image" • Ryan Kwok - "untitled image" • Yong Chuan - "untitled image" • Pawel Janiak - "untitled image"

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