Sunday, October 7, 2012


A villain never sets out to be a villain.

Moviegoers and readers know this to be true. Many stories revolve around a conflict between good and evil. There's a character in a white hat and one in a black hat, and the roles are rather sharply defined. However, the villain didn't necessarily start off as being evil. No one just wakes up one morning and says, "Let's be bad guys."At first, the person who becomes a villain wanted to do good. He thought he was saving the world or helping society in some way, but as a result of a lightning strike, chemical burn, explosion, lost loved one, or some other catastrophe, the person who wanted to do good turns bad.

Examples of this are numerous. Otto Octavius hoped to use his brilliant scientific mind to create useful energy, but when his four mechanical arms start calling the shots in his brain, he becomes Dr. Octopus and resorts to a life of crime. Anakin Skywalker wanted to be the Chosen One--the one who would bring balance to the force--but he becomes the manifestation of darkness as Darth Vader.

My favorite example may be Lex Luthor. I'm sadly not very familiar with his story from the Superman comic books, so all I have to go off of is the Smallville version. Smallville was one of my favorite shows, but I do always mention that being a fan of Smallville is maybe the most girly thing about me. This is because Smallville was a CW show. Do you know how to recognize a CW show? (Besides the high levels of drama.) The casts of CW shows are always made up only of really good-looking people. That may be true in all shows to a point, but it's especially true on the CW. By the end of the series, the entire cast was made up of attractive 20-somethings. The show was set in Kansas. Now, I grew up in Kansas, and I can say that I don't know of many towns that are populated only by attractive 20-somethings.

Anyways, in Smallville, Lex Luthor genuinely wants to be a good guy. He is the son of an evil and corrupt man who uses wealth, deceit, and even murder to get what he wants. Lex vows never to become like his father. Instead, he thinks that he can be a force for good. He thinks it's his job to save the world. And yet, as the series rolls on, Lex becomes not only like his father, but even worse. He's the ultimate villain of it all.

Of course, these are all only stories. But I think something similar happens in real life. There seems to be a tragic tendency among human beings to become something that you never planned to be. A person often becomes the very thing he hates the most. He may loathe the fact that his parents had short tempers and tended to fly off the handle, but when he becomes a parent, he is the same way. Or, a person may have been emotionally wounded by someone in a relationship, and they end up doing the same thing to someone else down the line. An individual may lament the general laziness and apathy of the society around them, but they are no different.

Why does this happen? Is it the fate of Greek tragedies? Is it a conscious decision? Do we feel like, due to injuries done to us, we feel like we need to strike back at others? Do we become so focused on the qualities we don't like in others that those same qualities become ingrained in our own characters?

I don't want to be a villain. They're never the ones for whom the city throws a parade at the end of the movie. They never get the girl. And yet, I have this fear that I'm going to somehow become one, or maybe that I already am in some ways. Not to mean that I'm think I'll ever start flying around on a glider throwing pumpkin bombs at people. If I ever start doing that, I give you full permission to remove me as a Facebook friend. But if it's so common among humans to treat others how you don't want to be treated, or to treat others how you've been treated in the past and certainly didn't appreciate, I don't that I'm immune to the trend.

So let's all be on guard. After all, a superhero is only one genetic mutation or nasty break-up away from villainy.

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