Every comic book superhero deserves a good villain. A snarling, foaming-at-the-mouth, completely unhinged villain.
Batman has the Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor. The X-Men have Magneto. And so on. You get my drift. Some of you may know my Work-in-Progress is about a superhero named Daniel (I really haven’t come up with a cool hero name yet) in the midst of a midlife crisis/mental breakdown. He’s invincible, much to the chagrin of his arch-nemesis, Doctor Vengeance. More on the Doctor in a bit.
When I think of great villains of comic book history, my personal favorite is Doctor Doom. Look at him. The iron mask. The green cloak. The army of Doctor Doom clones at his disposal. Dude’s even the rule of his own kingdom. He’s the perfect villain, self-made, lacking in super powers but possessing a nuclear-powered titanium armor suit and a crazed blood lust. Unfortunately, he’s up against the Fantastic Four, who, frankly, suck. I base this because I hate Reed Richards. Ben Grimm is awesome, but, let’s face it, the Thing going up against Doctor Doom? SLAUGHTER. Doom beats him like a gong and tears the Thing’s asshole out of its stony roots just for shits and giggles.
Doctor Doom killed a whole legion of Marvel Comics’ finest – the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Silver Surfer, the X-Men, the Avengers, etc. – at one point or another, just for the sheer hell of it. Why? Because he’s Doctor Doom, dammit.
But it’s that massive chip on his shoulder that sets Doctor Doom apart from every other villain. The world has failed to recognize his genius, and that twerp Reed Richards is the reason why he’s disfigured, so he’s going to make the Fantastic Four AND THE ENTIRE WORLD PAY! Especially Reed Richards. Come on. This is Reed Richards we’re talking here. Mister Fantastic. I’d kill that pompous prick just on principle.
Because, really, what better reason is there to become a super villain, just so you can kill one man and one man only? How awesome is Doom? He once met a version of himself from the future – among Doctor Doom’s many skills is his ability to travel through time – and asked his future self, “What’s it like having killed Reed Richards and ruling the world?” His future self responds that he hasn’t been able to defeat the Fantastic Four yet, so ruling the world hasn’t quite happened yet. So what does Doctor Doom do?
He kills his future self for being such a slacker. Doctor Doom doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
And speaking of fools, that brings me to Doctor Vengeance, my hero’s antagonist. Doctor Vengeance is frighteningly intelligent, the smartest man alive, and a mad scientist who’s got some serious daddy-hating issues. How serious? When he first becomes Doctor Vengeance, his first act of villainy is to kill his father!
Like Doom, Vengeance has a massive chip on his shoulder. And he hates Daniel, because…he harbors a grudge over a harmless prank Daniel pulled on him in their high school days. Yes, Daniel and Doctor Vengeance were high school classmates.
Yet Daniel never ceases to defeat him, and handily at that. Why? Because for all his diabolical powers and his irrational, blinding hatred for Daniel, Doctor Vengeance is really nothing more than a petulant boy who’s often undone by his hubris and his penchant for hissy fits. No matter what Vengeance throws at Daniel, including an army of robots that aren’t the best manufactured robots, he simply can’t defeat Daniel. All Daniel really wants to do is what should have happened to him as a boy; be put on a lap and be spanked rotten.
(Maybe not…that might sound kinkier than anything…)
Vengeance doesn’t inspire fear. Ridicule, yes. Contempt, even; Daniel bemoans the fact that, as the world’s greatest superhero, he doesn’t have a crazy-as-a-fox, hell-bent-for-destruction mega villain.
So, really, the more I think about my WIP’s antagonist, the more I think of Doctor Vengeance as a cross between Doctor Doom and this guy:
I completely understand Sheldon J. Plankton’s plight. I too want to RULE THE WORLD. I too lament the fact that my best-laid plans fall apart so quickly and badly.
For me, Doctor Vengeance isn’t as much a mega villain as he is a thorn in Daniel’s side.
So here’s my question: do you think Doctor Vengeance would make a great villain? Should I make him more ruthless a villain, a la Magneto or Doctor Doom, or should I leave him as he is right now? I’m thinking of leaving him as he is right now, all full of irrational hatred and hubris, but that could change. I like him being more of a geeky misfit that wants to subjugate the masses all because he got bullied in high school.
Anyway, so what’s your take: leave him as he is, a not-so-supervillain, or make him more evil?