There is so much more to being bad. There’s a complexity that makes a villain much more enjoyable to watch. Is being “bad” better than being good?
“One of the main factors in the making of a truly great comic book movie is the quality of the villain. It’s no coincidence that the most favourably reviewed superhero movie of all time, The Dark Knight, also contains the definitive bad guy: Heath Ledger’s chillingly demented Joker. Likewise, the most satisfying comic book heroes are never the squeaky clean, morally unimpeachable do-gooders. They are troubled individuals with closets overstuffed with skeletons: they are the tortured Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins; Iron Man wrestling with his tainted entitlement; Black Widow, so lasciviously in touch with her own treachery.”
Ide, Wendy. “Suicide Squad Review – In Dire Need Of Real Evil”. the Guardian. N. p., 2016. Web. 8 Aug. 2016.
This review of the movie “Suicide Squad” sums up how much of culture deems the “good guys” in comics, as well as movies and other media. There seems to be an attraction towards a character, though on the side of good, that has a tainted past, a drop of darkness to their being. This is not a new thing, but an ideal that has been growing in the entertainment world for decades. The line between pure evil and pure good is being blurred and characters that once had a “squeaky clean” image are deemed boring while those with a bad streak are complex.
Ben Carson dropped out of the Presidential race some time ago, as to the writing of this post, and I was sad to see him go. To be sure, his ideals and mine didn’t line up all the time, but from my perspective, he seemed like a “good man”. Many would say the same thing,..but we don’t want a “good man” or a good woman in the spotlight these days, nor have we wanted it for quite some time. We want “strong” politicians to be our leaders and those that embrace dark qualities have reached the head of the race. For those of you who might think I’m talking about Donald Trump and Donald Trump only, think again, as I’m speaking of our current candidates on both sides of the isle. Ben Carson was good, and good doesn’t cut it in this world today. You’ve gotta be a little bad to get ahead, or so it would seem. As I stated in the second sentence of this paragraph,..perspective plays a huge role in how we see bad as good and good as bad.
To the best of my ability, I take a Biblical perspective towards the world. This doesn’t always work as I am also drawn towards the villain in a story. Their jaded past seems to give them a strength, a strength to change their circumstances and destroy anyone or anything that might get in their way. It seems that from a villain’s darkness, a resolution occurs, a resolution that seems to be missing in the hearts and minds of the people reading, listening or watching the villain as they make his / her way through this corrupt and problematic world, to the top. The “watcher” (us) feels akin to their plight, feels their pain and visualizes themselves in the shoes of the bad / good guy and sees themselves clawing, scratching, fighting their way out of the hell they perceive themselves entrapped. It’s no wonder we feel so close to the villain,..it speaks to the darkness within ourselves.
We all have it. I, and other Christians, call it our “sin nature”. It’s that animal part of ourselves (not lending credence to evolution) that we still live with, even after we are a new creation through Jesus Christ. The villains of today (and decades past) have been carefully sculpted, with regard to their characters, to closely resemble the situations we find ourselves in today. From the area of comics / graphic novels, we can look at the heros and see that their images have been colored an off-white as to appeal to an ever-growing audience need to attach themselves to the plot. Batman lost his parents. Superman struggles with the world. Wonder Woman contains her sometimes hostile animosity towards men. Iron-man has dealt with addictions. The Hulk deals with rage and the list goes on. Many identify with these “heros” because they struggle with the darkness inside of them, as the readers / viewers do. Does struggling seen strong? Does the inward battle of heros towards the point where they are seen as close kin to their villainous counterparts seen as empowerment? To me, and I’m in the minority here, I say “no!”
I’ve seen evil in it’s actual form. It’s self-destructive, out of control, animalistic and will always destroy itself and anything around it. I’ve seen it cower from true strength, the strength of a person’s gentleness, from love and from the light of Jesus Christ. I’ve seen evil that cannot handle simple day-to-day struggles that those of us, who have embraced ourselves as new creations in Jesus Christ, are able to conquer. I’ve seen evil that is unable to express the simplest emotions, but would rather hit, abuse, steal, kill and destroy rather than feeling vulnerable. I’ve seen evil, and every facet of it is weak, simpering, sad and pathetic. I’ve seen evil and it pales in comparison to true strength, to a “squeaky-clean” character. A true “good guy / gal” that is saved by Jesus, has the strength within them to defeat anyone or anything in this world (1 John 4:4), because that strength does not come from them, but from the Holy Spirit (Philippians 4:13) that is within the believer (1 Corinthians 6:19). The children who are in the family of God by Jesus Christ have power, not those who emulate or take on characteristics of evil, as seen in many “hero’s” of today.
In today’s world, we need to look beyond what we see, watch, read in the entertainment industry as it is tainted and get back to imitating heros that have strived to conform to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29 / 1 Corinthians 11:1), and ask the Holy Spirit to sculpt you, and me, in His image.