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Heroes vs Villains

I’ve always been plagued by this question - In any comic or movie, what would you rather be?

The hero or the villain?

Since a very young age, I’d discovered the answer isn’t that plain and simple. I’m often able to relate more to the complex villain and way more interested about their motivations, as opposed to rooting for the boring, overtly simplified hero.

The most interesting villains aren’t the stupidly evil kind. They’re actually anti-heroes. The world isn’t black and white. Lex Luthor is not completely wrong; he has some method to his madness. So does Thanos.

Loved this post, which expands on the same.

Heroes become super by virtue of their actions. They do great things. They perform heroic acts. And then, when the honor is bestowed upon them by some shared consciousness, they become superheroes. The super- prefix is one that is earned, not given. It is a trophy. No superhero has ever become a superhero by calling himself a superhero.

Villains, however, are different. Because people are assumed to be good by default, villains must consciously decide to deviate into villainy. No villain has ever accidentally become a villain. Villainous acts are performed with the full intention of achieving an end goal that satisfies ego, greed, lust, or the desire for power. Sometimes those goals align with universally positive outcomes, and, though they should always be seen through the lens of skepticism, villains are not bad without exception. Actions that appear evil can often be used to achieve noble end goals. In fact, in many situations, “evil” is a required ingredient for the manufacture of success. Villains are often misunderstood superheroes.

Responsibility vs. Power

The biggest benefit to villainy is that it provides far more potential for doing good than heroism. Unlike superheroes, villains are not beholden to the requirements of their position. Villains define their own situations, while superheroes work against very strict, and very public, rubrics for doing good. This difference gives villains the ability to achieve goals on their own terms. It gives them the freedom to be creative and to push boundaries. While superheroes have responsibility, villains have power. Superheroes are handcuffed by conformity. Villains are liberated by absolute power.

The downside to all of this is that villains play a fragile game. With power comes moral corruptibility, and with corruptibility comes unpopularity–maybe even hatred–from society. But as long as villains can hold themselves back from corruption, they can do great things.

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