Let's Fangirl

Are Marvel And DC Comics Too Trigger Happy With Their Villains?

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Anyone who knows me should know that I love nerd culture and absolutely love the fact that superhero movies are becoming a more frequent thing in today’s age. It is such a treat to see superheroes in massive blockbuster films, which old and new fans alike are able to enjoy and feel immersed in universes I grew up reading about. This love from such a broad audience is what funds the next movie, and the next movie – but I don’t think I am the first to notice that this roller coaster ride might be coming to an end in the somewhat near future.

Let’s get this straight – The fall of superhero movies won’t be at the fault of bad acting, bad writing, or even the fandom declining. To put it simply, movie studios are going to run themselves into a wall they can’t avoid.

You may be asking, “What are you talking about? They have multiple movies planned for the next 5-10 years!?”

Sure, they have ideas on the stage but how long until they run out of credible situations or villains for the capes to come save the day from? How many more movies will we get before the ‘wow’ factor of each one wears off and they become unwatchable?

If there’s one thing for certain with comic book movies, both new and old, is that a lot of the movies have a definitive ending where the good guy wins and the bad guy is dead or goes into hiding. Think about the Sam Rammi Spiderman movies, X-Men United, Thor 2, Batman (old and new), Iron Man, and all of the Captain America films. A lot of those movies end with the villain dying in some way that looks, at least, like it’s permanent. If every main villain is dead, who are the good guys going to fight? Stilt-man? Abestos Lady (Yes, it’s a real thing.. Look it up)? I mean, some of the movies are already reaching for straws and having a hard time bridging the game between other universes.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Iron Man movies but come on… Whiplash? The Mandarin was just an actor and a big hoax? Civil War even went a bit too far by including Cross Bones as one of the villains, and he isn’t even that great.

One thing that sets comic books apart from the movie franchises is that the villains and arch nemesis’ are in a constant struggle with our beloved superheroes. The good guys defeat them, lock them up, and move onto the next crisis only for one villain to escape or be released and start the cycle anew. With a lot of these movies, the villains have become disposable when they were never supposed to be, and it adds a bit of insult to injury to the life and story of carefully crafted characters.

Doc Octopus is one of Spiderman’s smartest and deadliest villains who is also a complex character that had accomplished the task of killing off Spiderman in the comics (Well, technically he didn’t, but Spiderman was “dead” for an extended period of time). That’s a task that I think only a few people have done in any of the Marvel Universes! Yet, in the Spiderman movie, the character of Doc Octopus isn’t served proper justice and they killed him off so quickly and ended the chance of fleshing out his story more in future movies.

The first Captain America did something similarly, where they killed off Red Skull. Technically, we aren’t sure if he’s dead, but he’s been MIA long enough one can assume he is gone for good. Red Skull is/was the head of Hydra and one of Steve Rogers biggest nemesis. The rivalry between Skull and Rogers is huge, and ultimately felt like a mistake losing that story line so early. That’s not to say the movies so far haven’t been enjoyable.. There are just plenty of missed opportunities to progress the stories of individual characters as well as the teams as a whole.

And it’s not just Marvel that is guilty of doing this. DC did it far before Marvel ever controlled the market on superhero movies. Look at the original Batman series. In the first movie the killed off the Joker. Batman’s greatest foe was killed off in the first movie, and while it had a certain “wow” factor in the conclusion of the film, killing him off closed 1,000’s of doors for future opportunities. No constant back and forth between them, no chance to really compare and contrast The Joker and Bats, and really no chance to see how deep that rivalry goes. The same happened with the Penguin, another iconic Batman villain that has fought and been a constant pain in the Bat’s ass. He was killed in the conclusion of the films, eliminating additional opportunities to get his revenge on the Bats.

I don’t want to go as far as to say that some films haven’t gotten it right, but it seems like the trend of “Kill off the villain and move on” is becoming more persistent in today’s superhero movies. In Thor, keeping Loki alive when he could have been easily killed off was a fantastic opportunity to flesh out his character even further as the God of mischief and chaos. It’s been quite enjoyable to see him within 3 movies so far, as most of the villains have been given paper-thin backstories and a generalized reason to be angry.

I really wish that Marvel and DC Comics would take the time to build up a truly great enemy and villain, similar to the manner that they have built massive backstories behind the heroes we have come to love and worship on the silver screen.

Some may say, “What about Thanos?” and to that I simply say “What about him!?”. Every movie, we get a half-assed end credit attempt to tease at him, with nothing concrete. There has been nothing solid enough for us to either hate him or understand him in >10 minutes of screen time we’ve seen so far. As a comic book nerd, I already know about him and his motivations but most new fans have NO idea who he is or what he’s about. While this may motivate new fans to do research on the characters, there is still going to be a large audience base feeling left out when they don’t understand or care enough to figure it out.

Do you think that Marvel or DC are being a bit too trigger happy with killing off major villains? Should I just shut up and enjoy the movies for what they are instead of over analyzing them?

Which villains do YOU wish stayed around a bit longer?