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Villains Villains Villains

By Manal Almahanna



Geoff Johns said, “The best villains are villains that you find yourself rooting for and you don't quite understand why.” So why do we love villains? Why are we drawn to them? What’s the point in analyzing villains when they have little in common with us? To answer these questions lets build a psychological framework of the villain so we can understand our connection to them. To build this framework we’re going to use Carl Jung’s idea of collective consciousness. Jung purposed the idea that over time humans have built a collective unconscious mind that’s genetically inherited and contains the universal experiences and themes of what it is to be human. And deep in this collective consciousness we find what Jung referred to as archetypes. Archetypes are inherited abilities that manifest through our behavior and interactions with the outside world. There are three main types of archetypes: events, figures, and motifs. The first one is archetypal Events, which are universal moments we experience or can relate too. Examples include birth, marriage and death. For example, Magneto is a villain that finds his origins and existence tied to death. His motives are often derived from his time in a concentration camp and seeing everyone he knew and loved murdered. Second is the Archetypal Figures. There are many kinds of archetypal figures. There is the hero, the jester, the mother, the shadow, the self, the anima and the wise old man. As humans we can be the jester in one situation and the hero in another. The great thing about comics is we can find a character representing each of the archetypal figures. One example is the Shadow, which is represented in most comics as the dark side of humanity. The Joker in Batman and Loki in Avengers are both great examples of the Jester archetype. The last archetype is archetypal motifs, which are shared cultural themes or ideas of the apocalypse, the flood and the creation. All cultures have their own stories of creation and the apocalypse. Comics are full of heroes fighting to stop the end of the world. In comics it’s the villains that bring about the apocalypse and by doing so the heroes are given the opportunity to push themselves to their limits and rise to the occasion and overcome great odds. “We need those villains for us to understand our heroes, what they are and what they aren't” said Dr. Travis Langley. After all great heroes require great villains. In the end, we relate to villains who tap into this deep collective consciousness. They peak our curiosity and draw us deeper into their story. We have an equal obsession with heroes and villains because they both reflect the archetypes we all find within ourselves, Good and bad, Light and dark. After all, aren’t we all just experience away from being a hero or a villain?

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