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The Wisdom of Super Villains

The Wisdom of Super Villains

By Robert Isenberg

Bond. Kirk. Parker. We'll see them all this summer—selfless do-gooders battling villain after villain, each a handsome and resourceful hero in a morally murky world...

Yawn.

Oh, sorry. It's not that superheroes are boring. It's that super villains are way more interesting. Batman is fine and all, but Bane and Catwoman? COME ON! A muscled monster with a slotted face-mask and Anne Hathaway in a rubber unitard? Already awesome. Add to that the usual villainous profile: They're tormented, damaged, and spiteful. It takes a lot of angst to want to enslave the world.

And did you ever consider how smart these villains are? Bitter and cynical, yes, but also really wise. What villain fails to wax poetic on human nature? Does Superman ever wax poetic? Of course not. He's too busy flying around and ironing his cape. Villains are complex. Villains have stuff to say. Where heroes quip, villains pontificate.

Here's a comparative example:

Peter Parker: "With great power comes great responsibility." (Duh).

Green Goblin: “To each his own. I chose my path, you chose the way of the hero. And they found you amusing for a while, the people of this city. But the one thing they love more than a hero is to see a hero fail, fall, die trying. In spite of everything you've done for them, eventually they will hate you. Why bother? Here's the real truth. There are eight million people in this city. And those teeming masses exist for the sole purpose of lifting the few exceptional people onto their shoulders. You, me? We're exceptional.”

Like, whoa.

Let's try another:

James Bond: "She always did like a good squeeze." (Ha-ha).

Dr. No: "East? West? Just points on a compass, each as stupid as the other." (Ooh... point Dr. No).

The problem with heroes is that they're so busy being unwaveringly good that they rarely stop to think—about anything, really. But super villains sit around and think almost all the time. They have to, in order to hatch incredible plots. You don't draw up plans for the Death Star over coffee.

Here are some nuggets to ponder:

“Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can't savor all the little emotions. You see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way, I know your friends better than you ever did. Would you like to know which of them were cowards?” – The Joker, The Dark Knight

"All who gain power are afraid to lose it. Even the Jedi. Good is a point of view, Anakin. The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost every way, including their quest for greater power."Emperor Palpatine, Revenge of the Sith.

“Everyone can be super. And when everyone’s super, no one will be.” – Syndrome, The Incredibles

“To improve on nature, my nature, knowledge of one’s self. It’s the only path to the truth that gives men the power to go beyond God's boundaries.” – Dr. David Banner, Hulk

“You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat people they don’t have to treat well.” – Owen Davian, Mission: Impossible III

What is your favorite villainous wisdom?

Tags: movies, superheroes, funniest

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