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  #1  
Old February 10th, 2011, 05:05 PM
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The best Superheroes are...

I just realized something which is probably blatantly obvious to everyone else, but only just occured to me.

The best Superheroes are the ones with the most compelling villains.

The most popular Supers have the best rogues gallerys. Batman has Joker, Catwoman, Penguin, etc. Spiderman has Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Venom, etc. The X-Men have Magneto, probably the most compelling villain in comicdom.

The less popular Supers have less interesting foes. Doom isn't very interesting as the F4's bad guy. Wonder Woman's nemesis is mebbe Cheetah or Silver Swan. Who was Namor's top foe? Exxon?

So while the character needs to be compelling, I think it is the character's struggles that draw the big audience. Big struggles require impressive conflicts. Hulk is an interesting "exception" to the rule as a character whose biggest foe is in a lot of ways himself. So the conflict can be internal, but it must be gripping.

I guess that means that if I were a comic book writer, I wouldn't be aiming at creating the best hero or hero team. I'd be aiming at creating the best villain, the trickiest internal conflicts. I mentioned the other day that Superman is at his most interesting to me when he is acting under a legal authority that is corrupt because it creates a genuinely difficult conflict for him. Starts making me hope that the upcoming Cap and Thor movies have excellent bad guys.

~Aldin, epiphanyingly

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  #2  
Old February 10th, 2011, 05:17 PM
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Re: The best Superheroes are...

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Originally Posted by Aldin View Post
I guess that means that if I were a comic book writer, I wouldn't be aiming at creating the best hero or hero team. I'd be aiming at creating the best villain, the trickiest internal conflicts.

~Aldin, epiphanyingly
This is probably the main reason that The Dark Knight was so successful. Although Bruce Wayne/Batman is an incredible character who has quite a few internal conflicts (the love triangle with Rachel Daws, how far he's willing to go for the greater good, and sacrificing his reputation so that Gotham can look up to Dent), the main draw of the movie was The Joker. Not only was the character brilliantly acted out, but he also raised interesting social questions. The Joker had so much depth to him, and served a much bigger purpose than simply Batman's antagonist.

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  #3  
Old February 10th, 2011, 06:25 PM
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Re: The best Superheroes are...

Well met!

Yet, Spiderman's villains are not awe-inspiring. Good stories with conflicts and issues with which we all can identify, and how well those are played out (or who is cast ) are more important in the long run than how flashy the villain is. If the villain is that good, he should get his own book (see Dr. Doom ).

Why are origin stories so popular? Because they are about the Superhero in the process of becoming a Superhero. We can all see ourselves as being somewhere on that path (however early ). The next most popular might be the Superhero losing his faith in himself and/or humanity (and regaining it). Who among us has never been there?

There is an odd dichotomy in the Superhero. He must be invincible and vulnerable at the same time, a very hard trick to pull off. Superman may be the most powerful Superhero, but he is very far from being the best.



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  #4  
Old February 10th, 2011, 06:34 PM
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Re: The best Superheroes are...

Doom isn't interesting?

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  #5  
Old February 10th, 2011, 06:35 PM
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Re: The best Superheroes are...

Heh, my brother and I were just talking about this a while ago.

People remember the iconic superheroes. But when you look at the villains, who has the most iconic? Batman and Spiderman, easily. Superman has.... Lex. Wonder Woman.... ??? Iron Man has other Iron Men. Hulk has another Hulky guy.

Talk to someone on the street, they can rattle off a dozen Batman villains. A couple Spidey villains. And Lex.

I mean, people know the Fantastic Four and Xmen, but who are the villains? Magneto is probably pretty known, but that's about it. Dr. Doom maybe for the FF, but they've got NO ONE else. Bats and Spidey have the most "street cred" when it comes to people knowing them, with Batman still pretty far in the lead!

They're also two of the most loved heroes of all time. Coincidence? Doubtful! Superman's still the most iconic, but Bats has him beat in awesome villains.

Batman's my favorite hero ever, and Spidey is up there. Half of it is the villains, I can say. Joker is the best comic villain of all time, in my opinion, and Two-Face, Black Mask, and many others are in my top favorites!
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  #6  
Old February 10th, 2011, 06:39 PM
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Re: The best Superheroes are...

Quote:
Originally Posted by kolakoski View Post
Yet, Spiderman's villains are not awe-inspiring. Good stories with conflicts and issues with which we all can identify, and how well those are played out (or who is cast ) are more important in the long run than how flashy the villain is. If the villain is that good, he should get his own book (see Dr. Doom ).

Why are origin stories so popular? Because they are about the Superhero in the process of becoming a Superhero. We can all see ourselves as being somewhere on that path (however early ). The next most popular might be the Superhero losing his faith in himself and/or humanity (and regaining it). Who among us has never been there?

There is an odd dichotomy in the Superhero. He must be invincible and vulnerable at the same time, a very hard trick to pull off. Superman may be the most powerful Superhero, but he is very far from being the best.
Your response is baffling. I never said the best villains were the most awe-inspiring, I said they were the most compelling. They can be compelling in different ways. Joker is a great villain, but not one with which we can really identify. Magneto is a great villain with which we can totally identify. The issue isn't whether or not we identify with the villain, but whether or not the conflict they create for the hero is compelling.

I think you completely miss the point with your comment about origins stories and crises of confidence. Those make good entry points for getting into a story and tend to be some of the easiest things to do in a short format like a movie. They are not, however, the most satisfying stories about our heroes. The most satisfying stories are the ones where the Villain creates the greatest possible conflict that the Hero can overcome in a plausible fashion at great personal cost.

I don't think the Superhero is ever supposed to be invincible. Again you miss the point. The Superhero is supposed to have enough power to magnify the effects of their decisions. Their power makes them more wholly responsible for their actions and for the results of those actions.

~Aldin, conundrumingly

He either fears his fate too much
or his desserts are small
That dares not put it to the touch
to gain or lose it all
~James Graham
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  #7  
Old February 10th, 2011, 06:42 PM
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Re: The best Superheroes are...

Quote:
Originally Posted by quozl View Post
Doom isn't interesting?
Sorry to break it to you, dude. Petty dictators decended from Romanian princes are sooooo last century.

~Aldin, translyvanianly

He either fears his fate too much
or his desserts are small
That dares not put it to the touch
to gain or lose it all
~James Graham
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  #8  
Old February 10th, 2011, 06:44 PM
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Re: The best Superheroes are...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aldin View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by quozl View Post
Doom isn't interesting?
Sorry to break it to you, dude. Petty dictators decended from Romanian princes are sooooo last century.

~Aldin, translyvanianly
I'm not a huge comics reader but from the few I have read, Doom is way more than that. He's a villain, he's a rival, and he's a friend to the F4 all at the same time! If that isn't compelling to you, than we have very different tastes in that department.

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  #9  
Old February 10th, 2011, 07:00 PM
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Re: The best Superheroes are...

I am a huge comics reader and Doom is far more dangerous and deadly than any villain I've read in comics beyond perhaps Lex Luthor, Thanos or Savage Dragon (the latter you'd have to read regularly to understand). Doctor Doom is fearsome. Magneto is awesome but Doom has made a fool or gotten the better of every hero and villain in the Marvel Universe.

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  #10  
Old February 10th, 2011, 08:31 PM
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Re: The best Superheroes are...

Quote:
Originally Posted by quozl View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aldin View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by quozl View Post
Doom isn't interesting?
Sorry to break it to you, dude. Petty dictators decended from Romanian princes are sooooo last century.

~Aldin, translyvanianly
I'm not a huge comics reader but from the few I have read, Doom is way more than that. He's a villain, he's a rival, and he's a friend to the F4 all at the same time! If that isn't compelling to you, than we have very different tastes in that department.
Well, if you're speaking in terms on how a good(?) villian is a catalyst for the growth of the hero(es) he opposes, then Doom isn't bad, but he's not the 'most compelling' either.

However, when speaking in terms of said villain's value within a continuity (Marvel's specifically), Doom is the quintessential super villain. At one time or another, he's fought just about every hero in Marvel continuity (and plenty of villains), and he's captured/defeated quite a few as well. He doesn't scheme, he masterminds!

Doom's actions throughout the years tend to have a rippling effect upon those around him, causing dissent within his enemies' ranks while crippling their meager means of resisting him! Mwa ha ha!

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  #11  
Old February 10th, 2011, 08:35 PM
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Re: The best Superheroes are...

Here's some more:

Thor - Loki

Superman - Lex Luthor

Green Lantern - Yellow Lantern

Captain Mar-vell - Nitro?

Iron Man - Crymson Dynamo?

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  #12  
Old February 22nd, 2011, 08:22 AM
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Re: The best Superheroes are...

Congratulations on your realization. On one of the special features on Batman the Animated Series, they say that he has by far the most interesting Rogues Gallery, and I agree.
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