Some of the most memorable characters in movies are supervillains. From Darth Vader to the Joker to Magneto, we’ve seen characters become as iconic as the protagonists in their tales. And now we are at a point where we are going to start seeing supervillain movies.
This isn’t the first time this has been discussed for example original plans for X-Men First Class was that it was going to be a Magneto origin story. But now we are hearing plans of 2 full blown supervillain movies being put out as part of the Spider-Man franchise, the Sinister and a Venom and Carnage movie.
Popular media has for years now deviated from the more old school good guys and bad guys trope and instead we see more shades of grey. So we support Walter White trying to provide for his family but we don’t support him poisoning a child. The problem with doing it on film is that we get less time for characterisation. Breaking Bad depicted the slow descent into villainy over 5 seasons, can a film do the same in 90 to 120 minutes?
Part of me feels that the attempts at going the villains route with the Spider-Man franchise is that Sony don’t really have anything else they can do outside of the Spider-Man character. There is obviously a situation where movie studios have seen the success of the Marvel formula and are now attempting to replicate it. Fox have it alright, they have the whole of the X-Men to choose from and can easily create spin off films with people who are recognised as heroes. Sony not so much. Venom is a very popular character and is instantly recognisable to people who grew up on the 90’s Spider-Man animated series, and for people had, anticipation could not have been higher for Spider-Man 3. Unfortunately in that situation, we didn’t get enough time to spend with the Venom character but on the flip side, is a whole film to much to just focus on him?
One of the most iconic supervillains of all time, Darth Vader, received his own trilogy origin story which one of the questions that film raised (it raised lots of questions of course, one of them being why?) is do we need to know all of this. Some villains are actually helped by the air of mystery that surrounds them. Staying in the Star Wars world, many feel that Boba Fett was ruined by him being given a back story, part of the appeal of the character was that he was mysterious.
Staying on the topic of a back story, everyone remembers hearing the Joker telling 2 different versions as to why he got his scars in The Dark Knight, that air of intrigue added to the character, would it have been the same if we had seen a whole film devoted to the character before seeing him mix it up with Batman? Speaking of DC, there is talk of a Suicide Squad movie doing the rounds, which I imagine will focus on Harley Quinn. As much as I would love to see a live action Harley Quinn, how would the film actually work? Is Batman a part of it, are they taking him on or maybe working together?
And lets go back to the studio that started this whole franchise wave. Marvel Studios really only have two villains who could get their own film, Loki and the Winter Solider, with the latter looking like he will get his redemption story in the third Captain America film. That only really leaves Loki. Loki scheming in the Thor films and in Avengers is what makes the character so exciting, him playing the hero might take away some of that shine. It’s happened countless times in wrestling, someone becomes popular as a good guy, the writing team decides to capitalise on this by making him a good guy but unfortunately this then dilutes the character and takes away the features that everyone loved in favour of features that writers expect the audience to love. And that there is my main problem with supervillain movies, I feel they run the risk of taking away everything we love in the villain in an effort to make them more likable and marketable. But we’ll see maybe DC and Sony can make it work and we see more developed villains going forward.