In Praise of Villians

In my world, the biggest villain I knew about as a kid was the Devil. The bible told me so:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

How terrifying! An enemy of God himself but he was very willing to pick on us regular people since he lost heaven to God.

Satan was the original super villain. God, however, was not such a good superhero. God is a little bigger than the hero role.

To get a really good story of a hero, the Greeks have the gold. Homer wrote the story of the hero’s battle of Troy.

Yes, there was a beatuiful woman involved. But it was really all about the fighting.

A hero isn’t a superhero has a supervillain to fight.

Homer gave us the story. Achilles was so strong, and all his friends were almost as strong. They were the children of imoortal god, more than just men. Perhaps because of their half-divine status they were a little lazy.

Hector, the Trojan hero, was the opponent who put them to shame. He was strong. He was disciplined.

He beat them. More than once.

The villain has to be a real threat or it’s not good story.

Superman has that problem. Now he is mocked for his impossible strength. He was too close to perfect. He was so strong they had to invent an external weakness: krypronite. But it felt like a cheat.

The tension in life is in the struggle. The story has to fill us with the tension so that we cannot turn away.


The hero is always me. Or I want it to be. I want to believe my struggles matter in the larger picture. It’s great if my problems can be seen as an epic intergalactic struggle between right (of course ME!) and wrong (anything that bugs me).

I need the bad guy, I need to struggle against the bad guy so I can get better. I need the struggle to mean something.

Thank you, Darth Vader. Thank you Joker and Dr. Octopus. And thanks Hector and Satan. I wouldn’t be who I am today without you.