Thursday, January 3, 2013

So You Want to Rule the World: The Aiming Question, pt. 1

Does this look like a happy villain?
I don't think so.
The Aiming Question, pt. 1

It is a tragic but well known prejudice against villainry that they will never be allowed to shoot the hero. No matter how many times supervillains, average guys or people doing the grunt work for supervillains try and aim at the hero (especially during a shoot-out) they will always miss.

The hero, of course, will hit your men with disabling or lethal shots at least half the time, and more so if they are slightly more intelligent than a rock. Since few heroes fall into this category, however, it’s safe to assume that approximately 50 percent of your recently hired minions will survive a run in with an average hero.

Sadly, there is no way to get around this, no matter how good a marksman a supervillain is. Writers may give villains all the witty dialogue – heroes can never deliver it properly – but they also refuse to let a hero be killed in all but a very narrow window of circumstances. The reading/viewing public has an appallingly narrow definition of a happy ending, and that generally involves truth or justice and other such nonsense. Especially in a recession, no one wants to see an enormous castle of bones or 20-foot robots capable of kicking down buildings.

One of the few exceptions to this rule are horror movies, particularly if you have a particular resentment against attractive but stupid college girls. The problem with this is that the antagonists in horror movies are pigeonholed into constant killing and menacing, which is only a small slice of the duties and rewards a supervillain is generally responsible for. If this is your niche then more power to you, but there will be no ostentatious thrones or floating castles in your future.

The second exception is mob movies, which will occasionally let an enterprising young soul parlay drugs, guns and menacing into a life of parties and attractive women. Unfortunately, these are generally booby-trapped with pernicious moral lessons, and any villain who finds himself in this situation is likely to die in a hail of bullets.

Thankfully, there’s hope. While fatally shooting the hero might not be in your immediate future, there are plenty of other ways to disable the hero while you make off with the loot. We’ll discuss some of these options in part two.

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