Nowadays people seem to forget about the good guy and the underdog, it is the Era of the Villain. A great antihero is more than a mastermind-muscle combo, and sure it is more than a tragic story for the news. Today’s villains come in all shapes and sizes, with snares to spare and drama to fill the void of scarred childhoods. Today’s villains come to fill the void of unnecessary goodness in our heroes and to provide humanity to our fictional worlds that have become a little too perfect.
Everything started with Heath Ledger‘s Joker, one of the most charismatic villains in the past few years. Everyone was charmed by his tragic role, filled with a great villaney effect that set the bar uber high for the next villains of the cinematography.
I must admit I haven’t seen the movie, but I was touched by the following this character has. It is said that Ledger immersed into this role without a safety net, and that this is observable. As far as I know it, he was a great actor that usually focused on his role and I also know about his trouble with medication before his death. However, it is not the dedication that makes his role unique, nor is his death. He also died before The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and no one seems to view that movie as high as they regard The Dark Night. Ledger was born to play this role, to gather all his darkness and concentrate it on The Joker. He used all his dementia, all his depth and all his fright to deliver a sinister performance of one of the most hated villains in the Batman Universe.
Heath Ledger brings nuances, danger and evil to a city that’s already trying to cope with the darkness inside it. In retrospective, you can say that The Joker is one of the most developed villains of the modern era, and we have to give proper thanks to Mr. Ledger, who made it all possible.
The second villain that comes to mind is another one from the Batman Universe. Tom Hardy plays a very physical character, Bane, a person that uses strength in order to make the others succumb to his will. Bane is not, however, your typical bully-jock combination. He suffered a great deal and he did good things at one point, but now his aggressive side has taken over and all that he wants is to unleash his inner animal.
With Bane everything is about spilled blood, and the reality of that shocks everyone almost like it did when the mastermind was behind all the destruction. Bane was the underdog of the villains, a mercenary out of a pit, left for dead when you no longer had use for him, and this makes his character so much sadder than it should be.
But by far, Loki is the one that seems to fire up the spirits. I don’t remember seeing people of all kinds raving over one single thing: Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki. His portrayal of the Norse god of deceit left people with a new toy in town, and boy, do they love their toy!
He doesn’t bring the desperation that The Joker possessed, nor the trauma within Bane. Instead, he comes from the highest family in Asgard, with a great burden: knowing that he is not the real son of his father, the one being deceived and lied to all along.
Loki is unstable, though focused. He is smugh, though uncertain. He is brave, though without purpose. And above everything else, he enjoys every single moment of his life. Hiddleston has that godly magnetism that draws men and women alike with his raw power. He plays people on his fingers and he manages to be the only one you root for from the first minute of the movie until the last one. His Loki is what we wish we could do, if only we had that kind of power and that kind of courage.
I hope this era of villains doesn’t end here. We need perspective, because our perfect heroes are not so perfect and they don’t exist in full in our world, but each of us could draw some lessons from the Bane in our souls or the Loki in our heads. We need our bad to be good also, in order to give that good side in us something to fight about. We need our villains to make our fights worthwile. We need our villains to make them fight for us and we need to appreciate them more than we do now.