In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.
What villain would you like to see win?
Harley Quinn. I have three scenarios in mind.
1) Warren Beatty There is a great episode of Batman the Animated Series (based on an issue of Detective Comics from the 50s) in which the Joker inherits enough money to retire — and realizes he hates the high life. So I never want to see Harley and Mr. J give up crime, settle down, and have babies (together or separately). But, whatever the truth, Bonnie and Clyde are remembered as infamous, dangerous, heroic, and in love. So: an in-canon movie about the Joker and Harley along those same lines. It should win much acclaim and make the Joker first flattered and then horrified. Bruce Wayne could date the Harley actress to get on site intel and then be forced to walk all the red carpets when it is nominated for the awards. And Harley would be the big winner.
2) Harley and Ivy take over the world I don’t know this one even needs a plot pitch, ne? Catwoman can come, too, if she must.
3) Book Tour Dr. Quinzel writes a book about Batman from her cell in Arkham Asylum. It exposes all his batty issues, Gotham turns and Batman is caught, held accountable for all the crazy and the crime in his city, and sentenced to Arkham himself. Quinzel is set free in time for the release of her sequel delving into the mind of the man beneath the mask.
Superhero comics have made the journey from the brightly colored “kids’ stuff” of an earlier era to the “grim and gritty” aesthetic that took hold in the ‘80s and hasn’t really let go yet. Inevitably, comic-book villains changed with comic-book stories. Guys who used to run around in gimmicky costumes committing (mostly) property crimes have morphed, over the years, into murderous masterminds. But what if, back in those more innocent days, one of those villains had pulled off the heist of the century and gotten away with it? Said villain might have retired, for good, content to live on his ill-gotten gains. Sure, insurance premiums might be a little higher in the target city, but that’s a small price to pay for safety.
Submitted for your approval: Len Snart. (Otherwise known as “Captain Cold” but it’s just fun to say “Len Snart”).
A master of the many many things to be done with a freeze ray, all the Captain ever wanted in the old days was to get rich and impress a girl. His problems were twofold: (1) He always picked the wrong girls and (2) The Flash kept stopping him. The Flash would then put Captain Cold back into prison, he would find ever-more-elaborate ways to break out, and, eventually, teamed up with Central City’s other Rogues (TM) to create more elaborate evil plans.
What if, though — what if Len had found the right girl — a girl who was actually impressed by grand larceny and the many things that could be accomplished with a freeze ray? He makes off with the loot, they settle on a tropical island (or, perhaps in this case, a subarctic one), and law enforcement back home breathes a little easier. Plus, Barry gets to finish his date with Iris for once. Win win win win win.
I’m not really a villain person. There are no villains I like enough to want them to win on their own merits. However, as Caroline reminded me, I don’t have to think of a villain I like in order to answer this question. I just have to think of a hero I want to LOSE.
And I would like nothing more than for the zombies to eat Rick Grimes.
Rick Grimes is a terrible protagonist. He’s simultaneously self-important and self-pitying, and his terrible decisions and self-righteous behavior have gotten his followers into deadly trouble on many, many occasions. All of that would be just fine if we, as readers, were expected to acknowledge those flaws. But within the context of The Walking Dead, characters never call Rick out on his mistakes. They regard him as a nigh-infallible leader who they must thank daily for their salvation. And on the rare occasions when a character does speak ill of Rick, or point out his failures, that character inevitably winds up coming around for no good reason, deciding that Rick is, indeed, a Messiah figure to be worshipped and glorified. Even Rick’s moments of self-doubt and self-chastisement always end with another character reassuring him that he’s actually awesome and perfect. And then I throw my trade paperback across the room in frustration
There are other characters I don’t like in Walking Dead, but because it’s a zombie book I know it’s possible they could die at any moment, and I’m content to wait. Rick, on the other hand, is the protagonist, and isn’t likely to die any time soon. And it’s for that reason that I deeply, deeply hope that the zombies will win in the end.
I think that the villain I most like to see win, from time to time, is The Joker. He is horrific, a godawful nightmare. When I get caught in morbid fantasies of horrible things happening in my life, it’s the element of random, unpredictable chance that most troubles me. There is nothing I can do to stop my kids getting hit by a car when I am at work and they are going about their days, you know? Random, hurtful, terrifying chance. That’s what the Joker is like, to the people he uses as props in his comedy. A day full of car accidents, cancer diagnoses, histamine reactions and choking on candy. A stranger with a head full of madness and bile who knows the answers come from a gun. That is what I am really afraid of. Malevolent chance beyond my reach or reason.
That’s why, from time to time, I like to see the Joker win. It’s cathartic. He wins, and the world is horrible, and some family is going to spend the rest of their lives wondering “why us? Why did he pick us?” and there will never be an answer. But for me, reading the story, reading the fiction, I get answers. I get relief. Because someone — Babs, Helena, Dinah, Dick, Tim, Cass, Steph, even Bruce — someone stops him. And the madness ends and everyone else is safe.
I like to see the Joker win, every once in a while. But only for a moment. And never in real life.
So What about you? What villain would you like to see win?