Ever since the release of the first US comic book in 1933, nerds both hidden and out-and-proud have flocked to their local stores to catch up on the latest pursuits of their favorite heroes. Of course, it only grew from there, and television and cinema only added to the hero-fever. Throughout my childhood in the early 1990s, these do-gooders were everywhere: X-Men: The Animated Series was a daily must-watch, Christopher Reeve’s Superman and Faye Dunaway’s Supergirl were Murphy family VHS-staples, and I tried my darndest to sneak a viewing of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns behind my parents’ backs. (Unsuccessful.)
As I got older, and as the movie industry was slowly but surely taken over by Marvel and DC characters, it hit me: I read these comics and watched these films mostly because I loved the villains. Just like I will always love the conniving Brenda Walsh over her boring do-gooder twin Brandon, I will always prefer Dark Phoenix over Jean Grey. Why? Because the majority of the time, the villains are much more nuanced and complex — in other words, interesting.
But the ultimate triumph of the villain (unless you count Bane killing Batman) occurred in February of 2009, when the villain actually won a freaking Oscar. So in honor of Superhero Week, let’s take a moment to honor those who give Superman and co. something to do.
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