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What Puts the “Super” in Supervillain? #SciFiSunday

Vader Empire 740x389

Tor.com deep dives into the definition of the oft employed term Supervillain.

What is it that makes a villain a supervillain? What quality is it that defines an antagonist as more than a threat, more than a foil? As something extraordinary?

The easy answer is that a supervillain is a villain with super powers, but that’s not a sufficient answer. If you name three supervillains off the top of your head, I guarantee you two of them have no powers at all. And there are many monstrous villains in fiction that have powers that still wouldn’t ever be considered a supervillain.

Similarly, we can say a supervillain must have specific accouterments—a costume, a nom de guerre, henchmen, a hideout—which is another way of saying that a supervillain must have a distinct, instantly recognizable aesthetic. They can have a costume, or a very specific fashion sense. Or their powers manifest in extremely specific ways. And, unlike superheroes, supervillains are often marked by some distinct physical characteristic: a scar, bald head, bleached skin, burned face, something that makes them stand out as immediately recognizable (um, no matter how poorly they’re drawn). And certainly that’s part of it, too.

Read more.


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