15 October 2008

Well educated supervillains

I was watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory today ("The Codpiece Topology") and one of the characters raises an interesting point about super villains. He was listing evil villains in comic books like Dr. Doom and Dr. Octopus, when he went on to say:

"It's amazing how many supervillains have advanced degrees. Graduate school should do a better job of weeding those out."
I guess I had never thought about super heros and super villains in that context before, but people over on Everything2 did about 8 years ago. They compiled an even larger list of supervillains with advanced degrees:
One commenter made a very interesting point:
"The phenomenon of over-educated supervillains, equally prevalent in horror fiction and comic books, goes back at least as far as the Victorian archetype of the Mad Scientist - people who worshipped the false god of the intellect, often violating taboos in their ungodly pursuit of knowledge. Usually these villains were doomed to be destroyed by their own creations, but often would instead be slain or overthrown by courageous heroes of no exceptional intellect, but stout Christian hearts. The triumph of Good over Evil was therefore also a triumph of the spirit over the intellect."
It is unfortunate that scientists are often shown as morally corrupt and used to demonstrate the potential perils of putting all your faith in the power of technology and pursuit of scientific knowledge. But in the end, it's not their science educations that make them evil, it's their actions. Luckily, scientists don't always get a bad rap, well educated superheros exist too, Iron Man and Professor X for example.

The roll of "evil scientist" can also be pretty funny. Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog is a great modern example of the well educated supervillain. Or, want-to-be supervillain in this case.

If you know of other supervillains with advanced degrees, post them in the comments below.


carvelle said...

Dr. Jelly from sharky and george

Ms. Jameelah said...

Two-Face Harvey Dent, Esq.

Anonymous said...

Disney's Phineas and Ferb characters has the villein Dr. (Heinz) Doofenshmirtz. He may not be an Arch-villian but he does try verh hard at being an villain (he he he he he)