Sunday, December 23, 2007

Morning Script Meeting

Mark and I were chatting this morning about writing a script for a new superhero vs villain movie (think Superman, etc). I was saying it's time for a great really terrible woman supervillain. The closest I think we've come was Catwoman, and she wasn't really all that terrible.

My first stab at the idea is this villain is a woman whose face is half beautiful and half grotesque -- frozen in place like a terrible death scream. When you see her from the right, you think, hmm, what a hottie, and then when she turns to face you you're all eeww, gross!

I offered the backstory that she got a pimple behind her ear one day that hurt a little, then a little more, then turned out to be infected by a bacteria that tranformed her into horror bitch. (Frozen Face is our working name for her. I think we need to work on that.)

Mark argued that her disfigurement would have to come through some character flaw -- like, she was beautiful already, but wanted to be even more beautiful, and so the horror face was a result of cosmetic surgery gone wrong.

Mark argues that evil villains need to start out evil, and when bad things happen to them it's because they're evil.

I argued that people can become evil because the bad things that happen to them seethe in them and make them rotten. True, he says, but America won't buy a super villain that became evil by accident. America likes their comic evil to be evil, and good to be good, with no nuance, he said.

Personally, I think that the fact that the accident has been the reason behind so many superheros (Accidente! A spider bites a boy and he becomes spiderman! Accidente, Two guys kill Bruce Wayne's parents, making him become Batman!) means that the same accidentalism could succeed as the transforming backstory for villains. What think you?


Val said...

While I think the majority of supervillains in comics and related media are portrayed as inherently evil, there are many examples of characters who only became evil after some traumatic period or event. Sorry, Mark, Nikki's right -- you can definitely make hay with the flesh-eating disease. Here's some evidence:

Lex Luthor has had a bunch of different back-stories, but the character on the TV series Smallville has an abusive father who makes him believe he's responsible for the death of his brother.

Dr. Doom was embittered by facial scars from an accident in an experiment he blames on classmate Richard Reed of the Fantastic Four.

Spiderman fought many tragic villains:
Dr. Octopus -- abuse at home plus brain damage from an accident in an experiment turns him to crime.

The Green Goblin -- abusive father, traumatic childhood, accident in lab makes him incredibly strong, intelligent and insane.

Electro -- inferiority complex, broken home and overprotective mother, followed by an accident working as an electrical lineman.

Some more from Marvel Comics:
Poison Ivy -- botanist survives a poisoning attempt and discovers she's immune to all natural toxins and diseases. Or, shy botany student driven insane from professor's experimental toxins. In both cases, turns eco-terrorist. Is that evil? Depends who you ask.

The Punisher -- badass special forces operator's family murderd by the Mob; he fights crime the ultra-dirty way. We don't want the White House to sanction this, (well, about 49% of us don't, apparently), but we like to see it anyway. The key is that the anti-hero is generally clearly right, and the guys he's messing up (i.e. torturing to death) are generally clearly wrong.

As usual, Wikipedia has a
pretty good list of comic-book villains.

kateco said...

awesome, val.

I think too, there is also a theme that goes something like: an accident/disfigurement leads the slightly emotionally/morally flawed the proto-villan to proto-evil and then as he/she tries for redemption and misses the ring, the new heavy-coating of embitterment creates the super-villian critical mass.

There is also a movie (based on a French play) to see on the subject of a non-superhero woman who is driven to crime as the result of a childhood disfigurement. It deals with the sticky nature of evil and redemption, of power and powerlessness. It is the Swedish film A Woman's Face (En Kvinnas Ansikte 1938). Ingrid Bergman plays a woman whose face was scarred in childhood. Feeling -- and being made to feel -- that she was not worthy of the "good" world, she turns to crime. When her face is fixed by a plastic surgeon, she tries to start a new life, but -- in order to hide her past from her new employers, she is once again caught up in an evil plot -- involving the murder of a child.

Ingrid Bergman does a compelling heroine, grasping for her slippery inner good. MGM remade it with Joan Crawford in 1941; her good seemed extra slippery somehow.

Mark said...

You dudes are smart. And Val, you're a total geek. Smart though.

Thanks to both for the schooling. Clearly I don't know much about the whole comic book universe, and I'm sure I overstated my argument to Michelle a bit.

But she also misrepresented my position just a tad. All I was saying was that it's better for evil villains to have some sort of character flaw that gets expanded or exaggerated somehow. I didn't think an out-of-control pimple, by itself, was enough to launch evil villainy. But maybe so.

Anyway, another good post and great discussion. You guys rock.

Val said...

heh, I suspected your position wasn't quite that simple. And I think you're right -- an out-of-control pimple by itself is a pretty weak agent of change. It needs to be the trigger that releases a reaction to some long-suppressed wrong.

That's also what is tragic about the presence of evil in the character: She was good, was wronged, resisted the urge to turn evil from the wrong itself, and then some additional injustice pushes her over the edge.

That's so much sadder than a basically bad and nasty character who gets nastier in response to an similar slight.

And, I forgot perhaps the most obvious example: Darth Vader, as it turns out.

freda said...

well, here I was, all ready to tell you about The Green Goblin, (I saw that film at your house by the way), but Val beat me by a mile, and threw in a gazillion other examples, I am going to have to get up earlier in the morning, so to speak. I love the bit about the 'out-of-control pimple".

kateco said...

yes, the 'out of control pimple' really made me smile -- so michelle story line -- it has that medical reporter covering flesh eating disease ring to it ...

kateco said...

wait a minute --- could the villain be a medical reporter who always thinks she has every disease she covers and then she covers flesh eating disease -- some weird new strain -- and she does get it? and no one believes it and the insurance company won't pay for an experimental treatment for it -- which she goes to Haiti to get -- and things go horribly wrong making her grotesque, but able to collect microwaves and channel them through her eyes. And on returning home she saves some children chasing a ball in the street by using her microwaves to melt the car's tires. Still she is reviled by the children and they turn out to be the children of her high school enemies, who also reviled her ... And then hilarity -- I mean super-evil -- ensues.

how about that?

Mark said...

Now you're talking, Kaye. Hypochondriella!

kateco said...

I was thinking that should be ... our hypochondriac medical reporter is working on a story and discovers government black ops is weaponizing flesh eating disease through a process using microwaves ...