[Editor’s Note: Welcome back from the Holidays! I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! And that you didn’t spend Christmas like me, dodging down black alleys, hiding in trashcans, and sneaking around in a coat and ski mask, all so that I could obtain the following transcript from my top secret double agent currently undercover at the Academy of Ultimate Villainy.
It was harrowing. But I survived that 3 story fall from the rooftop into the dumpster and (most importantly!) the briefcase with the precious transcript remained intact!
Here is installment number two from the Academy of Ultimate Villainy on Villainy 101 – 5 Things Every Villain Should Do.]
SPEAKER: Ladies and gentlemen, students, sub-villains, villains, and arch-villains, and any evil henchmen too dull to read the “no evil henchmen permitted” sign on the door, welcome to Villainy 101!
Once again our illustrious Instructor of Villainy has returned safe from battling heroes and their sickening good causes, to speak on the FIVE things a villain should employ to achieve Ultimate Villainy. Pay attention like evil little villains and learn from the worst of the worst! Our dastardly villainous Instructor!
INSTRUCTOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Once again, may I say what a terrible pleasure it is to be here this evening! Ahem. No cameras, if you please. Pictures are absolutely forbidden. Violators will be fed to the dragon!
Now, to begin. 5 things a villain should employ to achieve Ultimate Villainy.
Mystery is the key to evil villainy. Now, I know that you will recall from our last session that I warned against the dangers of the grandiose speech and info download, and said that silence was key to villainy. Mystery outranks silence.
There are two forms of mystery which may be employed by the astute villain.
The first is in regard to planning. You must maintain mystery in regard to your evil plots and devious plans. Do not speak your plans aloud – you can see how this is tied to the speeches, do you not?
Heroes are the worst eavesdroppers in the world! Many a poor villain has spouted off the particulars of his plan in what he thought was the privacy of his secret lair, only to discover too late that he had company! You may have the most elaborate security system in the world, the best guard dog, the finest trip wires, and a state of the art alarm system. Regardless, the heroes will get in, and they will overhear, and you will die.
In fact, it’s best if you don’t even think your brilliant plans. Authors are mind readers. And as we’ve already said, authors are always ALWAYS on the heroic side. Keep your plans a mystery!So, don’t speak your plots aloud. Don’t write them down. And never, ever, leave top secret files lying around. Or passwords already typed into computers. Seriously? Better yet, don’t store your top secret plans on the computer. Heroes are excellent hackers.
The second aspect of mystery employed by dastardly clever villains is the mystery of identity! On the whole, we villains are a terrifying breed. Men quake at the merest whisper of our names. Identity and reputation is everything. There are some, however, of a less fear inspiring sort (or those who wish to keep their identities hidden for nefarious purposes) who must resort to other methods. A mysterious identity is the thing for these villains.
3 steps to achieving a mysterious identity:
- Forget your own name. It is no longer yours. You have a new name. There is some controversy over whether a mysterious villain should suggest his own name or leave it to the terrified commoners to supply. I have seen many a poor mysterious villain labeled with the ignoble epithet of Bigfoot or Boogeyman due to bystander ignorance and lack of creativity. Generally, I find it best to use one of those random Villain name generators available on the Internet.
- Choose a wardrobe – preferably something dark and scary. Ordinarily, I am in favor of a wide range of colors for Villains (black is so cliched!). However, when it comes to Villains maintaining a mysterious identity, dark colors are necessary to inspire the proper fear and elusivity. Ski masks, eyes masks, hooded robes, black top hats, walking sticks, strange face painting jobs, etc. are considered absolutely necessary accessories. If you are in need, contact our Villainous Wardrobing department to acquire these basic necessities.
- Work out. I’m sorry, one does not become a Top Villain by sitting on the couch and munching on cheese curls. Prospective mysterious villains must take evil ninja lessons. You must be able to appear and disappear like a flash. Here and there. Now then gone. Like a shadow. Or a big black butterfly flitting from place to place. Yes, Mr. Speaker, I know that “butterfly” is a taboo word. Bat then. A big black bat.
- A bonus one! I’m really too generous for my own good. A mysterious villain must strive for unpredictability. Spontaneity is necessary. Rule of thumb: Never show up when expected, and always show up when not expected.
*door bursts open and black clad figure rushes across stage, pauses to bow to the audience, and disappears in a flash, bang, and cloud of smoke.*
Ah yes, the Black Phantom. Excellent, isn’t he?
Yes, I invented the word. No, don’t summon the linguistics or grammar police! I doubt they would care to show up here anyway.
Villains get such a bad name in regard to sinistry. The villains portrayed in modern television shows as supposedly dark and sinister are scarcely more than bumbling idiots prancing around in black robes, throwing in an evil chuckle now and then (horrors!) and utterly failing in the department of sinistry!
A true villain should be sinister. Not merely frightening. But soul shattering, knee quivering, lip tremblingly sinister. How does one attain sinistry? By attending my classes of course! Sinistry is often tied to mystery. The unspoken word, the all-knowing look, and the foul smirk all add to sinistry, and unfortunately, the grandiose speech does not.
Villains often use physical tools or appearance to achieve a sinister impression. What is more sinister than Captain Hook’s hook? Or Darth Vader’s creepy breathing? Admittedly, the movies did not give full justice to Captain Hook or Darth Vader. If the common humans ever met the real villains! Pray excuse me a truly evil chuckle as I contemplate the incident.
It has often been said that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. Never was a truer word spoken. Villains are geniuses. We are also often insane. And proud of it! Insanity coupled with power inspires fear and terror in the hearts of men like nothing else.
In fact, this route to ultimate villainy has proved so effective throughout history that many villains – regardless of their mental stability – claim insanity and act insanely in order to further their own reputations. Insanity also gives the villain a slight advantage. Who can help but pity a madman? And who can hold a madman wholly culpable for his insane acts?
As I mentioned last time, unless you have received complete and adequate training in the true evil laugh (as of course, I have!), the insane approach is the only time when an evil laugh may be usefully and most fearfully employed.
4) The Miserable Backstory
“But I didn’t ask to be like this. It was my poor upbringing. It was my miserable childhood. It was my abandonment at the age of three that embittered me. It was the author’s fault. It was anyone or anything but me!”
The miserable backstory. Make the most of it. Tell it wherever you can. Even if you have to make it up on the spot. Every evil villain has a miserable backstory. Nowadays, when commoners are more concerned about motivation and psychology than criminals actually taking responsibility for wrong doing, it is easy for the sagacious villain to pass the buck.
An evil villain is often called upon to drop the Miserable Backstory at a moment’s notice, so I suggest writing it out beforehand and memorizing it until you can say it effectively. A few tears work wonders. And that terrible little catch in your voice when you talk about “Mumsie dear’s piteous end!” will catch the hero off guard every time.
Heroes are tough in battle, but incredible softies when it comes to actually pitying people. The Miserable Backstory will work every time! It is also an excellent way to engage reader sympathy and interest. Once the reader is emotionally involved, the battle is half won!
And once the hero falls for the sob story, victory lies but a quick blow away!
But wait, before I introduce my next topic and while I am still on the topic of victory, I must… yes, I must make one disclaimer. Bear with me.
A villain strives for victory, but a villain should not expect to win.
*the crowd erupts* What? Lies! Treachery!
Silence. Silence. Cease this uproar immediately! Villains are doomed to failure. It’s a hard fact to swallow, but it is all too true.
Heroes have omniscience on their side. The authors know everything. Why, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if there are authors listening in right now.
[Editor’s note: You can be sure that when I read this I was glad that I wasn’t there! I shudder to think what might have happened to an author caught eavesdropping in the Academy of Ultimate Villainy!]
Booooo! Hisssssss! He’s a hero-friend! Kick him out!
Hear me out! I’m simply stating the truth. And then there’s something about this age old battle of good against evil, light against darkness, that keeps cropping up in so many fantastical and fictional works. Something about evil going to be destroyed forever. It’s depressing, but villains must not be dismayed! Instead, we must…
TAKE HIM TO THE DRAGON!
What? No. You can’t do that to me! *static on radio* Red Alert. Riot in subterranean room 112, class Villainy 102! Send backup. Please! Ahhhhh!
[Editor’s Note: At this point in time, my contact thought it prudent to slip away before the building collapsed beneath the villainous tumult. Sadly, I therefore do not know what became of the evil Instructor of Villainy, what number 5 was going to be, or whether I will be able to obtain any more transcripts from the Academy of Ultimate Villainy or not.]