This weekend, the Wife and I went to see the new X-Men movie. It's was alright. It reminded me of this season's "24" with the heroes from the first two movies that died in this movie.
Now, before we go any further, understand that I'm not a comic book reader. I've never read the X-Men comics. If you read them, you'll likely ... based upon X-Men comics readers I've talked with ... not be a huge fan of the movie, but will appreciate some of what they're trying to do.
Me, I've never read the comics, as I've said, but did enjoy the movies. Especially the villians.
While the deaths of Cyclops, Professor Xavier, and Jean Grey/Phoenix were troublesome, what really concerned me was the loss of powers by two villians: Mystique and Magneto. Of course, at the end, it appears that Magneto is regaining his powers. And I'm glad. I like him as a villian.
That's one of the things that's special about the X-Men movies ... and the comics, from what I understand ... is that the villians are not blindly evil, but misguided.
As a villian, Magneto is a great villian. He's human. Okay, mutant. But with human failings. As a child, he lost his parents to the Nazis. He was in a concentration camp, and still carries the tattoos from that. One understands his hatred.
But enough of the X-Men. I've enjoyed some other villians.
One of my favorites was the X-Files character named CGB Spender. He was better known the Cigarette Smoking Man. In that series (and in the movie) the Cigarette Smoking Man (wonderfully played by William B. Davis) truly believed in what he did.
Remember, this is the fellow that killed John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. And didn't want to kill either. But, he did what he thought he had to do. He really thought he was doing the right thing ... and that helped make him a great villian.
I hated when he was finally killed by the missle at the end of the X-Files series. I hoped upon hope that somehow, he'd manage to survive another day.
And, this next bit might sound silly (as if this whole thing isn't silly enough already), but I think the villians are one of the reasons for the popularity of professional wrestling.
I remember watching my great-grandmother watch Georgia Championship Wrestling on TV, with Gordon Solie telling the story of the battle in the squared circle while rabid fans cheered and jeered. And my great-grandmother enjoyed her wrestling. Or, as it was commonly called, rasslin'. And one of the greatest villians I remember from that time-frame was Ox Baker. Douglas "Ox" Baker had the good fortune of having not one, but two, wrestlers die either in the ring while facing him or shortly afterward. In neither instance was Ox Baker responsible (both had pre-existing medical conditions) ... but it was used by promoters to push Ox Baker as a villain. And it worked.
The villians are what make professional wrestling so popular. Ric Flair, one of the most popular wrestlers of all time, is a heel. A bad guy. A villian. And fans love him. And hate him. At the same time. Richard Fliehr is 57 years old, and still wrestling.
The Steve Williams character "Stone Cold Steve Austin" is actually a bad guy. And has been a bad guy for a long time. But fans love him. He's a villain. But he's the villian the fans come to see. True, he doesn't wrestle anymore. But he's a draw. He'll always draw a crowd.
Same for Hulk Hogan. When he turned heel a while back, after jumping from the WWF to WCW, he was still a huge draw. People wanted to see him lose. And he often didn't. But, as big as he was, he became the most popular wrestler of all time after he became a villain.
So often, people don't watch wrestling to see the good guys win so much as watch the bad guys lose. And, often in wrestling, the bad guys don't lose.
Having villians you love so much (like Magneto and the Cigarette Smoking Man) ... or hate so much (like Ox Baker) ... keep people involved.
Yeah, sometimes it gets really, really silly. Like many people's obsession with George W. Bush. They remind me so much of my great-grandmother hating Ox Baker. But she reacted like she was told to react. Ox was the bad guy and to be hated. Much like many tell people to hate George Bush.
For me, I really enjoy the villians that I can love as well as hate. Like Magneto. And the Cigarette Smoking Man. And Ric Flair.
They're villians, sure. But they aren't real. And it's okay to be stupid in unreal situations.
The trick is to know the difference.