Since the dawn of Superheroes, they have always been associated with fighting crime, protecting people, and furthermore bettering their communities while protecting their identities. Throughout their careers, they are faced with hardships and fighting different villains and scenarios each day. Villains, the ones who cause all this chaos and violence that is to be fought by the hero, seem to develop this symbiotic, mirrored-image relationship with the hero, as representing each other’s complete opposites. Many times, you can hear people say that the superheroes of many comics, movies, and tv shows, are identified by their villains. The villain is there to make the hero look good, as always. When a figure of absolute evil is defeated, the good of the superhero is very much glorified and looked up to and their role in society is justified by these actions.
The archnemesis of heroes and villains do seem to resemble “what might have been” if they were to choose different paths to follow on their journey when realizing the power that they had. What separates the villain from a hero? Could it possibly be bad timing, bad choices, fate, or even just destiny? Villains seem to have been created because of horrible circumstances. Take Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face, from the movie The Dark Knight. He was a man who wanted to play on the good side, who always fought to do the right thing. Fate was not very kind to him when he had started to become the villain. He is quoted saying “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” When this was said, it represented the line of which heroes separated from villains. This line does become very thin , but also does show some key justifications for the existences of either role. When viewing the life of Spider-Man as an example, Peter Parker is just an ordinary high school teenager who just so happens to be bitten by a radioactive spider that gives him special, hero-like powers. The family life and success that he already had in his life are also key characteristics of a superhero. There was no harm or bad happening in his life leading up to this event and he made the right decision on what to do with his powers that were bestowed upon him. Green Goblin, who quickly becomes Spider-Man’s enemy, was born out of “bad” science by Norman Bates. He takes the personality traits of Spider-Man and twists them into evil and nothing more than that.
The relationship of mirror images in heroes and villains is perfectly shown by Batman and the Joker. Batman gives reason for Joker to be terrorizing Gotham because the Joker knows that he will do whatever it takes in order to keep the people safe. Which of course, he takes to his advantage as a game to be able to get to Batman in the movie The Dark Knight by taking Harvey and Rachel and putting them into separate buildings, making Batman must choose who is saved. The Joker also gives reason for Batman to still be there and fighting crime. If it wasn’t for him, Batman would be in jail and would stay there because the police do not like what he does. Making the police seem almost inadequate to be able to protect the city. The Joker is heard saying that Batman completes him and that he never would want to kill him. This is because Joker would be nothing without him. They each give each other a purpose to live in Gotham and to hate each other. Batman is exactly who Joker could never be. Batman’s background story is of a boy who lost his parents because of the corrupt man who shot and killed them in an alleyway that is resembled by the Joker. Batman decides to use his anger, power, and pain against the people that are like the ones that killed his parents and fight crime to protect others to stop this and many other tragedies from happening. The main role of a villain in a superhero’s life is to give the hero legitimacy of the role he is portraying. For Batman in Christopher Nolan’s, Batman Begins, he is seen as a man who must be caught by the police when he is seen. Throughout the movie, Batman begins to pledge a deal with the Lieutenant Jim Gordon who works for Gotham police and tells him that if he keeps being able to stop crimes when the typical police cannot handle the villain who is committing the crimes in the city. When the sequel of this film was released a few years later, The Dark Knight, Batman, who still has the same deal with Gordon, is now faced with the infamous Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker. If Gotham were to not have so many villains as it does have so frequently, would there been any need for Batman at all?
One relationship shared between hero and villain that very much so shows the worst and the best in humankind itself would be Superman and Lex Luthor. Lex Luthor, showing the horrible, ugly, evil side of the world. A man who, occasionally, people do like and join onto his side, is very narcissistic and in a way petty for his attitude toward the good in the world. Superman is a man who was born of strength, bravery, and idolism which is what Lex is so jealous of. This man never had to truly work for what he wanted in life because he was born with the talent. Grant Morrison, who is the author of All-Star Superman, states “We have to recognize them both as potentials within ourselves” (Morrison). When characteristics and personality of both people are analyzed, we can see that Lex Luthor is a perfect example to show that evil intentions, bad thoughts, and rude behavior does not ever truly achieve much in life whereas looking at Superman, he is a man that through everything he is faced with, still approaches each enemy or problem with the same brave and courageous intentions for the good of all, not just himself. He is the ultimate portrait of humanity by showing that all the hardships that are faced by everyone that show the worst in humanity, people need to choose the right path as he does in his everyday life.