I was recently in a world of my own and considering Harley Quinn.
This is not unusual for me, I have a penchant for recreating her make up look on a weekday evening with Snazaroo paints and shit make up brushes or for searching online for new articles about her or Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad. But in this particular world I was also considering villains and how we all love them, when we really shouldn’t.
Take Draco Malfoy, for example, J.K. Rowling has already stated that she only thinks it’s Tom Felton’s portayal of the character that’s made him such a focus for those writing fan fiction, but I think those fan fics were already out on the Internet before he turned up in those black and green robes, with his curtained hairstyle on the screen.
Draco Malfoy is a strange character to be attracted to, he’s conceited, spoiled, devious and a major coward -not the strongest traits for a desirable character. However, perhaps it is this vulnerability and his opposition against the overwhelming ‘goodness’ of Harry and his friends that makes him appealing to many?
It’s the same with the Death Eaters, I think Helena Bonham Carter and Jason Isaacs have contributed to people’s love for them but I found it unsettling when I visited the Harry Potter studio tour that there is a whole section in the gift shop dedicated to them.
I mean these characters represent all that is wrong in the world. They’re racist, elitist and evil and people are getting Dark Mark tattoos and wearing t-shirts featuring the masks. I know they’re not real but when you think about it, it’s a little unsettling.
I think villains are appreciated because they can sometimes take something really dark and add a sort of black comedy element to it. The Joker and Loki are both good examples of this, twisting words and using bad puns while maiming innocent people and plotting evil. There’s something inherently charming about them and while you know you shouldn’t like them you can’t help but feel drawn to their characters.
I remember watching The Dark Knight and people leaving the cinema commenting on how much they loved the Joker. I thought to myself, yeah Heath Ledger was great but the Joker is actually a terrible character to love, you guys know that right. However in contrast to the super serious, formidable Batman the Joker’s character actually brought a little, twisted lightheartedness to the film. Maybe lightheartedness isn’t the right word, but we all nervously laughed at him…
I think another element of it is we love to love things that we know are wrong. I had a friend growing up who fancied Steve Buscemi. Now, I’m not saying he isn’t a talented actor or probably a nice bloke but…you know what I mean.
We know it’s naughty to choose Loki over Thor or appreciate side eye from Saruman but that’s why we do it. We know we shouldn’t root for The Count in Dracula but Mina Harker is so bloody annoying we wish (well I do anyway) she’d just turn already and have her head lobbed off.
I love Harley because there’s something intriguingly naughty about her, I know her character is actually insane but she has a back story that makes her transition into a villain understandable. In the comics she’s actually pretty harmless, even in the Arkham games she’s just there to trip Batman up, she’s never the brains behind an evil scheme she just gets so wrapped up lusting after the Joker that she falls into the trap of being used.
Some might say then that as a character she’s weak, but I think this is just her portrayal in the games. In the comics she can be feisty and while he does still mistreat her in the series she does end up doing her own thing with gal pal Ivy in tow in later series (this series that I’ve spoken about before is my favourite.) In the DCnU series however, things get far darker with Harley stealing Joker’s face and putting it on Deathstroke and eventually getting shot and reverting back to Harleen Quinzel for a short time. Yeah. That happens.
Harley is a complex character to say the least, suffering with mental health issues and abuse she is a villain that you feel sorry for but also know could definitely do some damage if you upset her.
We all have a dark streak and I think this is why we embrace villains, they’re always so cool and calculated right up until the heroes inevitably give them an ass kicking at the end of the story.
What do you think? Who’s your favourite villain?