The Instigator
Dmetal
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
J-Gal
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Villains are misunderstood (i.e. Magneto, the Joker, etc.)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/25/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,057 times Debate No: 17255
Debate Rounds (3)
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Dmetal

Pro

Villains are misunderstood in that their perspective is misrepresented. Let us take Saber-tooth, Wolverine's arch-nemesis. He is portrayed as a beastly savage who has completely no sense of decency or morality. Wolverine, on the other hand, is depicted as a savage although with a moral code, albeit a tough code. More or less, Wolverine is violent but not too violent. If you found out that your ex-partner in the CIA, now archenemy, received some killer, indestructible metal surrounding his bones, wouldn't you be a little mad? Saber-tooth's rage is somewhat legitimate. The main point, however, is that we have two violent characters with a similar background and seemingly similar tactics facing an opponent, i.e. they both come for blood. One is clearly a hero while one is clearly a villain. There seems to be a contradiction here. How could both be so similar yet so different?
Let us focus now on Lex Luthor, Superman's archenemy. In this example we have, instead of two similar characters, two characters who diametrically oppose one another. We are never given Luthor's perspective. We see Superman as an idyllic figure of democracy and freedom. The problem with Superman is that we impose impossible characteristics upon him. No one is entirely "good." He's bound to use that x-ray vision to look up skirts or through the ladies' bathroom, or the guys' if he actually swings that way. We never get to see that side. Instead, our attention is diverted to Luthor. Could Luthor possibly be a figure looking out for the human race? Think about it. An alien crashes on earth, has unlimited powers, and seemingly NEVER abuses them. This sounds like propaganda. I don' know who's funding Superman, but he has one hell of a publicist. Luthor is, in my opinion, a misunderstood businessman, looking to level the playing field.
All this reminds me that every villain is a hero in his own story.
What does Con have to say about this?
J-Gal

Con

I would agree with my opponent that some villains are misunderstood, which provides them with a tragic flaw in their character which holds them back from being neutral or a hero. Venom, Spiderman's rival-of-sorts is a good example of this, as he plays the role of protagonist just as often as he does antagonist. My opponent however, clearly said: "All this reminds me that every villain is a hero in his own story." This quote means that EVERY villain is, or at least considers themselves a hero in their own right. To that I must say, is completely against what the Joker (see debate title) is about. Depending on which chronology you follow and what you consider canon, the story of the Joker varies greatly. However, no matter what incarnation of the character you look at, he never considers himself a "hero", or is misunderstood at all. He makes it quite clear what he is about. He is a psychopath with no empathy towards anyone, especially in the modern comics and the film The Dark Knight. He is simply a twisted man who enjoys watching others suffer. This is a common theme in comics, and these characters are called "card-carrying villians", which is particularly appropriate for Joker as he is literally a card-carrying villain. (hehe)
Magneto is also an example of someone who might stand for a "worthwhile cause", but in the early comics, he even acknowledges the evil in his group by naming his team "The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants". He seems to not only perceive his group as amoral, but embraces it.
And finally, probably the best support for my argument, is this quote by Contagion, which was said in the comic Wolverine: The Best There Is.
"I am not the hero in my own story. I am the bad guy. I have no end in mind that justifies my means. There are no skeletons in my closet, no abusive childhood or inciting misery that might expiate my vile behavior. Nor am I insane. I know the difference between good and evil. And I am fully capable of empathizing with the pain, emotional or physical, of others. No sociopath, I. Rather, I simply prefer bad over good. Wrong over right. Dirty over clean. Sick over healthy. Untrue over true."
Summed up, some villains are evil simply because they like being evil. Sadly, I know many people like this in real life as well. Some villains are misunderstood, but it's a gross overstatement to say they all have their reasons.
Debate Round No. 1
Dmetal

Pro

Thanks for accepting the debate!
When we read a comic or watch a movie, we are viewing a perspective. It is always created by someone else; therefore, when we see the Joker, or any villain for that matter, we are seeing what someone else wants us to see. We should remember that the crux of my argument is not the saying I'm reminded of but the actual resolution as stated above. The saying is something to think about. My opponent alludes to this somewhat, although unintentionally, when he says, "Depending on which chronology you follow and what you consider canon, the story of the Joker varies greatly. However, no matter what incarnation of the character you look at, he never considers himself a "hero", or is misunderstood at all. He makes it quite clear what he is about. He is a psychopath with no empathy towards anyone...." Within that story he does not consider himself a hero, but that is exactly it: he is not writing the story. Someone else is. In the movie Joker seems more amoral than anything, which is why he is the bad guy. The film, The Dark Knight, constructs an easily identifiable set of binary opposites: justice/crime, hero/villain, good/evil, moral/amoral (immoral). Amoral and immoral are conflated to such a degree that we see any character, such as the Joker, who opposes a moral system is in fact immoral.
I would not like to debate whether Joker is indeed moral, immoral, or amoral, but how he is misrepresented. The film, or any storyline, depicts only the "bad" side of Joker and, for the most part, emphasizes the "good" side of Batman. Reality is certainly more complex than that. Batman is bound to do something we may frown upon. For god's sake, he is a vigilante and answers to no man! This is simply a dangerous man with a good publicist.

"I am not the hero in my own story. I am the bad guy. I have no end in mind that justifies my means. There are no skeletons in my closet, no abusive childhood or inciting misery that might expiate my vile behavior. Nor am I insane. I know the difference between good and evil. And I am fully capable of empathizing with the pain, emotional or physical, of others. No sociopath, I. Rather, I simply prefer bad over good. Wrong over right. Dirty over clean. Sick over healthy. Untrue over true."

This quote is simply unrealistic and unsupportable. How can one indeed live a life they believe to be wrong in every way? Obviously, he believes "wrong" to be "right," or he wouldn't live that way. Another possibility is that he has no moral code; hence, he is amoral. This character is being misrepresented, and we can tell he is by his apparently unjustifiable lifestyle. His lifestyle is simply misconstrued.

"...but it's a gross overstatement to say they [villains] all have their reasons."

I'm not arguing they have their reasons. I'm arguing they are misrepresented, misunderstood, have no voice, etc.
J-Gal

Con

J-Gal forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Dmetal

Pro

Dmetal forfeited this round.
J-Gal

Con

J-Gal forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
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