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Off My Mind: How do Supervillains Operate Their Secret Hideouts?

Having the perfect base of operations could be a costly factor for villains.

What is the common goal for supervillains? Usually, they just want to rule the world. Being more realistic, it usually comes down to money, lots and lots of money. With a vast fortune, there are many things you can do. With enough money, you could even influence the world to your liking. But that's not how villains operate.

In the planning stages of the evil schemes for world domination, the supervillain needs a place to operate out of. There might be one or two that has a private home or possibly is working out of their parents basement. In order to fully be successful, the villain needs a proper base or secret hideout.

Maintaining an elaborate secret headquarter isn't an easy task. There is a lot of different factors that the supervillain needs to consider. The question is, how can a supervillain afford and operate their secret hideout?

== TEASER ==

Cost is a big factor. If the villains goal is to earn or steal money, that gives the impression they don't have a lot of it to begin with. The elaborate secret base would have a tremendous overhead in keeping it running. The electric bill alone would be murder. Just as many opt to get a roommate to pay the bills, an up and coming villain could try to collaborate with other villains. The Legion of Doom had a pretty fancy secret base hidden in the swamps. Going this route would require the villain to share their headquarters and most likely partake in evil schemes that others have cooked up rather than focus on their own plans.

Because villains are so evil and untrustworthy, teaming up with other villains rarely works. There's bound to be disagreements over whose arch-nemesis to take on this week or what bank to rob. There's also the fact that they have to place their trust in others. All it would take is one careless villain to lead the heroes or authorities to their secret lair.

Other elaborate bases often include underwater locations. The oceans are vast and the heroes don't seem to patrol the underwater areas (besides Aquaman and Namor). They would run into the same maintenance issues but even more so when underwater. The villain would need to make sure they have electrical wiring or some sort of power generator to keep the place running. What do they do about repairs? Over time, the facilities would require some upkeep. What happens if a window starts cracking? Or what if they accidentally lock themselves out? I can't imagine many locksmiths would be willing to travel underwater for a client.

If a villain wanted to go the cheaper route, there's always a warehouse they could use. Comic book universes seem to be overrun with them. The villains would just have to be aware of any zoning ordinances. Is there a specific set or hours they can operate during? Villains often build enormous machinery and they would have to make sure there's no hassles when getting deliveries. Zoning laws could be another issue. Some buildings are meant for commercial purposes and might not allow a person to reside on the property.

What about security? Villains always have an insane amount of security cameras and monitors. Again, this requires a lot of money as well as the high amount of electricity it will take to run them. If a hero was scanning for television frequencies and detected a large amount in what's supposed to be an abandoned factory, it wouldn't take long for them to investigate.

There's also the deadly traps for the heroes once they are lured to the hidden lair. This is the worst idea a supervillain could have. Besides the cost of constructing a trap that could do away with the hero, by inviting them to their hideout, the villain is just going to have to find a new place later. Villains never succeed in doing away with their nemesis. The hero always breaks free and hauls the villain off the prison. Once they break out or are released for good behavior, that secret hideout is now compromised.

A secret hideout should be the last thing a supervillain worries about. Having a proper base costs too much and will eventually be discovered. A villain should put their efforts into creating the perfect plan rather than worry about setting up a posh headquarter.

Operating out a residential home could be tricky due to nosey neighbors and the limits when trying to build a gigantic doomsday device in your basement or backyard. The villain needs to figure out how not to get caught. If they are interested in wealth, paying for a secret hideout is a waste of money. Unless they are given a place or discover a hidden abandoned one, designing a fancy hideout should not be their top concerns. If they can afford an elaborate secret lair then they should rethink their evil plans of robbing banks.

Posted by JonesDeini

I've noticed the villains with elaborate bases tend to be genius types who could find ways to work around all of these practical problems, which honestly would likely not occur in their colorful worlds of masked men in tights. 

Posted by EganTheVile1

I imagine they dont pay electric bills, LOL, if they steal I think that would include electricity... doubt the utility companies are in on the location of the super-villain hideouts.

Posted by EdwardWindsor

the more elaborate the base easier to find surely?. Especially when the smarter heroes who will just look for energy spikes in the area and know which locations arent realeted to power companies other heroes etc.  I do like the idea of hideouts how ever since they do bring quite colourfull backdrops and some are quite iconic such as castle doom.

Posted by SpidermanWins

Awww...I almost want a Sercet Lair now. =)

Posted by dorsk188

<Dr. Evil>
Is it too much to ask for a frickin' giant dome on hydrolics in a frickin' lake?! 
</Dr. Evil>

Posted by Grim

my man cave in my house will be behind a bookcase, with half a dozen tv monitors, and a trapdoor that leads too some stairs... that just go right back into the room.
 i cant wait!

Posted by Cervantes

Just about anything would beat the Technodrome from TMNT with it's WEE BEADY EYE up top. 
I wonder how much supervillain crime is done just to maintain the lavish lifestyle - especially Dr. No-style digs. Joker's got to pay for those booby-trapped amusement park HQs, pulls a big job, upgrades, rinse and repeat. 
That's why he's building his own franchise, JOKER, INC.
Posted by fitchy101

I find that good air conditioning helps. But that's just me...

Posted by Nefarious

They have cameras....lots of cameras.

Posted by cosmo111687

A lot of part-time work, pet-sitting, and holding the world at ransom helps with the bills.

Posted by INCSlayer

thank you for using the swedish ISP Bahnof's server hall in the last picture there its built in an old nuclear shelter underneath the capital city stockholm

Posted by Eyz

They got tons of henchmen so easily...this surprises me more than keeping secret hideouts.
(henchmen who probably take care of their HQ, clean it up, keep it active, etc..)

Posted by sithfrog
@Eyz said:

                They got tons of henchmen so easily...this surprises me more than keeping secret hideouts. (henchmen who probably take care of their HQ, clean it up, keep it active, etc..)

That's a good point!  Are the economies SOOOO bad in the DC and Marvel universes that so many people turn to a life of henching.  I wonder if there is a governing body that dictates how they can operate, like the Guild of Calamitous Intent on the Venture Brothers?
Posted by Golden Cod

I don't think there's a lot of villains with hideouts these days.   When you do see them, they're owned by Mafia-type villains (Count Nefaria, Mr. Negative) or those with extensive resources (Dr. Doom, Bastion).
Maybe they're more prevalent in DC, which would make sense with the Injustice League and other large villain collectives.   Marvel's villains have a poor track record of successful cooperation.

Posted by G-Man

@sithfrog said:

@Eyz said:
They got tons of henchmen so easily...this surprises me more than keeping secret hideouts. (henchmen who probably take care of their HQ, clean it up, keep it active, etc..)
That's a good point! Are the economies SOOOO bad in the DC and Marvel universes that so many people turn to a life of henching. I wonder if there is a governing body that dictates how they can operate, like the Guild of Calamitous Intent on the Venture Brothers?

Posted by Phantim555

Well in DC we know the Calculator finds and covers up expenses for evil hideouts. Then people like Joker find abandoned amusement parks or jokes shops or buildings in general. I think that could apply for any of Batman's villians. Killer Croc hides out in sewers, firefly can hideout anywhere because his flame can act as light. Ivy can hide in the botanicle gardens, a green house, Catwoman usually has a penthouse but the money she steals covers it. I don't read a lot of other hero books so I don't know how they get their hideouts.

Posted by GLCorps2814

Lex Luthor operates normally out of his own company headquarters building, thats pretty classy, and the Rogues have their own pretty nice base with a Bar and all, and even their own hidden cemetery for those less than exceptional circumstances after a plot goes bad.  
Apparently materials, money, locations and laws have no effect on villains like Brainiac, how many times has he just made a base spring up with insane amounts of fancy architecture and huge machinery, some guys just have it all. Magical keys to other dimensions work pretty well, it worked well enough for Prometheus, until, you know, Green Arrow found him, but villains always run the risk of heroes finding their hideouts, but neither parties, hero nor villain, has ever been very good about keeping their secret hideouts a secret

Posted by TerryMcC

The Golden-Age Joker had the most cost effecent lair, a hollowed out grave, or a number to make more room really, we assume he tossed out the former owners.
Posted by sa5m

Their hideout look scary I like the first 1

Posted by Mbecks14
Posted by GraveSp

I remember there was a Batman story, I believe in Streets of Gotham and it had a character who built supervillain hideouts for people.  He built the deathtraps for them too.  

Posted by maemmfc

If a super villain is going to live in a residential house, I suggest living in the country...but in a spot that is accessible to where their evil villainy will be taking place. I mean, you'll at the very least have no (or very little) nosy neighbors, and if you have tons of land, you have enough room for the house itself and for performing many stunts, whether it be for practice or tests, etc.

Posted by G-Man

@GraveSp: The Broker. He first appeared in Gotham City Sirens but has popped up elsewhere as well.

Posted by GraveSp
@G-Man: Thanks that was going to bother me all day
Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

I agree. I'm of the opinion that having a lair or secret HQ is contradictory and non-conducive to the mission of the supervillain.  To have such a facility is a self-defeating gesture that is just asking for a failure here or there.  Many examples come to mind but for now I'll just think of what the failure was of Dr. No/Dr. Evil's secret headquarters int he Bond/Powers films.  They were eventually found out and ultimately the evil organizations paid dearly for it.  It follows the same rule that current terrorist groups follow.  The old paradigm of terrorism is that there would be one central head of the group and the factions would report back to him or serve him/her directly. You cut off the head and the rest of the group falters, much like cutting off the the head of an organism.  Nowadays the paradigm for terrorist activity is multicellular factions, or having no one central structure, but having everything decentralized into smaller units. That way terror's enemies cannot strictly pin them down and concisely win the day.  The same then goes for command structures...if there is no ONE central HQ or none at all, it makes the job of forever defeating the supervillain all the more difficult.

Posted by They Killed Cap!

I would like to live in Castle Grey Skull
Posted by jon Lyndon

Off the Grid. How would  these famous minds behave in role reversal...? If their sides were suddenly altered? To see the Ultimate Parallel-ladoxical Supers anima-animus switch. The Day When the DV Universe is protected by the Mad Legions of Villainous Doom in a now not so Secret Hideaway Lair. Lex Luthor, of course, taking controls at the helm as he, The Joker, Riddler, Manta Ray, Toy Man, Two Face, Cheetah, Poison Ivy and the likes and so forth... all the familiar cerebral cortex villains of our America's most beloved heroes. Into the minds of, as in Morrison's Arkham Asylum, for reference.
Something in the Universe has changed.  For a spell A World Without Heroes. A World Full of Villains. And then the villains begin to change... someone see's the infamous Dr Crane actually save the life of a woman going mad...? His Scare-Crow mask now more crow and less scare.
The rain (perhaps?)  turns green... just to add colour or perchance for some metaphysical scientific reasoning that causes (or not) the Heroes to go Rogue and the Villains to captain Justice. The Fairness Alliance of America teamed up w/ a smaller force of lesser known once-upon-a-time Super Villains now known as The Justice Legion of Canada -from the Injustice... (characters w/ the likes of mad comedic genius: Mister Lux Lerxst; the hulk-like enigmatic demon-thing: YYZ; faster than sound: Red Barchetta, a cyberspacial ghost android: The Camera Eye; white to ultraviolet noise controller: Signals; the swashbuckling Captain Thomas Sawyer; Digital Man & Analog Kid and so forth who rush down south to the aid of the FAA . 
(Yes, of course, there would be Brainiac potentially at the center of this whole dilemma...? Or just still wishing to prove he's more the genius and of a leader than Lex). Or just the aforementioned FAA and none of the Canadien Rush-based character fictions for the DC Universe (I'm just a huge prog-rock Rush fan so I thought I'd just toss that idea in the mix for the fun of it - sounds cool to me).
Yea, I'm Tangential. Anyways, basically, a comic arc that would see the Super Villains of the world now playing Super Heroes while the Dark Detective, Ollie Green, Clark El, Tiny Town, the Boy Wonder, Amazon Woman and so forth have turned a wicked nasty... Jimmy Olsen & Lois Lane off to capture and write the story of their lives as, and as well, how cool the story-arc would be as if written, snapped! & told through their journalistic eyes. Add the dark-noir style for effect.  
Super Villains now S-Heroes minding the Hall of Justice... their counterparts gone criminal? How would those minds behave? 
Just an idea.

Edited by Emperormeister734

Most Villians can operate anywhere it could even be their homeland, Villains whp have power money operate secretly open to the public. Trust me there are a lotta villians who do it everyday without a care. 

Posted by Migz13

I think super villains are smart enough to know how tedious it can be to maintain one's "secret HQ". 
That's why some create an own source of almost omnipotent energy to shed electricity and power to the place.

Posted by Eyz
@G-Man said:

@sithfrog said:

@Eyz said:
They got tons of henchmen so easily...this surprises me more than keeping secret hideouts. (henchmen who probably take care of their HQ, clean it up, keep it active, etc..)
That's a good point! Are the economies SOOOO bad in the DC and Marvel universes that so many people turn to a life of henching. I wonder if there is a governing body that dictates how they can operate, like the Guild of Calamitous Intent on the Venture Brothers?

Now that's something a lot more intriguing!
BTW, unrelated to this subject, 
Hey G-Man, I finally read G-Man yesterday! :D
Posted by Vertigo1981

Nice article, didn't really consider how secret lairs of supervillians are a bit nonbelievable in the scheme of things. Power bills and property taxes can be a real pain sometimes. I like the idea of the old west when bankrobbers just went out into the untamed frontier to hideout with their satchels of money, makes more sense that way.

Posted by Maki_P

I assumed Lex Luthor financed the Legion of Doom HQ, he has the money

Posted by Tariso_Wukong

Same could be said for hero bases :P

Posted by Multiverse

When I read this I thought of what was, up until recently, a real world example. Osama bin Laden hid out in a house in Pakistan. In terms of super-villainy, he got right the idea that you should never directly confront the heroes (the US military). He also got right the idea that you should have a secret hideaway that is difficult for the hero to access (US forces can't really just stroll into Pakistan whenever they want). 
If you want to be a successful comic book super-villain there are a few things you should remember: 
1. Try to avoid leaving evidence of your evil deeds. 
2. Don't personally confront the hero. 
3. The simpler the plan the better. 
4. Hide out somewhere that, if found by the hero, will be difficult to access.

Posted by Lurkero

This is one of those things that we aren't supposed to think about. Just like asking where everyone gets their costumes from and who makes them?

Posted by supapowers

there is a really good book about something like this. it is called "soon i will be invincible" it was a great read.