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47 Comments

Off My Mind: Why Do Heroes & Villains Flock To Big Cities?

Do heroes attract villains or do villains attract heroes?

When you read superheroes comics, where do they often take place? In a big city. Whether it's in New York City or a made up Gotham City, this is where the superhero/villain fights usually occur. Why is this the case? It's almost a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" question. Do heroes station themselves in the big cities because that's where the villains operate or do villains target the cities because that's where the heroes work?
 
I get that a big city will have more opportunities for the supervillain. If they're looking to make a big score, whether it's knocking over a bank or raiding the local science lab, chances are they'll find more in a big city. What I don't understand is why would they take the risk when a city is being protected by a superhero that pretty much always catches the "bad guys"? 
 
It's not like big cities are the only ones with banks or other opportunities to make money. It seems like it would make more sense to rob a bank in a city protected by just the local law enforcement. Assuming the villains have some sort of power or high tech gadgets, this would make their lives so much easier.
 
Perhaps it's the thrill of stealing on a hero's home turf might be the motivation they're really looking for. Pulling off a heist on the streets where the big hero lives can add a lot of street cred to a criminal trying to make a name for themselves. Chances are they also aren't too crazy about living/operating in the middle of no where. 
 
I guess it just depends on whether or not the villains are just looking for a big score or if it's really about beating the hero. If a hero moves to a small town and makes their presence known, would the supervillains start looking at buying a new house and renting moving trucks? It just seems like it would make more sense for the villains to stay away from a hero's base of operation.
47 Comments
Posted by Precise

I'd say it's a matter of power and respect. Let's say Spider-man was the protector of a small village in Alaska, Hardly as impressive as New York now is it? :p Same goes for villains

Posted by MichaelBach

Better shopping malls, fastr internet, more StarBucks :)

Posted by SUPER-MAN 23

Villains know that small cities are not going to have more money. And besides how are villains like Joker, Sandman or someone else going to earn a name for themselves? I think the reason they pick huge cities is because they like the thrill. 

Posted by Decept-O

Better bagels?

Posted by jstarzyk

Big cities mean more civilians.  Statistically there are higher levels of street crime in cities.

Posted by Jake Fury

Stark Tower beats the crap out of the Holiday Inn in Montgomery,AL.
Posted by Schabbe

" It's almost a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" question. Do heroes station themselves in the big cities because that's where the villains operate or do villains target the cities because that's where the heroes work?"
 
I disagree.. villains came first. A hero would't appear in a world without crime...
 
 
I'm just sayin'

Edited by EdwardWindsor

Villians are where theres opportunities   for a crime to occour,  bigger the city the more chances. Heros  are about to minimise these chances. Without villians there would be no need for heroes.

Posted by Nerx

They secretly love destroying buildings since growing up watching Godzilla movies

Posted by MysterioMaximus

Well I mean...web swinging doesn't exactly work all that great in Cleveland.    

Posted by Archetype

I could definitely see an intelligent and capable villain robbing a lot of small banks in the middle of nowhere and making a lot of cash without too much effort.Of course even these small towns and cities might have superheroes just not the big names and in Marvel they have the Initiative so if there are a string of bank robberies more than likely that state's team will get called in and then even a decent villain might be in trouble.There are always small time heroes we just don't hear about in other places or at least that's what I assume otherwise the rest of the country that isn't New York or one of DC's big cities would be in a lot of trouble.

Posted by the_fallen11
@Schabbe said:
" " It's almost a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" question. Do heroes station themselves in the big cities because that's where the villains operate or do villains target the cities because that's where the heroes work?"  I disagree.. villains came first. A hero would't appear in a world without crime...   I'm just sayin' "
Agreed.
Edited by MysterioMaximus
@lazystudent said:

"Villians are where theres opportunities   for a crime to occour,  bigger the city the more chances. Heros  are about to minimise these chances. Without villians there would be no need for heroes. "


I agree mostly, though I think it would be more apt in saying that crime came first, heroes second, villains third, if you get my meaning. It's just basic escalation, the super villains came out of the superheroes, criminals had to adapt to fight "lawful" vigilantism, and the "lawful" superheroes stem out of basic criminals.
Posted by warlock360
@jstarzyk said:
" Big cities mean more civilians.  Statistically there are higher levels of street crime in cities. "

Posted by Nova`Prime`

I would say its because the big cities are where most crimes occur, its rare a small town takes the title #1 in some crime. The criminal leads to the hero, without the mugger who killed Batman's parents there would be no Batman, without the carjacker who killed Uncle Ben there would be no Spiderman. Although it always seems that its the small timers that make the heroes. So one would imagine those villains that have dreams of world domination, like Dr. Doom, would wipe out the two bit hustlers, pimps, and crocks that make heroes spring up.

Posted by ILuvMsMarvel

Number one reason they don't do all this in small towns: Secret identities... You live in a town of like 5,000 - 10,000 and guess what, people are going to find out who you are real quick. Live in a big city with lots of people, anyone could be anyone.

Posted by Moomin123

 

Big cities have more crime.

Posted by The Avenging Angel

Well as far as heroes are concerned; they operate out of bigger cities because of the significantly larger population. They realize that they need to protect the greatest number of people that they can, so they work centrally out of big cities. And since most smaller towns are situated around big cities, it helps them to be able to protect them too. 
 
As far as villians go; a large city make it easier to commit crime because even superheroes, just like the police, can't be everywhere at once. So if a villian can commit a crime while the hero is on the other side of the city; it GREATLY reduces the chances of them getting caught.

Posted by Theodore

More to steal, more crimes to stop.

Posted by LB70145

Well many of the creators of these major character lived in big cities like NY. I think the fact that many super villains happened to be in those big cities were kinda coincidence (like Lex Luthor). Anyways, most villains want recognition, so attacking a random small town won't give them any fame. Attacking New York will give any nobody villain fame.

Posted by gui22

New york i love you!

Posted by War Killer
@Jake Fury said:
"Stark Tower beats the crap out of the Holiday Inn in Montgomery,AL. "


Lol, I live in Alabama and I agree with you on that xD
Posted by Riezner

More stuff to destroy, which gives the heroes something to fix later. See, they're just running in a circle or destruction-reconstruction in order to stay relevant and needed. Pretty messed up if you ask me.

Posted by G-Man
@Schabbe: I'm talking more about supervillains. What's the history of super-crimes in Metropolis before Superman came around? How many costumed villains were in Gotham before Batman?
Staff Online
Posted by Aspenite
@Moomin123 said:
"

 

Big cities have more crime.

"
Posted by InnerVenom123
@Precise said:
" I'd say it's a matter of power and respect. Let's say Spider-man was the protector of a small village in Alaska, Hardly as impressive as New York now is it? :p Same goes for villains "
Posted by Schabbe
@G-Man: well you answerd the question then? there were no supercrimes before that, therefore, hero first, villain later?
 
no?
Posted by The Devil Tiger

By fridge logic, the majority of people lives in city, statistically it' more probable to have superhero there.

Posted by dondasch

It's quite obvious really.  Starbucks!
 
Imagine the scene in downtown New York.  Spiderman, Doctor Octopus, Kraven the Hunter sitting down to a latte and discussing how the day's going to turn out....

Posted by greenenvy

I am waiting for a Las Vegas setting for a good superhero tale to come up. Come on creators add a superhero in the city of sin for once. Las Vegas is corrupted and if people are getting tired of big cities than Sin city is the way to go in either a classic way or modern way too. Plus are 51 to yuka mountain is around the corner so how perfect is that guys duh. I guess I will have to do it myself as a writer then.

Posted by DarkSyde79

 Being from DC, I always thought of it as a prime location for storytelling on the larger level. But hey, when yankees create things… they do what they know… which is not much more than NY most time. Although for some characters, like Spider-Man, I understand why he’s stationed where he’s stationed. 

Posted by homeslice

If they weren't stationed in public/busy areas no one would notice their snazzy outfits.

Posted by Quest

a part of it is haveing huge fights in citys is more intersting then a villain owning a small town all the time i like the article but who gives  that they fight in the city all the time
Posted by Gylan Thomas

A small town superhero would be kinda redundant. Or at least less usefull than a city hero.

Posted by Calvin

Superheroes need day jobs! 

Posted by WW-Fan

well maybe beguse the most people lives in the big city and the big banks are there so it makes sence :)
Posted by jamdown
@Precise:
tu shea, very good poit
Posted by aztek_the_lost

It's all about publicity, no one cares if you save/destroy some little town (The Simpsons Movie provides the proof of this)

Moderator
Posted by Violet-Eyed Dragon

many of the villains got their powers in mafia or gang related incidents, or operate as a mafia or gang.  since mafia and gangs are most located in the big cities, there is more activity there.
 
also, do they ever say how many supervillains there are OUTSIDE OF THE CITY that no one catches or cares about 

Posted by Demonturtle

A villian needs to set up shop in Vegas!  Lotsa moola and no stationed heros.  There's no place like home.
Posted by DH69

better chances of a mcdonalds and starbucks bein right around the corner. cant fight crime without crappy over priced coffee and a 1/4 pounder

Posted by save.me.now

ILUVMsMarvel actually has a great point about the secret identity thing. I'd imagine there would be plenty of reasons for the big city thing though. For one the fight scenes in the city/urban just have more potential. An artist can do a lot more with skyscrapers, cars, statues etc. than they could with let's say, one storie buildings, grain silos or a field of corn. Plus big cities have alleys, banks and armored cars that's where like 40%(totally made up figures, but you should get my point) of crime happens anyway. And going back to the secret identity thing, for the heroes that do have secret identities I would imagine it's easier for a lot of them to gather in one large city and go unnoticed. A bunch of people who all "just happened to disappear" whenever a crime happened would be pretty hard to miss. Any superhero teams in general would just be impossible. And where the heck would all the secret hideouts go. If teams like the Cabal always met in a field of wheat, it would just look a lot less sinister. Anyway these are a bunch of small points but when you combine then with more substantial ones they really add up. I think it makes a lot of sense that most of these comics are set in big cities.

Posted by Lustwish

its rather simple why they do.  Less exposure the better in regards to the secret identity for one.  Two, because there is more of pretty much everything.  What do most teenagers do when they are done highschool?  They want to go away to college or university right? And where are most of the big well known academic institutions and party lots? in major cities and larger communities.  There are more people, more opportunities and well in the case of heroes, more crime and more purpose.  Villians attack the major cities because the want to control the population and its a lot more work for the hero, thus more challenge and purpose for the hero.  I don't think Superman would have a lot to do in Kansas and Smallville.  Crops are drying up, need water Superman. 

Posted by TheMess1428

Most of these heroes and villains actually just ended up living in these big cities. Superman is the only one I can remember ever moving away from a small town to a big city. Spider-Man grew up in NYC and Batman was born in Gotham City. I am not sure if Wonder Woman counts as to moving to a big city since villains have tried attacking Themyscira as well. 
 
And why does it have to a big city or a middle of nowhere town? What about the medium cities? Like Bakersfield, California and Omaha, Nebraska. Omaha is the biggest city in Nebraska and isn't as small as people would think. Bakersfield is growing all the time. Going to become as big as Los Angeles eventually. Why can't they have heroes and villains?

Posted by darkxman123

im gonna say 50/50 

Posted by Big

Heroes stand out, which makes them potential targets for discrimination, like Mutants, or anybody that runs around in a costume. Big cities offer a sense of anonymity and acceptance unlike any other community. Villains have huge egoes. It's always all about them. Knocking over a bank in Bakersfield doesn't compare to taking over a municipal compound in Metropolis. So the stakes are higher, and so is the pay-off.

Posted by BiteMe-Fanboy

small cities = better chance to get caught by the law.