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When Have You Rooted for the Bad Guys?

There's certainly many to root for.

 Marv's mug ain't gonna be on a stamp anytime.

Writing for our sister site, Anime Vice, has given me a lot of perspective on these comics I love so much. For instance, I recently asked “When is it OK to Root for the Bad Guy?” in my Almost Otaku column; the topic stemming from an anime show called DEATH NOTE about an unusual kind of vigilante. Rather than put on costume to fight crime, the main character Kira (a teenage class president) kills scores of criminals simply by writing their name into a magic notebook. There’s much more to the show’s premise than that, but I’m bringing it up because there’s been a discussion amongst the Anime Vice lunatics over whether viewers should root for this anti-hero protagonist Kira, or his various lawman antagonists.

Kira’s somewhat of a supernatural Punisher, but I’m not interested in a debate about whether heroes should uses lethal force or not. I’m more interested in extending this discussion of “When is it OK to root for the bad guys?” to comics.  == TEASER ==

 Zealots, drug addicts, megalomaniacs, sociopaths... you know, your old pals.

See, I never really liked crime movies when I was younger because, back then, my answer to that question was a definite “never.” However, as I got older, I realized that was something of a double-standard. Some of my favorite comics characters are the villains: Thanos in THE INFINITY GAUNTLET, the Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT (and the first BATMAN movie, really), MAX's Punisher, the various iterations of SUICIDE SQUAD and THUNDERBOLTS, the monstrous sociopaths in THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN and basically all the characters in SIN CITY.   Their exploits are utterly compelling to follow, because you really can’t predict what they’ll do next and there’s usually a lot more complexity to their characterizations than what you get out of heroes.

I suppose the difference here is that, as evil as these characters ever get, they’re still far enough removed from reality. SIN CITY’s a crime story like the ones I didn’t like as a kid, but nobody’s going to describe it as street-level realism. But what do the Comic Vine maniacs say? When have you rooted for the bad guys?

-- Tom Pinchuk is the writer of UNIMAGINABLE for Arcana Studios and HYBRID BASTARDS! for Archaia. HYBRID BASTARDS! is available  here and UNIMAGINABLE is available here for pre-order on Amazon.com.  

109 Comments
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Posted by hdorman1

i do alot  
one of my favourite characters is Taskmaster 
he isnt a malicious character 
he just wants to challenge others and prove himself 
why does he do is petty crime (and fighting heroes etc..) when his workshops of training villains are so lucrative  
its because he wants to put his ability to the test

Posted by The_Martian
Posted by Jk-Prodigy

Zod in Super Man war

Posted by johnny_spam

Now I have not rooted or cheered for the bad guys but have been compelled by their actions to watch/read anytime Goodfellas is on I tend to watch however much is left. 
 
My problem comes from a stupid played out thing which is making villains good it is a boring trope that undermines the villains it's happened allot to Batman villains like  Catwoman, Riddler, in some ways Bane and some others it's dumb to think that just because someone does not consider themselves a villain does not mean in their actions they should be honorable. 

Posted by No_name_here
@Nobody:  Oh yeah! I should've mentioned that. I love that series.
Edited by jakob187

Posted by ecm1285

Secret Six

Posted by The Man Without Fear

Only when they're killing off crappy characters.

Posted by BaronVonDredd

The "Good Doctor" himself. HAIL DOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Posted by The_Martian
@Tom Pinchuk said:
" @Nobody:  Oh yeah! I should've mentioned that. I love that series. "
It's one of my favorites.
Posted by SoA
@hdorman1:  he's a favorite of mine as well
i always liked the villians i feel they help make a good guy (super or not ) reach a higher level of their popularity 
the good guy has his fighting style , his story , his attitude/personality . i feel a good villian or two helps mold him as a hero 
plus the bad guys always looked cooler and in the movies are winning until the last 15 minutes 
Posted by Mr. Kamikaze

I'm with Marvel Boy as well. I loved that series. Noh is one of my all times favorites....too bad they gave him that stupid costume. 
 
I did find myself rooting for Normy during Dark Reign...sometimes. There was a confusion about him, I felt bad for him....sometimes. Like I hoped he did turn over a new leaf and lead the country into a good place...but alas no...but I knew that from the start

Posted by hdorman1
@SoA: thats a very zoom argument  
Posted by Krakoa
@ecm1285 said:
" Secret Six "
Posted by Silver Knight75

          I might occassionally root for Bane

Posted by The_Martian
@Mr. Kamikaze said:
" I'm with Marvel Boy as well. I loved that series. Noh is one of my all times favorites....too bad they gave him that stupid costume. "
It's too bad they gave him a stupid personality. He went from cocky world conquer to whiny confused teen.
Posted by logan48227

I usually root for the bad guys in crime-themed movies & TV shows (Scarface, King of New York, The Wire, Goodfellas, The Sopranos, etc.), but in comics I only root for Dr. Doom & Thanos.

Posted by BiteMe-Fanboy

M. Bison

Posted by 00 Raiser

Only time I have ever rooted for the bad guys was when I watched some any gundam series from the Universal Century. I always wanted Zeon to beat the Federation.

Posted by SoA
@hdorman1 said:
" @SoA: thats a very zoom argument   "
zoom??
Posted by rasx
@BaronVonDredd:
Yeah! I'm also a big fan of the good doctor and Magneto. 
Also DC's Lobo, the main man. 
Tyler Stone from Spiderman 2099. 
Toyo Harada from Harbinger. 

 
Posted by coolbeans

Dr Doom 
Magneto  (sometimes hes good though) 
Joker 
Bullseye
Posted by hdorman1
@SoA said:
" @hdorman1 said:
" @SoA: thats a very zoom argument   "
zoom?? "
he sets himself as the ultimate villain for the flash in order to improve him as a hero
Posted by gargantus

I almost always like the villain more than the hero as a character even Batman I root for the Joker and the rest the villain cast.  Something is much more intriguing and almost easier to get behind a villain than a hero.  The only time I find myself rooting for a hero is Captain America against Red Skull, because well dude Nazis.

Posted by greenenvy

All the psychopaths such as joker for example because I get a sick thrill out of it and well.... its soooooo  fun ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha : ) Why So Serous? Lets pit a smile on that face! 

Posted by CaptainGenisVell
I would say Kang in Avengers Forever with the Destiny War, since you get to see more into his psyche and he is what most people are today ambitious and bored with life so they jump for a dream....in this case a bloody one. :P
Also since you mentioned DeathNote, I will bring up Code Geass, as I recently watched it from the beginning again; Lelouch is an anti-hero
, yet I loved watching him do it.
 
@BaronVonDredd: 
100% agree with you there.
Posted by Bossjugg

I always rooted for the dark avengers

Posted by SoA

 @hdorman1:  i completely blanked on that one . i thought you meant  zoom as a view like on a camera , not the villian lol thanks for clarifying
but yes the hero is just as good as his villian , batman has joker  superman has  brainiac , wolverine with sabretooth, hulk has the leader , ff have doom  , daredevil has bullseye
etc etc .  hero and villian complete each other so well . in a way i think that is what has comic readers wanting more , not only to see their hero , nut ultimately to see the return of that villain 
, maybe its a subconscious thing? i think i should post  this as a  topic ...  lol

Posted by Gothic Storm

Actually it will be near impossible NOT to root for the villains in Transformers 3 since the main baddie will be Shockwave! All they need to do is redo Soundwave and the Autobots will be in for it! I often root for female villains because it's so fun to watch them beat up on the male heroes.

Posted by Jean_Luc_LeBeau

Villains are my favorite characters. Osborn and company taking over Marvel was epic, I only wish it could have lasted longer.

Posted by Sobe Cin

Myself, I'm a fan of Baron Zemo. Because when first readThunderbolts he just became this dangerous x-factor in the Marvel universe, I wasn't sure what he would do next. Even when he became "good", I still had this inkling in the back of my mind that he wasn't quite done with his master plan. And he still isn't...

Posted by SoA

more villians should have this way of thinking  : 
http://www.comicvine.com/zoom/29-41085/all-images/108-214121/zoom_01/105-1232570/                 thanks  hdorman1

Posted by Theodore

I do it all the time!

Edited by Kid_Zombie
DEXTER! Love that show and he is a serial killer, but he kills bad guys ha
 As for comics, Max Damage from Incorruptible is awesome, and I loved dark avengers and Thunderbolts. but they're all trying to be good ha ha.
So I guess I like bad guys who try to be good? Bad guys always have very compelling stories, same reason i like goodfellas, they are bad guys but its just so damn interesting ha
Posted by Lethal Elegance

 " Zealots, drug addicts, megalomaniacs, sociopaths... you know, your old pals."
 
 
I thought we were talking about comic characters.
☞ Sounds more like modern politics to me.

Posted by LT1085
Posted by Comiclove5
@ecm1285 said:
"Secret Six "
Posted by D-Dude

I've rooted for alot bad guys. Mostly Deadpool, Rorschach, Black Adam, Comedian, Ozymandias, Joker, Iron Patriot, Bullseye Hawkeye, Daken, Rulk, Venom, Doctor Doom, Taskmaster, Punisher. And Carnage.

Posted by longbowhunter

Magneto, Always Magneto!!
Posted by LT1085
@D-Dude said:
" I've rooted for alot bad guys. Mostly Deadpool, Rorschach, Black Adam, Comedian, Ozymandias, Joker, Iron Patriot, Bullseye Hawkeye, Daken, Rulk, Venom, Doctor Doom, Taskmaster, Punisher. And Carnage. "
I'm not sure you understand the difference between villain and anti-hero.
Posted by Kell1775
@jakob187 said:
"
 
"

Awesome movie. 
 
I rooted for the villian,  I supported Iron Man and registration. 
 
And Secret Six is my favorite book each month.
Posted by Grim

always on Deathstrokes side. The dude is too epic to hate, even when he's trying to kill my favorite heroes.

Posted by D-Dude

And DP helped Spiderman and Daredevil.

Posted by Cloudleet

Spike from Buffy, always

Posted by Decept-O

The bad guys help define the heroes, don't they?  While I can't necessarily say I will root for the bad guys all the time, there are times when their exploits make you think their reasonings are valid.   
 
Black Adam, Dr. Doom, and Thanos, and all the characters of the Secret Six (well the writers of these characters) have made me think twice due to their reasonings from time to time, and that's what makes a "good" villain.   
 
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the simple straight forward black and white good guy vs. bad guy scenario, but when a baddie makes you think why he's being bad and you ALMOST agree with his reasoning, well, sign me up, because that's entertainment.  
 

Posted by Namor1987

I always root for the bad guy to be honest villains just do it better. Bastion, Magneto, & Doctor Doom are the best villains ever

Posted by AtPhantom

Is this just about comics? Of the top of my head, Return of the Jedi and Avatar inspire some major rooting for the bad guys.

Posted by RavenDark

IMO if you take your favorite character from the heap of villians and declare him an anti-hero, its ok to root for him....("DOOM will save us!""MAGNETO was RIGHT!")

Posted by buns134

secret six and Deathstroke fighting the justice league in Identity Crisis because that was badass

Posted by Midnightist
 Thanos
I have a deep and grand respect and amazement at Thanos for the sheer will and fortitude he spends on one simple task. I'm amazed with the fact he is truly twisted and yet to me he isn't as evil as some many villains. He doesn't act to harm or cause mayhem or panic or anything like that. He doesn't care if the universe is in fear or anything he does what he does because he believes death is better than life and something many can't say is he has succeeded. 
 
 
 
Doctor Doom
Victor Von Doom is someone who simply gains respect at every word that he is written at saying. Doctor Doom's goal is to rule the world but not because he wants it to become a twisted and ruined place of hate and pain he wants to rule the world so that it is not that. He wants a grand Utopia that he knows he can provide for all and he simply feels the ends justify the means. Meaning he will use any tactic he feels is best (ex. his constant combination of the use of both magic and science which are 2 opposing forces) I can honestly say I wish each day Doom would rule the world.
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