Is beauty a good motivation for being a villain?

Posted by RazzaTazz (9698 posts) - - Show Bio

 


 

   Two of Wonder Woman’s more iconic villains, Cheetah and the Silver Swan have been motivated either partially or completely through their character history’s by jealousy over Wonder Woman’s fame and beauty.   In my opinion this is a blatant example of how the character is perceived and created by mostly male writers, and how Wonder Woman is often poorly written.   Would it be well received if the Joker one day admitted he has been killing people all those years because he is secretly jealous of Batman’s pecs or Nightwing’s abs and that he never really meant to hurt anyone?   Or that Luthor finally admitted his great rivalry with Superman was due to the fact that Kal-El has a full head of hair and he has none?   All comic book characters are overwhelmingly attractive unless they are specifically meant not to be, yet it is unique among Wonder Woman’s enemies that they are motivated in whole or in part by their jealousy over her beauty.   As many other cases of female characters being written poorly I think this is a case of a poor understanding of what women think about.   Sure there were a couple of times in my high school where a couple of girls got in a fight because they were jealous of one another, but 99.9% of girls would never conceive of a prettier girl being a direct threat in such a way, at least no more so than an attractive guy would do the same.   Vanity isn’t a good motivation in real life, so why should it be in comics?    

#1 Posted by tensor (4936 posts) - - Show Bio

i don't see a problem with it ,its comics

#2 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (34344 posts) - - Show Bio
@RazzaTazz said:
"

 

   Two of Wonder Woman’s more iconic villains, Cheetah and the Silver Swan have been motivated either partially or completely through their character history’s by jealousy over Wonder Woman’s fame and beauty.   In my opinion this is a blatant example of how the character is perceived and created by mostly male writers, and how Wonder Woman is often poorly written.   Would it be well received if the Joker one day admitted he has been killing people all those years because he is secretly jealous of Batman’s pecs or Nightwing’s abs and that he never really meant to hurt anyone?   Or that Luthor finally admitted his great rivalry with Superman was due to the fact that Kal-El has a full head of hair and he has none?   All comic book characters are overwhelmingly attractive unless they are specifically meant not to be, yet it is unique among Wonder Woman’s enemies that they are motivated in whole or in part by their jealousy over her beauty.   As many other cases of female characters being written poorly I think this is a case of a poor understanding of what women think about.   Sure there were a couple of times in my high school where a couple of girls got in a fight because they were jealous of one another, but 99.9% of girls would never conceive of a prettier girl being a direct threat in such a way, at least no more so than an attractive guy would do the same.   Vanity isn’t a good motivation in real life, so why should it be in comics?    

"
I read an article in the paper yesterday about woman are genetically programmed to feel threatened by women who are better looking or have a better body than them.
Is it not Hushes whole deal with Bruce that he's jealous of his life and that Lex is jealous of Superman being earth's savour and not him?
#3 Posted by tensor (4936 posts) - - Show Bio
@spiderbat87: yeah beauty could do it have you ever seen model fight or pageant queen just brush there hair or smudge there make up its on
#4 Posted by RazzaTazz (9698 posts) - - Show Bio


 

I think you are missing the point, there are cases where of course women fight over beauty.  Conversely there are cases where grown men fight over Lego.  I just don't think its a good motivation for a comic book villain is all.  Hush and Luthor may be jealous but they are not jealous of beauty.  Being jealous of Wonder Woman's accomplishments is ok as a motivation (and this is more that the Cheetah is as opposed to her beauty)

#5 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (34344 posts) - - Show Bio
@RazzaTazz: This is totaly off topic but have you ever read Shrapnel by Radical Books? I get the feeling you would like it.
#6 Posted by FortressoftheMoon (678 posts) - - Show Bio


Razzatazz.....Envy is like Rule 34. No exceptions even in comics.


 

 
 

 

#7 Posted by RazzaTazz (9698 posts) - - Show Bio

That is fine if "haters gonna hate" but how come the haters only hate WW? 
#8 Posted by Murasame (49 posts) - - Show Bio

I think beauty can be a fine villain motivation, because afterall there is a ton of villains and you don't want to waste any decent ones. But what you say is also true. There needs to be more male characters with the same sort of motivation.

#9 Posted by FortressoftheMoon (678 posts) - - Show Bio


 

@Razzatazz..That is fine if "haters gonna hate" but how come the haters only hate WW? 

 

 

Since I'm not a Wonder Woman reader at all I'm not really sure. My only speculation is that she is a brunette putting work like the "Blondes" and "redheads".  We all know that Blondes and Redheads really be hatin when Brunettes are ridin dirteh.

 

(Sorry someone was playing that song "ridin dirty" ridiculously loud when I was walking across the parking lot at work. It stuck in my head I can't stop singing it.)

#10 Posted by thehummingbird (3380 posts) - - Show Bio

Mainly I find as you said this concept of why the girls are written this way because of the fact it is written by a man. While it is unintentional it can still be demeaning to girls. The reason for this is that the fact that you can create a whole supervillian off of only the concept of how dare you be prettier than me is like flat out saying that woman are simple minded. I believe you made a good point by using the comparison of Lex Luthor or any other male super villain killing people because the hero was more attractive...In my opinion you could actually add a lot of depth with female villains, the main reason being their can be lots of complexities in women that are not present in men. I am not saying men are not complex, just that women are in a  totally different way. Really would love to see a real female suer villain that had real motivation and drive, not some simple minded reason such as "How dare you be prettier!" Overall glad someone pointed this out. Sorry I just repeated a lot of earlier stated things just agreeing with you (I think...) ^.^' 

#11 Posted by Jake Fury (19167 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz:

You should read some of the Agents of Atlas stories involving Venus and her feud with Aphrodite. They're very good.

#12 Posted by Manchine (4185 posts) - - Show Bio

There are people out there that believe that Being Beautiful, being a Celebrity, or just being Richer.  Allow them to get away with more things.  They act like children when someone says "no".  So why not in comics?

#13 Posted by Bookah (3 posts) - - Show Bio

I agree with you. Being a villain because they despise Wonder Woman for her beauty only grounds them in a one-dimensional framework and a not very interesting one at that.

#14 Posted by Daffodil (57 posts) - - Show Bio

Cheetah's not really jealous of Wonder Woman's beauty, but more the recognition she gets.  The original Cheetah, Priscilla Rich, was driven insane because people overlooked her own accomplishments for Wonder Woman's superheroism, not limited to her beauty.  The modern Cheetah, Barbara Minerva, isn't so much jealous as she is passionate about getting Wonder Woman's lasso and her own sense of adventures.

Silver Swan, the original (Helen Alexandros), didn't even really know Wonder Woman existed... she was merely jealous of all beautiful women because she herself was not.  Valerie Beaudry, on the other hand, I could agree to... but she was never that much of a villain anyway, and her motivations were moreso her husband's than her own, regardless of her jealousy of Diana's beauty.  Vanessa Kapatelis was more jealous of Wonder Girl than Wonder Woman, and felt betrayed when Diana would go gallivanting around with other teenage girls rather than her.

A better example of a Wonder Woman villain who is defined by her jealous of Diana's beauty is Doctor Cyber, who went to painstaking efforts to make herself as beautiful as Wonder Woman.

I'd argue that envy of beauty isn't a great motivation at all, but in Wonder Woman's case, it works.  After all, one of her most prominent features is being "Beautiful as Aphrodite."  Here's a woman who is not only powerful physically, can kick some bad guy butt, and still fights for all the right reasons, she's one of the most stunning physically attractive women.  It's natural that other women would be jealous of her attention.

I do think men writing the villains over the years is one of the reasons why beauty is so important in the Wonder Woman comics, and in all comic books in terms of female characters.  I don't think that's a reason why she should get a bad  reputation.  If more people read Wonder Woman, they'd see there are heaps of villains of hers that aren't jealous of her physical beauty.  But there are a lot that are, after all, unlike most of the male heroes, Wonder Woman is meant to be THE perfect woman.

#15 Posted by MrDirector786 (43636 posts) - - Show Bio
@FortressoftheMoon said:
"


Razzatazz.....Envy is like Rule 34. No exceptions even in comics.


 

 

"
LOL
#16 Posted by caesarsghost (559 posts) - - Show Bio


I see where you are coming from, in this case the villain motivation does shore up the idea that the feminine is primarily concerned with appearance.

 

If WW didn't have some genuinely evil villains who were not motivated by beauty I would be really concerned. As it stands, perhaps WW is the only outlet for this kind of villain...

#17 Posted by MJohnson (63 posts) - - Show Bio

I like topics like this.

I agree that female villains tend to get shafted when it comes to IN-DEPTH personalities, back-stories, and motivation. Usually it fits into one or two categories-raped/violated or jealousy/revenge but there can be more and most do get a secondary motivation. There are WW centered characters that have developed further from that (like Circe) as well as other DCU villiainesses.  Beauty or not, it can be a factor in the makeup of a villain, thought shallow, most villains (sociopath /psychopaths) are narcissistic to some degree, often using their looks to their advantage.

I will come back to this topic.

#18 Posted by KenTheProfile (412 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz:

I don't total think you right or wrong. I agree with you theies if not your examples. First i would point out that the original at least one of the orignal factor for Luthor hate of Superman was that he was blad, a baldness cause but superman.

on the whole beauty is not a great motivation but  case to case  it maybe. Silver swan is a great example.

also I don't know nor will i ask your age but at 23 I can't tell you that in my exprince girls of my age and espcially younger then me, are almost exactly opposit of what you put fourth 95 precent see more pretty girls as a direct threat to what they have.

call it a shallowness of the generation after mine.

 

in the end you are right most male writer can write WW to save there own life. it is iroinc considering the man who invented her was one of the first men who could have ever been considered a feminist.


 

#19 Posted by COBRAMORPH (1614 posts) - - Show Bio

I dont agree at all. I think, in both the male & female "worlds" physical appearance is a major factor. Age, fitness, baldness, they are all things that "matter". Also, physical appearance is not an issue only females face in the world. How many guys here didnt get girls because they were hanging over the football players. Sometimes I think this beauty issue that women claim they have to deal with is a collective problem that they themselves caused for themselves. If in school, they didnt shallowly go after the popular athletic guys, since the majority of the business world is controlled by men, you have those shallow guys that have their egos reinforced, & you have the other successful guys who were victimized by women. Even the guys that are that successful in life still carry that grudge.

#20 Posted by RazzaTazz (9698 posts) - - Show Bio
@COBRAMORPH: They are successful perhaps, but then why does WW only get the villains that are motivated by her beauty?  To be fair all the male superheroes are drawn to be extremely attractive as well, yet it is only Diana that gets into fights over her looks.  
#21 Posted by Faeye (49 posts) - - Show Bio

But, who wouldn't commit a few crimes to be as beautiful as Wonder Woman? I do think it's a silly motivation for a super-villain though but maybe because I've never really bought into the whole idea of an "arch-foe" or "nemesis" unless they have some actual history together in another life (like how in Smallville, Lex Luthor's grudge against Clark built over years). The idea of holding a grudge against some specific hero for a petty reason just makes villains seem unoriginal and subhuman, They need to be written like real people that just happen to be on the "wrong side" instead of being a hero's supporting cast. So no, I don't think envy of beauty is a good motivation for a villain, for a thief or a murderer definitely but I think you need more than that to turn to a life of crime in costume.

Moderator
#22 Edited by Press Oblivion (1643 posts) - - Show Bio

You have to blame the era that fostered trivialities like this a little bit too. It is just a silly for Superman and Captain Marvel (Shazam) to be punching the crap out of one another to prove which one is truly the strongest, yet there were entire issues of comics dedicated to this senseless macho bravado. I agree that Wonder Woman did have an extra weight to hinder her growth as a character because male writers of the time didn't understand women's issues let alone what it meant to be a woman in a male dominated society, but by and large, comics of the 50's, 60's and 70's were not the benchmark of high literature and all of the books & characters suffered indignities. Creators of the time were also ashamed of the craft as it wasn't a well respected genre of entertainment so they weren't going to give it their best efforts, while many of them may have had loftier ambitions in other mediums.

The medium of Comics has matured a great deal since that era in both the content of art and story and though we may not understand the motivations of the past in this forward thinking age, they've paved the way for what we can enjoy today.

#23 Posted by Juandicimo_Magnifico45 (152 posts) - - Show Bio

While it may seem stupid for the reason, greed and jealousy are very viable reasons for vendettas. Beauty may be a shallow concept, but it comes down to greed and jealousy. While all characters should not be motivated this way, a few characters with this motivation is harmless.

#24 Posted by jphulk26 (1332 posts) - - Show Bio

I agree with OP, this is a terrible reason. This is why White Swann didn´t make it on my list of WW 9 best villains. I mean it depends how its written, but in general I don´t think a super villain should be concerned with something more trivial. But WW does have some great villains with great motives. Check out my list.

#25 Edited by TheCannon (19219 posts) - - Show Bio

I think it's a horrible motivation for a villain. It's stupid, ridiculous, and I hate whoever came up with the ideas. The OP is absolutely right.

#26 Posted by RazzaTazz (9698 posts) - - Show Bio
@TheCannon: Well I did write it nearly two years ago.  
#27 Posted by cloudzackvincent (1028 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz: it is a stupid motivation but it is something that has been etched in human consciousness since the dawn of civilization. Maybe the writers were subconsciously inspired by the tales of Aphrodite and Psyche or even fairy tales like Snow White. Lol.. speaking about Snow White another jealous WW villain comes to mind.. The Queen of Fables. My point is, maybe the writers aren't all to blame.. maybe they didn't really understand the implication or the shallowness of it all.

#28 Posted by Hazlenaut (1960 posts) - - Show Bio

You have couple who are petty. If it wasn’t Silver Swan it would have been Scylla from the greek mythology Scyla and Charybdis. Her motivation was brought by shallowness of people not accepting her. She has shown that she had talent but due to her looks she said would not be accepted. Wonder Woman fighting her she would take that the gods want to bring her down.

It would something if she was fighting Poison Ivy as she was character that wasn’t fully beautiful before she became Poison Ivy.

@RazzaTazz: what about Hal Jordan with Hector Hammond

#29 Posted by Skewer (325 posts) - - Show Bio

Off topic but I'd like to see silver swan go into a scream contest against black canary.

#30 Posted by Skewer (325 posts) - - Show Bio

It's not a very good motive but I'm indifferent to it because I've seen worse motives for becoming a villain than this. It's not limited to Wonder Woman because the penguin feels the same way about Bruce Wayne although its more than just looks.

#31 Posted by RazzaTazz (9698 posts) - - Show Bio
@Hazlenaut: Good point, though Penguin and Hammond based their jealousy more so on other factors than just appearance.  Silver Swan is usually depicted as not wanting anything else other than beauty.  
#32 Posted by Hazlenaut (1960 posts) - - Show Bio

We have saw villains motivating by petty goals before. It usually not a long term goal. The queen of Snow White is envious by Snow White beauty. This is one Wonder Woman’s villain as well because she looks like Snow White. If we go by the list of other villains the goal it would include Doctor Psycho, Hyponota, A gang called Them, Fairy Tale Queen. They have reason may differ but still desire WW’s beauty in one way. That being said Silver Swan need to be deeper to stand out.

Perhaps she could have been an antihero. That looks down on society because they looked down on her. She can team up with Vibe. We don't see much graceful agility in flight.

#33 Posted by jphulk26 (1332 posts) - - Show Bio

@cloudzackvincent: @Hazlenaut: I get what you´re saying about that jelousy being something that is true and universal to humanity. But with WW if it was one main villain who´s like that fine and also if they had some more deeper motive behind that, however, with WW it seems quite a few of her silver age villains had this motive and it was written very simplistically. I like the modern White Swann, but old iterations sound quite goofy to me. I know Doctor Cyber is similar, I just think get over it, she´s a woman, move on, lets tackle more substantial things that make her who she is. Some writers have been really great at doing that, and it´s helped and given her a much richer Rogue´s gallery. We must also remember that Rogues are like the other side of the hero, flip side if you will, they are as much a part of how the character is percieved as the hero themself. If we have a villain who is merely obsessed with WW looks then that is what WW will end up being thought most as.

#34 Posted by moywar700 (2775 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes is it!I've seen the Snow White and the Huntsmen trailer and the evil witch was jealous of Snow White's(played by Kristen Stewert lol) beauty and she wanted her heart.Maybe if written well, beauty can be a good motivation

#35 Posted by UltraBiel (328 posts) - - Show Bio

"Would it be well received if the Joker one day admitted he has been killing people all those years because he is secretly jealous of Batman’s pecs or Nightwing’s abs and that he never really meant to hurt anyone?"

In last issue of catwoman she argued that the reason Joker was so obsessed with Batman is because he in love with him. Must be his great pecs. hehehe

#36 Posted by fodigg (6148 posts) - - Show Bio

Wasn't the Vulture's original villainous motivation just that he would die soon and wanted to kill someone famous--like Spider-Man--first?

#37 Posted by jobbernos (1420 posts) - - Show Bio

yes, it can be since in reality people do get jealous and do spiteful things.

#38 Posted by Skewer (325 posts) - - Show Bio

I think when someone desires beauty but tries to gain it by evil means or means that result in evil is an interesting way to explore it in comics. The original silver swan used those means and its not just her, hush used a very creepy form of plastic surgery involving unwilling donors to get Bruce Wayne's face. The worst way to do it is by using the scheme in the 2004 catwoman movie which was the lamest villain plot in movie history.

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