Saturday, September 6, 2014

Q&A Roundup: spandex for heroes, quips for villains

"Anonymous villain" writes in:

On the news reports, I see the heroes dressing in brightly colored spandex and standing on tall things, like telephone poles, rubble piles, or whatever. I get why tight-fitting clothes are good, but isn't this behavior making them a better target?

Yes, it is. But that's what he wants.

Remember that the hero is there for very different reasons than you, and has very different priorities. While you may or may not care about minimizing collateral damage (you should, it's just good business), the hero absolutely does. So how does he help to make that happen?
  1. He wears bright, primary colors. Many hero costumes will include red or orange, the colors scientifically demonstrated to best attract the eye.
  2. He stands with his back to the wall, to open sky, or whatever - high places are usually the best way to accomplish this.
  3. If he's a brick, he invites mundane bank robbers or villain henchmen to shoot at him, throw their guns in frustration, or whatever.
Basically, his goal is to be the target of attacks. If he knows where the shots are coming from, he can make sure they go somewhere harmless - open sky, a thick wall behind him, or whatever. He'd rather you shoot at him than the civilians on the scene. He'd rather you use up your bullets on him rather than save some for potential hostages later on. If he can tank your attack, he'd rather do it than have it go off on some unknown angle.

The bright colors and high angle serve another related purpose, of course - it's attention-getting to the civilians. Cops and Feds wear windbreakers or uniforms with their identification on it in big letters to distinguish themselves for similar reasons, but they still have to have cover and armor and protection and crap. A hero can be a walking talking siren. Once the hero has the crowd's attention, he can either direct them away from the fight or at least get them to listen to him. Standing out visually saves him the time of shouting who he is to everyone and getting them to believe him.

Several people wrote in with some variant of:

Can you share some good quips or dialogue we can use to get started?

In short, no. But I'll at least give the reasons why not.
  1. Most importantly, you are responsible for all of your own material as a supervillain. This vocation is for self-directed, independent people who just need some hard-earned experience to light the way for them. If you can't come up with things to say for yourself, stop being a villain. If you want to be in the limelight and have material written for you, become one of those super-entertainers.
  2. Even if only ten different villains used the same quip, anyone who's aware of it will know that they got it from some canned source. This sort of faux pas is murder on your rep as a villain. The public will not be impressed and you will be laughed out of the villain community.
  3. Some of the best quips and dialogue I can actually think of are from private encounters - and some of those fights I shouldn't even have been at, technically. Plus, most of them were devastating precisely because they were on target. The best wit is circumstantial; there's nothing I can give you that will be a good general-purpose line to use.
In short, write your own material because that's what people, including me, expect you to do.