It seems like Marvel is everywhere these days. We only just finished re-watching Jessica Jones, and already it's time to binge-watch a new season of Daredevil and geek out over the Captain America: Civil War trailer. With the endless stream of Marvel TV shows and movies, some people might even forget that there's a whole world of Marvel comic books out there.
I mean, yes, I understand that not everyone was freaking out as hard as I was when the latest Avengers movie mentioned Wakanda (that's where Black Panther is from!), or when Scarlet Witch and Vision had a moment together (in the books they get married!). But if you only know Marvel through the screen, you might want to check out the books: Marvel comics are more diverse and inclusive than ever, with characters like Lady Thor, Miles Morales, and Kamala Khan challenging the stereotypes of who gets to be a hero.
But I'm not here to talk about Marvel's heroes. I'm here to talk about the villains. The slimy, monstrous, complicated bad guys and gals who give our heroes something to fight about. They're the characters I love to hate. And even though none of these creeps are role models, there's still a thing or too I can learn from them:
1. Dr. Doom
Never apologize for being the smartest person in the room.
Dr. Doom is about as villainous as they come. He rocks a very theatrical cape. He once used a possessed baby as a spy. And he sacrificed his wife to demons to gain power — and then wore armor made from her skin. He's not a good guy by any stretch of the imagination, but he never lacks in self esteem. Half of the time, his motivation is to prove to the world that he's smarter than that smarmy Mr. Fantastic. So the take away lesson here is that you should NEVER apologize if you know that you're the best in the room — Dr. Doom certainly doesn't.
2. Purple Man
Controlling other people is not ok.
Fans of the Jessica Jones show might know this nasty guy as Kilgrave, since they de-purpled him for the series. Purple Man is just as creepy in the comics, though: he has powers of persuasion, and people are forced to obey his every command. He uses his powers to torture Jessica Jones, traumatizing her to the point that she quits the superhero lifestyle. I guess you could find a lesson in here about how it's not easy being purple... but really, the only lesson from Purple Man is that you should never, ever manipulate people into doing something they don't want to do. It's not ok.
Don't let anyone police your diet.
Galactus is the devourer of worlds. As in, he eats planets. That's his thing. He's not the most intellectually challenging villain, but he's definitely dangerous. He spends a lot of his time trying to eat Earth. Of course, the real lesson we can learn from Galactus is "don't eat planets," but that's a little obvious. I think the better lesson is, "don't let anyone else police your diet." I'm not saying it's acceptable to eat a planet full of intelligent lifeforms, but we still shouldn't judge people on how or what they eat, as long as it doesn't pose a danger to themselves or anyone else.
4. Dark Phoenix
Everyone loses control sometimes.
Poor Jean Grey was just your typical kid with telepathic powers. But then she got tangled up with the X-Men, and wound up getting transformed by a mysterious cosmic force, turning her into Phoenix. Then Phoenix got transformed by the Hellfire Club, turning her into Dark Phoenix. Jean flip flops a lot. She tries to be a good person, but she's occasionally possessed by the Dark Phoenix, at which point she threatens to kill everyone all the time. But the lesson here is that even if you lose control sometimes, you can always bounce back. Heroes never stay evil for long.
Be adaptable to new situations.
Mystique is another complicated villain. She's a shape-shifter who's usually a foe of the X-Men, but she's also been a part of the X-Men on occasion. She's been around since the last turn of the century, and she spends a lot of time posing as her fellow mutants. Whatever she's doing, though, she's always perfectly adapted to the situation at hand. With her ability to look and sound like whoever she chooses, she can almost always find a way to survive. And she knows that it's always a good time to try out a new hair color.
Never stop trying to better yourself.
Ultron is your classic evil robot. He's out to kill all humans and he has a bit of an Oedipus Complex about his "father" and creator. Mostly, though, he's running around trying to destroy the Avengers and upgrade himself to become even more evil. That's what makes Ultron so powerful: he can repair himself and continually improve his own programming. So be like Ultron, and put some time and effort into self care and self improvement (maybe without killing all humans, though).
Don't let jealousy get the best of you.
Loki's villainy is a classic case of sibling rivalry. Loki's a genius with extensive training in magic, but everyone still loves his brother, pretty boy Thor, way more. Plus, Loki's adopted and Thor's not. There's a lot of baggage there. So, like any annoyed brother, Loki dedicates his life to messing with Thor and trying to win the throne of Asgard for himself. If only Loki would stop focusing all his energy on being jealous, and start focusing on his energy on Loki. It's ok, Loki. You've got a lot going on in your life, too. Stop comparing yourself to your handsome brother.
Stand up for what's right.
Magneto's one of those rare villains who's fighting for what's right. It's mostly his methods that are the problem. He's a powerful mutant with the ability to control metal, but he's also a Holocaust survivor who wants to fiercely protect his own marginalized community. In trying to protect mutants from persecution, though, he usually ends up going overboard (like, you know, trying to exterminate humanity). But at least he's motivated by a sense of justice. That's more than you can say for most of these clowns.
Go after your goals.
Thanos is an alien monster who worships death and tries to invade Earth all the time (you'd think with all the planets in the galaxy, Earth would get a break once in a while). He's got great focus when it comes to going after his goals, though. He collects all the Infinity Gems to makes himself more powerful. Then, when he's defeated and loses all the gems, he collects them all again to create the Infinity Gauntlet and kill half the life in the universe. He might be evil, but he sure is focused.
10. Doctor Octopus
Make the best of things.
Doc Ock didn't start out completely evil. He was involved in horrible, vaguely scientific accident, that fused those four mechanical arms to his back. Does it make a lot of sense? No, but that never stopped Doc Ock from making the best of his things. He even gets stuck in Spiderman's body at one point, and ends up fighting a bunch of other villains as a much more brutal version of "Spiderman". He doesn't have many redeeming qualities, but at least he doesn't complain much when life hands him lemons.
Juggernaut's main deal is that he's unstoppable. He's incredibly strong, able to smash through mountains, and almost nothing can hurt him. You probably shouldn't try to solve all of your problems by smashing through them. But if there's any lesson to be learned from Juggernaut, it's that sometimes you just need to smash through a couple of walls to get the job done.
Images: Walt Disney Studios, Giphy (11), Tom Grummett/Wikipedia Commons