Does the Ultimate Universe Lack Noble Villains?

The Overlord

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2005
Messages
2,464
Since Magneto is a genocidal madman comparable with Osama bin Laden in the Ultimate Universe, I have to ask, are there any noble villains in the Ultimate Universe?
 

compound

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2005
Messages
2,772
Location
Metro Manila, Philippines
Only Millar writes Magneto as a lunatic; Vaughn has tried his damnedest to portray Magneto as a charismatic man with understandable (if not justifiable) views, but a very dangerous and extreme way of acting on them. His discussion with Polaris in UXM #63 makes him appear very civilized and gentleman-like. Of course, we the full rottenness of his personality the very next issue. But at least Vaughn presents Magneto's fundamental ideas in a far more rational and down-to-earth way than Millar.

Fankly, you're right, though -- after reading "Tomorrow People" and "Return of the King", the whole bat-**** loco impression that we have of Mags is very, very difficult to undo.

So far, Kingpin has been a self-interested thug-made-good. Doom/Van Damme is just nuts, quite possibly even before the transporter accident. Osborne was pathologiaclly self-destrcuctive in his bid for power (in all forms). And while Loki is a formidable trickster and skilled at manipulation, his evil serves no lofty, idealistic purpose.

Yes, I'd say there's a definite absence of noble villains in the UU.

There's always a possibility that the traiot in Ultiamtes has some high-minded goal, so s/he might possibly be the Ultimate line's first real noble heel.
 
Last edited:

ourchair

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2005
Messages
13,105
Location
Philippines
I agree with compound's assessment about Magneto.

The definition of noble may vary, but even if Millar's Magneto is meant to be some patently nuts terrorist-type figure, I hardly think that automatically robs him of nobility.

I think its really just part of Millar's inability to communicate nobility in his books at all and that Vaughan's charsimatic Magneto is actually reconcilable with Millar's nutjob. The two characterizations, are in my head, NOT contradictory.

My problem with the Ultimate villains is that they aren't necessarily psychotic, they're just JERKS. Or *******s. In fact, the whole villains are just big jerks thing is something that seems to be part of the thematic tapestry of the UU.

Doom believes that power is something owed to him by virtue of ancestry and lineage. He believed that prodigious skill in science is something that is born within him, something that he is master of through instinct. Similarly, he thinks that regal stature, nobility and power is something that is already in him. For him receiving power from forces outside, is just manifesting what is inside.

Osborn (and not Osbourne or Osborne) believes that receiving power is fate and destiny. That life is a mythical narrative that exists in cycles. His frustration at being unable to perfect the Oz drug was just a case of insecurity. "Why not? What is it about me that breeds failure when success is what I have known? If I finally succumb to failure and others see success, what does that say?"

Mutating into an uberpowerful Goblin thing drove him nuts because in his warped little head, Osborn got reassurance. By feeling secure again, it drove him to some kind of mad "It's my turn! This is what I deserved! I got what's coming to me!" BS.

Nihil on the other hand, is just a mean heartless little opportunistic sonuva*****. To paraphrase Reed, "The world is a great big place full of ideas and all he wants is to set up his own butthat franchise." Nihil doesn't see the fantastic as an opportunity to pursue great new ideas, nor does he see his long-livedness as an asset. He just sees it as the opportunity to accumulate more and more.

An interesting thing to note when thinking about all these villain-jerks is that as far as I know, Ellis was one of the inspirations for the Ultimate Universe long before he became involved in it. And guess what? Villain-jerks are a trademark of his.
 

The Overlord

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2005
Messages
2,464
ourchair said:
I agree with compound's assessment about Magneto.

The definition of noble may vary, but even if Millar's Magneto is meant to be some patently nuts terrorist-type figure, I hardly think that automatically robs him of nobility.

I think its really just part of Millar's inability to communicate nobility in his books at all and that Vaughan's charsimatic Magneto is actually reconcilable with Millar's nutjob. The two characterizations, are in my head, NOT contradictory.

My problem with the Ultimate villains is that they aren't necessarily psychotic, they're just JERKS. Or *******s. In fact, the whole villains are just big jerks thing is something that seems to be part of the thematic tapestry of the UU.

Doom believes that power is something owed to him by virtue of ancestry and lineage. He believed that prodigious skill in science is something that is born within him, something that he is master of through instinct. Similarly, he thinks that regal stature, nobility and power is something that is already in him. For him receiving power from forces outside, is just manifesting what is inside.

Osborn (and not Osbourne or Osborne) believes that receiving power is fate and destiny. That life is a mythical narrative that exists in cycles. His frustration at being unable to perfect the Oz drug was just a case of insecurity. "Why not? What is it about me that breeds failure when success is what I have known? If I finally succumb to failure and others see success, what does that say?"

Mutating into an uberpowerful Goblin thing drove him nuts because in his warped little head, Osborn got reassurance. By feeling secure again, it drove him to some kind of mad "It's my turn! This is what I deserved! I got what's coming to me!" BS.

Nihil on the other hand, is just a mean heartless little opportunistic sonuva*****. To paraphrase Reed, "The world is a great big place full of ideas and all he wants is to set up his own butthat franchise." Nihil doesn't see the fantastic as an opportunity to pursue great new ideas, nor does he see his long-livedness as an asset. He just sees it as the opportunity to accumulate more and more.

An interesting thing to note when thinking about all these villain-jerks is that as far as I know, Ellis was one of the inspirations for the Ultimate Universe long before he became involved in it. And guess what? Villain-jerks are a trademark of his.

That just means the villains in UU are psychopaths instead of psychotics, it might be fun to see a villain in UU who is not just another psychopath. Pure evil psychopaths can make great villains, but they can get tiresome if they are used too often and need some noble villains to balance them out.
 
Last edited:

ourchair

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2005
Messages
13,105
Location
Philippines
The Overlord said:
That just means the villains in UU are psychopaths instead of psychotics, it might be fun to see a villain in UU who is not just another psychopath. Pure evil psychopaths can make great villains, but they can get tiresome if they are used too often and need some noble villains to balance them out.
Yes.

Although I must point out that all the talk among fans about how Marvel villains are noble is completely deluded. Largely speaking, the Marvel Universe has always had defective supervillains.

Even a big old Fantastic Four fan like me thinks that Doom has always been stupid. Doom has always been a jerk, a nutjob and downright insane. Any claims to the characters about his nobility and sense of honor are IMHO, bull****. (See my Doom Psychoanalysis Thread for proof)
 

E

Moderator
Excelsior Club
Joined
May 17, 2004
Messages
33,346
Location
MI
That the villains in the UU are evil jerks instead of idealistically evil is interesting in light of the tendancy for a lot of other people and events to be more realistic. Huh. Never noticed that.

I get the feeling that the Ultimates 2 villain will be, however. Just a feeling; I have nothing to back that up.
 

ourchair

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2005
Messages
13,105
Location
Philippines
compound said:
Is the definition of a "noble villain" basically one who is "lawful evil", in Dungeons & Dragons morality terms?
Wikipedia said:
A lawful evil character methodically takes what he wants within the limits of his code of conduct without regard for whom it hurts. He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion. He is comfortable in a hierarchy and would like to rule, but is willing to serve. He is loath to break promises, and is therefore very cautious about giving his word unless a bargain is clearly in his favour.

This reluctance comes partly from his nature and partly because he depends on order to protect himself from those who oppose him on moral grounds. Some lawful evil villains have particular taboos, such as not killing in cold blood (but having underlings do it) or not letting children come to harm (if it can be helped). They feel these personal morals put them above unprincipled villains.

Many lawful evil characters use society and its laws for selfish advantages, exploiting the letter of the law over its spirit whenever it best suits their interests.

Some lawful evil people and creatures commit themselves to evil with a zeal like that of a crusader committed to good. Beyond being willing to hurt others for their own ends, they take pleasure in spreading evil as an end unto itself. They may also see doing evil as part of a duty to an evil deity or master.

Lawful evil is sometimes called "diabolical", because devils are the epitome of lawful evil. Other examples of lawful evil characters include tyrants, petty bureaucrats, and mafia bosses.

Lawful evil is methodical, intentional, and frequently successful evil.
However, Baldur's Gate tends to define evil slightly differently by suggesting that Lawful Evil characters tend to perform their evil within the strictures of social codes and what is considered legal.

Where Lawful Good characters seek the pursuit of good within the parameters of what society deems permissible, Lawful Evil characters use the syetem for their own gain.
 

The Overlord

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2005
Messages
2,464
ourchair said:
Yes.

Although I must point out that all the talk among fans about how Marvel villains are noble is completely deluded. Largely speaking, the Marvel Universe has always had defective supervillains.

Even a big old Fantastic Four fan like me thinks that Doom has always been stupid. Doom has always been a jerk, a nutjob and downright insane. Any claims to the characters about his nobility and sense of honor are IMHO, bull****. (See my Doom Psychoanalysis Thread for proof)

I disagree, 616 Doom has some honour, he treats his subjects every well and keeps his word, however that doesn't change the fact that he is a ruthless meglomaniac. 616 Doom is Lawful Evil, unless you count his actions in Unthinkable, but Doom was acting every out character in that arc.
 

The Overlord

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2005
Messages
2,464
UltimateE said:
That the villains in the UU are evil jerks instead of idealistically evil is interesting in light of the tendancy for a lot of other people and events to be more realistic. Huh. Never noticed that.

I get the feeling that the Ultimates 2 villain will be, however. Just a feeling; I have nothing to back that up.

I don't believe making every villain merely psychopaths is realstic or even interesting. Not everyone who does an evil act is a self-absorbed psychopath and if all the villains are evil psychopath they become dull and their personalities are interchangable. Villains who are morally ambiguous are just as realstic and needed as pure evil psychopaths.

I thought the villains in Ultimates vol. 2 was Ultron and the Red Skull. I don't see how their Ultimate versions will be noble Ultron and the Red Skull are genocidal maniacs in 616 MU and since Millar seems like genocidal villains I doubt they would change. Frankly making Ultimate Ultron amd Ultimate red Skull. Ultron is robot he has no emotions so would see no need to be noble in 616 MU or UU. 616 Red Skull is the most evil and least noble villain in all of MU, he is the closest thing Marvel has to pure evil, there is nothing nice you can say about him, so it take a lot of work to make a noble Ultimate Red Skull believible.
 

cmdrjanjalani

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2004
Messages
707
The closest I could come up as a noble villain that has a prominent role is Elektra. Of course I only meant she was noble (or at least a decent human being) before she became a regular assassin for hire by the Kingpin. All her appearances outside her self-titled series show her as a cold-hearted killer with the only time she showed any redeeming qualities was her smirk during the elevator scene in Warriors. I wished Bendis showed more of Elektra's good side a little since we know that she wasn't an evil ***** during the college years and her descent to darkness was partly triggered by her experiences in her life.
 

David Blue

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2005
Messages
228
"Does the Ultimate Universe Lack Noble Villains?"

Is it a lack, or is this a feature not a bug?

The down side of nasty evil villains is that you don't have to be very good to be better than them. Also, it's sometimes hard to explain why the villain didn't just pull the trigger or press the button. And there's little incentive to go easy on villains so that they don't act really mean if they are going to act really mean anyway.

The down-side of writers promoting "noble" villains is that they (the villains) can cross over into being "reformed" new heroes and then back again, making a shambles of the fundamental dividing line between good and evil. What happens then is: the division that matters is between those with power and those without. In that context, "heroes" are redefined as "the privileged" and in a mutant context the "born privileged". Basically, if you write things this way the bad guys are right.

"Don't you understand this? There's them and there's you. You are not even the same species as them!"
- Dr. Molekevic: instructions to extraordinarily bright children

Related to this, "noble" villains get lots of credit that they really don't deserve, especially if they dress up sexy. That debases the coin: Joe straight-arrow gives up a lot to hew to the heroic line, but Jane sexy-villain gets almost as much credit for high-cut panties, a childhood trauma as an excuse, and the occasional good deed or moment of mercy. When power and sex appeal are your entry tickets to the supers' social club, and morality doesn't really count, what's the point in being a hero?

If some sort of verisimilitude is in question, my perception is that in real life people who do awful things pretty much are jerks. If X likes decapitating hostages on video, he may have a great line in talk justifying that, but it will probably turn out he was a cruel child and a thug as a young man: he just plain likes carving people's heads off. It makes sense to me that comic book villains are the same. Nihil is a melodramatic villain from another universe, but he's the concentrated essence of how a lot of mean, selfish people really are.

In real life, it's a full time job getting people officially signed up on the side of good to behave with minimal decency, never mind the clear bad guys (pirates and so on).

Moral grey areas in melodramatic fiction often strike me as artificial things, sustained by writers that are determined to find or impose good and evil on all sides. In fictionalised versions of the trial of Joan of Arc, Bishop Cauchon often comes off very well. Writers feel an artistic (that is, a conventional) need to have a strong moral case and good character on his side to balance the obvious heroine, so they invent stuff to support a more nuanced, "realistic" approach. In real life, Bishop Cauchon openly fixed the trial, and was seen showing extreme and obvious glee, as well as gloating loudly how he'd got her, when Joan was condemned to be burned. He was a jerk-villain. They all are, or nearly all of them, in real life.

The way the Ultimate universe is working looks good to me so far.

By the way: well said, ourchair! That's Nihil and Victor Van Damme as I have seen them.
 
Last edited:

ourchair

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2005
Messages
13,105
Location
Philippines
David Blue said:
Is it a lack, or is this a feature not a bug?
I think neither. I've never considered "noble" villains or bad guys "with a sense of honor" as necessarily better or more superior than more unscrupulous evil doers. Whether that reflects my actual taste in villains is a completely different thing.

David Blue said:
By the way: well said, ourchair! That's Nihil and Victor Van Damme as I have seen them.
Your flattery swells my already big head.

David Blue said:
Related to this, "noble" villains get lots of credit that they really don't deserve

...If some sort of verisimilitude is in question, my perception is that in really life people who do awful things pretty much are jerks. If X likes decapitating hostages on video, he may have a great line in talk justifying that, but it will probably turn out he was a cruel child and a thug as a young man: he just plain likes carving people's heads off. It makes sense to me that comic book villains are the same. Nihil is a melodramatic villain from another universe, but he's the concentrated essence of how a lot of mean, selfish people really are.
My take on the whole thing really is that the Ultimate villains are written with a lot less compromise and ambiguity that is reflective of the fact that it's inspired by the Wildstorm works of Ellis and Millar (that they've written for the UU itself is merely coincidental)

It's not that Doom or Nihil somehow betray the subtleties and humanity of their 616 predecessors, but rather they reinforce them. That they are potrayed with such bluntness is merely a situation of calling a spade a spade.

Ultimate Doom believes that knowledge and power are a strength that lies within, that some people are just better than others and he believes that he is one of the better ones. He may be right, but that doesn't mean he's not a jerk. 616 Doom wanted to rule the world because he felt that with his intelligence and cunning, he was the person who most deserved that power. He may be right, but I don't think that contradicts him being a jerk.

My definition of a jerk-villain isn't that you're wrong to use your abilities to will yourself to greater things, but that being a jerk is just about self-entitlement without consideration for other people.
 

jtg3885

Banned
Joined
Jul 20, 2004
Messages
2,940
Location
Connecticut
Why the hell do we need noble villains? I don't want misunderstood villains or villains with a good crusade and a bad way of trying to accomplish it. That leads to villains I feel bad about seeing kicked around. Screw that. I want villains who are mean, evil little bastards so I can cheer when they get the ever-living **** beaten out of them and get sent to jail.
 

ourchair

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2005
Messages
13,105
Location
Philippines
jtg3885 said:
Why the hell do we need noble villains? I don't want misunderstood villains or villains with a good crusade and a bad way of trying to accomplish it. That leads to villains I feel bad about seeing kicked around. Screw that. I want villains who are mean, evil little bastards so I can cheer when they get the ever-living **** beaten out of them and get sent to jail.
Exactly.

This is why I can't understand the people who argue for Doom's so-called 'inherent nobility' and 'sense of honor'. When I argue to define him as a jerk, it's because I think of that as a positive thing. He's a jerkwad, and I WANT to see him get his *** handed back to him. THAT's the villain --- the guy you're NOT rooting for.
 

Latest posts

Top