A “Spot”light On Comedic Villains
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has been out for a hot minute now, and with it has come a million and one reviews of the film. Originally, I was going to add to this onslaught of reviews, but I don’t think y’all need another person telling you how amazing it is. Though, admittedly, it is amazing, and there are so many different aspects of the film that work to make it so dang incredible.
Today, I wanted to talk about one specific aspect that I’ve heard mixed reviews over. The villain. The Spot.
I’ll go ahead and put the spoiler warning here, now. SPOILER WARNING!
Okay, so, The Spot. A seemingly harmless villain that’s clumsy and dorky, partly due to the fact that he was just a nerdy science guy before the accident that turned him into a mass of freaky spots that are actually holes in time and space.
He’s funny! He’s quippy, trips over himself, kicks himself in the literal ass, and is seen as a “villain of the week”. Someone that poses no real threat.
But, I’m not really here to talk about him as much as I am to talk about the idea of comedic villains as a whole. Should the bad guy be funny? Should the bad guy make us laugh, or should the quippiness be reserved for the witty hero?
I think recent media (namely Marvel and DC movies) has been gravitating towards more comedic bad guys as of late, because they had so many serious ones for so long that people need a break from the mundaneness that is a serious villain.
The most prominent examples that come to mind are Thanos and Darkseid. Ultra powerful tyrant world conquerors that aim to massacre millions. These guys are fucking BORING. I hate these villains because their motivations are so utterly lacking.
Thanos had all the power in the universe to reshape the fabric of reality, and he thinks the best solution to everything is to erase half the population? Like what is he even talking about? What does he plan to do after that? Not to mention the fact that humans have been on Earth for thousands of years, and “the snap” only set us back to 1970 population wise. Like we could just get the population back up to what it is now in a couple decades. Thanos did all that for like… nothing. And what did he do afterwards? Go sit in a field and destroyed the stones? What a loser.
(I’m pretty sure in the comics he has a different motivation for doing what he does, something about trying to impress Death herself, which makes a lot more sense, but we’re just talking about the MCU here.)
There’s so many more examples of boring, powerful villains, like Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy, Malekith from Thor: The Dark World, Red Skull from Captain America, General Zod from Superman. These guys have no personality, lackluster motivations, no interesting aspects of their character, and pretty much never even engage in witty banter with the hero! I’m not saying that you have to make the villain likeable or sympathetic every single time, but my god are these bitches boring.
So, you overcorrect and try to make villains funny suddenly. Does it work better than boring villains? Well, considering how many people are obsessed with Loki, it at least works from a marketing standpoint.
Perhaps people think making a villain funny takes away from their evilness and threateningness? I don’t really think that’s true, though, I mean look at Hades or Yzma! Both are plenty malicious and evil, but still really funny! They are undoubtedly some of the most iconic villains from that time period of movies, especially when compared to villains like Clayton or Governor Ratcliffe.
So, when it comes to The Spot, is he too funny to be taken seriously? Does it take away from his attempt at being villainous? I think in the beginning, his unintentional funniness that stems from his ineptness and clumsiness certainly does make him appear as less of threat, hence why he is dubbed as pretty much just a nuisance. But as the movie goes on and he gains more and more power, suddenly he’s not so funny anymore, and he progresses towards being truly evil. Even the characters admit they no longer see him as a joke, and Miles is sorry he ever doubted his ability to be a villain.
He wants to be seen as threatening, and he knows in the beginning he’s not, which is why he’s trying to gain more power in the first place. He wants to be taken seriously by the hero, and not laughed at like he’s just a joke. But he is a joke in the beginning, he literally kicked his own ass! So his transformation into a super powerful, super menacing, malicious villain is very well done, I think.
For me, The Spot works. For others, he doesn’t. He’s just “too funny” for some people, which I can totally understand not wanting a funny villain all the time. Like, sometimes you need a serious, dark moment where the villain truly displays their evilness without the comedy relief. But that’s exactly why I think The Spot ends up working so well. Because he becomes not funny, and the hero genuinely becomes threatened by him and his power. His evilness is no longer a laughing matter.
I honestly think he’s such an interesting villain, even if revenge against the hero is a bit of a weak or cliché motive.
What do you think of The Spot? Who’s your favorite villain of all time? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!