What Makes a Good Super Villain?

What Makes a Good Super Villain?

Over the years there have been many villains in movies, TV shows, cartoons, comics, and books. Villains can steal the show with how evil or terrible they are but sometimes that’s not always the case. Villains are easy to forget about if they didn’t live up to their name. We decided to look at some of our favorite villains throughout TV shows, movies, comics, etc. to compare and contrast their differences. We also looked at their backstory and how they became the villain that they are today. In the article, we will be looking at The Joker, Negan, Thanos, and Green Goblin.  

  • The Joker:
  • Motives: The Joker is very different from many other villains as he doesn’t have motives or even perfectly set intentions. He is purely evil and he is such for “ideological and psychological reasons,” and he is described as “… a violent, psychopathic, anarchistic, sociopath with delusions of grandeur.” says Brandon Katz of Observer.
  • Intentions: He has multiple intentions, both being very prominent in all of the displays of The Joker. He wants to “destroy this belief in the hearts of the people.” and “push a whole city into the wicked gravity of madness and anarchy.” says Sunny Aggarwal and Aditya Vats, respectively, of medium.com. 
  • Backstory: The Joker is a failed stand up comedian who has been outcasted by the world. He despises the world for his failed career and he ends up going mad.
  • How bad are they really: The Joker is a character that has a terrible mind and will do almost anything to make other people’s lives just as bad, if not worse, than his was
  • What makes them loved/hated: Fans of the comics and movies love the Joker’s delivery of lines and sense of awareness. He is crazy and delusional but the things he says and the way he says them, the people love to watch. He has been done over a thousand times but the consensus best Joker, and maybe performance of a movie villain ever, is done by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight.


  • Negan:
  • Motives: Negan is not a good person, simply put. He is a terrible man that has a terrible reputation, terrible intentions, and terrible tactics. His main goal is to “install fear in other people and tries to keep as many people alive as possible, hence why he called his group “The Saviors”.” says fandom.com
  • Intentions: 
  • Backstory: “Before walkers, there was no bat — just Negan and Lucille, a married, quarrelsome couple. After losing his job as a gym teacher for assaulting a student’s father, Negan spends his time playing video games with kids online (in the comics, his preferred game is ping-pong, according to Digital Spy). He’s overall pretty terrible: when Lucille is diagnosed with cancer, she finds out at an appointment by herself because Negan couldn’t be bothered to drive her, and the same day she discovers that he’s been having an affair. In the show, Negan ends the affair as soon as Lucille learns that she’s sick. But in the comics, he complains to his mistress about his sick wife.” said Grace Wehniainen. After Lucille loses her battle with cancer, Negan has to face the world. He takes the bat that was given to him for defense, wraps it in barbed wire, names it Lucille, and carries on her legacy. 
  • How bad are they really: Negan had an affair with his wife, Lucille, who had cancer and on the show he ends it when he finds out about the cancer but in the comics he keeps having an affair. In the show, Negan captures a few members of Rick’s group including Rick himself. He picks who dies kind of by eenie meenie minie mo. Negan ends up picking Abraham and hits him over the head with Lucille; he survives the first hit and mutters “Suck my nuts…” Negan laughs and hits him over and over until his head is completely smashed. Daryl who is infuriated punches Negan in the face and gets Negan angry who decides to pick another person. The next person he picks is Glenn who has been on the show since Season 1. Negan hits him over the head and his eye pops out of his head and his wife, Maggie, is watching as Negan keeps hitting him over the head with Lucille. Then in the early morning Negan tells Rick to cut Carl, his sons, arm off with a hatchet. Rick ends up crying and he doesn’t do it. If it wasn’t already evident, he is a terrible person with no remorse for human life. He views people as a recourse and as long as he has his team around him, he feels like he is on top of the world.
  • What makes them loved/hated:  Negan is a very charismatic villain that you love to hate. His snarky comments and his humorous vocabulary makes it really hard to not like him. It’s hard to forget that he is a villain sometimes because he is just very likable. And ultimately he ends up righting his wrongs and eventually becomes a good person and saving the people he once tried to kill. 


  • Thanos:
  • Motives: Bring Stability to the universe.
  • Intentions: Thanos’ intentions are to eliminate half of the universe for balance.
  • Backstory: From his birth on Saturn’s moon of Titan, Thanos was always an outsider. He carries a Deviants gene, which causes his gruesome and misshapen appearance, with purple, rugged skin. He was born among the last sons of Titan’s original colonists: Mentor and Sui-San. 
  • How bad are they really: Thanos is really bad because he erased half of the universe with a single snap. The people who were erased were mostly innocent people. The people that Thanos killed included Peter Parker (Spider-Man), Groot, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Black Panther, The Winter Soldier, Mantis, Drax, Star Lord, Dr. Strange, and Vision who he killed to get the Mind Stone which was in Vision’s forehead. In most cases, the people he killed were innocent, their only crime (according to Thanos) being simply existing. Thanos’ proclivity for genocide is what makes it hard to see him as something other than a villain.   
  • What makes them loved/hated: Thanos is a character that is both loved and hated. Many people love him because he is unfathomably strong and he was able to take on the entire universe, and win. His brute force and crazy strength make it easy to root for him. Many hate him for those same reasons, however. His ability to take on people’s favorite superheroes and come out on top makes it hard for him to be someone you like.


  • Green Goblin:
  • Motives: The Goblin simply wanted Peter to know that telling him “no” was a poor choice. By unpacking his motivations more deeply, the Goblin’s plan was to show that being a hero is nothing more than a fool’s errand. He believed that a more powerful evil could quickly kill the hero or make him lose everything.
  • Intentions: The Green Goblin’s main goal is to overthrow The Big Man (Tombstone) and take over his criminal empire. He asks Spider-Man to join him and tries to kill him when he refuses like in the movie. Goblin’s goal to become the new Big Man of Crime (because they can’t use the word Kingpin) continues throughout the series. 
  • Backstory: Doctor Norman Virgil Osborn is a scientist and CEO of Oscorp. Once he experimented on himself with an incomplete enhancement serum, Osborn developed an alternate identity, the Green Goblin. With Green Goblin in control, he fought Spider-Man, until he perished by being impaled with his Goblin Glider.
  • How bad are they really: He is one of the worst villains out there just from a moral standpoint. He simply wants to prove that being good is pointless and evil can overcome it with ease. Most villains at least have a viable reason to do what they do but he just wants to stop Peter Parker.
  • What makes them loved/hated: From the movies, where Willem Defoe plays the Green Goblin, a lot of people like his portrayal of him. His voice and tone make a lot of people really like him as a character.

Ultimately, there are many characteristics that make up a good villain. Some of the villains are pure evil with intentions of making others miserable but some of them are misunderstood and make bad choices to get what they want. These villains that we talked about are some of the best villains in our opinion and all of which for different reasons but they make what you watch more interesting and in film, a good villain makes a great hero.