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The Super-Villain’s Dilemma (Part I of II)

Rich Cerow

You like how I classed this joint up with the Roman Numerals up there? I mean, really, which looks better, “Bloodsport 9: The Path to Redemption” or “Bloodsport IX: Fury on the Mat?” That’s what I thought. Even with the less classy subtitle, the Roman Numerals manage to bring the whole thing up. You’re probably thinking right now, does this article take place in Victorian England? Will the romantic entanglements we find our characters in actually expose class inequality, while the ribaldry challenges then-prevalent sexual mores? My word, I think my monocle may pop straight off if this classiness keeps up. And then won’t my face be red, in public with only my powdered wig to hide me.
These people are dressed up in costumes like the Matrix. I'm sure if they had the budget for it there's be a post-apocalyptic wasteland behind them. Either that, or they'd have blown their budget on crappy-looking wire-work.

Anyway, as you may have guessed already, I am a huge nerd. And, as a result I tend to watch a lot of sci-fi / fantasy movies (lots of the action ones, too) in which some megalomaniac is trying to take over the world and “must be stopped at all costs.” And usually the hero has some kind of random time limit imposed on him, like the guys in the Pentagon are going to push a button and nuke Maryland at 0800 hours, but, dammit, he’s gonna defy orders and go in there and get his men out and stop that madman in time, thus averting all those innocent lives from being wiped out by those fat cats back in Washington. Always raising our taxes, stinking fat cats. Well, this all got me thinking, all these guys want to take over the world, but why? I mean, especially in sci-fi movies, this doesn’t seem to be worth it at all. Usually in a sci-fi movie the world is some barren, permanent-midnight wasteland, that the humans must retake from their evil robot masters (Terminator, I’m looking at you), and yet Ming the Merciless or whoever is intent on ruling this planet. Why? And why are people struggling against this? Is your life really going to get worse under this guy’s rule? I mean, hey, Mussolini made the trains run on time, maybe this guy’ll provide some kind of infrastructure so you can get from Rubble City to your job shooting down laser-firing whirligigs at the bombed-out factory. But no, there’s always some idiot hero ready to save the people so they can starve to death in this sun-free nightmare (they never explain how agriculture works in these environments were photosynthesis could not possibly take place). And, not only is this a world not worth fighting for, this isn’t a world worth ruling over, either. What benefits does Skynet reap by taking over this world? By being ruler, does he have his pick of the attractive young female (and maybe male, I don’t know which way Skynet swings) artificial intelligence programs? When you take things over, do you go out and survey the rubble, take a deep breath of irradiated air and bask in the glory of conquest?

Pictured above: Dr. Doom. Notice the green skirt. Very regal, your heiness.
But let’s say we’re thinking of Dr. No. Dr. No operates in a world relatively like ours, where the world is not desolate and depressing, where some glimmer of satisfaction could be gained from taking over the world. This satisfaction would be short-lived, though. After that, you have a whole world to run. The kind of micromanaging you’d have to do as sole ruler of the world would be unimaginable. I mean, is Dr. Doom (man, a lot of these guys seem to be doctors. Although, I suspect not many of them are actually M.D.s. They probably got a doctorate in geology or early-20th Century Avant-Garde poetry or something like that, and just started insisting on everyone calling them “Doctor” all the time. However, Dr. Doom is a board-certified massage therapist. His fingers are magic) going to be determining when Milford, CT, needs a new stop sign? Is he sitting down and raising interest rates or holding bake sales to raise money for the Brussels Fire Department and their plucky Dalmatian Sparky? I would assume not. Dr. Doom probably only handles the big stuff, like when Spider-Man leads an armed resistance force or something. But, if that’s the case, then is Dr. Doom really ruling the world? No, his team of advisors is running the world on a day-to-day basis. Or, sure, Dr. Doom or Dr. No or some other evil doctor with an improbable last name is probably the face of this one-world government, and probably strikes fear into the hearts of the plebeians he crushes beneath his boot heel, but he’s not really in charge. So, when undertaking a world-domination scheme, you really have only two possible “positive” outcomes – either you take on the impossible task of micromanaging the world, which would be insanely tedious for such a dramatic personality that you donned an iron mask to hide your hideous face from the world who would someday fear you for having shunned you for the very thing you are ashamed of yourself, or you do all the hard work of taking things over and then just pass the reins to a cabinet (which is, sure, of your choosing, but it’s not the same). Either way, you lose this time, Gadget.

Of course, this isn’t your only option as a super-villain. You can also be bent on total annihilation, creating the apocalypse, whatever you want to call it. This is an even dumber idea which we’ll get to in the next installment of “The Super-Villain’s Dilemma.” If you hope to sign up for my internet-based massage therapy / smiting your enemies and drinking their blood so that you may derive their power and completely obliterate them from this dimension class, zip me a line at and I’ll see if I can squeeze you in.

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