Mark Terry

Friday, August 18, 2006

So You Want To Be A Super Villain

August 18, 2006
Last night I was channel surfing and tripped across "So You Want To Be a Super Hero" on SciFi. Despite myself, I got hooked into it and ended up watching almost two hours of this rather silly show.

In case you don't know the premise, it's a reality show built by Stan Lee, the Duke of the Comic Book World and creator of numerous characters like Spider Man, The Hulk, X Men, etc. In this show they apparently put out a casting call for people to come in dressed as super heroes. They selected a bunch, then they put them through a series of "tests" or situations that will test their ability to be a super hero. Each section, somebody gets eliminated. The winner will be the source for a new comic book and an original made-for-SciFi-TV movie.

There has been Fat Momma, who is a fat black woman in tights wearing donuts, whose "power" I understand is she can throw five times her weight when she gets angry. There was Monkey Girl, whose power I don't know, but she looked pretty good in a bikini with bananas hanging off it. There's "Major Victory" and "Feedback" and "Lemuria" and... well, you get the idea.

The tests are all across the board and some are a little tricky. One that nailed almost everybody was they were in costume and were in a diner or maybe even the studio commisary and a waiter and waitress started flirting with them and the conversations went something like:

"What's with the outfit?"

"I'm Major Victory."

"Is this like for a reality TV show or something?"


"So what's your real name?"

"John Doe."

Ah-ha! The test was whether they would give out their secret identity, and only two of them didn't (Fat Momma and Feedback).

The one that got me hooked into the show was they had to don one of those working-with-attack-dogs suits, jump into a backyard where there were two trained attack German shepherds and make it to the door of the house. The word to call off the dogs was "uncle." They were timed. This big hulking guy whose character was Dark Enforcer made it to within a foot of the door before crying uncle. I don't remember, but I think it was Cell Phone Girl who made it 4 seconds. Major Victory basically got good footing and walked straight to the door with two growing, snarling german shepherds hanging off his arms. What was mind blowing was Monkey Girl (later voted off the, uh, island), who hadn't been doing too well and was determined to make it. It took her almost 10 minutes, but she managed to crawl to the door with the two dogs dragging on her. And yes, the dogs could do that. One woman was dragged halfway across the yard. As Stan Lee said in his comments afterwards, "Monkey Girl, I've never seen anything like that before."

Anyway, my point here--yeah, I've got one--was Dark Enforcer. This guy looks like a steroid juicer. His costume was basically a pair of sunglasses, tight pants and no shirt, carrying a mongo sci-fi gun. Shaved head, razor stubble, big muscles. He apparently wasn't doing very well with most stuff, and eventually got voted out by Stan Lee.

Then, in a very satisfying twist, I thought, they show Dark Enforcer walking away, and a TV screen pops on and it's Stan Lee and he says, "Hey, Dark Enforcer. I never thought you'd make a very good super hero. But I think you'd make a GREAT super villain. What do you think? Want to get back at the remaining super heroes?"

So he makes a reappearance with a new costume (which in the cartoon version they make works very, very well). And Stan Lee says, "Super Villains are very important. In a way, they SHAPE the super hero."

And I kind of clapped a metaphorical hand to my head and thought, "Well, yeah, I know that. But..."

Y'see. I've always felt that the villain in a book (or movie or whatever) needs to be a real challenge to the hero, and should also be 3-dimensional, a person, something that you might hate, but you should understand, too. But of course, your hero is going to be shaped and affected by the type of villain. Of course...

It's like Wambaugh said, he writes novels about how crime effects cops, not just about how cops effect crimes.

Mark Terry


Blogger Ron Estrada said...

I've always had a secret super-hero identity--Inappropriate Man. My strength is the ability to embarass a wife from great distances. I might have won that contest.

By the way, you might want to do the "secure sign in" for comments on blogger. That's the one where you have to look at hyrogliphics and type in the letters before you post. You'll get junk mail, and let's face it, how much viagra can we use?

10:05 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I have a similar superhero identity, which would probably be Elevator Man, which is, accost people in elevators in the presence of my wife. Typically these are people I think I know, but have inaccurately identified. Things like: "Do I know you? Did we go to high school together?"

"No, I was Bruce's roommate, the one he screwed over in our second year."

Things like that.

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