Why Are Joss Whedon’s Villains So Damn Sexy?
As an unabashed Joss Whedon fan, I consider myself pretty well-versed in his work. In fact, there’s nothing Joss Whedon can create that I won’t read/watch/buy. The man has a gift when it comes to character development, storytelling, and, oh yeah, killing off the people you love. I’ve also begun to notice that he likes his villains pretty. Oh, so pretty.
Traditionally, it seems that villains tend to be ugly. Without knowing a thing about the movie or TV show or whatever, you can usually spot the bad guy pretty easily by looking for the ugliest dude in the room (the evil laugh is also a dead giveaway). But Joss likes to keep us guessing. He likes to make his villains sympathetic and relatable, to a point. He also, apparently, likes to make them very attractive.
Exhibit A: Alpha
One of the main villains in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse (2009-2010) is Alpha, played by the ever-effusive Alan Tudyk. Alpha is a former doll who lost his marbles a bit and escaped from the dollhouse, only to turn up at the most inopportune times. Alpha is charming, charismatic… and completely psychotic. But! Once he dons a pimpin’ three-piece suit and flashes his crazy-eyes at you, you’ll gladly join him in his crusade of terror.
Exhibit B: Angel
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) is pretty much the only Joss Whedon creation that I haven’t watched (I know, I know!), but you cannot have grown up in the 90s without being aware of it. I could probably name all the characters and I never watched an episode. As such, the leather-clad hotness that was Buffy’s main villain-turned-lover-turned-spinoff did not go unnoticed by me or any other girl I knew. David Boreanaz earned his fame playing a tortured vampire (the sexiest kind!). Those eyes. That furrowed brow. Who wouldn’t want him to bite them, just a little?
Exhibit C: The Operative
Serenity (2005) was my first introduction to Chiwetel Ejiofor, and what an introduction it was. Ejiofor plays The Operative, a ninja-assassin sent to stop and/or kill off all our favorite characters from Firefly. In the process, he kicks a serious amount of ass. And he has a sword. It’s pretty great. Apart from his badassery, he’s also a fine lookin’ man. That face! That voice! You almost agree with him when he starts rambling about creating a better world, right before he stabs you in the neck. Ejiofor has gone on to play other sexy characters, but The Operative will always be his first and best.
Exhibit D: Loki
Thanks to The Avengers (2012), Tom Hiddleston is my new crush. I thought he was excellently cast in 2011’s Thor, but I did not actually begin to swoon for him until this summer’s biggest blockbuster. In The Avengers, Loki is power-hungry, vengeful, and crazier than a box of cats… and totally smokin’ hot. I think Joss Whedon sexed Loki up on purpose. In Thor he was kind of sniveling, but in The Avengers he looks as if he could rule over you and make you like it. Tom Hiddleston has perfected the intense gaze and the megawatt, slightly insane smile. I couldn’t take my eyes off him throughout the film.
There’s something very interesting about making the bad guy look good. When the bad guy is ugly and his purpose is black-and-white, it’s easy to hate him while rooting for the good guy. But when the bad guy is not-so-ugly, and his purpose is not-so-black-and-white, the audience becomes conflicted. It’s not so easy to root for the good guy when you think the bad guy kind of has a point, or when you want the bad guy to go all Fifty Shades of Grey on you. I think Joss Whedon knows what he’s doing; he wants you conflicted. He wants you to walk out of his film not entirely happy that the good guys won. Because, of course, when the good guys win, there’s gotta be a sequel.