Monday, March 03, 2008


I was at the Guardin newsroom today for a World Book Day joint event with the devilish and debonair Mark Walden.

We were debating 'Heroes v Villains'. It was an epic battle between good and evil. I stood up for heroes, while Mark put forward the case for the bad guys.

I picked out my top five heroes (in no particular order):

Batman - cool outfit, great car, mysterious nickname (The Dark Knight)

Robin Hood - good with a sword and pretty clever, despite sometimes wearing green tights

James Bond - cars, girls, gadgets... but for me it's the Savile Row tailoring that does it

Bugs Bunny - cool under pressure, witty, charismatic... the Hugh Hefner of the animated world

and of course...

Jimmy Coates - well I have to try to sell some books, don't I?

Those five narrowly beat out two other favourite heroes of mine, Sherlock Holmes and Jason Bourne.

With a line-up like that, how did villains have a chance? Well, they didn't. I'm delighted to say that the heroes were overwhelming champions in two successive debates. Not that I like to crow about it. That's not the hero way.

As I pointed out several times today, Mark was up against it from the start, given the material he had to work with:

The Joker - a man who thinks he's in a deck of cards. Oh, how very frightening.

The Penguin - "I have it! I'll conquer the world by tying my ankles together and waddling around with a top hat and a beak!"

Darth Vader - a man with so little imagination he nicks his whole act from Batman, but gets it a bit wrong: built a stupid plant thing instead of a cool car, calls himself a 'dark lord' (I thought lords were the venerable gentleman of the government's second house - they must be doing something, but whatever it is, it doesn't look particularly exciting), and even steals the all-black outfit, but stupidly tops it off by putting a pot on his head.

Blofeld/Dr No/every other Bond bad-guy - they're basically the same: old, chubby, bald and stupid enough to reveal their plans in a lengthy monologue when they could be killing the good guy.

Elmer Fud/Texas Pete/Wile E. Coyote - Bugs Bunny's adversaries are woefully overmatched intellectually. And Elmer is also bald.

Nothing wrong with baldness in itself, of course, but it is a bit weird that Lex Luthor, Elmer Fud, every Bond villain, Darth Vader (probably), and the Penguin have about three full hairs between them.


Anonymous said...

I agree. A woeful list of villains. And you know why? No women. Female villains are always the best - Cruella de Vil, the White Witch, the Sea Witch in the Little Mermaid... They were the villains that gave me nightmares when I was little. And look at Harry Potter. For sadism Voledemort's got nothing on Umbridge.

Joe said...

An excellent point!
Cruella is certainly a classic. She's let down by her bumbling henchmen though. She should revise her interview system for henchmen applicants, or advertise more widely.

Also, while we're on the subject, I had trouble finding great female heroes (or heroins if you like I suppose...) - none that are really cool.

Oh, there's Emma Peel from the Avengers. She's pretty cool.