Who among us has not felt the urge to steal? Something small, perhaps. A candy bar. A pack of smokes. A pair of gloves.
And I know. That you have at some point succumbed to that urge. That one time – a series of times, some of you.
You know that tremor. At the base of your gut. That quiver, that… quickening.
And you have turned away from it.
You felt that quickening, and failed to apprehend its enormity.
The treasure is not the item. The target of your burglary. Is beside the point. Your ill-gotten gains – that candy bar, or pack of smokes, or pair of gloves; that car, or necklace, or identity, is incidental.
The point – of the entire enterprise – is that quickening. That quickening is the speck of grit that becomes the pearl; the ember that becomes the conflagration. That quickening is the seed of greatness.
Because there is larceny in every heart. There is mayhem curled in every set of entrails. Lawlessness and misdeeds are the fluid that cradle every brain.
Be honest. When you got away with snatching that candy bar, or pack of smokes, or pair of gloves – you felt vindicated, a little bit, didn’t you? Didn’t you? You congratulated yourself – RIGHTLY congratulated yourself – for outwitting the store clerk, or the security guard, or the firewall.
Or, alternately, when you got caught. You felt the sting of the unfairness of it. Pilfering that cash, or that stack of ingots, or those nuclear launch codes.
It has often been observed that if you want something in this life, you must take it. Is it not better to take that which you want in a scheme that involves chloroformed guards and outwitting security cameras than it is to just saunter in and snag it? Of course it is. Is it not better to surround oneself with a swarm of expendable henchmen who remain fanatically if inexplicably devoted to you than to do all the heavy lifting yourself? Goes without saying.
And is it not better to hold a municipality hostage with convoluted plots involving the detonation of bridges and careening armored cars than it is submit a request, or go through channels? You better believe it is.
Would not the right-thinking person rather do nothing so much as bring the nations of the world to the brink of utter destruction as they scramble to meet your unreasonable and escalating demands, while you laugh a throaty and demonic laugh, ensconced in your sub-volcanic secret base or orbiting in your space station – a space station, it’s worth emphasizing, that was privately funded, launched, resupplied, and maintained, and which, though quite massive, has eluded all detection until you unveil it for your nefarious plot?
Superheroes. Pssh. Buncha doofuses, man – buncha squares.
Who is more compelling – if you’re honest with yourself – Dr. Doom, or Reed fucking Richards of the Fantastic Four? Dr. Doom – who has a totally badass metal suit and menacing cloak, and lives in HIS OWN CASTLE in Latveria – a country that had to be made up to contain his villainy – or Mr. Fantastic? Who lives in a high rise in Manhattan and whose “super power” is that he’s stretchy? Dr. Doom – whose mask alone is not merely the perfect expression of robotic malevolence and is an undeniable precursor to Darth fucking Vader – who is a master without peer of both technology AND sorcery? Or Reed Richards? Who looks essentially like Bob from the Church of the Subgenius.
It’s no contest.
Who captures your imagination – The Red Skull, whose face, for the sake of clarification, is a RED FUCKING SKULL – or Captain Goddamn America? Come ON. Captain America – who wouldn’t even BE a superhero were it not for the injection of the that secret serum – I have it good authority, has an IQ of like sixty-two.
Batman – the one superhero with anything on the ball – he’s got the cave, he’s got the gadgets, he’s got a dark side. But even Batman’s villains kick the crap out of him on the coolness scale –
Joker? Fully clownface insane.
Two Face? Half of his face is burned right off!
Penguin? Penguin is a piece of shit and everybody knows it – doesn’t deserve inclusion in this company. Everybody hates Penguin - everybody.
GOD. Just THINKING about that egg-shaped little sack of crap makes me wanna smack somebody.
Even accepting for a moment that all the second- and third-tier super villains deserve a place at the table – and you know the super villain table would be awesome, like a slab of titanium flecked with lapis lazuli or something – if you stacked all the super villains up against all the superheroes, there’s no CHANCE you’d pick the superheroes. NO CHANCE.
Because taken together, what would strike you about the superheroes – whatever their different abilities and whatnot – would be how appallingly BORING they all are. Just so squeaky clean. With the moral rectitude. And the holier than thou. All the creativity of a pack of stenographers.
Where as the super villains all burn fever bright. They are men of initiative and drive and vision. Men who harness the elements and bend the world to their will.
And you’re like “Well, don’t they just define themselves in relation to their superhero enemy? Isn’t that sort of a pathetic way of framing your identity? Aren’t these people with a pretty big void at the center of their lives that they can only feel complete or fulfilled in relation to a nemesis, or, even more dumb and weird, with just indiscriminate destruction and the shedding of innocent blood? Is that any kind of rational basis for building a life?”