What Puts the “Super” in Supervillain?


This post is by Steven Padnick from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




And when he planned to steal our sunlight, he crossed that line between everyday villainy and cartoonish supervillainy.

—Waylon Smithers

What is it that makes a villain a supervillain? What quality is it that defines an antagonist as more than a threat, more than a foil? As something extraordinary?

The easy answer is that a supervillain is a villain with super powers, but that’s not a sufficient answer. If you name three supervillains off the top of your head, I guarantee you two of them have no powers at all. And there are many monstrous villains in fiction that have powers that still wouldn’t ever be considered a supervillain.

Similarly, we can say a supervillain must have specific accouterments—a costume, a nom de guerre, henchmen, a hideout—which is another way of saying that a supervillain must have a distinct, instantly recognizable aesthetic. They can have a costume, or a ...