Monday, April 12, 2010
A salute to the second string villain
With the cult comic book based movie Kick-Ass due out later this week and the upcoming release of Iron Man 2, we may be in for a revival of the superhero genre which has been on the verge of pop culture burnout for some time now.
It may be way too soon to tell but any sign of life for an ailing genre is worth encouraging and with that in mind,I thought this would be a good time to shine the spotlight on those who are truly willing to kill for attention.
No hero is complete without a villain to face off against,however not every bad guy he/she battles is the ultimate menace to society. Some folks are pretty dangerous types but not evil enough to be a long term enemy or savvy and/or stable enough to work alone.
Therefore,we salute the second string villain;those sinister sidekicks and one hit wonders who give the actual Big Bad a chance either to make a clean getaway or prepe time for making their next move. To start this party right,let's take a good look at one of the most memorable characters from the Phantom Menace,Darth Maul.
The prequel Star Wars trilogy had many flaws which make it hard for some of us to watch again but the one saving grace in each film was a great fight scene and the best of the bunch was the showdown between this silent Sith Lord and a young Obi Wan Kenobi and his Jedi master mentor Qui-Gon Jinn. Actor Ray Park is known for his impressive physical skills and despite a lack of dialogue,he gave the character quite a strong screen presence.
Darth Maul and his double bladed light saber made for a formidable foe against the Force but sadly,that debut duel was to be his last. Too bad he couldn't stuck around long enough to rid us of that annoying Jar-Jar,who wore out his welcome from the first second he appeared onscreen:
Ray Park at least have a few lines to say when he played Toad in the original X Men movie. The character in the comics has usually been a henchman type,even with some revisions that gave him more powers and a stronger personality.
Nonetheless,his main abilities being a super long tongue and various body fluids that could be used in a threatening manner,Toad was and is meant to be more of a follower than a leader.
That doesn't mean he can't be a force to be reckoned with. Toad took on three of the X Men in his movie debut,including Storm herself,and was the focus of one of the most quotable lines from that film. While his character hasn't resurfaced in the X Men film franchise so far,there is still a slim chance that Toad might make another splash on the scene again:
Being the chief assistant to a major evil player is quite the full time career and True Blood's Pam pulls it off nastily nice. As co-owner and bouncer of the vampire bar Fangtasia,Pam's no nonsense approach and ruthless nature make her a great business partner which also are assets in dealing with vampire matters for her Sheriff Eric Northman.
The snide snarkiness of Pam on the HBO series is well enhanced by Kristin Bauer,who vividly brings this bad girl to life. Amongst the ranks of sinister sidekicks,she is one of the few who could go solo successfully but is perfectly content to support her bad boss man any way she can. Pam is quite the happy hench wench indeed:
A crime lord's power can be measured by the fury of their protectors and Kill Bill's O-Ren had a real hellion of a bodyguard in Go-Go Yubari,the seemingly sweet schoolgirl who dispatched her mistress' enemies with a giggle and lack of hesitation or remorse.
Actress Chiaki Kuriyama was no stranger to movie menacing with one of her best known roles being in the Lord of the Flies style action flick Battle Royale. Her appearance in Vol.1 of the Kill Bill saga has given her a wider audience and more of a solid setting as an iconic figure for future performers to follow in her fierce footsteps.
As one of many obstacles in the Bride's bloody path of vengeance,Go-Go gave as good as she got but in the end,her fearless fighting style was no match for the ruthless resourcefulness of the former Black Momba. Her time was brief but incredibly bad ass:
It would be criminal to overlook the numerous supporting players in the bad guy leagues that Disney animated features have given us over the years and choosing just one or two to highlight here is rather hard. Instead, our pick is that deviously delightful trio of hyenas from The Lion King,Shenzi,Banzi and Ed.
This pack of bumbling bottom-feeders were well voiced by Whoopi Goldberg,Cheech Marin and Jim Cummings and brought a mirthful menace to the proceeding that had them as vital cohorts in Scar's plot to overthrow his brother's kingdom. While the hyenas had strength in numbers,their slowness on the uptake ultimately did them in but not before they showed Scar his grave error of assuming that his friends were as dumb as they looked:
While second string villains may not always get their due,they do eventually get what's coming to them sooner or later. Plus,without them around,who would the Big Bads have to hang out with in between gigs?
It can be a hard choice but once a villain decides on a suitable sidekick,their threat level gets elevated to a higher evil level which makes the hero's victory over their criminal mayhem that much more triumphant. To paraphrase an old school Hollywood line,there are no small villains,only small threats to society:
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