Heroes and Villains

In May, I will be teaching my “Vile, Evil Villains” class again at UCSD Extension. I taught this class last summer for the first time and the course proved so successful that the students rallied to extend it from a three-week class to a five-week class.

The gist of the course is “What makes a hero a hero and a villain a villain?” It’s my belief that villainy follows Newton’s Third Law of Motion: for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. A truly evil villain must face off against a truly heroic hero. But both must be flawed, for therein lies the tension. Think how boring Superman would have been without the threat of Kryptonite. Or how evil Snidely Whiplash would be without his love for Pauline. These fundamental, inherent flaws of body or nature are what provide the looming uncertainty: success or failure?

Of course, then there’s the triangle of tension between the hero, the villain, and the Loved One. Oh, so much more to talk about. But we’ll rest here with the fatal flaws.