Batman Villain Motivations

If it's not ZDoom, it goes here.
ImpieTwo
Posts: 912
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2015 11:52 pm

Batman Villain Motivations

Post by ImpieTwo »

This is something that's been bugging me a bit since I saw a youtuber bring it up while reviewing episodes of Batman: TAS.

The Scarecrow is kind of weak as a villain. It seems to largely come from his motivation, or lack thereof. Look at other Batman adversaries.

Joker wreaks chaos and disorder because he is driven to prove that order and morality are meaningless--at the end of the day, everyone's plans to control things are pointless, and everyone becomes just as savage and depraved as he is. Or so he thinks. Hence why he seemingly causes mayhem for the hell of it.

Riddler wants to prove he's the smartest guy on earth, by outsmarting the world's greatest detective.

Poison Ivy wants to save the world by destroying humanity in order to preserve mother earth. She's an eco terrorist, and a lot of crazy eco terrorists have the same sort of anti-human worldview.

Two-Face is in constant battle with his dichotomy as two sides of the law and order coin. When he's good, he upholds justice; when he's bad, he's a tyrant and a crimeboss, and uses his coin to absolve himself of any accountability.

Penguin is a career criminal whose racketeering pays for his lavish lifestyle. He's the most normal of the lot, as evidenced by his going to Blackgate Penitentiary instead of Arkham Asylum. He's a narcissist for whom normal rules do not apply like they do to the plebs, and he feels he deserves everything he takes.

Mr Freeze wants to find a cure for his wife's condition. Pretty noble, if obsessive and unable to accept reality and move on.


Scarecrow? He scares people for science. He does experiments in fear to study human reaction to fear for....reasons?

Is he really as weak a villain as he seems compared to the others? Am I missing something in the mythos that fleshes him out? Even The Animated Series, for all its reinvention of Batman's rogues gallery, didn't really do anything for him as a character. He's even more an absolute than the Joker, and I think that hurts him as a character in a roster full of rich bad guys with twisted psyches.
User avatar
neoworm
Posts: 1729
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2005 9:17 am
Location: Czech Republic

Re: Batman Villain Motivations

Post by neoworm »

Quite a lot of Batman villains have multiple motivations depending on who is writing them and a lot of times they are equally valid and completely contradicting. It works only when you take any story as completely separate one. I have some favourites.

One of the best explanations of Joker is that he has no character or motivation, because he is so broken, he pretty much have to remake his personality every day. Only thing that is left as constant in his mind is obsession for Batman. But you can have dozen other explanations that will be equally interesting. Honorable mention is Joker from White Knight.

Riddler is in my opinion weakest. He it pretty much a goof seeking validation. Good twist on him was in comics for Batman TAS where Batman hired him to do the detective work for him and that was the exact type of validation he needed to actually do something with himself and move on from his goofy personality.

Poison Ivy is inhuman. She obviously have problems to empathize with humans and she embraced this part of herself. Only last sliver of her humanity is her friendship with Harley. Otherwise she is more an nature elemental akin to Swampthing.

I think Two-face is little simplier than you wrote. He just lost it, became what he was supposed to fight against because struggling with it was meaningless. Or he was always evil, hard to say. His two personalities never truly worked for me. Using the coin to absolve himself of any accountability is good explanation. Right now I think he is just the evil side and his good side is just facade, his coping mechanism at best, misdirection and style at worst. Interesting twist was the third personality, the Judge from Batman TAS. But just as a one-off than a recurring character.

Penguin is ugly mobster. And that is enough.

Mr Freeze is not a villain. He has his purpose and is desperate to fulfill it. But he is not evil and can be reasoned with, even if given a chance he is completely willing to even selflessly help. And I absolutely love what they did with him in White Knight.

And Scarecrow. He is fascinated by fear, causing it and living it. It may have started as scientific experiment but become very unscientific obsession. He is not that interesting, but is a nice mirror for Batman. Batman uses fear as a tool, Scarecrow uses causing fear as junkie uses drugs. It's nice reminder for Batman that he should stay in control and that his methods are not that far away from the villains.
User avatar
Ichor
Posts: 1779
Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2003 9:22 pm

Re: Batman Villain Motivations

Post by Ichor »

Scarecrow seems to be closer to Cioccolata than anything, though he's not nearly as sadistic.

And Mr. Freeze, I remember him (and most of the villians) as just a glorified bank robber with a few high tech gadgets and a gimmick. Of all of the villians, this one was changed the most. Now he comes across as more of a tragic anti-hero than an actual villian.
User avatar
sinisterseed
Posts: 1276
Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2019 6:48 am
Github ID: sinisterseed
Operating System: Windows 10/8.1/8/201x 64-bit
OS Test Version: No (Using Stable Public Version)
Graphics Processor: nVidia with Vulkan support

Re: Batman Villain Motivations

Post by sinisterseed »

Ichor wrote:And Mr. Freeze, I remember him (and most of the villians) as just a glorified bank robber with a few high tech gadgets and a gimmick. Of all of the villians, this one was changed the most. Now he comes across as more of a tragic anti-hero than an actual villian.
Honestly no, I think Freeze was ambiguous from the very beginning. When he was created, they wanted him to be a tragic character with villainous tendencies insofar as he steps at nothing to get closer to his goal, but he can also be reasoned with and willing to help. He's one of the more complex characters I'd say.
NiGHTMARE
Posts: 3460
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2003 8:39 am

Re: Batman Villain Motivations

Post by NiGHTMARE »

The Scarecrow's obsession with fear surely beats the Mad Hatter's obsession: the works of Lewis Caroll.
ImpieTwo
Posts: 912
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2015 11:52 pm

Re: Batman Villain Motivations

Post by ImpieTwo »

NiGHTMARE wrote:The Scarecrow's obsession with fear surely beats the Mad Hatter's obsession: the works of Lewis Caroll.
And hats.

His hat is pretty great in the 60s Batman show though.

Return to “Off-Topic”