I’ve always been a fan of the anti-hero. Jack Sparrow, Robin Hood, Harry Dresden. These rakes practically ooze charm, though if you asked them about it they’d probably deny it. But if I love anything more than a dashing love-him-so-much-I-wanna-kill-him character, it’s a villain.
I’m drawn to complex villains the same way I’m drawn to dark chocolate: with no regrets. There’s just something about a sympathetic bad guy that I fall in love with (I know, I know, something’s probably wrong with me).
My favorite villain right now is easily Daredevil’s Kingpin/Wilson Fisk. Ermahgerd. I would even argue that he’s the best character on the show, although next week I might say it’s Daredevil/Matt Murdock, because he is, of course, an anti-hero and awesome. If you’re not watching this series on Netflix, you should. It’s a bit gory, but the writing of these characters makes everything worthwhile.
So, why is Wilson Fisk so dang amazing? I’m so glad you asked.
He’s a person. And it’s terrifying.
I can’t think of anything weirder than a mob boss who uses car doors as a viable weapon calling up his new girlfriend to talk about her day and see how she’s doing. What. It’s easy to fall into hating other villains because we know so little about them. Ursula from The Little Mermaid has many rumored backstories, but all we see of her in the film is a crazy, power-obsessed sea witch. The Joker is totally insane, and even in comics or movies when he’s given more dimension, it all comes down to just how bizarre his mind has become.
And then there’s Fisk, who gets nervous in front of a pretty girl and taunts himself with icons from his past. He worries and is afraid, and gosh dangit sometimes I actually believe he does want to clean up Hell’s Kitchen.
He’s explainable. Which is also terrifying.
Growing up, my mom used to say, “Just put yourself in their shoes” whenever I was mad at someone. It helped – when you try to think from someone else’s side of the story, their actions make more sense.
That doesn’t mean I want to understand or agree with a murderer.
Vincent D’Onofrio (the actor who plays Fisk) is brilliant at not just suggesting the audience step into the mobster’s shoes; he practically demands it. One minute you’re thinking, “OH MY GOD HE’S A MONSTER” and the next, “No wonder he’s so messed up. That poor guy!”
That poor guy. An evil murderer with an explosive temper is a “poor guy”???
That, my friends, is how you create a villain.
This ERMAHGERD VILLAINS! moment has been brought to you by Michelle, who spent about 15 years of her life convinced that "epitome" was pronounced [ehp-i-tōm].