Violence against villains in fiction

In my stories, I have a sort of vigilante style of dealing with the villains (at least minor ones like thugs, gang leaders, crime bosses etc). I first portray them at the height of their malevolence and then the hero/heroine comes in and smashes them down to the ground in the most vicious manner befitting them.

Personally, I kinda like this aspect of my writing style. However, I’ve noticed some Catholics here and in some other sites who are not fond of the idea of severe punishments for criminals (as well as any form of violence in general). This made me curious, what are some of your thoughts on the violent ways certain comics/books/manga/shows have portrayed heroes fighting villains?

They are all classics. Even in my novel and some of my little comics, violence happens to the protagonist as well as the antagonist. I don’t judge. Sometimes, it just makes an entertaining piece.

…however, this *is *coming from a girl who absolutely adores the Contemplating Reiko web comics. :love:

Overall, the key word is “fiction.”

Ironically Yours, Blade and Blood

Yeah well not all people here are into that genre. I’ve met at least one or two folks here who are not fond of violence of any sort in media (regardless of who it is dealt against). I’m curious about their opinion.

Wait…

Are you actually familiar with Contemplating Reiko?

Yes. My friend reads it too. Can be a little too gory for my taste though. My sister would probably like it, given her own strange tastes of what’s bloody. :shrug:

That is so cool! Reiko is the best thing ever! I have two favorites: the one featuring the Horsemen of Death (along with the verse from Revelation) and the recent Valentine’s Day comic, “Death is Forever.” :love:

Ironically Yours. :heart:

Ehehehe… ^^;

I’m not sure I wanna read that last one though. >.>;;

It’s cool. :slight_smile: Not many people have the strong-enough stomach or insane-enough state of mind to handle it. :wink:

Ironically Yours. :heart:

Glorification of violence, gore, death, sin, crime, etc. is morally wrong. People who don’t understand this consider it outdated, stupid, or wrong. But it is morally wrong to glorify evil of any kind.

Not all violence in media is glorified, however. Some violence - like self-defense - is morally right. Self-defense is violence, but it is a person or nation defending itself against evil.

Violence against villians is considered okay by society because it’s deemed the villian deserves punishment. Plus, society enjoys viewing a hero flexing his muscles, so to speak. When this view of violence is seen in the media by children and is not objected to by parents, the children adopt the view that harming villians is okay. They will not become violent themselves, but they will grow an inclination toward vengenance and a desire to see sinners punished. This inclination is morally wrong, it is an opponent of charity. Charity demands patience and mercy.

Now, you might think, “If violence against villians is morally wrong, then how can I make a cool story?” Well, first of all, stories created for coolness or for praise are morally wrong, they are the fruit of pride, of self-love. Stories are suppose to be told for entertainment, for moral lesson, or for expression. Regardless of the end, however, all stories contain at least one moral in it, and this is why you must be careful what you put in a story: you don’t want someone to read your story and do something bad, or think something bad. Now, back on topic, there are four non-violent means to take out evil:

  1. Traps. Some superheroes use this method, leading villains into traps or using a clever method to trap villians. It could also be financial or psychological traps.
  2. Supernatural intervention. This obviously includes prayer, but it also includes a villain receving his just desserts. But it can be tricky, because you can’t overstep justice or mercy.
  3. Self-destruction. The villian, by his own methods, destroys himself, unintentionally or intentionally.
  4. Change of heart. This is the least popular method, but it is the most effective as far as characte development. There are many villians in stories who repent and help the hero out.

To create villians who are at the height of wickedness or who are unrepentant, just so you can do violence against them, is called justifying the means with the end, and that is never right.

But what are we to do if we apply this supposed charity with regarding the death penalty? Charity, patience, and mercy are saintly qualities to be sure but that’s not to say they are always 100% compatible with reality. And even in fiction, there are stories that reflect that reality. (I suggest you read Death Note). These values often lead many to become gullible and are the easiest to abuse by those who have a knack for deceit and manipulation.

Not necessarily. What good is writing a story if it’s not cool? If you intend to portray a message to many people through a story, how can you do that when they don’t find your story attractive? I think I’ve already told you this but I’m not exactly a huge fan of preaching to the choir.

The morals in my stories are about justice. More specifically, justice of the right-wing variety. You are accountable for your actions and thus, you must deal with their consequences. I refer to you the sayings, “Let the punishment fit the crime.” and “You reap what you sow.” Many of the minor villains in my stories are representative of the many ills I see in society today, at the height of their power. These are people that you really wanna hate because they are so depraved, you might not even consider them human. I’ll admit, I might be promoting some sort of vigilante-style mentality and I’m working on finding a way to put that on a leash. However, I don’t see anything wrong with these people getting what they deserve from other people who are, in a way, higher in terms of what is right and wrong. It’s no different from a judge handing out a sentence to those found guilty.

They could also be death traps of the morbid and slice-and-dice variety. This may not be a good example but anyone who has ever heard of Saw can tell you that.

When it comes to punishments (including my own) I prefer those that came as a realistic and rational consequence of the crime. I mean sure it could give a huge impact to religious people if their local Christian newspaper told them that a serial killer got run over by a car… but does it really make sense logically? What if you told the same thing to skeptics who are more likely to just call it coincidence? I think it’s more effective to show how a villain could have prevented the consequences of his/her actions but instead chose not to and rue with regret. I mean isn’t that one of the most excruciating emotions once could suffer in hell?

These could be violent in of themselves. Apparently you haven’t seen the remains of a suicide bomber. Mind you, it’s not something you’d wanna see after a meal.

This agree wholeheartedly. However, these villains possess a redeeming quality within them that the hero reaches out to (e.g. Gaara from Naruto, Ren Tao from Shaman King, Darth Vader from Star Wars). Sadly, we can’t say all them are like that. Kindly tell me what redeeming qualities Hitler had so I could stop fantasizing about him burning in hell.

So I guess Satan and his demons are not supposed to be used as villains then? How would you approach such clearly irredeemable individuals who do nothing but wish you harm? Besides, “Means to an end” has always been a morally ambiguous issue. I mean have you seen what some of the past Popes had to do in order to prevent the further spread of heresies? (e.g. Albigensian crusade)

Where does that leave Sauron - or other villains in those books ? :slight_smile:

And to drown an entire populated island is pretty violent.

I think some caution should be used if you want the protaganist to be a good example to others. I want to draw anime/manga comics myself and I love battles between good and evil.

Anyway, be careful how you potray your protagonist. Your chatacter would not set a good example if he/she enjoys making the enemy, despite the wickedness of this villian, suffer to the end. Imagine what would your character would look like if he was sticking a pistol in the antagonists mouth and mercilessly kills him. Just because he is fighting evil does not mean he is a hero. For example, the Punisher is considered to be a hero, yet he was about as sadistic as the people who murdered his family if not more.

Also, before I became Catholic I watched a movie called “The Boondock Saints”. In this movie 2 irish brothers are attacked by russian mobsters after they got into a barfight. They later on stumble upon a meeting where the russian mob boss is holding a meeting, and their friend Rocco who has ties to the Itialian mob sent to kill these 8 russian mobsters with only a 6-round revolver. (The Italian mob was going to have Rocca killed by sending him to his death this way because Rocco was told there would be only 2 when there were really 8). Anyway the 2irish brothers arrive before Rocco does and kill all 8 of the russian mobsters and later on pull a big scare prank on Rocco, right after the 2 brothers just killed the russian mobsters. Rocco realizes his own mob betrayed him and he later helps the brothers kill off as many of the italian mob as possible.

Now some may be asking “What wrong with the Boondock Saints?” Well let me explain.

  1. It promotes extreme vigilantism.
  2. There is sexual content and nudity in it. Even homosexuality.
  3. Excessive cursing. Even racial slurs.
  4. They enjoyed killing.
  5. Worst part, the 2 irish guys were practicing Catholics and they killed these mobster because they believe God sent them to. I’m glad the movie did not show the two recieving Holy Communion.

If your character is going to be a vigilante, then be careful you character does not end up like these guys. Stuff like this is not good at all and I wished I never watched this movie in my youth. And I didn’t even mention the all of the content of the entire movie

My characters are most, if not always, anti-heroes. They’re not “role-models” and I don’t intend them that way. No offense but I’m looking to write something along the lines of Death Note or Air Gear not Pokemon.

That would still wholly depend on the kind of villain. A villain that is as sophisticated and dynamic as my protagonists is one that requires a lot of creativity and that would be wasted if I just killed him/her off right off the bat.

On the other hand, if it was some amoral creep who just gropes women in trains then I don’t see anything wrong of relieving him of a hand… or two. (:<

Believe it or not, that would look pretty cool. :cool: It’s a little overused though. I’d prefer more… archaic methods (like let’s say, the axe, the sword, as well as the ever creepy rip-soul-directly-from-body).

And like I said before, my heroes are anti-heroes (which is pretty much what the Punisher is too).

I actually looked it up and found it quite interesting. You see, this may surprise you but I actually sympathize with people who want to rid the world of criminal dirt. I know that they ain’t all dirt in the real world but that doesn’t mean there are those who just won’t turn a new leaf either. What I want to do is write about the latter and show what I believe is the best course of action regarding them: make 'em feel miserable for it. Honestly, if a child rapist was jailed and he didn’t regret any ounce of his deeds, would you like the idea of him being pampered in prison?

Anyways, back to your movie. The only problem I see is the prayer part and the mixing of religious zealotry. To be honest this mix of dark elements (vigilantism, violence) with light elements (prayer, religion) was never cool. They just don’t match man. Personally, I like creating characters that righteous people would consider “bad” at first glance but have redeeming qualities and sympathetic pasts. Now that’s a light-dark mixture I find worth making which is why I like making anti-heroes. There’s another element that I’d have to use them with though to make them work but I’m a little short on time right now.

I don’t get what you’re implying here. I’ve read that passage (and the following ones too) and I don’t see how this answers my question. You’re comparing a woman who is, for one thing, alive and is furthermore, repentant to someone who has had no regrets in ordering a genocide that murdered 6 million? :ehh:

Did Hitler ever repent? Was that what was on his mind when he put a bullet to his own head? :rolleyes:

Hey I would stick a little closer to Church teachings. I watched an episode of Afro Samurai and that show just glorified violence. I also watched a movie called 300 which was based on a true story of how King Leonidas took 300 (or 299 other) spartans to defend their home. They were fighting to protect their home but people watched these kinds of movies not to learn morals but to watch blood be shed just to get a kick out of it and that is exactly what they got. Although it is the viewers responsibilty not to expose him/herself to things with excessive violence, in a way the writer can also be guilty of enticing the viewer to watch this. Not saying this to act “holier than thou” but just giving my:twocents:

of course you would not want to see the two fighters fight like this in a story :slapfight: unless of course you want your story to be made fun of, lol. But you don’t have to go to the extreme either. Since Anime is so popular it can easily be misused to promote extreme violence and immorality.

Sometimes I like the dark characters with a good side. It shows my personal spiritual struggles I have to bear. Although it can be uplifting and a relief to see someone with an almost perfect (no one other than God is perfect) personality. Frodo Baggins for example was a very kind Hobbit, but the Ring was causing so much pain inside him it was twisting him to the point where the only thing he could think about was the Ring.

As Catholics we do not think that anyone is in hell. We don’t even think that about Judas Iscariot.

I LOVE this topic because I’ve pondered it a lot. But I’m afraid the OP won’t like the conclusions I’ve come to.

I’m a sucker for violent action movies. I admit to enjoying them. But I’m sure I’d like crack cocaine too if I tried it.

I’m now convinced that the reason America is so enamored with the death penalty is because of this genre of movies and stories. Bear with me.

They all follow the same plot.

  1. Introduce the hero in his ordinary circumstances.
  2. Introduce the villian in ominous behavior.
  3. Begin conflict between hero and villian by showing villain to be utterly depraved with no remaining human qualities, deserving the worst fate imaginable.
  4. Hero dishes out well deserved violent fate for villian.

This strategy works and works well. Many the story or movie I’ve seen that has successfully manipulated me into virtually screaming for the villains blood by the end.

Stories like this CAN be OK in a fantasy genre like Lord of the Rings or the Terminator where the villain ISN’T human. They would even occasionally be OK with human villains if we weren’t so entirely saturated with this theme in our culture.

But to me, the sheer mass of these stories out there today demonstrates a lack of understanding of what evil really is and where it comes from. Very few people, if any, on earth are truly evil. We’re ALL good, but fallen. Satan (or Sauron) is pure evil. Humans are a tragic mixture of good and evil. As a catholic, you’d be more prophetic by coming up with stories that portray villains as real humans rather than one dimensional personifications of evil. Such a portrayal does us as a society no good and IMO a good deal of harm.

This is why I believe we so embrace the death penalty. We’ve got a warped sense of justice. We’re like the pharisees who fail to reconize that the difference between “them” and “us” is one of degree, not inherent substance. We start to think reality is like the movies and that murderers are just Satan incarnate. But they’re not. They’re dangerous humans that need to be kept apart from the populace, but they are NOT beyond the Grace of God.

To paraphrase the late George Carlin; “What does it say about our society that movies are allowed to show people killing each other but not having sex?”

I agree 100%. That’s why I always appreciate movies like Spider-Man where the hero never kills the villain, but rather the villain sort of self-destructs.

Actually I’d be one of those who’d watch that movie for both. I mean come on. All that big battle talk and no action? Tsk, tsk, tsk… :rolleyes:

Oh come on, if Pope Benedict can declare that there’s no salvation outside the Church then why can’t I say something similar? At the very least, the individuals on my mind were obviously downright evil and were remembered in history for such.

Well it’s that very element of being one-dimensional that’s makes them for good extras. I said before, I wouldn’t heartlessly kill off a good characterized villain because such a character is something I’ve put just as much heart into as when I made my protagonists.

However, if it’s just some dumb creepy predator who’s just been around too long then I don’t see why my anti-heroes can’t clean him out. The guy’s just an extra. We’re not going to argue over the rights of extras now are we? :ehh:

Yeah well, I wouldn’t be for the death penalty if I knew that criminals were getting exactly what they deserve in prison and aren’t just being pampered while being cooped up alongside equally like-minded gang-bangers. 7_7

You know what my idea of a prison is? Something like some of the ones we have. Trashy as the sewers and the type you’d rather want to die than spend the rest of your days in. That should be enough to tell potential cons to stay out of trouble.

I guess thats the difference between real criminals and fantasy villians: real criminals may be sociopathic but they are mostly just dumb and thoughless. The threat of many years of terrible living conditions including intra-prisioner violence of the unmentionable kind does not deter them.

Yer basic storybook bad-guy just drips malace and ill intent.

Some of your best stories are the ones with no real villian, just people with different motivations or methods.
“House of sand and fog” and “The Watchmen” are very different examples where no one is trying to be evil, they just can’t agree on how to do things.

High body count fiction goes back to Shakespear and further to the Greek myths. It is not going to change.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.