A to Z Challenge – G

G

My theme for the A to Z challenge is Villain Archetypes.

Yes, 26 descriptions of some of your favorite villains of literature, TV, and movies.

April 8 – G is for God-Complex

Remaking the world in your image is (not surprisingly) often a villainous endeavor. Actually, it kind of always is. An antagonist with a god-complex is a recipe for epic disaster, as these baddies often have the grandest designs, and the means to execute them (pun intended). They may be super-rich, powerful, ambitious, or possess supernatural or super-human gifts that makes their iconoclastic notions a possibility. No matter where the motivations come from, and they can be varied and numerous, the God-Complex archetype vehemently believes that they can make the world better. This makes them some of the most dangerous, and occasionally most misunderstood evil-doers in fiction. They lend themselves naturally to comic books and movies (and even video games), as their big personalities translate well to visual medium, and are less common in literature than other archetypes.

A villain with a God-Complex can run the gamut from wholly, irredeemably evil to misunderstood or misguided. An evil example may believe they should re-shape the world just because they can, to fuel their own selfish desires to control everything around them. Many great God-Complex villains, however, simply wanted to help, but go to unforgivable extremes to do so. The variation in the roots of the God-Complex can set the tone for an entire narrative, depending on what kind of villain you want to portray. By definition, a God-Complex villain rarely finds redemption in a story, even if their intentions were good. Many are left with the cold realization that they went too far, or that the changes they made had consequences they did not foresee. Even the somewhat sympathetic examples took their desire to re-create the world to unforgivable extremes, and even if they sacrifice themselves once they realize they’ve made a grave mistake, no one ever really forgives them.

What separates a God-Complex villain from other similar archetypes is their belief that they alone know what the world needs to be better. This belief is what makes them relatable (when they’re not despicably evil), since believing in yourself is often couched as a positive attribute. A God-Complex villain takes that belief a little too far. Some of the most sympathetic of arch-villains, and at the same time some of the most detestable, these baddies have a habit of meeting dark but not necessarily messy ends. Often this antagonist will still be alive at the end of the narrative, or finds himself the victim of his own machinations. Whether the intention was good, evil, or somewhere in the middle, a villainous God-Complex is one of the most entertaining, and occasionally thought-provoking, antagonistic forces in any kind of fiction.

Famous God-Complex Villains:
• Adrian Veidt (Watchmen)
• Dr. Moreau (The Island of Doctor Moreau)
• Horus (Horus Heresy)
• Magneto (ish. Marvel comics)
• Lex Luthor (DC)
• Handsome Jack (Borderlands)

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