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 15 – M is for Megalomaniac
Megalomania, on the surface, isn’t necessarily a bad thing (unless you’re talking about the mental illness marked by delusions of grandeur…then maybe it is). The non-psychiatric definition describes a Megalomaniac as someone “obsessed with doing extravagant or grand things.” While there’s plenty of examples, both real life and fictional, of some good guys with megalomaniacal tendencies, it pales in comparison with the bad guy Megalomaniacs. The “obsessed” part of the definition is key. The Megalomaniac has to strive to take over the world, or tear down a functioning government, or entirely obscure the sun. In lesser extremes, they may be obsessed with holding expensive, fancy engagements in spite of the costs, or get completely ensorceled in building a gigantic monument, again in spite of the costs.
Almost every arch-villain in every story has some level of Megalomania, and the example portion at the bottom will read like a who’s who of memorable antagonists. The main difference between the Megalomaniac as an acrhetype, and simply a facet of villainy, lies in the motivation. Some villains are motivated by revenge, others by greed, jealousy, or lust. The Megalomaniac is above all of these petty impulses, and instead plots and schemes simply because he wants to. When you ask, “Why does he (or she) want to rule the world?” If the only answer is because he (or she) wants to, with no other impetus, then that villain is a Megalomaniac. The typical example is wealthy, or at least comfortable, powerful, or at least established, and has the vast majority of basic human needs met. This helps establish that the Megalomaniac has a need that’s outside of the normal human psyche, a need to accomplish gargantuan feats no matter the cost.
Megalomaniac archetypes make ideal arch-villains. The audience does not need to get too attached to their backstory, and their single-mindedness makes an ideal breeding ground for their servants or allies to become anti-heroes (or anti-villains). They don’t care about the little people, regardless of their allegiances. Cruel, cold, and unapologetic, a Megalomaniac is very rarely redeemable, although the occasional aspiring world-conqueror may see the error of his ways early enough to meet a moderately tragic end, and not an appropriate one. More often than not, however, these baddies are the uber-villain, uniting a string of heroes (or heroines) and villains-turned-anti-heroes against their Megalomaniacal desires. We may love to hate certain archetypes more than others, but we looooooooove to hate these guys above all others. The most deplorable, unfeeling examples of villainy, Megalomaniacs served as some of the most memorable villains in all of fiction.
Some examples of Megalomaniacs:
- Dr. No (Or again, pick any Bond villain)
- Magento (Marvel)
- Voldemort (Harry Potter)
- Megatron (Transformers)
- Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek)
- Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars)
- Lex Luthor (DC)
- Adrian “Ozymandias” Veidt (Watchmen)