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Movie Mom

What the Well-Dressed Villain Is Wearing

posted by Nell Minow

The Daily Beast has a great gallery of villain fashion. Sean Macaulay writes very perceptively about what we learn from the way the bad guys dress.

The key to any great supervillain–and why we secretly like them–is that they are not destroyers, at heart, but creators. They don’t want riches or power, they want to realize a vision. They are arrogant and remote. Their certainty is breathtaking. But there’s no denying their artistry.

Macaulay notes that good guys tend to be conservative. They are about preserving the status quo and playing by the rules. Bad guys want to shake things up. They have vision — yes, evil, destructive vision — but they undeniably want to make some big changes. They want to stand out and make a mark and that is often reflected in their attire. Macaulay admires the stark contrast in the style choices of the two arch-villains and arch-rivals in “Despicable Me.” One is goth-grubby traditional with his gray sweater and striped scarf, his alligator sofa, rhinoceros chair, vehicles made from scrap metal emitting puffs of dark smoke, and beds made from bomb casings. The other is sleek and spotless, everything white and shiny with orange accents.
The accompanying gallery is a bit disappointing, though. Every one of the sartorial examples is male and three out of twelve are James Bond villains. They’ve left off my favorite fashion-forward villains. I’d include The Snow Queen in the Narnia movies, Hannibal Lecter with the face mask to keep him from biting, Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger as The Joker, the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz,” Disney villainesses like Ursula in “The Little Mermaid” and Malifacent in “Sleeping Beauty,” Agent Smith in the “Matrix” movies, Alex in “A Clockwork Orange,” Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men,” various Draculas, and the greatest fashion icon villain of them all…..


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  • jestrfyl

    I have long taught in my Confirmation Classes that of you wnat to do something great, follow a heretic! Most of the truly wonderful change has come through what others see as heresy. I expect even Martin Luther received mean comment on his choice of attire.
    This acessment of villains is wonderful. I am sure that the folks hanging around the Jerusalem Temple would stage-whisper unkind things about Jesus, the Apostles’, and later, Paul’s fashion sense and how they were trying to undo everything that was working just great, and you can tell who the trouble makers are by what they wear. Sartorial style says so much about how dnagerous a person can be. One of my favorite themes for a church service comes from Darkwing Duck (a fashion challenge in his own right), “Let’s get Dangerous”. So dress dangerously, crazy, and wild, and let the rest stew in own self-righteous-soup.
    Another fashion challenge – considered by some a villain, but by others a hero – Wavy Gravy of Woodstock fame. Not a movie character, but bigger than life in his own way!

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