Nihlus

Which characters count as supervillains?

56 posts in this topic

Supervillains

Tywin

Roose Bolton

Littlefinger

Possibly the Varys/Illyrio combo

Euron

Some lesser villains / sidekick villains are:

Walder Frey

Gregor Clegane

Cersei

Joffrey

Ramsay

Rattleshirt

Vargo Hoat

Janos Slynt

the Masters of Slaver's Bay

etc.

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Comic bookish over the top supervillains:

- Euron

- Ramsay

- Joffrey

- Cersei

Supervillains within the Framework of ASOIAF:

- Roose

- Victarion

- Littlefinger

- Tywin

- Walder Frey

- Maybe Varys

- Lady Stoneheart

 

"Regular" villains 

- Khal Drogo

- The warlocks and the undyings of Qarth

- Xaro Xhoan Daxos

- the sons of the harpye 

 

Redeeming villains

- Jamie

- Maybe Theon

 

 

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I think super villain often gets used to describe those characters who are larger than life in their evil deeds, brutality and sadism to a point where yes, they are rather flat and pure black in their morals and not very complex characters, but they are so entertaining and lavish in their own evil so much that they wind up beloved characters. The types of character where you read a chapter and have to stop because you are actually close to laughing at how surreal their actions are.

I know I actually went into a laughing fit when GRRM described how the Unsullied are made, because it's so ridiculous. Same with Ramsay and Euron, those two guys pretty much jump around with slasher smiles 24/7 holding up giant "I am a bad guy" signs while wearing full black outfits and cackling to themselves. If Westeros had railways Ramsay would already have tied some peasant girls to their tracks. If they had mustaches they would have by now fallen off because of the constant twirling. Those two are flat, unrepentant villains, but they are saved by being so entertaining and by being also very charismatic.

It's like Maleficent (proper Maleficent not the Lifetime movie cliche/victim the Angelina Jolie movie turned her into. Proper Malificent would sneer at her Lifeaction counterpart and then have her "done away with") she is irredeemably evil, doesn't comprehend good or selflessness and is so stereo typically villainous and petty that she personally sends winter frosts just to ruin pretty flowers. But she is so grandiose and charismatic, in her own way, jovial and happy, that you cannot help but be entertained by her. The Joker is another example.

And all of them also have the power and the ruthlessness to back up their "Look at me, I'm the bad guy/girl" personas. They can all kill/torture you in ways you don't want to imagine and might do so simply because they are bored, or because they cannot think of a reason not to do so. 

I think the reason why they are so entertaining is because they break our natural sensibilities about how people behave towards others so completely, and things that are unusual or break against norms are often popular. This particular kind of villain wouldn't even work in human society (not on a permanent basis, anyway) because there'd simply be no society if people acted that way, which makes it interesting all by itself. It also goes against most people's natural desires as social animals; to receive affection and acceptance from others and show them to others. We want to understand how those completely alien creatures work and the more we see the more we just realize how bizarre and alien they are and it ends up fascinating.

Super Villains like that are awesome and I'm glad we have them in ASOIAF.

People like Gregor and Littlefinger don't quite fit the bill of Super Villain because, Gregor is a flat and boring villain, he's just "warrgh kill!" basically a stereotypical Orc, while Littlefinger is a sociopath, but capable of functioning in society. Very few people know how ruthless and calculating he is. Cersei meanwhile tries and fails at being a Super Villain due to how stupid and ineffective she is. 

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On 09/08/2017 at 6:48 PM, GyantSpyder said:

I think the term "supervillain" specifically comes with some very specific sort of baggage, as they are not just greater-villains, but counterparts to "superheroes." And a superhero is more than just a very effective hero.

This. You could write an essay (and no doubt people have) on what makes a hero "super", but generally they have some unusual, often unnatural ability. Being a hero also has to be a big part of their persona. The same goes for making a villain into a supervillain. Really, I think a certain kind of story is required to feature superheroes and supervillains, and ASOIAF isn't that kind.

But that aside, which villains have special abilities in ASOIAF? And more importantly, which villains are keen to do villainous things? In terms of special abilities, we have a lot of people involved in magic, but not many (if any) who are especially powerful or villainous. In terms of a villainous persona, you have people like Littlefinger. I could see him as a supervillain if he had the right abilities, but he doesn't really. Tywin has done some very bad things, but his motivations are pretty standard, and his flamboyance is lacking. The Mountain is pretty damn evil, but he's more of a goon. People whose motivations are "following orders", "gaining political influence" or "raising the family status" are not generally supervillains. If we call Tywin a supervillain, what will we call Ser Goblyn the Green or the Japer?

The only character that comes to mind at the moment with both supervillain-level abilities and persona is from the show.

Edit: Actually the Smiling Knight, from what we know so far, seems to almost qualify. He has the evil, the branding, the skill and the independence to be a supervillain.

The Faceless Men also have a lot of potential to produce both superheroes and supervillains, being more than a bit League of Assassins. If they do have a grand plan as some think, it gets even better.

Edited by Ser Petyr Parker

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If you mean people who are pure evil then there are more then a few. While asoiaf seems to be all about grey there are characters who are just evil.

Ramsey,gregor,hoat and his brave companions,and quite a few others.

These characters just do horrible stuff because they enjoy it even if it doesn't have any other goal. The freys are evil but the red wedding was vengence and I personally think  it was to (in walter freys eyes) to show that they are to be feared and to advance their house. It was clear to many that rob had lost by then because high garden joined the lannisters and such and by killing rob they could become the liege lords of the riverlands. So the freys had a reason besides just wanting to hurt rob stark to do it. Tywin is evil but alot of the stuff he does to advance his house and show strength and I am not defending him just showing some reason for the horrible things he does (or some of them).

 

If your talking about having "powers" then euron does I think and gregor has his incredible strength and such. Varymr six skins is presented as a horrible human being so I think he can be counted as a super villain when you add in his ability to be a warg

 

 

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On 9/12/2017 at 3:50 AM, falcotron said:

But Cersei has a nicely synchronistic set of superpowers, like any superhero or supervillain who was invented or repopularized in the late 1980s.

Her superhuman level of shortsightedness might not seem like something you'd call a superpower, and on its own, it wouldn't be. But then neither would Deadpool's cancer, or Wolverine's ability to push his bones out through his own skin—those would just be ways to die, if not combined with their healing factor. The same goes for just about every late-dark-age super, from Daredevil's blindness to Crazy Jane's multiple personality disorder.

And Cersei's super-shortsightedness is combined with a sort of anti-karma: Every time she does something ridiculously self-destructive, it harms other people even more than herself, sometimes even her intended targets. A normal person would have no use for this power, but combine the two, and she's the most dangerous supervillain on Westeros.

However, I can see the problem with Cersei as a Rob Liefeld-era character. It's one thing that she doesn't have gigantic hair, a waist smaller than even the toes on her size-0 feet, clothing that's both impossible to put on without teleportation and impossible to keep in place without telekinesis, or extra muscles in places people don't have muscles, not even on top of her other muscles. But she never seems to have even one random pouch or ammo case strapped to her body, which absolutely rules her out.

You bring up an interesting point. Does a superpower, be it for superhero or supervillain, count if it's accidental and only works in combination with another accidental power? The anti-karma seems to work on a principle of randomness that rather makes it dangerous to Cersei as well as to her victims. Can a supervillain still be a supervillain if they are stupidly going to kill themselves? I thought it was the hero's job to kill the supervillain? Unless the supervillain makes a conscious decision to end their own existence, I think the accidental death by combination of accidental anti-superpowers rather cheapens the narrative.

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6 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

You bring up an interesting point. Does a superpower, be it for superhero or supervillain, count if it's accidental and only works in combination with another accidental power?

Scarlet Witch (between her 1980-ish retcon and the next one). Her actual mutant power was being a walking infinite improbability drive. What she'd thought were her mutant powers were actually the side effect of accidentally selling her soul to a demon as an infant.

She actually did have some conscious control over that side effect, and could use it to fire energy bolts powered by quantum randomness, but then Cersei has some conscious control to—she intended to take Margy down, and Margy seems to be going down along with her after all.

Also, Scarlet Witch was wrong about her conscious control, and if she'd tried almost any other way of using her power, it would have done something different, like destroy the multiverse. I never saw how she happened to pick the one useful way, but I assume it was another improbable accident. (The story got side-tracked with a whole bit about her robot husband getting memory-wiped and her magicking up some retroactive children for them and me giving up on Marvel comics.)

6 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Can a supervillain still be a supervillain if they are stupidly going to kill themselves? I thought it was the hero's job to kill the supervillain? Unless the supervillain makes a conscious decision to end their own existence, I think the accidental death by combination of accidental anti-superpowers rather cheapens the narrative.

 

Sure. Look up Big Wheel, a supervillain in the Marvel universe encyclopedia. His power was buying a giant wheel to ride around in that he couldn't steer very well. He did a bit of property damage and then drowned in the Hudson. Not exactly an A-list supervillain, but he did get the cover of Spider-Man.

6 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

… cheapens the narrative.

Deaths that cheapen the narrative are all over the comics. Hawkeye's pointless self-sacrifice cheapening the entire 40-year story of the Avengers a decade or so ago was (in)famous enough to become a meme.

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In no particular order

ramsay snow

gregor clegane

euron greyjoy

joffrey 

roose bolton in his younger days. tywin doesn't make the cut for me.

Edited by UnViserion
How did I forget Joffrey

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The only one I'd really consider a supervillian is Euron

and that's only after reading his Winds chapter.

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Actually, Maelys the Monstrous is a good candidate. Sinister moniker, founded a legion of doom, had a far-reaching plan to take over the world (or the parts he cared about anyway), and possessed inhuman strength on top of the usual Valyrian magic blood.* Slain in single combat by a noble knight.

*He killed a destrier with one punch and physically ripped a man's head off. Both of these are impossible for even the strongest men to ever exist in the real world.

Edited by Nihlus

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On 9/14/2017 at 3:25 AM, Nihlus said:

Actually, Maelys the Monstrous is a good candidate

In fact, he's a perfect silver age Batman villain.

"The Blackfyre Pretender" would fit the rogue's gallery perfectly. The fact that there were a series of related people with the same supervillain name and ridiculous power creep makes him just like, say, Clayface or the Electrocutioner.

Sure, "Blackfyre Pretender" isn't much of a secret identity for a guy named "Maelys Blackfyre", but that fits in perfectly with Cassius Clay Payne (the fourth Clayface), William Tockman (the first Clock King), Julian Gregory Day (the first Calendar Man), Victor Fries (Mr. Freeze), etc.

His only real problem would be confusion with Deacon Blackfire, Native American who claims his ancestors once led the tribe that lived in Gotham, and tries to retake it with a motley collection of less powerful exiles and an army of homeless people.

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On 9/14/2017 at 5:25 AM, Nihlus said:

Actually, Maelys the Monstrous is a good candidate. Sinister moniker, founded a legion of doom, had a far-reaching plan to take over the world (or the parts he cared about anyway), and possessed inhuman strength on top of the usual Valyrian magic blood.* Slain in single combat by a noble knight.

*He killed a destrier with one punch and physically ripped a man's head off. Both of these are impossible for even the strongest men to ever exist in the real world.

That qualifies him more for supergoon than supervillain. Good thing he didn't have a dragon though.

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Which characters count as supervillains?

  1. Ramsey Bolton - already a villain, depending on how you look at it.
  2. Arya Stark - already a villain.
  3. Jon - he became a villain when he betrayed the night's watch even though it was unintentional, a tragic figure in the story.
  4. The slave masters
  5. The Harpy - the most sadistic and immoral people in the novels.

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On 8/9/2017 at 11:06 PM, Bowen 747 said:

I don't think the novels is set up to have villains and heroes.  Yes, there are extreme characters but all of the major ones are in the center of the scale.  Even Walder Frey.  George Martin wrote a complex story and within the pages of the story some seemingly good-hearted characters like Rhaegar, Lyanna, Jon Snow, Catelyn Stark actually did more damage to the people than a murderous thug like Gregor.   For a real world example: Bernie Madoff destroyed more lives than the criminal who robbed the convenience store, just to use an example.  Let's not forget that putting a nice person in a position of authority might seem like the good thing to do but it's not.  Tywin was a harsh and brutal man but he would do a good job in leading Westeros.  Aegon the Conqueror gave Westeros a choice:  "bend the knee or die".  Aegon basically gave them a choice.  Recognize him as the new ruler over them, they get to keep what is theirs, or else oppose him and they will get destroyed.  We know Aegon ruled well and was a good king.  Being a good ruler doesn't mean being a softy and being squeamish about violence.  They live in a violent world.   So I don't think there are super villains nor are there super heroes, but there are those who will do great things that benefit the many like winning the freedom for millions of slaves in Essos (Daenerys) and there will be others who will act selfishly to bring on mass suffering (Rhaegar, Lyanna, Littlefinger). 

 

A villain is traditionally the antagonists although as you say, this is a complex story.  Martin may see the villain as that person whose choices led to great harm rather than the person who actually intentionally wanted to do harm.  A person with compromised loyalties like Jon was more harmful than someone who has no conscience like Vargo Hoat.  Jon's choices led to the destabilization that we witnessed at the wall in A Dance with Dragons.

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Euron is the only character with a Dr Doom like plan for world domination. 

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I'm retracting my claim that Cersei is a supervillain based on a new observation.

A friend of mine recently pointed out that there are no supervillains outside of comics from the 1950s death of serials until Star Wars.* Why? Because supervillains have an immediately recognizable musical motif.

If I say "Darth Vader", you can't help but hear a snippet of the Imperial March. Depending on your age, you have a similar, if less extreme, reaction to Zod and Ming the Merciless, or Ultron and Dormammu.

So, I can hear a musical motif for the Qyburn, Roose, Euron… maybe the Mountain and Ramsay. But Tywin? No, the soundtrack just stops whenever he walks into the room or prepares to speak. And Cersei? No, her music is a wide variety of 60s jazz, different in every scene (but becoming increasingly hectic as she increasingly crazy go nuts).

And of course the same goes for superheroes. I know what Dany sounds like the same way I know what Flash Gordon sounds like, but I don't know what Tyrion sounds like.

I'm guessing this would all be different if I DVR'd and watched and rewatched some show on HBO, but I don't.

---

* Except in some of the early James Bond movies, but we didn't realize this until later.

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