Q&A: Superheroes Creating Their own Villain

Do you think real life masked superheroes would ‘create’ villains? I liked what I heard of Mr. Ravenblade and people who dressed to give food to the homeless but do you think this type of activity would bring out villains/criminals as some people say?

Kinda, sorta, not really.

So, the theory is that superheroes like Batman face so many villains because they, “create” them. That is to say, when you’ve got a mentally unstable guy dressing up as a bat and beating the snot out of criminals, that will encourage other mentally unstable individuals to pick similarly bizarre themed costumes, and then join in the fun.

With some characters, particularly Batman and Spiderman, there’s a direct correlation between their actions as superheroes, and their rogues galleries. With others, the connection is a bit more tenuous.

Even in a real world context, this is fairly plausible. Someone engaging in extraordinary acts of violence will provoke others. Either to oppose them, or to aid them. For example: a vigilante hunting Mobsters would encourage the mob to look for specialists to deal with their masked psychopath problem. They may also provoke other, more aggressive, criminal syndicates to move in and set up shop in the city.

So, why isn’t Seattle currently dealing with real life super villains? Because, people like Phoenix Jones and Mr Ravenblade (no matter what Mr Ravenblade liked to call himself) are not superheroes.

To be clear, both Phoenix Jones and Mr Ravenblade are Seattle based individuals who style themselves as superheroes. Ravenblade claimed membership in the “Real Life Superhero Movement,” while Phoenix Jones was a member of the “Rain City Superhero Movement,” until it disbanded in 2014. Since then he’s been operating under his actual name, Ben Fodor. (As far as I can tell, Mr Ravenblade is completely inactive now.)

As with so many other things, the reality is far from romantic. Ben Fodor is a professional MMA fighter, who spent four years wandering the streets in body armor with a can of pepper spray. He never became involved in anything big enough to really test the super-villain theory. (Though he claims to have prevented a bombing during the Occupy Seattle protests in 2012.)

To be fair, if you really want to look at the entire superheroes create villains theory in a serious way, I think it’s far more likely that the relation runs, primarily, in the reverse. If you had costumed villains, you’d be far more likely to see a spike in the hero population.

The problem for people like Ben Fodor is a search for purpose in their superheroing. There’s a kind of implicit promise in the genre that you go out, put on your costume, and foes will pop up for you to fight. As the RHSM has proved, that’s an unrealistic expectation.

The theory does have some legitimate basis. In the real world, threat-response patterns occur, both at an individual and organizational level. So, if superheroes posed a real threat to street level crime, then you would see individuals specifically targeting them. As is, they’re just not relevant enough to create their own villains.

-Starke

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