So, the other day on Twitter, this question was posted:
I laughed out loud. You put THAT question over THAT photo and you wonder what we all see in this guy? Ha!!! The article goes on to talk about how awful The Darkling from Netflix's Shadow and Bone series is and how he's every bit as evil as Joffrey on Game of Thrones. And just to be clear, this person isn't the only one on the interwebs to go off on a rant about why I shouldn't like this character or hope that he gets a redemption arc and a HEA ending. The morality police and pearl clutchers are out in FULL FORCE against this guy. Frankly, the whole thing makes me salty. You know why? Because I like sexy villains and I REFUSE to apologize to ANYONE for it. Here's why:
Small disclaimer: Whenever I refer to The Darkling, I'm talking about the television series. I never finished the books. So, please refrain from hitting me with a "but in the books he was WAY worse" argument. I simply don't care. I'm judging this sexy villain based on the show, because that's the only frame of reference I have. I don't care that in the books he's 500 and she's 17. On the show, she's 25 and in the military. She's a consenting adult. End of story.
First of all, what makes a villain sexy?
To me, what makes a villain sexy is twofold: 1) Are they hot, and 2) Are they complex and interesting and intense? Let's apply those rules to our friend The Darkling, played by the fantastic-on-every-level Ben Barnes. Is he hot? I mean...the hair, the misty puppy dog eyes, those cheekbones, that jawline...come on, the man is ridiculously fuckable. Add in the billowing cape and the way he kisses like it's his DAMN JOB and it's almost too much. He's almost pornographic in his hotness.
But looking beyond the shallow, he's a VERY complex and interesting character. His tragic backstory makes it easy to (almost) sympathize with him and understand where he's coming from. The fact that he cares about his people and wants to protect their way of life/shield them from persecution makes him sexier to me than, say, Ramsey Bolton on Game of Thrones who tortured people just for the hell of it. And the way Ben Barnes pours intensity into every scene seals the deal. The Darkling is a sexy AF villain. Does he do bad things? Yes. Does that make him less sexy? No.
Long-story-short, if a villain is hot and morally gray, he's my catnip.
I guess what shocks me is how quick some folks are to jump up and tell me I shouldn't think a villain is sexy because of all the bad things they've done--and that thinking a villain is sexy somehow means that I'm a bad, immoral person. First of all, I'm a grown-ass adult. I know the difference between right and wrong. The fact that I think The Darkling is sexy does NOT mean that I'm evil. I understand that he does bad things, and no, I would not want my daughter to date a guy like him in real life. But guess what? THIS IS FICTION. He's not real. I'm allowed to think the fictional bad man is hot and an interesting character without it having any deeper meaning behind it. Lighten up, y'all.
bUt iT's DaNgErOuS...
To imply that sexy fictional villains are somehow dangerous to women (young women, especially) and make women think that it's OK to let a man treat you badly if he's hot enough is just asinine. Saying things like that is admitting that you think women are too dumb to distinguish between fact and fiction, fantasy and reality. We know what's real--especially us old ladies. We've seen things that can't be unseen and know more about dangerous men in REAL LIFE than we care to, frankly. The fictional ones are no danger to us and we know it.
And for the young women, I assume their parents/friends/grandparents/ any caring adult they know are going to help them realize their worth and how they deserve to be treated. I don't think there are any younglings out there who rely on fiction to teach them how to choose partners. (Kids aren't dumb, either. They can tell fiction from reality, too.)
Why do you care?
Believe it or not, it's OK that people like different things. Personally, I hate country music. But I don't go into discussions between country music fans online to tell them why I think their favorites suck. So, why do some folks who hate sexy villains feel the need to jump into fan discussions and argue that we shouldn't like what we like? Why do you care? Loving sexy fictional villains is harmless. Let us perv on the sexy bad men in peace. Please and thank you.
It's not my fault the villains are more interesting
I've talked about this before, but heroes aren't always the most relatable, interesting characters onscreen. Heroes are so perfect that it makes it hard for regular humans to relate to their actions and motivations. Villains have flaws and tragic backstories, just like normal people in real life. I can almost always relate more to the morally gray villains than I can to the Superman and Captain America types who always say and do the right thing--the selfless thing.
There's also something inherently romantic about a villain who is willing to do anything--go to any lengths--for those he loves. Heroes don't get that option. They have to do what's right "for the greater good." As a romance lover, the fantasy of having someone who is willing to burn down the world for you is and will always be hot. And it's just that--a fantasy. No one is saying that women in real life want a man who will burn the world down for them. (Frankly, I'd be happy if my husband just picked up his own socks...but that's another story entirely)
Don't yuk my yum
It's been a horrible few years, y'all. Let us have our fantasies without judgement, will ya? Let's all just live and let live. If you don't like the hot bad men, that's fine. But don't try to make me feel bad because I DO like the hot bad men.
Sexy villains I will ALWAYS love unapologetically
Kylo Ren. All of the actors in the sequel trilogy did a great job, but Adam Driver took it to another level. I actually FELT the pain and conflict in his character. He wasn't acting; he actually BECAME Kylo Ren. A dangerous, intense man who, despite being brainwashed since birth by Palpatine, still felt a pull to the light. He was, by far, the most complex Star Wars villain to date, and he was sexy AF while doing it.
Loki. Yes, he did terrible things. That doesn't make him unfuckable. #SorryNotSorry
The Weeping Monk. If Netflix doesn't renew Cursed and let me know what happens to this dark, twisted, brainwashed, crazy-hot bad man, I'm going to be PISSED.
Killmonger. This is a sexy villain who had, arguably, the most relatable villain origin story I've ever seen. He did bad things, yes. But was he evil? Absolutely NOT.
Klaus Michaelson. Bad guy? Absolutely. But he was also a great father, a loyal brother, a guy capable of love, and CRAZY sexy.
Jaime Lannister. Yes, he fucked his sister and pushed a kid out a window. He also vowed to protect Sansa with his life, was an incredibly loyal brother, and fought a bear one-handed for Brienne. What can I say? He's complicated. And sexy.
Magneto. Whew, talk about a tragic backstory! I totally understand why he hates non-mutants. And he's so, so pretty...
But what about you? Who are the hot villains you refuse to apologize for loving? Let's discuss in the comments!