Going Rogue: Do Villains Deserve Solo Films?
Villains play an integral part in films, giving our heroes the drive and purpose to become just that, a hero. They are the character that if done correctly, we love to hate them and every so often, a baddie comes along that it is just too hard to hate them. Their portrayal is such that they become someone we almost root for. Naturally, we want to see more of them, with some fans going so far as to say they should have their own film, with the villain acting as the central focus. Initially, it’s difficult to deny that you wouldn’t love to see someone like Tom Hiddleston’s Loki for a full two hours. But on closer examination, is that really best for the character? Well, let’s take a look at the idea and weigh the options here.
For several years now, talk of a solo film centered on the iconic Spider-Man villain Venom has been floating around. After the surprising success of the not-so-comic-booky Chronicle, it was revealed that Josh Trank was in talks to bring the character to the big screen. Since then, not much has happened, especially since Sony has been focusing on their numerous sequels to The Amazing Spider-Man. Venom has been one of the few rogues that has been mentioned for a solo film, and with good reason: he’s probably the only villain that has a villain of his own in Carnage. It would make sense to move forward with this idea, especially with rumors floating around that Venom could make an appearance in the on-going Spider-Man film franchise and the likely formation of the Sinister Six. After his introduction, you could easily place the character in a solo film where he’d face his nemesis Carnage, and in order to defeat him, he must recruit the skills of our favorite web-slinger, Spider-Man.
Just today, we’ve learned that despite numerous rumors, there is no solo film for Loki in the works. Tom Hiddleston, who plays the mischievous god, would love to see the character in a solo film and even has some interesting ideas for the character (CLICK HERE for that story). But it looks like we’ll have to wait to see that happen. Loki, while not having a huge solo presence in the comics, could easily be spun off in his own series as well, especially when you have such a talented and immersive actor like Hiddleston as the focus.
Another character that has been the discussion of solo films is the Joker. In the comics, there has always been mystery shrouded around the Clown Prince’s origins. The origin story featured in The Killing Joke, which is usually the most cited origin, could be a very compelling, emotional and heart-breaking tale to bring to the silver screen. It would also be a great way to re-introduce the character into the new film-verse that Warner Brothers has planned. It’d take a bit of good story telling to make it happen, but it’s not too far a stretch.
All of these sound like they could be a legit film property, but here’s the problem with placing a villain at the center of a solo film: the villain instantly becomes the hero of the movie. The main reason we love them in the films and comics is because they are everything that the hero isn’t: cold, ruthless and unrelenting in their goals. As I mentioned earlier, this is what drives our heroes to be heroes. It would almost re-write the characters as we know them to make them the hero of the film. You could always argue that there is always good in people and these films could portray that good. But do we really want to see Joker saving a kitten or Venom playing the Boy Scout?
We’ve actually seen an attempt at a film where the baddie becomes the goody and the results were tragic. Halle Berry’s Catwoman film was a disaster from the get-go. Setting the awful story aside, people were a bit confused as to why a character that had been portrayed as a villain numerous times before in film and on television was expected to be a hero now. With The Dark Knight Rises, Catwoman (that name is never actually used) is shown to have conflicting views, knowing the difference between right and wrong, but initially choosing the wrong. This is how the character is portrayed in the comics and despite the film’s flaws, this was one thing it got right. There were discussions of a spin-off for Anne Hathaway’s take on the cat burglar, but once Nolan stepping away, the idea was quickly abandoned.
Not to say that these films couldn’t be awesome, however. In Josh Trank’s Chronicle, some of the best sequences in that movie were those “filmed” using security cameras, cell phones, bystanders, etc. Imagine a Venom film done in similar fashion, with a mix of traditional film used during the story telling moments, as well as a “found footage” style during the battles with Carnage and Spidey. Or how about Loki joining the ranks of the upcoming cosmic Marvel films being ushered in by Guardians of the Galaxy? Looking at the animated feature films that DC has released, Under the Red Hood is a huge stand-out with massive live-action film potential, combining the likes of Batman and Joker (though this one would take some finagling).
The biggest issue here is convincing the general movie goer that the villain should now be the hero, but still be considered the villain. It’s not an idea that will be easy to pull off and I’d bet Thorverine’s curly locks that is why Sony has placed their planned Venom spin-off on the proverbial shelf for the time being. But I think as long as these films continue to cast great actors in the villainous roles, we’ll continue to hear discussions of solo films for these bad-asses. What are your thoughts? Are you interested in seeing the bad guys become the good guys for a film or two?