The Dawn of Star Trek Villains Sep14

The Dawn of Star Trek Villains...

Since its debut as a TV series in 1966, Star Trek has a been inventive, iconic, engaging, and at times hilarious. Characters, catch phrases and creatures have stolen a permanent spot in our cultural landscape. Even non-nerds know that redshirts will die—and you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn’t have a frame of reference for a prolonged yelling of “Kaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhnnnnnnn!” Over the years, Star Trek has served as an entertaining way to challenge my assumptions, beliefs, and conscience on many moral topics—from the development of technology, to politics, to intercultural relations, to policies on war and peace, to racism—the list is as long as the number of episodes that span the different branches of the television and movie franchise. So, it’s not surprising that the last couple of movies they turned out, Into Darkness and Beyond also tackled issues that had me leaving the theatre with so many more thoughts then when I entered. Both of these movies tackle one large issue (with nuances thrown in, of course)—the development of villains. Into Darkness offers the backstory of one the most important villains ever—Kahn.  Beyond introduces us to Krull. Both of these personalities are, in part, the result of actions taken by members of Star Fleet and the Federation. We see a level of responsibility in the creation of villains that belongs to the cultures, organizations, lawmakers, and citizens. Kahn, who becomes a mortal foe of Star Fleet, and more personally, Captain James T. Kirk, was literally created to be a fighting machine. After the danger of his ability was discovered, he was placed in suspended animation and awakened centuries later by a war-hungry Admiral of Starfleet (Admiral Marcus) who forced Kahn to develop horrific weapons so that he could start a war...

Team Cap: Standing Firm Jun13

Team Cap: Standing Firm...

You’re a prude because you’re waiting until you’re married to have sex. You’re ignorant because you believe everything was created by a loving God. You are a misogynist because you believe life begins at conception. You’re homophobic for finding an identity based on your faith rather than finding it in how you feel or who you are attracted to. Have you ever had any of these things said to you? If so, then grab a shield, and welcome to Team Cap! Society tells us how to see people, how we should act, and the things we should accept as true. If we disagree, we are the villains. But society isn’t always right. Popular opinion is rarely the best indicator for truth and justice; actually, it is often the worst. Consider Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian during World War II and, I would argue, a proud member of Team Cap. He spoke out against the atrocities committed by his society to the Jewish people, the handicapped, and the poor. He spoke out against war and taking land by force, and he was sent to a concentration camp by his society to be abused and ultimate die. I also think of Susan B. Anthony, James Brown (the 18th century abolitionist, not the singer), Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr; all people who spoke out against the societal norms and views of minorities, all who suffered for their convictions. All too often we present only the edge of our shield as we condemn people who disagree with our opinions and perspectives. These people, and many more, found their truth outside society, planted their feet and set their shield echoing the words left to Peggy Carter’s niece: “Sometimes when society says ‘MOVE’ you have to look back...

Hope for Loki Mar23

Hope for Loki

I’ve always had a soft-spot in my heart for supervillains—maybe it’s because of my Catholic upbringing, maybe it’s because I want everyone to be happy, or maybe it’s because deep down I know that under the right (or wrong) conditions, I could have become one myself. No villain has a more special place in my heart than Loki. He’s the god of mischief, and we all know and love mischievous characters (Fred and George, anyone? Jack Sparrow? River Song?). There is something redeeming in their character—something loveable. And I mean, Loki’s not really a bad guy, right? Sure, he tried to kill his brother and father; sure, he tried to take over the Earth… but can you blame him? Every effort he makes to subjugate anyone is sort of sad—he lashes out like a spoiled child looking for approval, grabbing at the respect he believes he deserves by force because he doesn’t believe he can get it any other way. It’s pitiable; mostly because if he had accepted the true forgiveness and affection that is constantly offered to him by his family, he might have used the burden of his “glorious purpose” for something great instead of attacking the Earth. Plus, can someone who loves his mom so much be completely irredeemable? Everybody has a backstory, everybody has trauma, sadness, disappointment—and not everybody is equipped to deal with their feelings in the same way. Whether you’re a superhero or a villain, something happened to get you there and depending on what resources you had to assist you in recovering from it, you might have done better or worse. Bruce Wayne had Alfred, Clark Kent had great adopted parents, the X-Men had Xavier. Who did Loki have? You can see that Loki wants to believe that he can be forgiven...

No Greater Good in the ‘Verse Jan01

No Greater Good in the ‘Verse...

I’m drawn to characters with complex morals. I don’t know why. I’m not talking about the Han Solo “kind of a bad guy, but with a good heart” type; I mean characters who have very strong belief systems, understand right and wrong, but make choices that are empirically bad anyway. That’s why I like playing paladins in RPGs. They’re sworn to a code of defeating evil and empowering good, but killing evil people along the way is part of the price they pay for justice. From a paladin’s point of view, murder is bad, but killing a murderer who won’t be stopped otherwise is an act of justice. If they hadn’t killed the murderer, another innocent person might have died. Their actions are always governed by a sense of duty to a greater good and not their own impulses; they are free from the moral weight of such decisions. Something about that idea of justice makes sense to me. But is that what I really believe about right and wrong? The danger of fighting for “a greater good” is that it allows someone to justify things they know to be wrong. The villain in Serenity, referred to as the Operative, illustrates my fascination with this complexity better than anyone. Consider this exchange between Mal and the Operative to see what I mean. The Operative: I’m sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault? Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: I don’t murder children. The Operative: I do. If I have to. Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Why? Do you even know why they sent you? The Operative: It’s not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself....