(Click here if you missed Part 1)
Back when I was dreaming of being in a ballet company, I never longed to be the princess. I wanted to be Giselle’s Myrtha: undead, cold, and reserved. I wondered what the real story was behind Sleeping Beauty’s evil Carabosse. I would pay to see a Cinderella ballet featuring no Cinderella and more of the step-mother. For once, I’d like to see a battle between Swan Lake’s Odette and Odile. Now, I’ve realized how much the villainess identity shaped my ballet fandoms among other fandoms.
If you need a refresher of the television villainesses I’m featuring, here is the list:
Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula
Beast Wars: Blackarachnia
Kim Possible: Shego
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, specifically seasons 1-2 and 6: Rita and Astromema
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Princess Luna/Nightmare Moon and Queen Chrysalis
Mystic Knights of Tir na Nog: Queen Maeve
Once Upon a Time: Queen Regina
Storm Hawks: Master Cyclonis
Young Hercules: Discord
Disclaimer: All quotes paired with images are of my own imagination and do not appear in any show.
On with the post! Here are many more reasons to appreciate the villainess.
Let me start by saying I don’t know which of Queen Regina’s outfits to die for first. I’m not even sure where to begin, so I won’t. Costumer Eduardo Castro, I must hug you.
I will, though, go on a little about her hair. This changes from outfit to outfit, ranging from a controlled bob as the mayor in her cursed little town to a flowing ponytail covered in lace, a bird’s nest worthy up-do that’s as wild as her plans, and a partial up-do (featured above) that made my jaw drop when I first saw it. (I don’t care if they’re hair extensions. They’re made of win.) The villainess always has epic hair no matter the outfit. Pair it with make-up that has everyone posting tutorials, and you have yourself one beloved evil-doer.
Speaking of make-up, Cyclonis’ thick eyeliner is what got me to watch Storm Hawks. I saw an image of her in a fan-made avatar and had to find out who this character was. There’s more to her appearance, though. She wears a cloak with a hood that moves. It disassembles in small strips down her back. Whenever she’s feeling emo, the strips rise and curl to create a shroud around her head. In the shroud, she’s especially vicious.
Demona encouraged me to watch Gargoyles in a somewhat less shallow way (but I do love me some eyeliner). Her wild, red mane encouraged my interest in red hair.
As a gargoyle, Demona’s appearance is interesting in general; she’s a freaking gargoyle! Best of all, the talons of her wings clasp in front of her to make it appear as though she’s wearing a cape. This is just one more reason why I want wings. Sure, I never cared for the loin cloths she wore (surely they had better fashion in the dark ages) and her feet always freaked me out (cartoon claws are awkward), but after all these years I’ve never seen another female gargoyle on television—ever—or one who looked so punk.
I’m not sure what inspired Mystique to look the ways she does. Perhaps she’s a distant relative of Demona. (That would explain Nightcrawler.) Her red hair and blue skin are more intense in color, and her outfit covers at least 20% more skin. I’m not sure what those skulls on her belt are for, but at least she’s actually wearing clothes unlike the movie Mystique. Her cartoon self has a more noticeable presence onscreen than her film self.
As I wrote in my post on Young Hercules, I’ve always adored Discord’s look. With her dark hair, gothic make-up, and slinky costume, she’s also one of the darkest-looking villains of the 90s that I’ve encountered. She appears to be more fierce when handling weapons.
Nightmare Moon is also ready for battle. She dons a helmet and breastplate bearing the same moon from her cutie mark. I’m not sure why this is, but Nightmare Moon appears to be all black while her true identity, Luna, is indigo. Perhaps being a magical dictator changes your appearance. In both identities, Luna’s hair is animated, ever-flowing, and adorned with nighttime stars.
Perhaps being a dictator also requires leather; Regina often wears it, as does Astronema 2.0. Although Astronema’s armored jumpsuit is something for space-age vixens to pine for, I’ve always adored her most for her hair. She’s famous for having almost as many hair colors as Mollie Sugden. I recall at least five of these colors off the top of my head. With every little alteration in costume and make-up, Astronema’s hair color changes drastically.
All her styles can be viewed at this wikia website.
Maeve’s dress got me started on costume designing, a brief but pleasing hobby. While the below drawing isn’t the best piece of artwork in my small collection, it gives you a basic idea of her design. I’m unable to get a good picture of her dress due to notoriously poor lighting and video quality. Imagine purple velvet, leather, and flowing sleeves. It’s not a McCall’s costume; it’s fictional Celtic! The diamond in the center is a leather corset bearing the symbol of her kingdom, Temra
And finally, the latest villainess to come to my attention: Chrysalis, queen of the changelings. She may be just cartoon pony-thing, but what gave me a few chills upon first seeing her were the holes in her body. That’s right, I said holes. In her body. They’re also in her hair, horn, and insect wings. Along with her fangs, she’s not something one would expect from a children’s show about colorful ponies.
Maeve and Regina share similar styles in the architecture of their castles. Both feature sharp spires and rest on hilltops. Inside, Gothic decor and lack of lighting seem to be themes. They’re not completely the same, though; one is made of stone and the other is made of CGI (LOL).
In one episode, Regina makes a semi-functional playground that looks a little too familiar.
As heir to the throne, Azula’s true fortress is a kingdom of islands that make a shape similar to a fighting dragon. (The world, however, is her playground.) The palace is in Fire Nation Capital and, yes, is filled with fire. Fire serves as an energy source, defense source, and a source for burning people you don’t like. Rows of bazillion-story stone columns everywhere are surprisingly not as intimidating as the flames that surround the throne.
Cyclonis hails from a terra named Cyclonia, the city she’s named after. If you’re known to rule something so desolate, I think you’d better be named after your home. Residents get around by flying on gliders and such, while Cyclonis herself only leaves on the most important business.
It appears the villainess likes pointy decor. Is there a name for that style? Also, why the lack of furniture, ladies?
Soldiers are different from henchmen, who I’ll talk about later. The soldiers are either looked down on or forgotten altogether. Most are better left forgotten as they get more things wrong than right. Alas, being the TV show extras that they are, they’re useful for mistakenly letting the hero into the castle or giving the villainess a false sense of security.
Regina’s soldiers give her a false sense of security at times, but they look good while doing it. They wear chain mail, armor, and their helmets are adorned with raven-black feathers. Their armor actually works, people know their worth, and they take the queen where she needs to go.
Maeve’s soldiers make the most hilarious sounds when they go into battle. They almost sound cheerful with their “Ooh, arrrgh, yeaaah!” If you watch the show, you know. The soldiers of their opposing kingdom are just as bad, so I can’t completely pin this on Maeve’s training tactics. I can, however, blame her for the be-horned helmets that match her scepter.
Even more hilarious are Rita’s Putties. They constantly speak in an alien tongue-lolling, they have almost no idea how to fight, they retreat before the battle is even over, yet these are a threat? I shouldn’t even mention them, but they sure do make great Halloween costumes. They’re also fun to mock. (I was going to post a sample video, but I can’t. It’s all too horribly funny.) Astronema somewhat makes up for this with her Quantrons: droid-looking, masked creatures who speak like echoing, underwater robots. They retreat just as easily, though.
Cyclonis’ soldiers certainly fit the stereotype of mistake-prone weenies. When they won’t do, she pulls out the big guns: Nightcrawlers. These are masked and armored nocturnal beings who may or may not be human. What I love most about them are their voices. I haven’t found a video that demonstrates this, but the lead in Rammstein in the below video is close enough. Imagine whispering in that voice of doom, and you have a Nightcrawler.
The Fire Nation Army wins! They’re the most feared of henchmen by far for their bending-happy fire manipulation. They steer the iron ships that transport the nation to each colony for pillaging and tyranny. The arrival of Firebenders at any location is greatly feared for their numbers and ruthless commanders.
Chrysalis uses her strength in numbers to break through a barrier surrounding the castle. When the battle is in full swing, the minions make good use of their powers to create doppelgängers of the heroes. Like their queen, they have holes in their bodies and fly with insect wings. Watch them bear their little fangs below. Aren’t they cute?
Those closest to the villainess provide comic relief and attempt to complete the dirty tasks their mistress can’t be bothered to do herself. They barely get any credit, but they’re so devoted to their work they don’t care.
While I admit the shows Power Rangers and Mystic Knights are incredibly lame at times (okay, all the time), and while part of this is caused by how the henchmen are written, Goldar and Torc have special places in my heart. Their gruff voices, rugged appearances, and hard armor don’t hide the fact that they may have a soft spot or two, and their loyalty to their queens is adorable. Sure, they’re prone to betrayal, but who could say no to that ape face?
Cyclonis’ right hand man, the Dark Ace, is certainly popular in fanfiction for his involvement with Cyclonis and the hero, but when the mood strikes me I prefer the other, less present henchmen for comic relief. Snipe is your typical strong man; every villainess needs a strong man who’s a little stupid. Ravess proves that violins are evil as she plays one during every battle; I don’t really understand this, but it makes me laugh every time. The lizard-like Repton (voice provided by Scott McNeil) lets me reminisce the voice of my darling Dinobot from Beast Wars.
Mystique, Shego, Blackarachnia, and Discord may themselves be henchwomen to the main villain, but they know how to go solo when they need to. In some cases, they’re the only person keeping the villain afloat. How many times has Drakken shouted “Shego!” when he’s gotten stuck? She owns him whenever she wants to.
My absolute favorite henchman of all the shows listed here would have to be Ecliptor. Outlined by some retro, geometric grid, his costume is the least complicated of all the henchmen in Power Rangers history yet he’s probably the most complex. A soft-spoken man-thing, this renowned warrior is troubled only by his devotion to Astronema and the occasional lover’s quarrel with another villain. He makes me want to use math so I can calculate the area of those pecks. The blocky costume of this character doesn’t permit much flexibility except in the waist, which makes for an interesting walk.
Of course, we can’t forget Regina’s men. There’s the infamous Huntsman who releases Snow White, one of the hottest men to grace the screen, and Sidney, the man who names her the fairest in the land. Sidney also works as a genie and a corrupted journalist who can’t seem to keep away from his queen. One twist on this fairy tale includes Regina’s father, whose devotion and sacrifice gives Regina the means to carry out her most wicked plans.
Azula’s henchwomen, however, may not be so soft. Mai is a master at knife throwing and a dark soul. Ty Lee, a trained acrobat, executes flawless attacks without batting an eye. Although they follow Azula for some time, they have lives and wills of their own and aren’t afraid to tell her this.
I prefer Mai, but Ty Lee gets mad props for her chi blocking, which disables a person’s body.
Her powers and abilities
Which brings me to Azula herself. She’s the best trained Firebender in the world (someone who can manipulate the element of fire) and one of the only people who can bend lightning. She’s also noted for her blue fire as opposed to the standard yellow-orange. The reason for this color could be because of her intense training or her repressed rage. When fighting, she uses both of these to excess. As the super powers of Avatar: The Last Airbender is built on martial arts, it takes a lifetime of intense training to reach her expertise.
(This video contains awesome spoilers!)
Shego is also a fighter, though her powers are limited to strength and green energy when she’s not helped by Drakken.
Besides whatever power Astronema keeps in her pointy scepter and wrist band, she can pack a punch. Observe this fight scene with, er, herself. (Spanish sub unintentional.)
Demona’s most notable powers are strength and sorcery. Being made of stone, she’s capable of handling a lot of weight. This comes in handy when she has to prove to puny humans her animal appearance carries some bite. When all else fails, there’s an incantation.
Now, let Cadance tell you about Queen Chrysalis at the moment Chrysalis is exposed as an impostor.
Regina is definitely shown to have great power. In just the first two episodes we learn she can levitate objects, become invisible, teleport, and cast spells, but she’s most famous for creating scrumptious poison apples. As her show is only one season long at the moment, we have yet to see the extent of her abilities. I wonder what her limit is.
Below, Regina and Maleficient battle like bitches. Notice the dragon around the orb on Maleficient’s staff. Previous post, anyone?
Who doesn’t want to have it all? Although super powers, lightning fortresses, and wind-swept hair are fun to watch, the villainess teaches us that power isn’t everything.
She’s a tortured soul
After years of servitude to humans, Demona has had enough. While rejecting her role as a protector, she disowns her mate and her clan. A confused gargoyle once asks her, “Is that all there is for us? Mere survival?” Demona replies, “Isn’t that enough?” She can look forward to many awkward conversations with her former friends.
Azula’s quest for power alienates her from her own family except for her father, who encourages her brutality for the sake of world domination. Her social problems and paranoia end up ruining her life.
Regina can’t keep a man. That’s part of her tragedy, but it also proves that one doesn’t need a man to thrive. It does, however, make one hell of an excuse to be wicked. I almost can’t count the all times she’s lost someone she loved—all of these people happen to be men. In some cases, it may be better to have not loved at all. While an entire kingdom seeks her destruction, Regina tries to stay in control while holding on to a shred of happiness.
Below is a compilation of how Regina became evil. It’s only a taste of season 1.
I hope the end of her story involves true love’s kiss and a lifetime of therapy.
Spoiler alert! Astronema is the sister of the Red Ranger. This much drama hasn’t been in Power Rangers since the creation of the Green Ranger! (And now, I pause a moment to recognize how much of a dork that exclamation makes me. *inhale, exhale*) As a child, Astronema was kidnapped by an evil lord and brainwashed into villainy. When she’s found by her brother, goodness eventually returns to her. Eventually.
Her fear factor
Some of us love to hate the villainess for their entertainment value. Others hate to love her because her doomed fate is usually written from the beginning; in fiction, evil tends not to win. So much emotional investment rides on the ending of a character’s story. Regina’s troubles tap our own because her life may be closer to ours than any television villainess I’ve described here; for a time, she lives in a quiet American town within our own world in the year of the show’s air date.
In all of the shows I’ve talked about here, Once Upon A Time is certainly the most realistic for one simple fact: the villains legitimately kill people.
This show’s fear factor is also much more realistic because of its modern-day setting. As it’s primarily made for adults, unlike most of the other villain-rific shows I watch, a more complex script and adult themes add to the terror behind Regina’s plans. Through the pull between a modern setting and a fantasy one and as two drastically different kingdoms are featured, Once Upon A Time shows that the fictional world, no matter where it takes place, is so much more interesting when a vicious woman puts her mark on everything.
There you have it. Twelve reasons to love the villainess: her social awkwardness, her voice, her gadgets and scepter, the way she moves, her perseverance, her appearance, her fortress, her soldiers, her henchmen, her powers, her tortured soul, and her fear factor.
If this post has led you to crave some more examples from these characters, do watch the shows I listed and form your own opinions. (Shameless pimp time: the most well-made ones are Avatar: The Last Airbender and Once Upon A Time. Power Rangers and Mystic Knights are, shall we say, acquired tastes.)
Check out the Villain Wikia for more villains.
I also recommend a book of short stories called Villains Victorious, published by DAW.
A lot of worthy women have been left out simply because I haven’t seen their shows yet. Who have I missed? Who are your favorites? Show me who they are and tell me why they’re epic.