As a little kid (oh, who am I kidding! and as a teenager, and as a young adult, and once or twice last week), I aspired to be an evil supervillain. Of course, that was fashioned after the cartoonishly comedic variety (rather than the sadistically horrific variety) I grew up watching on television. The key feature of cartoonish villainy is world domination as a vague abstraction, which itself is my symbolic value-placeholder for seeking honorific notoriety (i.e. hungering for respect) and bringing about change (i.e. escaping boredom and exercising dominion). And ultimately, isn’t the desire and the pursuit of respect and accomplishment really just a universal male craving? In truth, my youthful aspirations of amateurish comedic supervillainy are in every man’s heart.
My personal conflict with my wild and wily desires for worldwide domination was that I couldn’t decide between being an evil military dictator, an evil mad scientist, or an evil dark magician. The evil military dictator motif (e.g. Cobra Commander of G.I. Joe or Miles Mayhem of M.A.S.K.) features all the fun of rockin’ all that sweet regalia and interrupting primetime programming to dispense televised demands. The evil mad scientist motif (e.g. Brain the lab mouse of Pinky and the Brain or Dr. Claw of Inspector Gadget) astounds with an arsenal of deadly doomsday devices and exotic colorful substances glowing, bubbling, and/or fuming in elaborate glassware configurations. The evil dark magician motif (e.g. the Archmage of Disney’s Gargoyles or Lord Zedd of The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers) wields all the wondrous whimsy of doing virtually anything with the aid of the proper spell or mystical artifact and without the silly constraints of physics that limit scientific technology. I suspected I’d just have to rotate roles seasonally or do crossovers in good TV style.
The important thing about having this grandiose comedic supervillainy in the heart is all of the love and delight is found in the desiring, the pursuing, and the accomplishing but never in the having and the sustaining once the dark deed is done and domination is daily drudgery. That’s the irony of overthrowing the humdrum status quo purely for the thrill of it: then you’re stuck overseeing the subsequent new irksome status quo with its tiresome macroeconomics and its nagging demands for employment with sustainable wages and decent medical coverage and daycare. Give me the thrill of the quest or the hunt; don’t waste my time with the dullness that comes when the journey’s at an end. Don’t bother me with the practicalities of management in the aftermath of my ascent to power. I think there’s something to learn from that impulse; it’s possibly something about immaturity, the craving for newness, and the indulgence of the vice of curiosity. The mature man gets his hands dirty with mundane life and knows contentment. Or maybe that’s not it at all, and I really am on to something.
And curiously enough through my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, my daydreams of a life as a supervillain bent on global (or cosmic) domination served as the imaginative format most conducive to wanting or envisioning a wife by my side, a cunningly evil consort and partner in crime and conquest. Say what you will, but evil supervillainous marital duos appear to have some of the most stable and committed relationships I’ve ever observed. I’ve never seen married villains get divorced! It may be due to the fundamentally outwardly directed nature of their marriage as a public good, er evil. Perhaps it’s due to their realistic expectations of one another’s character and abilities for conspiring and backstabbing, their healthy sense of self-differentiated individuality and personal interests as they hatch mutual independent side-plots, extensive experience overcoming bickering, blamestorming, and disappointment under stress when major schemes are foiled, regular adaptation to changing circumstances fleeing protagonists and moving from shadowy mountaintop fortress to desert stronghold to underwater base to active hollowed-out volcano ICBM complex to orbital weapons platform. The married villain and villainess have their eyes and hearts fixed on a vision and mission greater than themselves. They know the Good Life, er, the Bad Life when they see it. They know what commitment is!
When I think about it, there’s something subtly yet profoundly creationistic about all of this, about being made in the image of God and given dominion over the creation. The original vocation and attributes are there while sin is also present trying to curve that calling and those talents to self-centered, unethical ends. And in reality, the Lord Christ and his Bride the Church are the good and healthy fulfillment of this grandiose struggle for world domination with sin’s corruption peeled away from what humanity was called to do. Although I don’t get the job of being Grand Exalted Cosmic Overlord, I do enjoy the privilege of serving as a trusted lieutenant to the guy who does have the job. And I look forward to the day when all of his enemies have finally become his ottoman and the spoils get divided out to all of us faithful minions, lackeys, and henchmen. My Grand Exalted Cosmic Overlord wears flashy clothes and sits on an ornate throne in a mountaintop fortress in heaven. And that’s cool enough for me.
All hail Lord Jesus!