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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    Default Villains - redeemable and not (end game)

    Obviously, it's a very old theme with Wonder Woman that criminals can be redeemed. But also obviously, it tends to benefit a hero to have long-term villains to fight.

    So which villains do you think are redeemable? Or which versions, since, for example, post-COIE and Rebirth Barbara Minerva don't have the same personality, and there's even a lot variation within the same continuity (different writers or changing over time).

    I don't like the flip-flop myself - I Diana can redeem some, I'd like them to say redeemed, unlike Priscilla back when.

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Interesting question, and I think it partially depends on how one views what redeemable means.

    Going from being certainly not redeemable, Ares and (I'd argue) Zeus are on top of the list. But since they are gods representing forces and personality traits rather than actual human beings (FSVO human beings), I'm leaving them aside for now.

    Barbara Ann Minerva as Cheetah I view more on a spectrum of cursed rather than evil. If the curse can be lifted, I'd say she definitely should be redeemable, though I also think that she will in a way have become addicted to being Cheetah.

    Marston had Paula von Gunther as redeemable, but it required a full shift of her core beliefs. I think a similar take should be done with Veronica Cale. (Come to think of it, one could make some parallels between Hera and her relation to Zeus, and Veronica Cale and her relation to patriarchy.)

    Circe most definitely should be redeemable. I'm very much not a fan of the power-mad Circe of Pérez and Tynion, and would prefer her to be dangerous but not malevolent.

    Doctor Psycho was irredeemable in Marston, but his depiction there was deeply ableistic. However, I think he (suitably updated) and Doctor Poison would make for good irredeemable recurring villains.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  3. #3
    Incredible Member Gaius's Avatar
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    Most versions of the Cheetah, Silver Swan, and Giganta could probably be given how many either created to have some sympathy towards them or later rebooted to be. Veronica Cale and both versions of Dr. Cyber also could be. Of course this is essentially the entire point of Paula von Gunther.

    Ares has shown potential in opening arcs of the Perez run, Jimenez run, and second Rucka run. I also think it works well towards Diana's purpose as a hero that she can convince a mad War God to ultimately see the error of his ways. Not something Superman can say about someone like Darkseid or Batman with Ra's.

    Most versions of Circe, Dr. Poison, and Dr. Psycho probably are not.
    Last edited by Gaius; 04-20-2020 at 08:31 PM.

  4. #4
    Moderator Nyssane's Avatar
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    Great idea for a thread!

    In my opinion, these are the redeemable and irredeemable rogues:

    Capable of Redemption:
    • Angle Man
    • Ares ( his attempts to become "better" in recent years have really impacted his character, and a little dash of Wonder Woman could change him permanently)
    • Armageddon (the new one)
    • Baroness von Gunther
    • Blue Snowman
    • Cyborgirl
    • Echidna
    • Giganta
    • Gundra the Valkyrie
    • Mask
    • Mayfly (we already saw that Diana had that affect on her; one of the better stories post-Rucka)
    • Medusa
    • Mouse Man
    • Osira
    • Silver Swan (going with Vanessa as she's the current one)
    • Veronica Cale
    • Zara


    Can't Be Redeemed:
    • Cheetah (I think Barbara Ann is too far gone but because of her past with Diana, Diana will ultimately never stop trying)
    • Circe
    • Deimos & Phobos
    • Devastation
    • Doctor Cyber
    • Doctor Poison
    • Doctor Psycho
    • Maxwell Lord (ugh it hurts me to include him on any WW villains list, but here it is)
    • Minister Blizzard
    • Queen Clea
    • Strife
    • White Magician

  5. #5
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    I disagree that Cheetah should be redeemable. I actually think a more powerful story with Cheetah is the danger of trying to save someone who doesn't want to be saved. It's wonderful to see the best in people and help them see the best in themselves...if they also want to improve who they are. Unfortunately, when you try to save someone who is truly happy as they are, you are the one who is usually most hurt...sometimes irreparably. I would rather see Diana try and ultimately fail redemption in Cheetah's case and the ways in which that hurts Diana, the people around her and even innocents.

    I am also concerned about the inherent sexism in the idea of redemption. Some people believe that women are just more redeemable than men for whatever reason. I would be interested if someone like Dr. Psycho - a rapist and murderer - is someone you all would want to see as redeemed? And if not, what exactly makes his crimes worse than Paula's - who also murders and facilitates rape through her Neo-Nazi organization - other than gender?

    As far as people who should never be redeemed: Circe, Cheetah, Dr. Poison and Dr. Cyber

  6. #6
    Extraordinary Member SiegePerilous02's Avatar
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    The ultimate tragedy of Cheetah is that she can often come very close to redemption, but always slides back into villainy. That is one of the major themes explored with the character going back to the Priscilla Rich version. Whereas with most villains, I think Diana would be wise enough to know which ones would be worth the effort of helping and which ones are too far gone to redeem (and don't want to be be redeemed), Barbara Ann is her big blind spot. Because there is a part of Barbara who wants to be saved, but also a part of her that won't allow herself to be. It's this internal struggle with herself and Diana's own (misguided) guilt for Barbara being cursed that causes them to be stuck. And in her worst moments, Barbara knows how to take advantage of Diana's guilt and use it as a weapon.

    The Gods and Circe are ultimately too capricious and beyond our understanding to really fit into our basic categories of good and evil. Ares, Zeus and Poseidon would be the worst of the lot, but even they have their beneficial moments while Diana's patrons are also pretty capable of being complete dicks (just ask Medusa; whichever version of her encounter with Poseidon you go with, the end result is disproportionate by our standards). They are not standard hero/villain characters, but GODS.

    Dr. Psycho should be the most loathsome and irredeemable of her human villains. Preferably though using something like his Earth One version. Kjn is right that making him too monstrous doesn't mesh well with the abelist depictions of the past. And just so it's not "women good, men bad," I'd have Dr. Poison, Queen Clea and Eviless be on the irredeemable list and Angle Man not being overly evil to begin with. More of a charming rogue/pain in the ass like Catwoman.

    The likes of Giganta and the other classic members of Villainy Inc should be capable of being rehabilitated, or at least not overly monstrous villains who have their "Pet the Dog" moments. Sometimes it just fine to have mooks who are hired muscle or wanting to pull of schemes that do not result in countless innocents being slaughtered.

    Veronica Cale and Dr. Cyber I don't know. I like that Veronica is easy to sympathize with, but one thing I have to give Wilson props for is not magically redeeming her just because she is reunited with her daughter. Rucka didn't really set her up that way either. It's sort of the opposite of Paula, who overall was a valuable character in the Golden Age but the actual story involving her daughter made it too simplistic. It's like everything around it is interesting, but the key moment isn't executed well. And with Cyber, it'd be interesting to explore if Adrianna's ghost can be reformed or if she's going to get further and further away from humanity.

  7. #7
    Incredible Member Gaius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nyssane View Post

    Can't Be Redeemed:
    • Cheetah (I think Barbara Ann is too far gone but because of her past with Diana, Diana will ultimately never stop trying)
    Quote Originally Posted by PopQuezy View Post
    I disagree that Cheetah should be redeemable. I actually think a more powerful story with Cheetah is the danger of trying to save someone who doesn't want to be saved. It's wonderful to see the best in people and help them see the best in themselves...if they also want to improve who they are. Unfortunately, when you try to save someone who is truly happy as they are, you are the one who is usually most hurt...sometimes irreparably. I would rather see Diana try and ultimately fail redemption in Cheetah's case and the ways in which that hurts Diana, the people around her and even innocents.
    Quote Originally Posted by SiegePerilous02 View Post
    The ultimate tragedy of Cheetah is that she can often come very close to redemption, but always slides back into villainy. That is one of the major themes explored with the character going back to the Priscilla Rich version. Whereas with most villains, I think Diana would be wise enough to know which ones would be worth the effort of helping and which ones are too far gone to redeem (and don't want to be be redeemed), Barbara Ann is her big blind spot. Because there is a part of Barbara who wants to be saved, but also a part of her that won't allow herself to be. It's this internal struggle with herself and Diana's own (misguided) guilt for Barbara being cursed that causes them to be stuck. And in her worst moments, Barbara knows how to take advantage of Diana's guilt and use it as a weapon.
    .
    Hmm, that actually is a more interesting interpretation of Diana and Cheetah's relationship. Almost like how Batman will probably never be able to cure Two-Face.

  8. #8
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    Past a certain point, Diana starts to look like an idiot for trying to help someone who clearly does not want to be saved. That said:

    Redeemable:

    Ares

    Silver Swan


    Irredeemable:

    Zeus

    Heracles

    Dr Psycho

  9. #9
    Astonishing Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    Past a certain point, Diana starts to look like an idiot for trying to help someone who clearly does not want to be saved. That said:
    I agree with this. However, I don't mind her trying - the sticking point is when does she quit trying? When does she either concede failure or declare the failure of the one who doesn't want to change? And can it be written as a intelligent, informed decision rather than a ruthless, lack-of-compassion decision (the sheer number of people who blame others for woobie-villains' actions and for not somehow turning the villaisn good makes me think it would be hard for that message to be gotten across to the fandom and then adhered to).

    Also important is that does she give up on this one before she's managed to help any other to reform or after?

    Silver Swan
    Which Silver Swan are people talking here? It's been a while since I read it, but I recall thinking of post-COIE Vanessa as victim to be rescued, not a villain to be reformed.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Past a certain point, Diana starts to look like an idiot for trying to help someone who clearly does not want to be saved. That said
    I agree with you; however, that doesn't change that some people are very attached to the "He/She never gave up on me" trope, and they see "giving up" on someone to be worse than the actual villainous actions.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by PopQuezy View Post
    I agree with you; however, that doesn't change that some people are very attached to the "He/She never gave up on me" trope, and they see "giving up" on someone to be worse than the actual villainous actions.
    I know. I don't have much respect for such people.

  12. #12
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    Also, I've never understood the "we can't begin to fathom the gods as they are so above humanity take". The gods are really not that complicated. We are not talki g about eldritch abominations from another dimension whose thoughts and desires are totally alien to us.

  13. #13
    Extraordinary Member SiegePerilous02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Also, I've never understood the "we can't begin to fathom the gods as they are so above humanity take". The gods are really not that complicated. We are not talki g about eldritch abominations from another dimension whose thoughts and desires are totally alien to us.
    They are heightened and exaggerated versions of human being with similar motivations, but they are still not actual human beings. Applying our standards to them when they are personifications of concepts and natural forces doesn't quite work. Ares doesn't really need a redemption arc, he is performing his function as personification of war and bloodshed, that is the point of his entire existence and if he were to be vanquished the universe would just replace him with someone else.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SiegePerilous02 View Post
    They are heightened and exaggerated versions of human being with similar motivations, but they are still not actual human beings. Applying our standards to them when they are personifications of concepts and natural forces doesn't quite work. Ares doesn't really need a redemption arc, he is performing his function as personification of war and bloodshed, that is the point of his entire existence and if he were to be vanquished the universe would just replace him with someone else.
    There are plenty of characters in fiction whom we still apply human morality to despite them not being human. The gods are not simply personifications of concepts and natural forces. We see them behaving in ways that natural forces and concepts do not and can not. Ares, isn't war and bloodshed, he is trying to cause war and bloodshed. What does Zeus being a rapist and adulterer have to do with him controlling the sky? This description of the gods as being less human and more like forces only came about with the Azarello run and even there it didn't really fit how they were written.

  15. #15
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Past a certain point, Diana starts to look like an idiot for trying to help someone who clearly does not want to be saved. That said:
    Why?

    One thing to remember here is that superhero stories are essentially fantasies, and the want and need for social connections, for friendship, for helping people, and for not giving up is part of that. We are social animals, and helping and assisting others is part of that.

    Or to take one of my favourite Bujold quotes:

    “You? I know you! You trust beyond reason.”

    She met his eyes steadily. "Yes. It's how I get results beyond hope. As you may recall.”
    The fault here doesn't lie with Diana, but with the writers who are stuck with melodrama rather than drama.

    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    There are plenty of characters in fiction whom we still apply human morality to despite them not being human. The gods are not simply personifications of concepts and natural forces. We see them behaving in ways that natural forces and concepts do not and can not. Ares, isn't war and bloodshed, he is trying to cause war and bloodshed. What does Zeus being a rapist and adulterer have to do with him controlling the sky? This description of the gods as being less human and more like forces only came about with the Azarello run and even there it didn't really fit how they were written.
    Yes, the Olympian gods (like most polytheistic gods) are personifications of concepts and natural forces, but there is nothing simple about that. Ares is war and battle, but also courage and physical strength. Poseidon is the sea and the earthquake. And don't forget that Zeus has a dual nature: god of the sky and storm, but also as king of the gods. His actions towards women stems from that aspect.

    In how I view the gods, you cannot reason with them or cause them to change their fundamental behaviour.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

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