Have you ever noticed that supervillains have often attended six to eight years of college while "heros" have in all probability not even graduated from trade school or are fresh from the military.

The Villains

The Heroes

etc etc etc....

The plot always seems to be:
Villain: I have a wonderful and creative idea for world domination.

Heroes: We don't, but we can come to your mansion of Evil and blow the fucker up.

Villain: Drat...

Heroes: Turn this motha out!

*BOOM*

Villain: You'll pay for this!

Heroes: yay! Ok, lets go get a beer.

The End

For such educated individuals, they are treated horribly by thuggish nit-wits that fly around in tights "thwarting" people. It just doesn't seem fair.
Yes, while it is true many supervillains come from an educated background, it is not a hard rule. Many villains are also grunts and come from non-educated backgrounds: gangsters, mindless monsters, etc. It only makes sense that the educated villians achieve supervillain status, because they're the ones who are smart enough to organize a following and push their sinister agenda. But it's important to note that it's their actions that make them evil, not their education.

Both heros and villains have their leaders and their grunts. The leaders usually have the educational background needed for keeping an organization together. The grunts usually do not, so they end up doing all the dirty work.

I offer to you these counterexamples:

Undereducated Villains:

Overeducated Heroes:

Looks as if we've left out the obvious Dr. Fez! I mean really. Do you think he learned to be so diabolical in trade school? Or to wield a nodeshell with such conviction and precision? That's not just street-skills. That's LONG YEARS OF TRAINING! Probably in the jungle compound, where he gained his degree in Being Smart. And then there are the nodes that he didn't shell, but wrote up. These have the fingerprints of overeducation all over them. The greasy, sweaty fingerprints, i might add.

Well, it's true. The egregiously overeducated love nothing more than oppressing those who rely on their homespun smarts. If it's so good, how's come they don't teach it in school? All those "heroes" are unquestioning tools of the patriarchy. TheFez knows his purpose and his potential, that's what makes him super. As a matter of fact, i'm tempted to become a supervillain now, just so i can oppress the uneducated. But mostly because of the cape. I guess when it comes down to it, i just want a cape. And i wanna be loved. Is that so wrong?

How can you leave out Sherlock Holmes's nemesis Professor Moriarty, one of the first such characters, and probably the inspiration for such later ones as Rhas al Ghul, Dr. Evil, Hannibal Lecter, Emperor Palpatine and Richard Nixon?

My theory on the stupid hero idea is that a stupid hero is easier for the audience to empathize with than a smart one. I mean, which would get more applause, watching Obi Wan Kenobi somersault out of the pit, through the air, grab a lightsaber, and bisect Darth Maul, or watching him think about his situation for three seconds, then use The Force to give ol' Darth a massive embolism?

Of course, to be a superhero, one simply needs to have some sort of congenital or otherwise involuntary power or thing that makes you different, and then decide to run about in tights stopping evil. On the other hand, becoming a supervillain requires huge amounts of resources if you don't want to just be known as So-and-so the Super Mugger. Thus, there is definitely a selection effect at work here on the supervillain side! While you can become a hero or villain without powers, it's easy to be a superhero if you have powers but still hard to be a supervillain worth chasing. Also, a number of supervillains seem to have been created when the villain him or herself was engaged in some scientific inquiry gone hideously wrong.

One minor nitpick on the original node: Iron Man. Tony Stark was definitely overeducated; he became Iron Man because while being held captive by the enemy (DerekL reminds me it's the Vietnamese, often referred to in the stories as Asian Communists!) he was made to build a superweapon; knowing that the shrapnel in his chest would kill him if he didn't do something, he created the Iron Man armor as a dual supersuit and life-support system...all while being held in some crappy underground hideaway.


Nitpick 2: kenata, Robin (in at least one incarnation) was actually a college student when not dashing about in tights...not overeducated, but too young to be one or the other, and on track for overeducation...
The phenomenon of over-educated supervillains, equally prevalent in horror fiction and comic books, goes back at least as far as the Victorian archetype of the Mad Scientist - people who worshipped the false god of the intellect, often violating taboos in their ungodly pursuit of knowledge. Usually these villains were doomed to be destroyed by their own creations, but often would instead be slain or overthrown by courageous heroes of no exceptional intellect, but stout Christian hearts. The triumph of Good over Evil was therefore also a triumph of the spirit over the intellect.

One could argue that it actually goes back even further, to the ancient tales of sorcerers and alchemists being defeated by virtuous jocks with swords. Medea is one example of an ancient Over-Educated Supervillain.

Perhaps because of my own bias as an atheist, I find the subtext of these older tales rather disturbing. The basic message is that knowledge is evil, and that virtue and scientific curiousity cannot co-exist. "There are some things Man was not meant to know" is the ominous tagline. While this seems not to be the point of modern superhero stories, I would point out that the basic idea (Virtuous brawny Everyman vs. immoral scientist) is still prevalent.

Stephen King's "Danse Macabre" actually covers this subject very well, and I recommend it to anyone who really wants an analysis of this theme. Some books and films (fiction) that address similar concepts:

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