What makes a villain great?
To explore that question I am starting in a short series called Villain Studies. In it I’ll look closely at a different antagonist with each post, examining strengths, weaknesses, and what it is that makes him or her awesome (or terrible, if you will). At the end I’ll do a sort of re-cap post summarizing what I’ve learned. But before I enter my first submission, let me pose a question to you, the reader: when you think of great / memorable villains and antagonists, who first comes to mind? I am interested in your thoughts and might explore a few characters based on suggestions! 🙂
That said, here is my first entry. I don’t plan on doing any other cartoon studies– I am simply starting with Jack for a laugh and because, to be completely and embarrassingly honest, he is the very first villain I thought of.
VILLAIN STUDIES, Entry 1: JACK SPICER
Even if you’d outgrown programs such as Xiaolin Showdown by the early 2000s (I was in high school, myself), you really need not be familiar with it to appreciate the brilliance that is Jack Spicer.
Known for his robotic engineering, guy-liner, and flaming orange bedhead, Jack Spicer is a self-proclaimed Evil Boy Genius—and he’ll never let you forget it. Prone to long rants, gloating, and unnecessary use of the word “evil,” that which Spicer has in inventive talent he lacks in common sense: it is usually as he’s asserting his trademark villainous laughter and vaunting that the good guys snag the prize and get away.
One of the best things about Spicer is the underdog mixed up in his genius. He is sarcastic. Whiny. Sullen (the product, no doubt, of being spoiled child to the wealthy parents whose basement he operates out of). He makes every pretense of being an absolute prince of darkness but screams like a girl. And yet, when the moment is right, the loser can also drop a brilliant line: “First order of business when I rule the world: vaporize all mimes.”
I tried to trim some clips down but couldn’t get them to embed, so here are links to a few of Jack’s best moments as edited on TubeChop:
The drawback to Spicer—and understandably so, as a light-hearted character—is that his motivation goes largely undeveloped. According to Xiaolin Wiki, Jack proclaimed in an early episode that he “had wanted to rule the world since second grade,” but we are never given insight as to why. One assumes, from Spicer’s behavior, that he is simply in it to be badass. Or what he thinks is badass, anyways.
Cynical, snarky, and afraid of the dark, Jack Spicer is easily one of the most lovable (if failed) antagonists of all time.