Many people hate Nazis, especially for their role in World War II. However, the Red Skull is also a Nazi, yet he is not as hated as much as a real life Nazi. Why is that? Why is it that real villains like Hitler are hated, while fictional villains like Doctor Doom are praised for being a worthy foe to superheroes?
Think about it. The Zodiac Killer of California is one of the most infamous serial killers in American history. The Joker has killed more people that the Zodiac, and is more than capable of receiving the death penalty. However, instead of rotting away in prisons, like most serial killers today suffer, he is sent to a mental hospital. Despite all that he’s done in the comics, he is still liked by many fans. The Zodiac Killer practically has none. How could someone love a sociopath who has killed thousands of people?
Perhaps the reason why it’s easier to love a fictional villain than a real villain is that people are not that sensitive to the sins that fictional villains commit. For example, people love the Joker despite his crimes because he never killed any real-life people. In a fictional world, people can care less about how dangerous the Joker is because he does not pose a threat to the real world.
Another interesting factor is that if you praise real villain, people could turn against you. If one were to admit Hitler’s tactical skills, people could misinterpret that said person as someone who idolizes Hitler. That said person just wanted to admit that Hitler was a brilliant man; the very reason why he posed a great threat in World War II. Now compare Hitler to Doctor Doom. Doom is the ruler of Latveria, a country within the Marvel Universe. In most of his incarnations, Doom has diplomatic immunity, which allows him to avoid being arrested by authorities. If someone praises Doom for his diplomatic immunity, it’s no big deal, but if someone praises dictators like Fidel Castro for his diplomatic immunity, people would not like that praise.
With so much hurtful truths in the real world, people might see fictional settings, like those in comic books, as a way to avoid harsh realities. Crime bosses like the Kingpin are easily praised because there is no real-life Kingpin. It’s hard for people to admit the strengths of real villains because people focus more on the hurtful actions they cause. But their strengths are what made them successful villains in the first place. As a person who believes in the Yin Yang theory, I believe that all things have a good and bad side to them. I think that real people should admit the strengths of real-life villains just like fictional villains; not to praise them, just admit that their cleverness.