Growing up reading comics focused heavily on Batman villains, I got used to seeing them do pretty gruesome and terrible stuff, and I also got used to the idea that those characters are bad to the bone. I started loving them for that. But, as time goes by, the amout of readers that want to see the most infamous supercriminals of Gotham, such as The Riddler, Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, and many more as the good guys keeps growing. But is it really necessary? Is it a good idea? Personally, I don’t think it is.
Batman has some of the best villains ever created, and the best thing about those characters is that most of them are human, they have no magical superpower, most of them can’t fly. Basically, they’re a little bit like us. Their only power is their intelligence, and in some cases even nature, but we addressed this issue already.
Probably this is what fooled the readers that want to see all the characters I mentioned above to become good: they see those characters simply as misunderstood human beings that should start doing some good.
The protagonist of this discussion is Scarecrow, especially. Former psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, Jonathan Crane got bullied most of his life, and suffered a traumatic childhood. Because of this, he is seen as a sort of victim by some readers, he is just a man who suffered his whole life. Following this reasoning, half of the rogues gallery should be redempted, and given a chance to be good, but what will happen then? I won’t deny that it would be interesting to see such a change, but isn’t Sean Murphy already working on that? Then why do so many people want to see iconic villains give up their beliefs and positions? I think the answer is in the fact that readers are getting more and more sensible, and seeing villains actually acting like they’re supposed to disturbs them, but yet, this is not a valid excuse to erase years of character development to meet everyone’s standards and ideas. Villains are created to be villains, and they’re far more interesting this way.
However, this kind of redemption already happened to some of the most iconic female villains of the DCU, and frankly, it didn’t end well. Unfortunately it is never a good idea to completely change a character’s nature in canon, since it will eventually ruin it and take what makes it special away.
In conclusion, giving a redemption to these characters is not necessary, this idea should definitely not be pursued, especially in canon.
Comic books reader, writer, film lover.