5 Supervillains Who Are Actually Pretty Decent Bosses
Look, supervillains get a pretty bad rap. Simply because someone wants to conquer a city and/or the globe, does that immediately make them such a bad guy? In almost every quantifiable way, yes. Their general lack of concern for human life and pursuit of megalomaniacal power makes it pretty hard to take a glass half full perspective on them, but maybe we can at least look at them in a sort of “hey, I think there’s one drop of water in that very evil glass” way.
After all, most supervillains have a pretty extensive network of lackeys — lackeys that must be so deathly devoted to them for a reason. Most henchmen have a much more positive outlook on their bosses than real-life excel jockeys and IT department workers. Maybe, just maybe, these evil masterminds are, in their own twisted way, pretty good bosses?
Yes, the name itself is hard to avoid. There’s not really any dancing around it. It should be said too, in no way, shape or form are we endorsing anyone’s plans to detonate a nuclear warhead in the Earth’s core. That would suck pretty bad. But in Dr. Evil’s day-to-day workplace experience, there is one thing that we might be able to feel some envy over: The man undeniably runs an incredibly efficient meeting.
Sure, his particular approach to keeping a tight schedule involves some people getting dumped through a trapdoor and experiencing a slow, painful and very bloody death. Which is super unpleasant… for the person who’s getting ripped apart by sharks. Everybody else at the table, though, doesn’t have to wonder if the meeting’s going to run over. Want to ask a question that’s already been covered? Do so at your own risk. I’m just saying, nobody’s missing lunch at Dr. Evil’s lair.
Norman Osborn/Green Goblin
One of the most infuriating things a boss can do is refuse to take any personal responsibility for their failures. I’m sure most people have a memory of a Teflon-like boss who was adept at deflecting any possible shortcoming onto someone else’s shoulders. Even if you haven’t worked for one, you see it constantly in the news — a boss who’s all too happy to take the praise, but is never responsible for a project gone wrong.
Unlike these cowards, in the first Spider-Man movie, Norman Osborn mans up when his corporation is close to losing a big military contract, and tests the experimental drug on himself. No demonstrative layoffs, no crocodile tears, just a man injecting his own delayed deliverables straight into his bloodstream. Talk about a boss who doesn’t just say they believe in the company’s mission, but lives it. Until, of course, he gets speared by his own glider. Also, he goes insane and kills a ton of people, but broken eggs, omelette, etc.
Health insurance is far from a guarantee in today’s world of employment. You’re lucky if your boss allows you sick days, much less pays for your insulin. When businesses are looking to pinch every available penny, investing in the health and strength of their workforce isn’t something they’re looking to include in their bottom line. One boss, on the other hand, is handing out complex surgeries completely pro bono.
That’s right, while at modern corporations people are getting pancaked by forklifts without a concern outside of its effect on productivity, Dr. Robotnik of Sonic the Hedgehog fame instead asks, how would you like to be a forklift? Even the lowliest of his goons — i.e., those who haven’t graduated from Green Hill Zone — are treated to a top-notch exoskeleton, one of high enough quality that they might be able to take down Sonic themselves. I can tell you from personal experience: Medicaid will not cover getting a motorcycle wheel installed in your stomach.
Yup, let’s chat about the Grape Ape himself. No, not because getting rid of half of all life to solve scarcity is a good idea. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Thanos does solve one huge problem within business, though: nepotism. The preferential treatment given to family members within a business is more of a hot-button issue than ever these days, as people have started to realize that 50 percent of Hollywood is just the Coppolas in different wigs. Thanos, however, isn’t having one bit of it.
Admittedly, after adopting multiple orphans, which would also be a great thing to do if he hadn’t been the one who’d made most of them orphans, he does bring them into the family business. But once they’re in, it’s a pure meritocracy, and they shouldn’t expect any special treatment just because he decided to make them his children. Not to mention that in Gamora’s case, he does just about the least helpful thing you can ever do for any child — pushing them off a big cliff. Some powerful parents throw their weight behind their kids. Thanos is waiting behind his kids to throw them to their death for power.
A good boss, like a good coach in sports, knows the strengths and weaknesses of their team, and enables each member accordingly to work to the fullest extent of their talents. There’s nothing worse than a boss who doesn’t seem to realize what their employees are actually good at, putting some people in the wrong roles and underutilizing those with more to offer. It’s how you end up with an entirely ineffective office structure that breeds not only incompetence but contempt.
Not true of the Mega Man franchise’s Dr. Wily. It’s clear that the man in charge of a slew of robot masters has spent a lot of time learning just what makes each tick, maybe while he was building them. Wily is not a man who lets a skill go unsupported, going as far as to build entirely customized workspaces/levels to emphasize each of their preferences. A more callous boss could have led to disaster: Flame Man burning Wood Man’s perfect stage to ash, Drill Man stuck on Air Man’s stage with no ground at all to excavate, Guts Man stuck… I don’t know, somewhere he can’t be… strong? (I don’t really follow his whole deal.)
He extends this level of care to the lowest levels of his organization, realizing that those little guys are really good at ducking, and thinking, “If I gave you helmets, I bet you’d be basically invincible.” Meanwhile, your boss is out here buying ice-cream cakes for the lactose intolerant guy’s birthday party.
Ra’s al Ghul
Look, things didn’t end gracefully, but if your job is to train assassins and you create Batman? Hard to argue you’re not good at your job.