We’ve all wanted to be superheroes. Yep, even me. I know I have this rugged exterior and a love for supervillains, but the truth is, on the inside, I wanted be able to fly, block bullets, and save the day. And have a theme song. And a costume. Yeah, an awesome costume.
That secret desire that we all share is the same desire bubbling in the soul of our next villain: Syndrome from The Incredibles.
Little Buddy Pine had a hero once. His hero was an awesome, crime-fighting bundle of muscle named Mr. Incredible. Mr. Incredible stood up for the little guy, had a cool car but he worked alone. And when Buddy realized he wasn’t endowed with the same gifts at Robert Parr (that’s Mr. Incredible’s secret identity), little Buddy Pine built his own powers: he gave himself the ability to fly just so he could hang out with his hero.
You have a tear, don’t you?
In an age where The Avengers can become the third highest grossing film ever and my kids can don Iron Man, Black Widow and Loki costumes for Halloween, little Buddy Pine’s dream isn’t too shabby. Matter of fact, Robert Downey, Jr’s fantastic return to cinematic brilliance is based on the same idea: Tony Stark didn’t have any powers, so he gave himself some. We just saw Christian Bale get his bat-ass whipped by Bane this summer—he doesn’t have powers. Buddy Pine’s just a kid with a dream—a normal dream—who gets played to the curb by his hero.
This is where things take a sinister turn. Mr. Incredible says 3 words that change everything: “I work alone.” Now, in the movie, when Incredible calls Buddy “Skippy,” I was rollin! But you can’t help but feel a little bad for Buddy. Here’s what nobody thought would happen: Buddy Pine would get smart enough to exact his own revenge.
Buddy becomes Syndrome, a supervillain. Now, on the surface, this is okay. In the world of The Incredibles, there are plenty of villains. But none of them seemed to be murderous ones. Buddy took his exclusion to the left. He dons his suit, uses the new powers he has, and starts killing superheroes.
What? And this is a kids’ movie?
Yep. Syndrome not only lures heroes to their doom, he builds on what he learns. My man uses the scientific method to systematically kill heroes and upgrade his weaponry. He makes buttloads of money in the process, buys an island, builds a secret lair. Then tracks down Supers who exist in a witness protection program. Are you tracking this? This is a kid, a twenty-something who gets played to the left by his hero and goes on a super-serial killing spree that compromises a federal witness protection program. One dude? Seriously? And then he kidnaps and tries to kill Mr. Incredible’s ENTIRE family? Even the kids? Even the baby?
I did mention this is a children’s movie, right?
I’m no fan of sidekicks and certainly not the sidekick poster boy, Robin. I actually giggled a little bit when the Joker laid into him with that crowbar. But it never dawned on me that Robin might get sick and tired of being Batman’s bitch and going on a killing spree against the entire Justice League. And be effective. Hadn’t really thought about that, had you?
This is what makes Syndrome pretty freaking awesome: until his emotions got in the way and he made it horrible personal between him and Mr. Incredible, he accomplished something awesome. Syndrome not only declared war on Supers, not only killed them in a pretty effective campaign, he evened the playing field. About his plan to sell his inventions to the world, he said, “When everyone’s Super, no one will be.” Syndrome became the Steve Jobs of supervillains.
But wait, there’s more in the Mad, Mad Weekend! Next is Shere Khan!
Syndrome is one of my favorite villains, precisely because of his intelligence and methodology.
You know I learn a lot about villains and these characters doing this series. I love it but my eyes keep getting opened–Syndrome is no exception. That’s a bitter, bitter kid–part Doctor Doom, part Lex Luthor. He’s pretty cool too…just bad costume design.