Saturday, January 8, 2011
Sympathy for the Devil II- She Fights Like a Demon
Today's villain may be a bit unfamiliar to most viewers but I think she is very significant and one of the better written villains of my youth and even into adulthood. She has a deal in common with Magneto, not so much in terms of magnetic power, but in terms of back story, but with one VERY significant difference. But we'll get to that later. This villain is also significant as rarely (think about this for a second) is there a female villain in animation who is the antagonist of a male hero. Think about it. It's acceptable to have a female hero and a male villain or same sex hero/villain pairs but why is it so rare to have a female antagonist against a male hero? Is there some underlying social principal here that women are not capable of evil actions? Well, the next person is certainly capable of that. That's right- Demona.
For reference, the show Gargoyles was a cartoon from the 90s which featured a group of gargoyles living in New York City (in the 1990s) who were entirely male and lead by Goliath, their clan leader. Now, gargoyles themselves were not indigenous to the city and this group lived in Scotland in the 1100s (though curiously but one has a Scottish accent). Long story short, humans lived in a castle and protected the gargoyles by day and the gargoyles who were stone by day, protected the humans during the night. Sounds like a wonderful symbiotic relationship.
So, one day, the captain of the guard betrays the castle to Vikings during the day and most of the hundred or so gargoyles are destroyed. The seven or so remaining ones are frozen in stone by the castle magus to remain that way even during the night and are placed around the castle.
Fastforward to the 1990s, one of the other villains of the show, David Xanatos breaks the spell that keeps the gargoyles bound and the gargoyles basically fight crime and various other antagonists through the series. This is all fine and good, but where does Demona come in? She's a gargoyle too and as such would be all set to work with our heroes, no?
Clearly not. She blames the humans for the death of her entire clan (save for the handful still alive). Since Goliath and the other gargoyles are set to maintain balance with the humans that may misunderstand them, they are just as bad as the humans who betrayed her clan in Demona's eyes.
But when the series flashed back to how Demona was "created" for lack of a better term, we get a better view into her psyche. She disliked humans prior to the destruction of her people, and as such we find she plotted ALONG WITH the treacherous captain of the guard to ensure that their castle would fall. However, she didn't want her fellow gargoyles to know her part of her betrayal and flew off into the night right before the Vikings came and destroyed the castle and most of her people.
She returned to her castle the following night, when she awoke only to find her people slaughtered. Tears forming in her eyes, she cried out "What have I...what have *they* done?" Her inability to face the consequences of her actions led her to avoid Goliath when he awoke and search the castle, seeing most everyone dead and assuming that the love of his life was also dead.
After the rest of the eponymous gargoyles are frozen in stone, Demona still blames the humans, even though she had inadvertently caused this. She may be one twisted ball of pain, but when her sole tear falls on Goliath's frozen body, one cannot help but feel something for her.
Time continues and Demona lashes out against humanity whenever she has the chance, and by scarring one stable boy creates The Hunter, an anti-gargoyles human warrior, who hunts down gargoyles, specifically her though. This title and role of The Hunter passes from generation to generation, even until present day.
Now, Demona in her older age forms an alliance with a human named Macbeth (yes, *that* Macbeth) sometime around the year 1200. Why does she do this, the hater of humans that she is? Because she is old and needs protection for her and her new clan from other humans while he needs protection against King Duncan, his cousin. It should be noted in this version of events Macbeth is quite the heroic figure, not the villain of Shakespeare.
Anyways, the Weird Sisters (yes, those Weird Sisters) intervene and give Macbeth's youth to restore Demona to her highest potential while Macbeth gains her loyalty. They become a nigh unstoppable team. Until, Macbeth's ad visors grow leery of Demona and question her loyalty. She overhears them questioning her loyalty and deserts his castle right before his enemies decide to give a final ass ult- not hearing Macbeth berate his lieutenants for ever doubting his friend and ally, Demona.
So, she deserts and Macbeth's castle and rule are destroyed, all because Demona had suspicions that the humans were uneasy about her- not that Macbeth had ever actually thought of betraying her. The twist in this is that as a result of the Weird Sisters, Demona and Macbeth are bound together for eternity; one cannot die while the other lives. Translation- Macbeth and Demona cannot die or age unless one kills the other. Problem- both are incredibly skilled warriors. Result- Both are still alive as of 1997, when this series starts.
Anyways, as I said before the most intriguing thing about Demona, is not her fanatic racism- I could find that in Magneto. However, the defining and more interesting psychological issue is that she is at fault, directly or indirectly, for everything bad that has happened to her and refuses to accept it. However, while she cannot admit it (except under spell) is that above all her hatred and anger, there is something else she feels. When confronted by all of her misdeeds by the Weird Sisters, Demona tries to deny them, though knowing that she is completely at fault for her own misery, she breaks down and admits that she feels alone.
It's weird to go from complete hatred for a character to nothing but pity. Prior to the "City of Stone" arc where her past is revealed, I had Demona pegged as a two dimensional character, but knowing that she had this kind of pain behind her amazed me that a children's show villain could have levels and shades of gray. Poor Demona. A few thousand therapy sessions may help...
So, I got off my schedule for writing, but I swear I'll come back to it. I was able to finish the short story quota and am starting on a new one tonight. Hopefully you are enjoying this feature and the other five to come! It will be awesome.