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Lately I've been thinking of a villain trope that is decades (if not centuries) old. The maniacal laugh or the evil laugh. When used properly, I love it. When not, it can be hammy, over the top, and out of character.
Several of the villains you've written over the years have used it, and many haven't.
Off the top of my head, Thailog comes to mind first. And I wouldn't want Thailog without it. Granted, I sometimes wonder where he picked it up. It definitely wasn't from Xanatos. And while Sevarius might be hammy, I don't recall him doing it.
Hyena also has a maniacal laugh, and given her name (and personality) it definitely suits her.
The Archmage had a maniacal laugh.
Demona laughed maniacally three or four times. But it's not a trait we normally associate with her.
And let us not forget the Green Goblin in "Spectacular Spider-Man". I think he was the only villain on the show to have one. Likewise, I recall Nerissa doing it on "W.I.T.C.H." at least once.
The Joker aside, I do not recall any of the villains on "Young Justice" doing it. Any of them. Maybe I'm misremembering, it's been a while since I watched through the show, but I am struggling to remember and coming up blank.
Which leads to me to ask. Is the maniacal laugh a dated relic? Especially as we expect supervillains to be more sophisticated in our dramatic fiction, superhero or otherwise.
For example, in "Transformers", the classic Megatron used to laugh maniacally all the time. All the time. More modern takes on Megatron have done away with the maniacal laugh.
I love it, don't get me wrong, but should villains still be doing it. If we ever get more "Gargoyles", I definitely want Thailog to continue doing it. But, had Thailog made his debut in the year 2017, would I still want him doing it?
You have gotten the chance to create your own great supervillains as well as write many of the classic and iconic supervillains. Right now, what are your thoughts on the villainous laugh?
I haven't exactly studied this issue.
I use it when it feels right in terms of character and situation. Obviously, some characters have more of a sense of humor about what they do than others.
Not all villainous laughs qualify as "maniacal" in my book either.
I would never outlaw the practice, but I think I do use it sparingly, both to avoid silliness and to make it special if and when we do use it.