Disney has had its fair share of villains, from Scar in Lion King to Hopper in A Bug’s Life. There’s no question that Pixar has put out some of the best antagonists in cinema history. Pixar has had a great track record with their villains, but there’s just one villain that always sticks with me and in my opinion, deserves a lot more love. And that villain is…drum roll please…Syndrome from The Incredibles!
Syndrome is a phenomenal villain and is, in this authors opinion, the best part of the film. So, why is Syndrome a great villain you ask? Because he’s not actually a villain! Now, that may make no sense, but the best villains are the ones who believe what they are doing is right.
Syndrome definitely has all the features of a villain, including a secret island fortress, a group of henchman, plans of world domination, and more. But his origins and the way he was introduced in the film aren’t villainous at all.
Syndrome’s origin is what, in my opinion, makes him stand out from the other villains. His origin is different and you truly feel for him, and there’s nothing scarier than a villain you sympathize with.
Now, early on into the film, we are introduced to the character of Buddy, a young boy who wants to partner up with his favorite superhero/ role model Mr. Incredible in a ‘Batman and Robin’ kind of way but is, instead, pushed away. He tries again and is once again rejected, creating a monster inside himself.
The origin and background are the two building blocks in making a long-lasting villain. I love Syndrome’s origin because you sympathize with him and you understand his feelings of rejection and disappointment.
He was just a little kid who became so hurt by the rejection of his childhood idol, which in turn drove him down a treacherous path. Sure, he was being a little annoying to Mr.Incredible but let’s face it, Mr. Incredible acted not so incredible towards poor Buddy.
So, Syndrome makes it his goal to, through his technology, give everyone superpowers. In the words of Syndrome himself, “if everyone’s super, no one is.” It’s a powerful statement. Even more so knowing that Syndrome wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for Mr. Incredible. The hero of the film created his own enemy.
Do you know another reason why Syndrome works so well? It’s because he’s so simple. He’s not too abstract and he doesn’t have too much going on. His motivations are simple. He’s not a basic Pixar twist villain, Syndrome stands out and brings a lot to the table.
After Buddy was sent home and probably even scolded and sent to his room by his mom (this was shown in a flashback, in the conversation between Mr.Incredible and Syndrome) he believed that he could not trust anyone, and realized that his lifelong dreams had been crushed, which planted a seed of hatred inside him. Hatred for the world, and hatred for Mr. Incredible. This feeling of betrayal then drove him to focus instead on exacting revenge.
Maybe The Joker was right after all when he said, “All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.” An innocent child idolized a superhero, looked up to him for guidance and inspiration, but instead received rejection.
Syndrome is still, by all intents and purposes, a villain down to his core, but what makes him unique is that the audience can relate to him. Everyone has felt the pain of rejection and disappointment from someone they loved, cared about, or idolized at one point in their lives, so while we shouldn’t agree with his actions, it’s hard not to feel him.