Postmodern, Modern, Medieval, and Ancient Typologies of Villainy
Fascinating article! You have me paging through villains in my mind to see how they fit in your categories or linear combinations thereof. A Wall of Text is in order.
1. The villain as the true hero in the Leftist mind has been a long time in coming. In 20th Century fiction, the Rebel is often motivated by envy. Dr. Evil envies Austin Powers' mojo. This conflict spoofs quite a few Hollywood productions. Evil genius gets thwarted by Joe Studley is not just limited to the James Bond franchise. The trope goes back at least to Edgar Rice Burroughs' Orthis character in "The Moon Maid." And in the same book, the maid in question is fleeing the wrath of the Kalkars, the underclass of her species. And let us not forget Brown Limper Staffer from "Battlefield Earth."
Since envy is a good thing in the Leftist mind, turning villain into protagonist makes sense for Lefties.
2. Back when the liberal ninnies took the fun out of Saturday morning cartoons, we got a brief moment of incredible honesty with "The Super Friends." There, the cackling villains turn out to be good intentioned.
And thus I think an excellent punishment for good intentioned liberals who push bad policies would be to force them to binge watch Superfriends. Worst offenders should have to watch "Clockwork Orange" style.
3. With that being said, the villain as the interesting character predates the Woke era. The villains were the stars in the 60s "Batman" series. Or consider the villains in Jack Vance novels, especially "The Demon Princes."
4. Do you mean your four villain archetypes to be a complete set? I have a hard time fitting many villains into just these four categories or combinations thereof. Even the Arthurian legends had other types of villains. In "Le Morte D'Arthur" there are several types of villains. There are perilous castles run by lords who take pleasure in imprisoning knights to rot. There are dangerous damosels who capture knights for sexual pleasure. And then there are cowards and cheats, such as King Mark.
5. Was Zeus a hero or a Lovecraftian Old God who must be appeased else bad things happen? The Golden Age for the Greeks occurred when the Titans still ruled. Prometheus gave Man fire; Zeus punished Prometheus sadistically for doing so. Likewise, the Romans had the Saturnalia, a remembrance of a more egalitarian age when Saturn (analog to to the Titan Chronos) ruled.
I would, however, frame the Ancient Villain differently, at least in his earlier incarnation. The Ancient Villain does not rebel against the Natural Order; he *is* Nature itself. Untamed. Fanged. Out to prey on the unsuspecting. The civilized Ancient Hero defeats Chaotic Nature and imposes the Order of civilization by force of arms. Note the bestial and animalistic nature of many Ancient Villains - often serpentine, sometimes lupine, quite often aquatic. Even Humbaba, who was potentially humanoid, resided in a primordial Cedar Forest.
The idealization of nature come much later, and could probably be traced to monotheism. If there is a benevolent Creator God, then the nature He created must be good, only to be despoiled by the actions of Man. But in the ice age, and in the civilizations coming immediately after it, nature was monstrous. Vile. Bestial. Out to devour the unsuspecting.
(Ironically, Postmodernism follows the monotheistic idealization of nature, while Modernism had certain echoes of the bestial nature which had to be conquered by the rational, technological, civilized hero).