Hercules, Jesus, James Bond, Darth Vader, Sauron, Voldemort. Almost anybody living within the West could group these individuals into two camps - the heroes and the villains. However, what criteria they might use to do this is less clear.
Mike Alsford considers a range of heroic and villainous archetypes in an attempt to address questions such as what is a true hero? What is a true villain? Have we misunderstood these terms? What kind of social values do our mythical heroes and villains represent? Does Jesus Christ provide us with a more valuable model for the truly heroic?
In examining the extremes of hero and villain we are made more aware of our ethical standards, and given a space in which to explore contemporary concerns over notions of right and wrong, good and bad.
Mike Alsford is Senior Lecturef in-Theology at the University of Greenwich, London, and the author of What If? Religious Themes in Science Fiction - (DLT).