We just love a bad guy! Especially when they’re not all bad. Long John Silver is remembered when Jim Hawkins is forgotten. Count Dracula towers over his opponents in charisma, cunning and courage. Dr Fu Manchu fascinates with his intellect and fearlessness. Darth Vader exudes menace, but when his true identity is revealed his stature becomes truly tragic. Ambiguous, tormented Severus Snape overshadows both bland Harry Potter and one-dimensional Voldemort. Hannibal Lecter is brilliant and amoral -or is he? After all, we discover that most of his ‘victims’ were far more perverse and vicious than he ever was.
But you failed to mention Frank Castles’ distinguished ancestry. A roll-call of outlawry that begins with Robin Hood, continues through Sir Percy Blakeney and Dr Syn down to Simon Templar. Castles’ methods may be more extreme than the Saint, but perhaps no more so than those of The Shadow, or contemporaries such as Wolverine and Deadpool. Villain/Heroes whose moral greyness is part of their effectiveness.