August 15, 2015

Horse 1960 - The Perfect Car For A Supervillain

Back in the days when cinema had to rely on actual acting and writing to tell a story and they couldn't just hold a film together with flashy special effects; back when you could hold more tensions and terror in a PG rated movie than you can probably get in modern movies that drift ever further into M and MA ratings, heroes were good but dumb and villains had properly fleshed out characters.
Also cast into the films of long ago were the villains cars. They were big and black and actually looked...well... villainous. Russians could get around in ZILs and even right up until the 1980s, American gangsters and ne'er-do-wells could lollop about in Cadillacs and Mercedes 600 Grossers and later S-Classes.
I look around the traffic that I see on the roads around me and I notice something which is excellent for everyone's daily drive but horrible for villains. Virtually every car on the road today is brilliantly competent from a Mitsubishi Mirage to a Mercedes-Benz S600 with all points in between. Although I have a dislike for SUVs, even they are all marvels of modern engineering. All of this leaves a problem. If you are a movie villain, what do you choose as your car of choice? Moreover, if you are a movie director, what could you possibly cast for a villain in a world where there are no longer and obvious villain's cars?

Size Matters:
The ZILs, Mercs and Caddies of years gone by were all behemoths in comparison to traffic today. Having owned an S-Class Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9 I can tell you that the footprint of such a large car is as obvious as if Usain Bolt were to walk around in a Ronald McDonald costume in the supermarket - insanely quick but very careful about where to tread. Changing lanes in such a car is a decision which is best made miles in advance and when coupled with woefully inadequate suspension, it's easy to see why those sorts of cars used to be cast. We don't have anything on the roads like that now. Not even Chrysler's 300C with its "look at me" grill on the front, manages to instill fear in other road users.
I suppose that you could cast a car like a Lexus LX470, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne or Range Rover as the car of the villain but they're just not all that villainy. I've seen so many of those driven by mothers with small children and dogs that fit inside handbags whilst they sit at cafés smoking and making idle chit-chat, that those cars were used, I'm more likely to think that someone was on a school run or going to the gym than plotting a fiendish scheme to blow up parliament.

Purpose Matters:
What sort of deviousness do you want your villain to perform? If they're engaging in international banking fraud (okay, just regular international banking), or some sort of stealing of national secrets, then you're more likely to cast a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7-series than anything else. You can't cast a Maybach because nobody knows what that is and although a Hyundai Genesis looks like it should be a much more expensive car than it is, that's just no likely. And no, you can't cast a Porsche Panamera - they look dopey.
If you have a lot of thugs that you want to deploy in a hurry, then you still can't beat either a Ford Transit, VW Transporter or a Toyota Hiace. A black van is functionally obvious but unfortunately not very villainous.
The other option is that you'd like to give your villain a henchman with a lot of kit. Preferably he's going to be a deranged henchman and so really any pickup truck will do, like a Toyota HiLux SR5 or Ford Raptor but the level of their scariness will be determined by the number of chains, chainsaws, axes and other blunt instruments they can carry. In short, the sorts of tools that tradies already use to muck up people's houses with is perfectly acceptable for a henchman but they're only the hired help and not the main villain.

The Winner:
All of this leads me to only one real conclusion if I were to cast a car as the villain's in a movie. It would naturally come in black, be relatively big and chunky compared with other road users, be jacked up like an SUV and have massive 27" tyres, I'd have it dripping with gizmos and gadgets and it would be able to carry a few chains, chainsaws, axes and other assorted instruments of mayhem in the boot.
Only one car fits that bill to a T and that is: BMW X6.

For many many years I've wondered what they heck this vehicle was for and who the intended market is. It is a car which is a big four wheel drive but which the owner's manual explicitly tells you that you can't take off the road and it has such strange styling that it doesn't know if it's a hatchback or strange sedan or a jacked up station wagon without the utility.
In every respect, I have consistently failed to understand why the BMW X6 exists, who it was for and why it even comes in an M variant from BMW's Motorsport division when clearly the vehicle is unsuited to track work.
The BMW X6 is a car which is so pointlessly garish and fills me with disdain, that of course that's what its for. It's a car which has menaced me in traffic and brought about so much metaphorical fist shaking, that that can only be the purpose of the vehicle.
For that, it's about to do something which no BMW since the E30 M3 has made do. I'm going to declare that I think it's cool. I've misjudged the BMW X6. I still hate it so very very much but now I finally understand. The BMW X6 is the perfect car for villains.

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