One of the absolutes of any medium, be it literary, visual, or interactive in any form, is that Nazis make the best kind of villain. Because either they make it really serious, like Schindler’s List, they just make the best cannon fodder, like in any Hellboy comic, or they can be dupes, like in Hogan’s Heroes.
OK, so watching the Oscars last night, Tess and I saw that the winner of the Oscar for best short is something called Toyland, I think. Some German film. I don’t even know what it’s about, but the short bit they showed of a Nazi guy and a kid and a train, so you know it’s sad. And you know why? Because Nazis are very good at killing the mood.
What made the first and third Indiana Jones movies so awesome? He was fighting the Nazis for the fate of the world! The Great Escape? They’re on the run and working against some devious Nazis! What makes the Hellboy/Batman/Starman crossover so awesome? They’re battling sci-fi Cthulu-worshipping Nazis! What’s so awesome about the very first appearance of Captain America ever? He’s on the cover PUNCHING ADOLF HITLER!
Quentin Tarentino’s Inglorious Basterds‘ is doing this and sort of highlighting the power of this idea, even though honestly the trailer makes it seem like a really shitty movie. It’s hard these days to find “enemies” to fight in fiction, but if there’s one absolute evil that you can count on that is easy to paint with a well-deserved broad brush of FUCKING EVIL, it’s the Nazis. They make little children into sausages and drown kittens by the truckload, it’s just how they roll. And while I’m sure there’s tons of literature out there about the complexities of Germans who were Nazis, unfortunately they’ve got a bit of a battle going against them.
But hey, sucks to be them. Or to have been them. Speaking of Hellboy, i think one of the things that I like about that character and that title is that one of the main villains for a while were Nazis. Floating-head-in-a-jar-evil-sumbitch Nazis. And you really can’t get any better a story than having a ruff-n-ready hero battling an ultimate evil, which is why the Nazi’s are always in some way, coming back. Because it’s almost impossible to try to fully justify them in any form, making it harder to blur the lines between the good and the bad guys and making “intricate” stories.
Because sometimes, you just wanna see someone get their face bashed in, and if you’re going to beat the crap out of someone, might as well be a Nazi.