Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics Movie Poster Image
Insightful docu on the baddies we love to hate.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 99 minutes

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Positive Messages

Documentary discusses the creative devolvement of many of DC Comics's most notorious villains, and the importance of an effective villain for both the development of a good story, as well as the chance for superheroes to show what they're made of. 

Positive Role Models

Features interviews with writers, directors, and voiceover actors as they discuss the importance and development of the super-villains of the DC Comics universe. 


Cartoon violence in the animated and cinematic depictions of the superheroes and villains. Heroes and villains fight in a variety of methods. 


Some of the superheroines are scantily clad in comic drawings or animations, wearing revealing superheroine costumes. 


"Badass," "hell." 


Documentary about characters from the DC Comics universe, who are also marketed and sold in a wide variety of merchandise. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Talk of "bad guys" going out to get a beer after a mission. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics is a 2013 documentary that looks at the evolution and importance of the infamous characters of the DC Comics gallery of rogues. While the discussions of the necessity of the villain character in story, and especially in comic book stories, may be dry for some, the insights shared by the writers, directors, and voiceover artists should be illuminating and inspiring for the aspiring writers of the family. These perceptive comments from those taking part in this documentary explain how villains drive stories, how they bring out the best in superheroes, and how they reflect contemporary understanding of evil in the world. Expect cartoon violence in the animated footage. Infrequent mild profanity ("badass," "hell"). Some of the superheroines are scantily clad in comic drawings or animations, wearing revealing superheroine costumes. Talk of "bad guys" going out to get a beer after a mission. 

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What's the story?

NECESSARY EVIL: SUPER-VILLIANS OF DC COMICS takes a closer look at the evildoers in the DC Comics Universe. In this documentary narrated by Christopher Lee, directors, writers, voiceover actors, and DC Comics executives share their insights as to what makes a good villain, and why villains are necessary not only to the story, but also to bring out the best in the superheroes with whom they do battle. The documentary also looks at how villains in comic books have evolved over the years, and how the evil they unleash on the comic book universe mirrors the contemporary concerns and fears of our world. Philosophical discussion is mixed with discussions on the craft of character development, of creating story arcs and backstories for these loved and hated super-villains, and how such development fleshes out the characters, making them even more compelling, unforgettable, and iconic. 

Is it any good?

 Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics offers a fascinating glimpse into the process and craft of story and character development. While focused on the infamous villains of the DC Comics universe, one doesn't have to be a comic book obsessive to take away valuable insights into why stories need villains, and how character backstories help to bring these characters to life. Appropriately narrated by Christopher Lee, the documentary features interviews with Guillermo Del Toro, Michael Shannon, and numerous writers, directors, and DC Comics executives who share their insightful reflections on what makes characters like The Joker, The Penguin, and Harley Quinn so iconic and unforgettable. 

Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics weaves philosophical discussion on evil and how society's conceptions of evil evolve over time with the craft of creating memorable characters and story. Such discussion may be dry for some, and superfans of DC Comics aren't likely to learn anything new, but for those interested in how these characters are brought to life, and how their actions serve to highlight the good in their superhero rivals, there are fascinating takeaways in every interview. It's an illuminating discussion that leaves the viewer with a deeper appreciation for the amount of thought and effort it takes to create these characters who attract and repel us. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about villains, not just in comic book stories, but also in books, movies, and television shows. Why are villains necessary in stories?

  • What would be some takeaways from this documentary for aspiring writers? 

  • Many of those being interviewed discuss the backstories of the heroes and villains. Why are backstories necessary, not just for characters in comic book universes, but also for characters in other genres? Are backstories always necessary? Why or why not? 

Movie details

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For kids who love superheroes

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