I was watching a sci-fi, superhero movie the other day and it occurred to me how evil scientists are always trying to take over the world or something similar, at least in the movies. It is perhaps because of this or, still, the most recognizable scientist that ever existed, Albert Einstein, that when children are asked to draw scientists, they draw them with spiky hair, lab coat and an evil GRIN, although Einstein is rarely pictured with a lab coat and NEVER with an evil grin.
The point is that some children, and, unfortunately, quite a few adults, always imagine scientists as evil. And, because scientists do science, somehow science is evil too. Well, it is NOT. The reason that scientists are depicted as evil GENIUSES in movies is because they have to stand in contrast to the hero or heroine of the movies. The hero/heroine is usually the underdog who has to overcome great odds (in this case the evil scientist and his evil, scientific gadgets) to save the day. If the hero/heroine was as, or more, powerful than the evil scientist, he/she defeat the villain quite easily and then there would not be much a movie to show.
While the villains are clearly marked as evil scientists in movies, the heroes of many of those movies also tend to be scientists, although that fact is often overlooked. Below are listing of some movie scientist heroes.
- Indiana Jones – Archaeologist, a person who studies history and historic creatures, including humans, through analysis of their artifacts, inscriptions, monuments, and other remains that may have been excavated (dug up).
- Mr. Fantastic (leader of the Fantastic Four) – Physicist.
- Robert Neville (played by Will Smith in the movie, I Am Legend) – Virologist, someone who studies viruses and the diseases caused by them.
I have not listed more only because these are, after all, fictional characters.
There are a lot of REAL hard-working scientists, who, every day, work to find a CURE for cancer and other diseases, make alternative energy solutions more AFFORDABLE and easier to implement, help us understand the universe in which we live, and push the limits of technology to make BETTER computers, which can aid in all these areas. These scientists DESERVE better than to be looked upon as mad, evil geniuses.
Online resources about scientists in popular media.
- Why We Need Scientist Heroes Again.
- TV, films boldly go down scientific path. Via Scientists in the movies.
- Scientists Seek a New Movie Role: Hero, Not Villain.
- 20 Things You Didn’t Know About… Movie Scientists.