Stranger Things 4: Why Vecna is a Stupid Villain
In Stranger Things 4, we meet Vecna, the main antagonist who also happens to be the stupidest villain in all 4 seasons of Stranger Things. We also meet earlier versions of himself — Henry Creel and 001.
Stranger Things before Vecna: Henry Creel
When he was 12, Henry Creel moved with his family to the Creel House in Hawkins in 1959. The boy killed his family because he didn’t like how fake they were. So basically, no reason.
Couldn’t the Duffer Brothers have come up with some more interesting motivation? Sure they could. They do it all the time.
Other Stranger Things Characters are THE BEST!
Stranger Things’ Vecna may be underdeveloped, but all the other characters in Hawkins have complexity. Even Jason Carver, that idiot jock who lost his girlfriend Chrissy in episode 1, was full of contradictions and doubt. He was never this full-on angry sociopath for no reason. So it was easier to get mad at him when he tried whipping the townspeople into a frenzy, tried to kill Eddie Munson, and started acting like a psycho.
But these “I just want to see the world burn” types always come off as shallow. Sure, nihilism works for Heath Ledger’s Joker. And it works for Thanos of MCU too, there’s no doubt about that!
But does it work for Henry Creel? I think not. The little twerp murdered his family for basically no reason. And when he turns into a baddie, I don’t feel any empathy for him at all.
And that’s the difference. You can feel for antagonists like Thanos and The Joker. This makes the story feel more well-rounded. I’m not saying I need to like the bad guy in a movie. But in real life, everyone sees themselves as the good guy, the main character of his or her own journey.
I don’t get that sense from Vecna or Henry Creel. Maybe I get it a little bit from 001, but as you’re about to find out, I have other problems with how the Duffer Brothers wrote him.
Vecna as 001
001 is a more believable villain. Dr. Brenner tortures, manipulates, collars, shocks, tattoos, and abuses 001 before finally implanting a device into his neck, called “Soteria,” to suppress his supernatural abilities and track his every movement.
What I don’t get about the Soteria device is, why didn’t 001 just rip his neck open and pull it out? I can’t imagine someone as violent as 001 being squeamish about shallow surgery. Especially because I know how much damage 001 can do the second he extracts it.
Check out this article for more on the Soteria.
At any rate, after Eleven removes 001’s Soteria, we get the whole “tortured monster” narrative, a classic trope in the world of horror. Pretty cool, I guess: he becomes isolated and mutilated, turning him into a monster from the outside in.
Even with Star Wars, you learn to pity Anakin Skywalker for all his tragic flaws before you see him mutilated and isolated on the Death Star.
There are dozens of examples out there about how to do the classic “tortured monster” trope well. But I digress.
Vecna: The Final Form
Okay. Actually, Vecna in his final form is fucking terrifying.
Using his disgusting neck tentacles, he chokes out and kills people, sucks out their memories, creating interdimensional gateways at the murder scenes.
And Vecna’s method of execution is just grim!
He lifts the victim up in the air, breaks every joint one by one, front he arms to the fingers to the jaw, and pops their eyes out like a pair of grapes. Then he drops the victim on the floor and leaves it there like a candy wrapper.
As an angry interdimensional creature of horror and suffering, Vecna takes the cake. The cake is a bad guy cake. It tastes bad.
Stranger Things’ Vecna: Badass Villain or Flat Caricature?
It’s true, Vecna is a total badass. And 001 has a decent backstory too, even though I still don’t get the whole Soteria thing.
But ultimately, Vecna’s origin story falls flat. Little Henry Creel is just a strange kid with thin, slicked hair and a pair of floppy-looking elf ears. I don’t feel bad for him. No sympathy, empathy, nothing. I don’t care about him at all. Despite the fact that we got all this backstory, I feel like I don’t know Vecna very well at all. And considering he’s the main bad guy of the series, that fact is something of a disappointment.