You are a ruthless heartbreaking bastard who does not care what happens to those who get between you and your goals. How, exactly, does one convey this in a visual image suitable for broadcast to your future victims so that they can begin to quake in whatever footwear they happen to be wearing? The overwhelmingly popular answer involves a showy conflagration in the background away from which you stride confidently and dispassionately. The knack of pulling this effect off, however, is one which requires a little bit of advance preparation to get the full effect without exposing yourself to undue amounts of danger.
- Deny the obvious. It is clear to any thinking being that an explosion is a Very Bad Thing to be around. Even below the conscious level your flight response may kick in, ruining the impression of a person wholly without psychological fear that you intend. It is a real instinct which cannot be denied but which may be mastered if you have the will and the motivation using well-known phobia treatments:
- Imagery. Try to hold an image of the explosion in your mind as long as you can. This, naturally, will upset you, but if you do it at a regular time every day in a relaxing setting, it will gradually upset you less and less. Remember to include all the disturbing warning signs that an explosive situation may be present such as skull-and-crossbones signs, DEFCON announcements, suspicious wires, corpses, and sirens.
- Desensitization. Try listening to music that soothes you or eating food you enjoy while you are exposed to explosions to help you feel better in their presence. Take deep breaths, practicing in a comfortable place, followed by temporarily getting away from blasts in order to regain your equilibrium and a sense of relaxation, then it is back to more desensitization treatments.
- Hypnosis. Hypnotherapy is a proven technique that uses relaxation and suggestion to bypass critical and rational thinking of the mind to access the more primitive instinctual levels. Allow enough time to go through the recommended course of sessions to overcome your fear before you need to apply this knowledge.
- Pyrotechnics. If a convenient explosion is not available (either as part of a separate scheme of yours or in the heat of full-fledged battle) you can simply set up your own. A basic degree of comfort around fire and loud noises, some heavy lifting, some long hours into the night and early morning, a good grasp of chemistry, math, physics, and other science concepts, and a moderate quantity of flash powder are all you need to set up a serviceable display of smoke and fire on demand.
- Strutting. Just as a supermodel needs to learn how to walk, so does a cold stone supervillain.
- Stand tall and confident. Pull your shoulders back and make sure your chest is up, but not too high. Not too low, either.
- Roll your pelvis forward, not too unnaturally, but assertively. It should feel a little like you're leaning backward against a stiff breeze.
- Take a long smooth step forward by lifting your heel from the floor first, then the ball of your foot. Bend your knee, keep your foot flexed forward, and plant it firmly in front of you. Try to get the sense that your legs are part of a wheel that just rolls along effortlessly.
- Swing your arms naturally, leading with the one opposite the leg you are thrusting forward.
- Take another step in the same manner, setting your foot down without wiggling your hips or letting your head and shoulders from bobbing up and down too much. You may sway a bit sideways to emphasize the power and heft behind your lope, but try not to lumber like a savage.
- Continue in this fashion, making sure that each step is as long and powerful as you can make it without losing your balance.
- Slow it down. Nothing kills the mood of a pensive walk away from an impressive explosion more surely than a big stepping, arm-swinging power walk. Try to counteract the impulse to walk very quickly by concentrating on the gravitas of the situation, and try projecting an inner insouciance of your character by taking it all at a deliberate pace. If possible, make use of slow motion and grave music.
Strokes of genius
- Practice walking. Set a few full body mirrors, preferably in a private space within your lair so you can get a good look at your appearance from the front and the side. Make sure your back is straight and your legs should be close to each other but not touching. Now when you walk, keep the same posture, but tense up a little to project energy. You may experiment with such things as smirking a little while you walk, turning your toes inward or outward, and moving your arms in such a way that they are neither stiff nor spaghetti arms. Keep returning to your practice sessions until the desired appearance becomes second nature to you when it is time to do it for real.
- Editing. If you are recording your explosion walk rather than performing it live, you can enhance the effect in a couple of ways.
- By using a long lens you can make use of forced perspective which makes two objects (you and the blast) appear closer together than they really are. What's not to like about that?
- Use a Steadicam operated by a trained operator to provide a smooth picture even while moving around uneven, undulating, or obstacle-filled terrain and to allow you to get superior close-up action shots.
- Using a microphone in the studio, blow very close to the mic's head while you record. To make a thunder effect, quickly boost the bass to produce a rumble. To simulate wind and blast, quickly turn up the treble and blow harder into the microphone.
- Record the action scene from many different angles and vantage points, possibly with multiple takes, splicing them seamlessly or with punchy fast cuts afterwards, along with special effects, titles, music, sound effects, and transitions. This will help with the fluidity and emotional impact of the production.
- If you are walking from a very large explosion, such as a MOAB or thermonuclear device, the so-called chroma key technique is your best ally. Simply shoot your walking scenes in front of a green screen using a digital camera, which will then be subtracted out and replaced with footage of the explosion and touched up as needed.
Traps for mere fools
- Being a wuss. Do not in any circumstances do any of the following actions that a sensible person might perform:
- Wave or smile at people, or in any way appear approachable.
- Turning to look at the fireball is considered to be the height of uncool.
- Backtrack your way out of the area, either because you see warning signs that something catastrophic is just about to occur, you see a mine or potential bomb, or because a detonation occurs.
- Freeze, look down at your feet, fall backward, or drop to the ground cowering.
- Take cover under a table or desk near you or crouch in an inside corner of a building. Cover your head with your hands.
- Try to outrun the explosion. Remind yourself that projectiles will fly out from the blast at hundreds of meters per second, and the casualty radius--the distance from the mine in which you can expect to be injured--is probably much wider than the ground you can cover in that time anyway.
- Pleading for help like a big helpless baby.
- Nobody looking. The number one danger when walking away from an explosion is the risk that no person and no camera is watching. This is especially likely when you are just starting out as a villain and have not already established your star charisma qualities in other ways. Your best bet is to broadcast your image to those you wish to impress, and to have a friend record the event for replay later, assuming you survive the explosion.
- Dirty bombs. A designed to scatter dangerous amounts of radioactive or otherwise hazardous material over a general area is good evilcraft, but poor when it comes to propaganda, since the hazard of such a device is largely invisible anyway. Similarly with underwater charges and neutron bombs.
- Stiletto heels. Flip-flops aren't that much better either.
Precious and needful
- Telephoto lens.
- Dusty, rugged clothing.
- Fire extinguisher. And first aid kit in the wings.
- How to avoid a gruesome demise
- How to lie to someone's face
- How to walk away from defeat
- How to prank your adversaries
- How to betray your master
- How to buy a used death ray
- How to cast giant holograms of yourself
- How to rock an evil wardrobe
- How to sport fangs
- How to worship an evil god
- How to earn money part-time
- How to issue an ultimatum
- How to look frighteningly deranged
- Image credit Oil Derrick Explosion by veo_
- Image credit Ships on fire by Enigma Photos
- Image credit Birth of a FireFae by nebarnix