Dr. Mike Robinson ~ UL Communication Studies Professor
Getting started on any career path is challenging, but first steps in the super-crime business are particularly problematic. Unless you are one of the fortunate few who survive accidents with weird radiation, who discover ancient artifacts that unlock secret mystic powers, or who stumble upon alien space weapons, then chances are you will not be starting right at the top. That means you’ll be a henchman, and “henching” is hard.
Now, the nice thing about starting off as a henchman is that there is a lot of demand for henchmen. Every supervillain, from wannabe world conquerors to simple bank robbers, needs some henchmen. They are the glue that holds every criminal endeavor together. Unlike a lot of fields, there are a number of entry level positions with a variety of employers.
Of course, there is a reason for this. Ultimately, it is the henchman’s job to stand between an employer and a superhero. On the way to taking out your boss, Batman or Captain America is going to have to punch you first. There is no escaping this simple fact. You may think that you will avoid the front lines by going into technical support, but even the henchmen in the control room waiting to fire the death ray at some random target stands a good chance of being knocked around. In fact, sneaky superheroes like Spider-Man really seem to enjoy dropping into those supposedly protected places.
Many henchmen approach this possibility with a certain degree of optimism. After all, maybe you will be the one person who finally takes one of those smug do-gooders down. That scenario is unlikely, as anyone who has seen Daredevil go through a hallway of bad guys knows. But at least you’ll get a few punches in before you go down. Most superheroes try not to kill henchmen either, so you will have some assurance that any scrap you get into will not be fatal. A good boss should provide health care incentives from the beginning.
Of course, you could run into someone like the Punisher. If so, then all bets are off. If you contract with someone who spars regularly with people like that, look for an employer provided life insurance plan before signing any contract.
What the newbie henchman really needs to consider, though, is the boss’ attitude towards this fundamental job element. Let’s be direct for a moment. Many supervillains are, at best, narcissists who really cannot see past their own involvement with the superhero. Your boss may be risking your physical well-being just to prove a point to some hero. At the very worst, some supervillains are complete megalomaniacs who expect henchmen to echo their zealotry. Essentially, they expect you to sacrifice yourself for the cause, so you might have to willingly throw yourself onto Wolverine’s claws.
For this reason, before you start any kind of henchman activities, you have to ask yourself how much you really believe in this. For example, what would shouting “Hail Hydra” really mean to you? The Hydra part is pretty cool. There is a lot of gadgetry to play with, a number of fun co-workers to be around, and the occasional work party or fun run. But unless the “hail” part of that slogan really sets your soul on fire, you will not be happy wearing the green uniform.