Let’s talk about ENFP Villains! – Guest Post by David Presnell
ENFP Villains, like many ‘Idealist’ villains, are difficult to type. It’s hard to look at intuitive feelers and find the capacity for wrongdoing that you would expect in our larger than life fantasy villains. What makes it even more of a challenge is that just as thinking villains have complex emotions that make them unique, so, also, do NF villains have complex thoughts or plans.
Because NF types have thinking and sensing as tertiary or inferior functions, the planning or reasoning of an NF villain might seem childish or poorly conceived. Usually, when we see these villains their plans will lack logical structure, be full of holes, or needlessly complicated. When typing villains, we shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking anyone acting on their emotions is a feeler, or anyone focusing on their plan is a thinker.
The ENFP is a ‘Revolutionary’. Their focus is usually on the destruction of someone or some societal construct that they believe has come in direct opposition to (or is directly morally opposed to) their firm set of values.
With all that in mind, I present my pick for a standard, and recent, example of an ENFP Villain!
Lex Luthor Jr. – Batman V. Superman
(As Portrayed by Jessie Eisenberg)
ENFPs are creative and energetic people who see opportunities and possibilities everywhere in the world around them. They have advanced use of Extraverted Intuition (Ne) and Introverted Feeling (Fi). Extraverted Intuition focuses on experiencing the outer world and seeing how things could be connected while Fi focuses on someone’s own individual feelings and beliefs.
Finding an ENFP villain can be a daunting task, because they don’t fit the typical villainous ‘stereotype’, but Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor is a perfect example.
How Lex Luthor portrays Dominant Intuition and Auxiliary Feeling:
There’s a particularly profound scene in Batman V. Superman, where Lex Luthor Jr. is speaking to the Senator about a painting of angels and devils. He uses the painting to illustrate his point about Superman indirectly.
“That should be upside down. We know better now, don’t we? Devils don’t come from hell beneath us. No, they come from the sky.”
In all of Luthor’s speeches, there is heavy use of metaphor over direct explanation to express how he feels about a situation or person. Intuitives prefer to use metaphors over literal interpretations when they make a point.
Superman himself is subject to the same aggrandized explanation when Luthor Jr. reveals he has taken Clark’s mother hostage to set up the greatest “Gladiatorial event in history.”
“And now you will fly to him, and you will battle him to the death. Black and blue. Fight night. The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world: God versus man; day versus night; Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!”
Luthor shows his auxiliary Introverted Feeling (Fi) in the way his entire attack about Superman is deeply personal. Those who are looking to get in the way are quickly subject to the same metaphorical explanations as the senator is in the painting scene.
How Lex Luthor Displays the ENFPs Tertiary and Inferior Functions:
Extroverted Thinking (Te) is the ENFPs tertiary function and Introverted Sensing (Si) is the ENFPs inferior function. These are going to be less advanced than the dominant and auxiliary ENFP functions, yet still accessible.
Extraverted thinking focuses on the accumulation of facts and organization of the world around us, while Introverted Sensing recalls facts and details from our life. In the case of the ENFP, these functions are strongly connected to the emotional events in their life.
Because these functions are accessed after Intuition and Feeling, they are both subject to the bitterness present in an ENFP who considers themselves to have the moral high ground in their villainous pursuit.
This is where I think most people have trouble in the typing of ENFP villains. These villains will create logical and thoughtful scenarios, but they will be aimed directly at the heart of a specific enemy. For example, in one scene, Luthor recognizes and utilizes a disabled man to sneak a bomb into Superman’s senate hearing. This is not only well thought out, but designed to leave his enemy in a state of deep emotional pain. Unfortunately for Luthor, his plan also leaves a trail back to him.
There are two good instances in Batman V. Superman that perfectly illustrate tertiary Te and inferior Si in an ENFP villain. Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Inferior Si is strongly exhibited in a scene depicting a senate hearing. This infamous scene showcases Luthor’s ability to use the senator’s own words against her. This is a textbook ‘mic-drop’ moment for an ENFP. While it may seem childish and immature, it is 100% the way an ENFP villain would act!
Secondly, Luthor’s plan to use Clark’s mother as a pawn to convince Clark to fight Batman is deeply emotionally effective, but it doesn’t consider the very important fact that Superman and Batman might simply team up against him. Luthor Jr. relies on his understanding of the hero’s emotions to ‘bank-on’ the idea that they won’t turn to working together. In the end, tertiary Te failed him when the heroes did just that.
Regardless of the failure of his plan, in the end, Luthor did achieve the desired emotional response from Superman. When asked why he was doing any of this, he gave my last example of a wonderful combination of Ne-Fi-Te-Si:
“See, what we call God depends upon our tribe, Clark Jo, ’cause God is tribal. God takes sides. No man in the sky intervened when I was a boy to deliver me from Daddy’s fist and abominations. I figured out way back if God is all-powerful, He cannot be all good. And if He is all good, then He cannot be all-powerful. And neither can you be.”
About the Author: David Presnell is a former military officer, massage therapist, stay at home father, and psychologist with a passionate personality, and a passion for all things ‘personality’. In his spare time he enjoys competitive gaming, playing competitive sports, and trying to unravel the mysteries of his INTJ girlfriend. He loves meeting new people and discussing the role personality plays in our experiences of everyday life.
Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type or The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!