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(Again, I’m pretty sure this one has already been done. If so, please tell me so I can deny it.)

What was a villain’s favorite childhood game? Here’s a hint…they keep playing it as an adult.

“Villain Dress Up” refers to the tendency of villains in media to dress kidnapped protagonists/civilians in different attire, usually when the kidnapping involves brainwashing and/or involving ironic and potentially humiliating clothing. Occasionally it is an act of being Affably Evil, but often times it’s the villain either being perverted or seeking to humiliate the kidnapped individual. Occasionally it’s to help “rub in” brainwashing when the individual is turned on the other protagonists.

In almost every case, it’s pointless. It serves no useful advantage to the villain in most cases and doesn’t offer a detriment to the protagonists. It might be a sign of Joining the Team for brainwashed heroes, but often it has no other purpose other than to show off that the villain is deranged or creepy. This is especially the implication in ones with male villains who dress-up female protagonists, as this usually happens while the protagonist was unconscious…implying the villain stripped them nude to do it.

Examples:

  • Both of the original animated series for “Batman” and “Superman” were involved in this. One of the Mad Hatter’s signature schticks was to dress up people he brainwashed to look more “thematic” and “campy”, just like him. In one of the early Superman episodes, the Toyman kidnapped Lois Lane and dressed her up as a doll.
  • James Bond villains are rather notorious for this, especially in the Connery and Moore eras. In addition to capturing Bond rather than outright killing him, they’d often treat him by giving him a nice outfit.
  • The second story arc in “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon” featured Prince Diamond dressing up Usagi on capturing her even though he literally only planned to kill her or watch her die shortly thereafter.
  • One of the quirks of the Thriller Bark arc in “One Piece” is Nami finding herself in a wedding dress as a result of a villain trying to marry her while she’s unconscious.
  • In the infamous “Dark Phoenix Saga” of X-Men, the brainwashed Phoenix was clad in the now-infamous, dominatrix-like “Black Queen” getup.
  • Also in X-Men, Arcade dressed all of the “second generation” X-Men up in their uniforms before officially beginning his “game” after abducting them for Murderworld.
  • In “Monsters vs. Aliens”, Susan finds that her clothes have been changed on waking up after being abducted by Gallaxhar. This actually ends up being beneficial for a change as they end up being clothes that can shrink and grow with her.
  • In “Lunar: Silver Star Story”, Luna gets dressed in a skimpy, revealing outfit when brainwashed by Ghaleon to be a puppet goddess. The fact that this is nothing like what Althena ever originally wore implies Ghaleon himself is rather perverted.
  • One of the most infamous dress-ups ever happened in “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” when the captured Princess Leia was forced to dress in what amounted to a metal bikini.
  • In the Star Trek original series episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”, the captured Enterprise crew members are further humiliated not only by being manipulated as puppets on strings, but made to dress up for their captor’s amusement.
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