Who is Handsome Jack? Well, he’s a lot of things. President of the weapon-making, machine-building, robot-producing corporate giant Hyperion, father, code-junky, genius, selfish, psychotic, blood-thirsty, sociopathic, and above all, sarcastic.
This antagonist to the popular first-person shooter roleplaying game Borderlands 2 is one of the most dangerous, unstable, and well-done villains that I have seen in a long time. Right at the start of the game, in an opening cut scene, he leads your characters and their friends onto a train with the idea of hiring you to hunt down something called “The Vault,” a strange alien object with unknown power. Instead, as soon as the train starts moving, he sends his soldiers and robots in to kill all of you. And when that doesn’t work, he blows up the train and causes it to crash.
You haven’t even started playing the game yet and the guy has almost killed you, twice. Throughout the entire game, not only does he consistently try to kill you through various means of his soldiers, traps, and backstabbing trickery, but he taunts you throughout, and when I say taunt I mean–you know what? Just read some of his lines.
Hey, kiddo. Jack here–president of Hyperion. Lemme explain how things work here: Vault Hunter shows up. Vault Hunter looks for the new vault. Vault Hunter gets killed. By me. Seeing the problem here? You’re still alive. So, if you could just do me a favor and off yourself, that’d be great. Thanks, pumpkin.
Who says that?
Were you vault-hunters dropped on your heads as embryos?
Oh get over it, I shot one baby! And in fairness, he was being a dick.
And one of my personal favorites:
(munching on pretzels) So, how’s your day been, buddy? We haven’t really talked much since I left you for dead. Hey, you think you’ll freeze to death out there? Nah, probably not. The bandits’ll get you first. My day? It’s been pretty good. I just bought a pony, made of diamonds, because I’m rich. So, you know. That’s cool. Kay, bye.
Wait, it gets better.
I’m rackin’ my brain trying to think of a name for that diamond pony I bought. I was gonna call it ‘piss-for-brains’ in honor of you, but that just feels immature. Maybe. . .’Butt Stallion’? Nah, that’s even worse. I’ll give it some more thought. . . .I should probably clarify–the diamond horse I’ve been telling you about? It’s not a sculpture, or anything. It’s a living horse that actually happens to be made of–actually, I’ll just go get her. Butt Stallion! Say hello. [A horse whinnies.] Butt Stallion says hello.
Stuff like this goes on and on throughout the game. Some of you are probably thinking, “Why is any of this good? He sounds terrible.” Well, that’s the point. As he talks to you throughout the game and kills friends you make, you develop a hatred for him. You want to kill him, to beat him, that’s the sign of a good villain.
But at the same time, you can’t help but wonder about his backstory, which you can discover if you continue to the third game. It’s actually kind of tragic. Nevertheless though, it turned him into a great villain. And a satisfying one to end at that.
When you finally confront him and win, he goes on this crazy rant.
No, no, no. . . I can’t die like this. . . Not when I’m so close. . . And not at the hands of a filthy bandit! I could have saved this planet! I could have actually restored order! And I wasn’t supposed to die by the hands. . . of a CHILD KILLING PSYCHOPATH!! You’re a savage! You’re a maniac, you are a bandit, AND I AM THE GODDAMN HERO!!
You know, in the end, you almost feel bad for him. Almost.