Villains tend to oscillate between gross and super alluring, with hardly an in-between. And all the sexy bad guys out there—yes, Gaston, that’s you—happen to have one thing in common: Jaws! Not the shark (or the Bond villain), but jawlines. As Gianluca Russo pointed out for GQ, there’s an abundance of good-looking villains who make menacing behavior look so attractive, and that’s due in no small part to their insanely chiseled features.
You can’t blame Buffy for falling for Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer because—whew—just look at him. Or how about, as Russo points out, Loki in Thor? Well, it’s not just looks; there’s science behind your draw to these villains. Who knew?
As GQ notes, these rugged looks and diamond-cut jaws are all biological signifiers of dominance and masculinity. “The strong jawline is associated with alpha males,” said Frankie Bailey of University at Albany’s School of Criminal Justice. “[These are] men who are going to be the leaders, who are going to take charge, who are going to go out and face danger.” The research in the article also delves into the practice Chinese face reading, analyzing James Marsden’s and Penn Badgley’s mugs. “When people have a really strong jawline, if you look at their temples, the hairline often juts in at the temples,” says an expert in the field. “That’s an extra sign of a bad boy: A sign of a rebel.”
Dr. Helen Fisher, who is a Biological Anthropologist and Chief Scientific Advisor for Match.com, also noted that these faces exude a sense of virility in the minds of those who perceive them. “As a result, those with these angular features can signal confidence and manliness (in good characters) and aggression and predatory behavior (in bad characters)—depending on the context.” As Russo notes, “the appeal of being sliced by their jaw is often too tempting to dismiss.”
Of course, if you were to encounter these ruffians in real life, a quick chat would probably alert you to the fact that you should probably run for the hills. Sorry, Thanos.