Posts by valeriefrankel

Valerie Estelle Frankel has won a Dream Realm Award, an Indie Excellence Award, and a USA Book News National Best Book Award for her Henry Potty parodies. She's the author of over 80 books on pop culture, including Hunting for Meaning in The Mandalorian; The Villain’s Journey; Star Wars Meets the Eras of Feminism; History, Homages and the Highlands: An Outlander Guide; and Who Tells Your Story? History, Pop Culture, and Hidden Meanings in the Musical Phenomenon Hamilton. Many of her books focus on women's roles in fiction, from her heroine's journey guides From Girl to Goddess and Buffy and the Heroine's Journey to books like Superheroines and the Epic Journey and The Many Faces of Katniss Everdeen. Her Chelm for the Holidays (2019) was a PJ Library book, and now she’s the editor of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy, publishing an academic series for Lexington Press. Once a lecturer at San Jose State University, she now teaches at Mission College and San Jose City College and speaks often at conferences. Come explore her research at

The Villain’s Journey

Slideshare Presentation

Villain Fiction Recommended Reading List

Star Wars Villain Arcs

Barlow, Jeremy and Juan Frigeri. Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir. Disney Luscasfilm, 2017.

Bunn, Cullen and Luke Ross. Darth Maul. Disney Lucasfilm, 2017.

Cavan, Scott. Dooku Lost

Chen, Mike. “Disturbance.” The Empire Strikes Back: From a Certain Point of View. Del Rey, 2020, pp. 227-237.

Dawson, Delilah S. Phasma. Ballantine, 2017.

Gillen, Kieron and Salvador Larroca. Darth Vader comics series

Golden, Christie. Dark Disciple. Ballantine, 2015.

Karpyshyn, Drew. Darth Bane trilogy

Luceno, James. Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. Star Wars: The Dark Lord Trilogy. Del Rey, 2005, pp. 775-1094.

 – . Darth Plagueis. Ballantine Books, 2012.

Soule, Charles et al. The Rise of Kylo Ren (comic)

Thompson, et al. Captain Phasma. Marvel, 2017.

More Spinoff Villain Stories from Big Franchises

Aaron, Jason and Simone Bianchi. Thanos Rising. Marvel, 2013.

Collins, Suzanne. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Scholastic Press, 2020.

Cox, Greg. The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh. Pocket Books 2001. 2002.

Frankenstein. Directed by Danny Boyle. National Theatre at Home, 2011.

Gardner, John. Grendel. 1971. Vintage Books, 1989.

–. Moriarty.

Horowitz, Anthony. Moriarty. Perennial, 2014.

Jensen, Lisa. Alias Hook. St. Martins, 2013.

Kibblesmith, Daniel, et al. Loki: The God Who Fell to Earth. Marvel, 2019.

Maguire, Gregory. Wicked. 1995. HarperCollins, 2004.

Lee, Mackenzi. Loki: Where Mischief Lies. Marvel, 2019.

Lyga, Barry. Thanos: Titan Consumed. Hacette, 2018.

Meyer, Marissa. Fairest. Rampion Books, 2015.

Meyer, Stephenie. Midnight Sun. Hachette, 2020.

Robinson, Andrew. A Stitch in Time

Thomsen, Daniel T., et al. Once Upon A Time: Shadow of the Queen. Marvel, 2013

Toliver, Wendy. Once Upon a Time: Regina Rising.

Valentino, Serena. Disney Villains Series.

Wein, Len, et al. Before Watchmen: Ozymandias. DC Comics, 2013.

Whedon, Zack and Joss Whedon. Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories.


Bendis, Brian Michael (w) and Stuart Immonen (p). “Crossroads.” The Uncanny X-Men #274. Marvel, 1991.

Claremont, Chris and Brent Anderson. X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. 1983. Marvel, 2011.

DeMatteis, J.M. and Joe Staton. “Batman: Going Sane.” Legends of the Dark Knight. DC Comics, 2008.

Ewing, Al and Lee Garbett. Loki, Agent of Asgard: Vol. 3, Last Days. Marvel, 2015.

Claremont, Chris, et al. The Dark Phoenix Saga. Marvel, 2006.

Hill, Bryan and Juan Ferreyra. Killmonger: By Any Means Necessary. Marvel, 2019.

McGregor, Don and Rich Buckler. “Panther’s Rage” Jungle Action vol. 2, #6, Marvel, 1973.

Moore, Alan and Brian Bolland. Batman: The Killing Joke: The Deluxe Edition. 1988. DC Comics, 2008.

Moore, Alan and Dave Gibbons. Watchmen. DC Comics, 1987.

Morrison, Grant and Dave McKean. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. DC Comics, 1989.

Rodi, Robert, et al. Thor: Gods and Deviants. Marvel, 2017.

Slott, Dan et al. The Superior Spider-man: The Complete Collection. Vol. 1. Marvel, 2018.

Fantasy, especially YA fantasy

Bashardoust, Melissa. Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Black, Holly. How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories

Callender, Kacen. Queen of the Conquered.

Christo, Alexandra. To Kill a Kingdom.

Clare, Cassandra. City of Heavenly Fire. 

Crouch, Blake. Dark Matter. 

Dao, Julie C.  Forest of A Thousand Lanterns

Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. 

Douglass, Sara. Darkwitch Rising. 

–. Sinner.

Farmer, Nancy. “Castle Othello.” Troll’s Eye View, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.

Grossman, Austin. Soon I Will Be Invincible.

Headley, Maria Dahvana. The Mere Wife

Kraatz, Jeramey. The Cloak Society.

Kuang, R.F. The Burning God.

 – . The Dragon Republic. 

– . The Poppy War. 

Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. 

Martin, George R.R. A Dance with Dragons. Bantam Books, 2011.

Meyer, Joanna Ruth. Beyond the Shadowed Earth

Miller, Madeline. Circe. 

Novik, Naomi. A Deadly Education

Pratchett, Terry and Neil Gaiman. Good Omens. 

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Scholastic, 2005.

Schaeffer, Rebecca. Only Ashes Remain

Shaffer, Peter. Amadeus. 1981. HarperCollins, 2001.

Springer,Nancy. I Am Mordred.

Walschots, Natalie Zina. Hench.


The 10th Kingdom.

The Avengers.

Avengers: Infinity War.

Avengers: Endgame.

Black Panther.

Captain America: Civil War.

The Crimes of Grindelwald.

The Dark Knight.

Deadpool 2.

Despicable Me.

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol.

Dracula Untold.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War.


Jekyll & Hyde: Direct from Broadway.



Meet the Robinsons




Shrek 2.

Spider-Man 3.

Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Spider-Man: Far from Home.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Star Wars (entire franchise)

Suicide Squad.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.


Thor: The Dark World.

Thor: Ragnarok.

Wreck It Ralph.


X2: X-Men United.

X-Men: First Class.

X-Men: The Last Stand.

TV Shows

Battlestar Galactica.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Game of Thrones.

Marvel’s Daredevil.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones

Once upon a Time.



The Boys.

Xena: Warrior Princess

Series of Unfortunate Events

Now on sale!

The Marvelous Metafiction: Investigating the Literary in Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events

A Series of Unfortunate Events delighted readers young and old with far more than clever mysteries and harrowing hijinks. The books celebrate language itself, packed with wacky definitions and Sunny’s playful puns. Idioms rise to a new level as the books curve their plots to literalize barking up the wrong tree or being in the belly of the beast. The Netflix show adds even more fun, while All the Wrong Questions blends a celebration of children’s novels with noir parodies. All this helps juvenile readers expand their vocabularies while cultivating a love of clever wordplay. In this volume, it’s all explained: the parodies of classics, the double entendres, the subtle references many have missed. It’s a lighthearted romp through this deeply nuanced series, revealing how clever it truly is.

The Secrets Solved: Unraveling the Mysteries of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events 

The final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events premiered January 1, 2019 on Netflix. As many fans had hoped, it answered many questions, neatly tying up the mysteries never solved in the series. However, the rather pat history of the villains and their schism with the heroes doesn’t match the shadowy multigenerational feud of the books. Now, The Secrets Solved: Unraveling the Mysteries of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events examines the clues from novels, prequel series, interviews, and the best fan theories to unravel the major questions of the series. Do the Baudelaires really have a fortune? What crime did Lemony Snicket commit? Who is the mysterious taxi driver? What’s really in the sugar bowl? For the first time in print, all these will be clearly, logically answered.