How to Keep Super Villains in Prison

A guide to reforming the fictional jails and actually keeping the baddies behind bars.

DC Comics

After successful escape number 97 by insert-villain-name-here, it seems that the prisons of these comic book cities need to update their security systems a bit. I somewhat understand now that disappointed head shake the heroes give to the villains when they remark on how their arch nemesis will never learn. The prisons and asylums don’t learn from their mistakes, either.

And they never will because comic books wouldn’t be any fun without the hero fighting the villain, but if these were real prisons, this is a step-by-step on what they should be considering when accepting the various mutants, aliens, psychopaths, and crime lords into their buildings.

Step One: Know The Villain

Wardens, doctors, officers, and security personnel should be quite familiar with their resident supervillains. Their superpowers and the resulting collateral damage most likely left a few bumps and bruises or smashed cars in their wake, so you’d think the necessary individuals would at least know which villains would be coming in, even before they arrive in handcuffs at the barbed-wire gates. They should understand the situations of those entering the facility.

For example, learning of the Joker’s capture should immediately merit concern for the location of Harley Quinn, because while the arrest of the checkered jester and lover of Batman’s archenemy may not garner much sympathy from the psychopathic clown, the opposite cannot be said for his sidekick. Miss Harleen Quinzel can and will set her puddin’ free and considering she is a former intern of Arkham Asylum, it would be smart to keep her status as a former psychologist in mind when preventing future escape plans. She is familiar with the premises and will use that to her advantage.

Step Two: Understand Their Abilities

Not only do these prisons need to know who they are receiving, they should also do a wee bit of research as to what powers, abilities, or assets these villains have. Loki has the power of illusion, Lex Luthor has a crap-ton of cash, and Mirror Master transports through reflections. Cool. Got it.


Now take Magneto. He’s been a villain for a while, so he’s had time for his powers to develop. Not only can he move around metal stuff, he can turn invisible and create wormholes, among many other abilities. So it would be wise to be wary of him. Needless human contact with the man probably isn’t the best idea, especially considering that he can manipulate metallic substances from anywhere, even iron from human blood.

Employees of the penitentiaries would do well to know all of their abilities so that they can move on to the next step.

Step Three: Plan Accordingly

Alright, now that the employees did the research on who’s stopping by indefinitely, they should now be thinking of a solution to make sure they stay. They should be asking themselves what would be the best way to contain these fiends.

No people should ever come in contact with Purple Man lest they start banging their head into a lamp – or whatever creatively torturous command he may invoke. Check. Give Cheetah a lot of painkillers so that she’ll stay in her human form. Check.

But what about characters that don’t have superhuman abilities? How do they keep springing out of jail? Well, imagine Lex Luthor is sitting in a cell and the guard assigned to give him his meals waltzes on over, plops the tray down, and after a few days or weeks of this routine the two finally start to chat. Now, in the comic, the guard will be a man down-on-his-luck and having financial troubles. Enter limitless cash of Lex Luthor. But here, instead, there will be a person of strong moral compass with a nice, hefty life savings bundled up for their retirement. Sorry, Lexie, that substantial check will not work on this guard.

They just have to consider who they’re dealing with and how to deal back and all will be good in the neighborhood — and I mean that quite literally because there won’t be supervillains terrorizing the citizens.

Step Four: Hope They Don’t Escape Again

With all of the plastic cells, bulletproof glass, automated meal times, and soundproof walls (or whatever measures the prisons may take,) the rate of escape will hopefully decrease significantly and the heroes will finally be able to take a breather. At the very least, there won’t be an escape every other week. Maybe there’ll be one once a month, but that is much better than before. Improvement is a step-by-step process.

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