What is it about lava?

I’m a pretty curious guy. At any given moment, there are bound to be a dozen questions floating through my mind. “If gravitational force is propagated by gravitons, how is it able to act instantaneously?” “Who invented baldness, and where is he so I can kick his ass?” “Why is the guy at the next urinal staring at me?” The burning question that will make up the subject of this confused rant is the following, “Why does the bad guy in fantasy movies always live in a dark, smoky castle surrounded by molten rock? What is it about lava?”

You know what I’m talking about.  Think of every movie you’ve ever seen.  The bad guy always lives in a dark tower on top of a small mountain, with a moat of lava and a long, stone bridge over which legions of soldiers in black armor issue forth.  I’ve seen it so many times, they all blur together.  I’m pretty sure It’s a Wonderful Life had a scene like that.  Didn’t Mr. Potter send his faceless minions to destroy the Bailey Building & Loan?

The question then becomes: Why?  Think about it.  If you were undisputed master of a vast, hellish realm, would you live in a dank, drafty castle?  So depressing!  Not to mention how hot it would get in the summer, with all that lava around.  You’d have to keep the air conditioner on all the time, which would suck up lots of money that would be better spent on minions.  Seriously, I can see the draw in sitting on a dark throne in an obsidian chamber, ordering your dark troops to the ends of the Earth, but wouldn’t that get dull?  Wouldn’t a little green be nice?  There’s never a single tree in sight in the dark lord’s fortress, whoever that dark lord may be.

And what’s with the lava?  Sure, it strikes fear in the heart of the Dark One’s enemies, but what are the chances of the Dark One’s enemies ever seeing it?  The people who encounter the lava on a daily basis are his own soldiers, and, stifling as they already are in their black armor, the molten rock oozing beneath them at 2,000 degrees isn’t going to do much for morale.  Couldn’t the same effect be achieved with water?  Falling in water wouldn’t suck as much as falling in lava, but in a deep enough moat the distinction is academic.  No one’s getting back out either way.  He could make it dark water if he didn’t think it was scary enough.

To conclude, I’m certain that if I were a Dark Lord, or a Jade Tyrant, or Bowser, I would have a much nicer castle.  Windows, some paintings, a library, well-stocked bar, maybe a pool table, the works.  Shit’d be pimp.  That’s all I’m sayin’.


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