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Villain in a White Suit

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With that suit, he's got nothing to hide about his crimes.
"Wolfe has said that the outfit disarms the people he observes, making him, in their eyes, 'a man from Mars, the man who didn't know anything and was eager to know.'"
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Villains who are in management positions, such as mob bosses and aristocrats, can often be found wearing formal clothing. Wearing bright white suits draws a stark contrast against their villainy, just as their display of culture and wealth contrasts against the teams of low-brow grunts who enforce their will.

Due to their role in the organization (near, if not at the top), these characters tend not to be very hands-on, planning things out and ordering mooks to carry out the plans. During a Mob-Boss Suit Fitting, both their organisational skills and taste in clothing can be emphasized. Don't be surprised if the fancy suit also symbolizes their ability to beat up their own thugs. Then again, it can also be used to foreshadow their inevitable (and bloody) downfall.

Not technically gendered, as a woman in a tailored white dress or pantsuit and similar position in a villainous organization, would still apply, but this list skews heavily towards male examples.

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Sub-Trope to Light Is Not Good (subverting the association of white/light with Good), Man of Wealth and Taste (classily-dressed villain) and Wicked Cultured (villains with an interest in consuming and sharing high-class culture). Super-Trope to Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit, where the villain has political control of a rural area, obesity/gluttony, and a white suit (that typically needs cleaning). Contrast with Evil Wears Black (villainy is associated with black clothing) and Fashion-Victim Villain (villains with flamboyantly bad/weird taste in clothing).

See also The Rich Have White Stuff, where characters are shown to be rich by having possessions (including homes and clothing) ostentatiously white.


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Examples

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    Comic Books 
  • Gideon Graves from Scott Pilgrim (both the movie and the comics) wears a pristine white suit. He's an evil music executive and final boss who was secretly behind much of the conflict, as he set up the League of Evil Exes.
  • Wilson Fisk (aka The Kingpin) from Spiderman and other Marvel Universe comics usually appears in a white blazer or business suit. It's used to reinforce his Villain with Good Publicity status in-universe.

    Film 
  • Lex Luthor, the wealthy criminal mastermind in Superman: Doomsday spends most of the movie in an all-white suit.
  • Lucifer, the smooth manager of Hell in Constantine wears an old-fashioned ensemble in the style of a Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit.
  • Most of John Woo's villains, who tend to be mob bosses, (Shing from A Better Tomorrow, Ko Ying Pui from A Better Tomorrow II, and Mr. James Wong from the game Stranglehold among others) wear white, the better to show off the blood from the bullets they receive. The main heroic Woo example, of course, is Ah Jong from the final showdown of The Killer (though then again, he is the one out of the two heroes of the movie to die.)
  • In Eat a Bowl of Tea, the wife has an affair with a Smug Snake who wears a white suit — probably to show how flashy he is.
  • The Nazi villain Maximilian Schnell and his supporters in the German TV-movie Die Grenze wear white suits.
  • Big Daddy, a plantation owner from Django Unchained is seen wearing a pretty nice white suit. He likes to think of himself as a sophisticated aristocrat, but he's actually barbaric thug who engages in violence, slavery (including sex slavery), and bloodsports, although he behaves genteelly for much of the movie.
  • As in the aforementioned Superman: Doomsday, wealthy criminal mastermind Lex Luthor wears a white tie and overcoat in Superman Returns, plus he spends a lot of time in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice wearing a white jacket and pants.

     Literature 

     Live-Action TV 
  • Jim Moriarty of Sherlock dresses in a white suit at one point in The Reichenbach Fall, ironically clothed in the Western color of purity and virtue, when he is in fact a complete psychopath who's rotten to the core. The color fits with his status as a villain who is a sophisticated, intelligent schemer.
  • Various Bad Future episodes of Smallville show President Evil future-Lex in a pure white suit. Combine this with the black-gloved right hand and the effect is really unsettling. On Clark's trip inside Lex's head, bad Lex is shown dressed in the exact same way.
  • Supernatural: In a Bad Future where most of humanity has been wiped out by a Zombie Apocalypse engineered by Hell, Lucifer takes to wearing a white suit in his strongest vessel, Sam Winchester. After all, his name means "Lightbringer".

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Paranoia, white represents Ultraviolet security clearance, reserved for the High Programmers entrusted with maintaining The Computer. Plays on both aspects of white; High Programmers are considered by The Computer and many citizensnote  to be beyond reproach, but players know that most of them are unspeakably corrupt and that their manipulations are partly responsible for The Computer's insanity.

     Webcomics 
  • Homestuck: Doc Scratch not only wears a white suit, he is pure white himself (with a blank white face to match) and types with white text. Doc Scratch sophisticated, polite, and an excellent host, but he's also a villainous chessmaster who manipulates everyone into making a home for the Eldritch Abomination he gives rise to.
  • John Henry Hunter, the villain of Next Town Over. His white suit is Awesome, but Impractical as well, since the outfit, uncharacteristically pristine and fancy for the West, makes it easier for Vane Black to locate his whereabouts.

     Web Video 
  • Rare female example in Anime Crimes Division. Mrs. Prestige, an executive in Prestige TV City, wears a white suit and has white hair, showing her sophistication and well, prestige, as well as her nefarious intentions. She's the leader of TOXIC and the Big Bad of Season 2. She takes over Neo Otaku City as part of a scheme to convert all the anime fans into Prestige TV fans. She's rarely involved in hands-on fighting.

     Video Games 

Alternative Title(s): Man In White

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