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from Thundercats

Mumm-Ra is a strange one. I'm not just talking about the annoying to type spelling of his name either! At first glance it seems quite straight forward. He's there trying to be evil and rule Third Earth when all of a sudden along come these Thundercats and thwart his plans, so him and his henchmen are constantly coming up with new 'ingenius' schemes to defeat them. (Sounds pretty familiar to another more widely merchandised 80's cartoon - Lion-o even had a magical sword!). But not is all as it appears here. Oh no. I'm gonna start off by saying that whilst I used to respect Mumm-Ra, now I have a confused vision of him. As time goes on and more back story is revealed it gets even more messed up. On one side he is a whining idiot. On the other truly a master of evil. Let me explain...

It all starts off when the Thundercats leave Thundera as it is about to explode. Why? The mists of time have obscured this info from me but I'm betting they caused it. I don't choose to see them as completely innocent victims in all this! As they search for a planet they find one that is habitable, but it will take 10 years to get there. So Jaga (the old wise leader) decides to put the rest of the crew in stasis and pilot the ship on his own as he is old and therefore nearly dead anyway. After 10 years they land on the planet. Jaga dies and Lion-o takes charge of the Thundercats. Now this is weird. When he was put into stasis he was a little kid. Here his is checking out a topless Cheetara! I think we all know why he's covering himself with that blanket...

...Anyway when he leaves stasis he is an adult! Yet the others are the same age. Faulty stasis booth obviously. Got to sleep through puberty though. That had to be a plus. That and being given the sword of omens. Basically a large flashlight with some kind of LSD on the handle that seeps into Lion-o's skin as he holds it and gives him "sight beyond sight". But I digress.
Up until now Third Earth had been ruled over by Mumm-Ra. Annoyed at the Thundercats arrival and 'liberation' of the planet (you'll see why that word is in dubious speech marks later) he sends his mutants to defeat them. He even has a go himself a number of times. And so the stage is set for a classic cartoon. Now let's look a bit closer at Mumm-Ra himself, now we know why he is fighting the Thundercats (or think we do).

Here he is above in both his forms. It seems Mumm-Ra is basically a mummy. He sleeps in a sarcophacus and lives in a base shaped like a big evil pyramid. Then when he calls upon the 'Ancient Spirits Of Evil' he can turn himself into Mumm-Ra The Everliving. Who is basically a big, green muscley chap (wonder where they got that transformation idea from?) who is so pleased with his physique, he only wears a skimpy loin cloth to show it off. However he is cursed to always be surrounded by tattered bits of paper. It is in this form he frequently attacks the Thundercats, even though the mummy form is waaaay scarier in my opinion. When I was a kid I always wanted him to stay like that and just walk into the Thunderlair and either curse them or scare them off the planet. Maybe hide in their closets and jump out at them after they turn the lights off. But I digress. Or do I? OR DO I? You see (at first anyway) the Thundercats don't have closets. There lies the real reason why Mumm-ra hates the Thundercats. Because he doesn't approve of their naked-go-lucky, hippy lifestyle. He's a lots older than them and naturally has more traditional views. He's always wrapped up well (mummy - wrapped up - geddit?) and when he's the big green guy, he has the decency to at least wear that loincloth and cloak!

Even those two irritating kids are naked. This must be the reason why he hates the Thundercats. That whole them 'liberating' the planet thing is just a red herring. Think about it. Most of the planet is just filled with woods and plains with the only semi-intelligent life being the docile bugbears (stupid robot bears for those who don't know). All Mumm-Ra has to do is say "I rule this planet" and it is basically true. He spends most of his day in his 'tomb' anyway. What does the Thundercats being there not bothering anyone actually matter to him? Doesn't seem like quite so an inspiring villain now does he? Add to this his enemies are incredibly stupid and he slips down my list of great villains even further. What, the Thundercats short in the IQ department? You betcha. So they built the Thundertank, big deal. Mumm-Ra's only weakness when he's the big guy, apart from he can't sustain it indefinitely, is if he sees his reflection he turns back into the withered mummy. And do you ever see the Thundercats walking around with mirrors strapped to them in case. Or even better put on a mirrored waistcoat. Tigra could look cool for a change. Even when they later start wearing clothes (no doubt in an effort to appease Mumm-Ra, but even then a pair of pants and some bondage straps wasn't enough for the Evil one) they don't think of it. If you judge someone by the class of his enemies Mumm-Ra is in serious trouble.
That is until we look at his henchmen...

These guys had names so obvious and stupid I can't even be bothered to name them

Now normally henchmen are just that, but not these guys. They formulate their own plans (which fail) and work seperately from Mumm-Ra on occaision. Why? Because they only work for him because they are scared of him. It seems they were after The Eye Of Thundera (the flashlight bit in Lion-o's sword) when the Thundercats fled Thundera. They tracked them all they way to middle Earth. Which means they followed them for 10 years without getting bored or frustrated! Then when they land Mumm-Ra sinks their ship so they can't leave and scares them into working for him. I think he sunk their ship as they too were naked, but not quite as naked as the Thundercats.
So Mumm-Ra sneaks back up the coolness level again. A load of space hardened mutants who even the Thundercats were running from are scared by him. Then later in the series Mumm-ra hatches a plan to release the Lunatacs (!) who are magically trapped in a volcano. The mutants have heard of them and are scared. But it seems these Lunatacs landed on Third Earth yonks ago and tried to take it over, but Mumm-Ra took them all out by himself! Again that's pretty cool. Plus the Lunatacs are pretty scary looking.

So on one hand Mumm-Ra is a traditionalist who hates nudist colonies and can't defeat a bunch of fools following a tripped out leader with a flashlight sword, who are so stupid they can't even think of a way of exploiting his major weakness. Then on the other he has defeated some pretty scary bad guys on his own and scares a bunch of space mutants into working for him. It is looking pretty even so far as to whether or not he's gonna go down as a great villain here. What could tip the balance? Well let's just look at the 'Ancient Spirits Of Evil' who he calls on for help. Well actually he doesn't call on them at all. He begs, pleads and whines like a little dog to them. An actual transcript from an episode goes like this (and I swear I'm not making this up) as Mumm-Ra gets more and more desperate:

Mumm-Ra: Ancient Spirits Of Evil show me how to defeat the Sword of Omens. Give me a sign, a message, a hint, a clue...ANYTHING! I mean you never write or call round. Least you could do is just tell me something on how to defeat it. What about semaphore or charades? Even a message only using the medium of dance would do! Please! I'm desperate here...Masters Of The Universe is kicking our butts in the ratings!

At least it went something like that anyway. Or would have if the spirits hadn't gotten fed up with his constant begging and given him a sign.
So it seems as though he really isn't one of the greatest villains after all. Then why is he in this list? Well because of the following picture I found. I'm willing to believe, nay hope, it is taken from one of Mumm-Ra's dream sequences. It must in fact be the real reason why he wants to defeat the Thundercats. So he can have win the heart of the lovely Cheetara and do things to her that can't be shown on a kids cartoon.

So Mumm-Ra we salute you - Even though you are just a mummy and have a pathetic weakness (mirrors - sheesh!) you still dare to dream! Plus you have a cool evil lair!