Video games have had many villains over the years, but perhaps none so charismatic as Kane - the megalomanical sociopath with an IQ of 192, who calls himself the Messiah and leads the Brotherhood of Nod.
Ah...the Brotherhood of Nod. Fiendishly difficult to define, depending upon who you speak too, and which games you take note of, the Brotherhood is part Abrahamic religion, part multi-national corporation, and part decentralized nation-state...or, indeed, none of these things.
It could, of course, just be an entity designed to fuel Kane's imperialist tendencies, but then he has as vague a past as his cult: reportedly several thousand years old, rumoured to be the original brother of Abel, or indeed an alien from outer space.
Which would make him Xenu. Hmmm....
Joe Kucan brought something special to the role of Kane, though, directing the FMV scenes for Westwood as well as starring in them. We knew Nod were quasi-religious nutbags, and that Kane himself was an immoral, insensitive dictator with little regard for the lives of those around him, but we didn't really care
He has the Tacitus, you see. He's invincible. He lives in death. He found us in CAVES!
And he has a well trimmed goatee.
Even if you were playing as the GDI, Kane would still worm his way into your game. He'd become the villain that you love to hate: fiendishly devious, ruthlessly immoral, and all too trigger happy with ICBM and tactical nuclear strikes. He'd pop up in your comms feed, too, just to poke fun and you and call you names.
But Kane rises into the pantheon of truly great villains by possessing that hallmark which separates out the true evil geniuses from the throng of amateurish bad guys: he's damn difficult to kill.
The GDI thought they'd done the business with a massive ion cannon at first It was huge. It was fired from space! It should have obliterated the Nod leader, and instead it have him some light burns on the side of his face. He returned 30 years later, with some plating and a cybernetic eye that just made him look all the more menacing!
The second Tiberium War saw him impaled by a GDI soldier, but that didn't stop him for long. Recovered by CABAL and placed in a regenerative tube, it wasn't long before Kane was up and running again, hell-bent on vengeance and still muttering about the Ascension. This time, though, there were a few upstarts to deal with, but Kane soon sorted them out, planted Marcion at the head of the Brotherhood as a puppet leader, and waited until 2047 to surface again, when he interrupted a broadcast across the globe to take credit for bombing Philadelphia. Of course, his plans for the Tiberium bomb in that campaign all went wrong, and he ended up blowing himself up in the bowels of Temple Prime...
...or so everyone thought.
It's the beard, you know. It's Samson-esque, that beard.
Kane is one of the reasons that Command and Conquer proved to be such a formative game. Choosing a side actually meant something. There were leadership structures to identify with or ignore, ideologies to accept, reject, or simply debate. There was a lot of ham, of course, Kucan's performances were almost up there with Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine in terms of delightfully, perfectly OTT acting , but that's what brought the character.
Plus he had some cracking lines. Here are just a few to serve as a reminder as to why Kane is our leader:
"I found you people in mud huts.. you were living in CAVES!" - Kane to the GDI Commander (Tiberian Sun)
"He who controls the past commands the future. He who commands the future, conquers the past." - Kane (Red Alert)
"Don't look so surprised Commander. And don't look around for you EVA, it can't help you now. Well. What shall we talk about, hmm? Your powerful GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children... Of course it's not true, but the world only believes what the media tells them to believe, and I tell the media what to believe, it's really quite simple. Oh, here's you little pad... But now that I know where you live Commander, it's only a matter of time. Were I in your shoes, I would spend my last earthly hours enjoying the world. Of course, if you wish, you can spend them fighting for a lost cause, but you know that you've lost." - Kane to the GDI Commander (Tiberian Dawn)
"It would be a sad error in judgement, General Solomon, to mistake me for a corpse... I've seen the future - our Tiberium future - and as you watch this battle just beginning to unfold, I've already seen the final act! It is my destiny to lead the way for all mankind." - Kane to General Solomon (Tiberian Sun)
"Rule of thumb, Hassan. You can't kill the Messiah." - Kane before Hassan's execution (Tiberian Sun)
"I am sorry to hear about your dear brother. He died in a slow, yet painful death."
- Kane to McNeil (Tiberian Sun)
"God? No, I'm not God. But I'm a close second." - Kane to McNeil (Tiberian Sun)
"The destruction of Philadelphia was not an accident. It was a merciful bullet to the head of a malignant ideology. It was the death of fear and the birth of hope! Rejoice, children of Nod! The blood of your oppressors will flow and the 50 years of tyranny will finally end! Transformation is coming, a new day will dawn! The future, is ours." - Kane (Tiberium Wars)
"And he cried in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth!' and Lazarus did, arise from the grave... I have always believed that faith was measured in deeds, not words. And while many of my children worshipped my name, their deeds betrayed them. In my absence they strayed from the path... But you... you my son, your faith never waned. Not in Honduras or Jericho, not in the Great Rio Insurrection. You risked your life countless times to topple GDI, to perpetuate our cause to honor my name. And now I call upon you again to bring glory to the Brotherhood. I have seen that GDI is vulnerable, bloated by arrogance and complacency. Now is the time to strike. While they congratulate themselves on Tiberium advancements Nod made decades ago, we will expose their weaknesses for all the world to see." - Kane to the Nod Commander (Tiberium Wars)
"Good Afternoon, Commander! You must be lost, this is not your precious Blue Zone, this is Nod territory! I tell you what - I'll have my forces to send you home.... in a body bag." - Kane to the GDI Commander in Croatia (Tiberium Wars)