Chatting with the Dear Spouse, I had an idea for an experimental-style game. Each player generates two characters: a higher-powered villain and a starting-character hero. Then they pick some other player's character to be their nemesis.
I hand the villains some Grand Master Scheme, which will have to consist of three or so subgoals (e.g., steal the gold, kidnap the scientist, distract the heroes and then UNLEASH THE DOOM RAY). They'll need to be able to get to the end pretty much no matter what, because the campaign needs a boss fight no matter what. But if they succeed in their intermediate goals, the boss fight will be harder for the heroes.
So: If they fail to steal the gold, they can use regular copper wire for the Doom Ray, but it will take longer to charge its cathodes. That means more time on the countdown clock for the heroes to foil them.
The villains will have villainous resources: lair, henchmen, gizmos. They can deploy these to accomplish their subgoals, and indeed, my main task as GM will probably be to RP henchmen trying to carry out the villains' plans.
Of course, no matter how well the villains plan, the heroes will either discover or stumble upon their nefarious scheme. Because that's the way the genre works. The focus for the hero characters will not be detective work - the players already know what's going on, and the characters will be handed an intro to the adventure on a plate. The focus is on being cool and stylish as you try to foil your nemesis's plans.
If any villains have elected to be personally involved in a heist or kidnapping, they'll only confront, and be confronted by, their nemesis. Because, again, that's the genre. It's something the captain has to work out for himself. So two PCs square off for the encounter and the GM throws henchmen at the rest of them.
Players would have to agree what style of villains they want to face, and they have very fine-grained control over it now. Do they want maniacal laughter, ridiculous death traps, and monologuing? They can RP themselves that way. There's no worrying that the GM will take advantage of your noble hero with a totally pragmatic villain.
There is a worry that your fellow players will perhaps elect to take their characters in a different style, and Captain Courageous will find himself knocked unconscious and his throat slit open. But if the players have explicitly negotiated a joint style for the group of villains, I think that's less likely.
I think it would either be awesome or totally lame. I'm not sure which.