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Antagonists and Villains

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Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:34 am
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OverEasy says...

I am a big fan of incredible antagonists, as in, the antagonist that by the end of the story you find yourself almost rooting for the “bad guy” to win.

This can be seen in movies like “The Dark Knight” and the Hannibal series. Is the Joker twisted and disturbed? Of course he is. But he is also fantastic, and well loved as a character. I believe this is because as cruel and twisted as he is, he is also a person with a strange stutter and interesting thoughts. He has ideals, as morbid as they are, and he sticks to them to the end. Hoping the whole time that everyone will prove him right but twisting to his evil ways. He is manipulative and creative, and all around interesting and new in the villain world.

And then there is Hannibal, who is by all accounts a twisted serial killer that ate the flesh of human beings. He is also a brilliant man, a doctor, and easy to love because of how witty he is. The only movie I did not like that involved Hannibal was actually “Hannibal Rising.” The reason why is because they almost tried to justify murder. Almost like the entertainment industry realized that people loved watching a serial killer too much and had to make him seem vulnerable for a second to make up for it. I liked Hannibal more as the sadistic killer that killed and ate a man from an orchestra to make it sound better. Making Hannibal a victim more than a villain almost ruined him for me.

Now I am going to make a rather large jump from Hannibal to Harry Potter. The Harry Potter series was good on all accounts except for one thing; the antagonists were either pure evil without any ounce of good in their bodies, of morons. Take for instance, Lord Voldemort. He was evil and sadistic and… well that is about all there is to him. You never found that one moment when you realized he could almost be human. Even his appearance told you how bad he was. And then there was Draco Malfoy, he was not evil by any means, he was simply a moron. I could say the same thing for Wormtail, and Crabb, and Goyle, and almost everyone that Voldemort surrounded himself with. However, a person in a position of such power would not be surrounded by idiots. It would be his greatest weakness easily if he was. How easy would it be to trick Crabb or Goyle or any of them for that matter? If a leader, even a cruel leader, had only stupid followers, of course he would not be in power for long. The only exception to this was Master Malfoy. He was a twisted soul, he had no qualms about preying on children (Jinny Weasly) but he also had a wife and child of his own. And of course, his wife Narcissa was a fantastic character. When she was younger, she had no issues following the Dark Lord. And then she had a child and her priorities changed. To the point where she would easily risk death for her son.

(this next bit was written by Snoink, not myself)

The person who scared me the most was Dolores Umbridge. Oh yeah, she was a Ministry croney, so she wasn't "good" or "bad" (though in the seventh book, she was definitely considered "bad") but what she did was perfectly reasonable. She didn't do it for any evil designs or any grand scheme things. She just wanted to see people suffer. And she was very obvious, yet nobody stopped her. Why? Because she knew when to suck up. A perfectly real character. Plus, since my dad does work for the government, I can definitely see the similarities. That sort of thing can and does happen. And I can't say anymore because of the whole confidentiality thing, but there are definitely people like her in power. Not very high up, I think, but that makes them less noticeable and more able to destroy. And you can be sure that there will be people with them that side with their actions because the cruel people have seniority. -_-

And she did love things, though it was mostly a bizarre sort of love. She loved colors, she loved cats, she loved pretty things, even though every description of her makes her sound hideous. Maybe that's why she loved pretty things. I don't know. But, even though we can't get into her mind, like we can Voldemort, we can see how human she is outwardly. And, although Harry knows of her cruelty, he wouldn't actually say anything. Most people just saw her as a nuisance or an annoyance that they could get rid of, usually by promotion. She didn't seem like an evil character in the least. Nobody took her seriously, and because of that, she was able to take her cruelty one step further... and one step further... until she was beyond everybody's reach.

She never wanted to work for Voldemort. She never wanted to work for the Ministry. She just used them to make people suffer. They were tools for her, and she didn't give a damn about anything else. She could suck up to the people that mattered and hurt everyone else. And nobody would notice and nobody would care.

That's what makes her the evil character.

When Harry Potter went against Voldemort, I was hooked, but I knew essentially what was going to happen. When he went against Dolores Umbridge, I was screaming at the book on how stupid he was.

(The rest I have written)

The problem I have with most forms of entertainment is they try to make the antagonist the most hated evil creature of all. What about making them human as well? What is the one thing that’s said about most serial killers? “Well they just seemed so normal…” I love villains that continue to have human characteristics. Though they are twisted and horrible, they are still capable of love and anger and fear. A character that is not is bland and boring. A character that can only be evil, and never show and ounce of kindness gets old terribly fast. I like those characters that you can’t really tell if you want them to live or die, or if you want them to escape or be captured. Those to me are the real classics in the character world.

“Jeepers Creepers” was another movie that ruined what could have been an awesome villain, by making him a monster. For the first half of that movie I was terrified, when I thought the creature doing the terrorizing was human, until I realized that it was in fact not human at all. He was, like most villains, a pure evil monster that couldn’t be killed. Sadly, that villain is over played, overrated, and dull. Had he been a human mass murderer, that movie would have terrified me, instead it was a creature that did not and could not exist. These types of “plot twists” that try to engage most people end up boring me.

Human on human destruction is far more terrifying than a monster that doesn’t exist.
Life is for living.

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Wed Dec 31, 2008 7:13 am
LowKey says...

Funny, we just watched the 3rd Mummy movie. The villain wants to take over the world. Why? Because he's evil.

He had potential, there was the potential for development in that he was in love with a girl who hooked up with his best friend after he had told his friend to stay away. That right there could have saved the villain, made him more human, but they never built on it, never used it, and the guy remained the flat, all-evil villain that's more annoying than anything.

The first movie, though, built on the love story and gave more depth and humanity to the villain so that at the end, you felt bad for him, even though he was on the other side. Very useful article here, hopefully will lead to better generation of villains. Here's to character development for villains, too!
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Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:06 pm
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Cramerx says...

Very True. Villains are better or worst depending all on just who they are and why they are doing what they are doing, As said in the first post Joker is a insane psychopath but he never turns from what he believes even though they are evil (Though Evil can be defined in so many different ways depending on the point of view) so one could see him as sort of a model to stick to your beliefs which made him one of the 'better' villains. Some points of revenge can also make a good villain history in cases such as someone killed the villains daughter so he wants to make them pay or in the case of a love story; The villain has to do something like take the souls of people in order to bring back his dearest lost love who was killed in a car crash.
Men are born without limits but learn about them throughout their years.

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Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:42 pm
Starhunter says...

You guys should check out "Thor." The villain was done incredibly well....
Another good villain (if you're looking) is in the movie "All About Eve."

Yeah, I hate the typical "I wanna take over the world" villain... which is actually why I'm worried about teh upcoming "Avengers" movie. The same villain who was awesome in Thor is being demoted to "I wanna take over the world." Sad day. I think what makes a really good villain is, like you said, when you are kinda rooting for them to win. And I think what really helps that is when they have a good argument. you actually aren't sure if the good guy's right, because the bad guy's pretty convincing. I can't really relate to any of the Harry Potter stuff (never have read them or seen the movies) but from what I've heard, I'd have to agree- no one could ever tell me why the villain was so evil.
Guess it's because they didn't know.

But seriously, check out Thor if you want to see a well-crafted villain.
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Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:39 pm
elysian says...

I agree with everything said here, and I apologize for pinging such an old thread, but I would like to make a comment that I thought Harry Potter did an awesome job with Snape being a double agent and readers never knew if they could trust him or not, same with Sirius Black. Those are my two favorite characters because they're the most misunderstood throughout the books/movies and I think she did an amazing job at making it hard to know if we could trust them until the very end.
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