Hero and Villain. By Dan Cooke


More often than not, every main Protagonist will have some form of Antagonist they have to do battle with in some way, and this isn't always literal people the Protagonist has to fight against,  it can sometimes be as simple as their own mindset, overcoming obstacles they themselves  may have put in place. (sometimes seen as 'Fighting inner demons')

So while it's important to have hero you can support in their journey, I feel like the villain almost has a more important role, without them the Protagonist has no story, and if the villain isn't believable, either in character or in their ends justifying the means, interest in them is going to dwindle also.
So a big question is, how fleshed out does the Villain need to be?

I suppose this depends on if you want them to be a pure antagonistic type of villain or a sympathetic one.  Both of which have their perks.

Not all Villains have to be clear cut dark
Pure antagonistic, either for the sake of it or for their own personal goals, are much more fun, they can be far more exaggerated, and are on the far end of the spectrum. They just want something for their own selfish desires and will stop at nothing to get it. I think I need give no example other than the classic Disney villain Cruella de Vil, an iconic villain that will go down in history as one of probably the most terrifying they ever created, and all she wanted was a fur coat. Talk about overkill!

On the other end of the spectrum, we have those villains that are doing something that they believe to be right. Maybe they think it will aid humanity or that the ends justify the means. These kind of villains are much more realistic than the evil for the sake of being evil characters, they have justifiable reasons for doing what they do. Even if we do not agree with those reasons, we can see why they would think they are in the right. A more recent example would be that of Thanos in the recent Marvel films, he feels that overpopulation will wipe out everyone, so believes that culling is the best way to save the most people.

A more sympathetic villain would lie somewhere in-between the two, their motivations may be selfish to some regard, but understandable to both our hero and to us when they either explain it themselves, or have it explained in the aftermath of their demise. Maybe the main villains child was dying and the only way they could help was to do what they ended up doing, to them putting others at risk was worth it. Or maybe they just didn't realise that they were causing harm at all (think Sid from Toy Story, he was the antagonist of the film but he himself had no idea that the toys were alive to begin with.)

So no matter how you create and write your antagonist, no matter what their background and motives are, they are all valid, and all have a space in your hero's story.




Comments

  1. Just to set the record straight: Disney interpreted the character Cruella de Vil. It was Dodie Smith, who created her in the book of the same name published in 1956. The film was released in 1961 :) and yes, she is scary!

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  2. Interesting look at antagonists. Many thanks.

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