The Villains Throne: What Makes a Villain?

Gather fellow fangirls and fanboys! We are about to start on a dark and beautiful adventure together. Where you ask are we venturing? Well since you asked so nicely, we are going to be discussing one of my favorite topics; villains. I have what I lovingly call a villain complex where in every story, whether it be on the page or on the screen I am immediately drawn to the villain character. It doesn’t matter who or what they are, they always fascinate me. They always have the best costumes, one liners and ice cold stares. I am happy to introduce you, my fellow villain lovers, to the Villain’s Throne. Here at the Villain’s Throne we will discuss villains and what makes them a great, or even not so great, villain.

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I am so excited to begin this adventure with you, my friends, and I think the best place to start is asking a very important question; what makes a villain a villain? Is the villain simply the antagonist, an obstacle to annoy the loved hero? I would like to say the villain is the most important character when it comes to the progression of any story. Think about it, if there was no villain what would really happen in our favorite stories? Harry Potter would have just been another wizard going to Hogwarts, Link would have never had to save Zelda and Hyrule a million times. The villain is the one who throws the hero into the path that dictates their life decisions for at least the duration of the story being told. Without their villain the hero would not have a driving force behind them to push them toward the goal that is the whole reason why the story is even worth telling.

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Now I think what makes villains so great comes down to their character. Every villain has a certain feel to them that is a common thread that connects villains. Also, every villain I believe exists on an imaginary spectrum where one side represents an abundance of a characteristic like intelligence and on the other side is a total lack of the characteristic. I believe every villain exists on one extreme or the other depending on the kind of story being told. Dramatic or heroic stories for example need a very intelligent villain while comedic stories require more of a goof. What are these characteristics you may ask? Well I’m sure we could all spend hours listing words but I will go ahead and just name off a few that I find to be of vital importance for a villain to work.

 

Intelligence: Since I have already mentioned it I will start with intelligence. Intelligence is so vital to a villains make up simply because that’s usually what they use against the hero. When approaching a story you need only see our hero for a few moments to know what the intelligence level of the villain will more than likely be. When you have a super intelligent hero who is able to predict the moves of others their villain counterpart needs to be just as or even smarter than they are, but usually another characteristic is what stops them from succeeding. However if our hero is somewhat awkward or even dumb, the villain needs to be even more awkward and dumber so that the hero easily outwits them.

Morality: This might seem like an odd characteristic to attribute to the bad guy, but it’s just as important as the others. When I say they need morality I mean that they will either be doing their bad stuff for a greater purpose or for no reason at all. Those villains with an abundance of morality are the ones in all the movies that say that what they’re doing is what is best and the hero is just a wuss for not wanting to commit some horrible crime like cleansing a whole population. The other extreme would be like our friend the Joker, simply blowing things up because it’s funny (to him, not me). His lack of morality makes him scary. Villain group

Obsession: Obsession is probably the most important characteristic for any villain or hero for that matter. Obsession in my opinion is the only characteristic that exists outside the aforementioned spectrum. Every villain needs obsession in order to be great. They need a reason and purpose for living that they become hell bent on. Think about any villain ever, they always have an underlying scheme that they always come back to, they are obsessed with it. Without that obsession most super villains would probably have gone home already.

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Sex Appeal: Villain are either incredibly sexy or stop a clock hideous. They also have this weird loop-hole where they can be ugly but so evil that it makes them sexy. I don’t make the rules, I just love to follow this one. Don’t believe me? I heard girls talking outside a viewing of Avengers: Age of Ultron and they wanted Ultron. Yes, the robot. They loved a robot. Villains are sexy by nature, they’re bad guys on the wrong side of the tracks and I think we humans have an innate fascination with being bad. Villains fulfill some weird fantasy locked away in the back of our subconscious that only awaken when a well thought out bad ass comes through the door.

 

Wounded: This is the most obvious characteristic I think. Every person anywhere is wounded by something that happened to them. It’s just villains take it in such a way that it slowly turns into their obsession to correct whatever it was that wounded them. So in a way being wounded is directly linked to the characteristic of obsession. Then you have the villains, usually found in teen movies, who have yet to be wounded and just need to be brought down a few pegs. With this type of villain their obsession is avoiding becoming wounded, but we all know that’s impossible.

Recognizable: The final characteristic I will talk about is the ability to relate or recognize ourselves in the villain. I think in order for a villain to really work you either need to find something in them that you completely understand and identify with or you have to be so confused by their motives that you don’t identify at all. Sometimes the villains we identify with end up not being a villain at all, ahem Snape ahem, and the ones we don’t identify with at all we truly loath with everything we have, even if they aren’t the main villain, ahem Umbridge ahem.

No matter what makes you love villains like I do I am happy you have decided to take this adventure with me. Please leave suggestions of your favorite villains. I know I have a personal list in my own head but I would love to know who you would like to talk about, also I would love to be introduced to some new baddies! So welcome my fellow villainettes….villainers? We’ll figure it out! Welcome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners.

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