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character types: the villain

14 Jul

Every villain is a hero in their own mind-Tom Hiddleston

{Remember that time when I said I was going to write posts about different character types?  Well, here I am.  This isn’t going to be some super-long post talking about fifteen different types of villains, their motivations, quirks, and various methods of evilness.  I’ll be illustrating a few different types of villains, using some of my favorites, and this post will be more quality than quantity…I hope}

Villains are awesome.

I’m sure I wouldn’t like to meet one in real life, but on the page and silver screen, they are deliciously fun to watch (except for the bumbling idiots used for ‘comedy’).  There are dozens of different types of villains, mainly because there are so many different people, events, and objects that can motive a man or woman (okay, I just realized that the list of villains I scribbled down to use in this post doesn’t include any female villains…probably because they’re rarer, and I find male villains more interesting) to turn to the dark side (literally, in the case of Darth Vader).  I find that most villains are complex characters (unlike the middle grade book bully that seems to live only to make life miserable for the hero or heroine) and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading about and watching them so much.

Going with that, there’s a thought that I often repeat whenever I’m thinking of or discussing different villains.

TO BE BELIEVABLE, A VILLAIN MUST HAVE SOME SHRED OF HUMANITY REMAINING INSIDE HIM OR HER.

As with every rule, there are exceptions, but I find that most villains have something they care about, even if it never comes out much in the book/movie/TV show.  If a villain has something he cares about, he becomes more human and, thus, more relateable and sympathetic.  I love it when a character sparks an emotion inside me, whether it’s anger, sadness, or happiness, and villains fill almost every slot.  Many of them have the potential to be good, which makes them fascinating.  Some notable sympathetic villains include Loki, Guy of Gisbourne (from BBC’s Robin Hood), Hans (from Frozen), or even Mother Gothel (see, I did get a woman villain in this post after all).  Now, I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying that goes something like this…”The bad guy is the villain unless he’s {ahem} hot, in which case he’s just misunderstood”.  I sincerely hope that I don’t fall into this little trap.  Even if I like villains, I still fully understand their villainous deeds and please rest assured that I don’t condone them in any way.  Sure, the thing about Loki killing eighty people in two days was passed off as a joking moment, but the fact that he killed eighty people in two days remains.

You’re aware that “Not a corner of London’s safe when Ratigan’s at large.”

As I said above, there are exceptions to the humanity rule (well, it’s not a rule, but it’s my personal mantra that I go by when I create villains).  Three that come to mind immeadietely are Ratigan (pictured above), President Snow, and Mr Hyde.  Hyde doesn’t reeeally count because he’s one, purely evil half of a split personality and therefore it would be impossible for him to be even the teensiest bit good.  President Snow is pure evil, though, and of his own choice (well, in the film version of Catching Fire, there are a couple of slightly sweet moments between him and his granddaughter, but I’m just going to ignore those).  And yet, he’s still a three-dimensional villain.  He’s crafty.  He’s a viable threat.  And he’s larger than life, while still remaining real.  You can see how he became the way he is.  Just another young man hungry for power, and since he had the resources (and poison) to realize his ambitions…guess what happened?  Yeah.  He succeeded.  But Ratigan.  Oh my goodness, he’s pretty much favorite Disney villain, and one of my favorite villains out of any category.  He’s so smart and slick and hilarious without being over the top.  And both his villain songs are the. awesomeness.  He’s one of the most perfect villains I’ve ever seen, and I can’t think of one instance where he demonstrates the slightest speck of humanity.

puss in boots movie

What about when villains redeem themselves?

DON’T GET ME STARTED.

It’s always heartbreaking.  Like Guy of Gisbourne.  Or Humpty Dumpty from Puss In Boots.  It almost always ends with the villain’s death.  I mean, Guy turned himself around before he died, but his death clenched the fact that he’d really changed.  And Humpty…wow.  He goes back and forth from being good to bad to good to bad so many times it gets confusing.  But, in the end, he redeems himself by, well, dying.  I know there’s other villains who do a similar or the same thing, but my mind has gone blank once again.  Leave a comment if you can think of any other villains who redeem themselves.

Javert is a difficult character. People want to believe he's the bad guy but he's not. He believes he's doing right, he's doing his job. He was unappreciated as a child so as an adult he strives to excel and even obsesses over it. He killed himself because he felt he failed. He's not a bad guy, he's just human.

Please don’t confuse antagonists with villains, though.

vil·lain // noun // a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel

an·tag·o·nist // noun // a person who is opposed to, struggles against, or competes with another; opponent; adversary

Loki is a villain.  Bucky Barnes is not.

Hitler is a villain.  Hans Dietrich is not. (please comment if you understood that reference!)

Thenardier is a villain.  Javert is not.

President Snow is a villain.  Cato is not.

Hans is a villain.  Elsa is not.

In my opinion, the difference is quite clear.

What about you?

Eva

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8 Comments

Posted by on July 14, 2014 in character posts, random

 

8 responses to “character types: the villain

  1. Anna Baggins

    July 14, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    I love the villains. And the antagonists. Don’t get me started on Ratigan… LOVE him. And Moriarty.

     
  2. Eowyn

    July 15, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    LOOOOOOOVE!!!! And I’m wracking my brain over here, trying to think of more villains-who-redeem-themselves (because they’re actually antagonists), but I can’t think of any! OOH, YES, I CAN – Eustace Scrubb from the Narnia books. He’s just an antagonist, but, by the end, he’s changed. *sniff* That goes for Edmund, too. *also sniff*

    Buckyyyyy….

    Hans Dietrich – I understood that reference. 😉

    CATO. 😦

    That is all.

     
  3. Dan Kuso

    July 15, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Irina Spasky in The 39,Clues redeemed herself by dying at the end of #6 RIGHT as you get to understand her…I cried…RIP…

     
  4. Alexa

    July 18, 2014 at 2:01 am

    Great post! I definitely agree.
    And I like that you mentioned Cato as not a villain, because he totally seemed like one in the books. But then there was this total flipside to him in the movie, his last scene, and my heart just broke.

     
    • evaschon

      July 18, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      Same here! There was that one little moment in THG where he runs over to Clove’s body and tries to wake her up…it broke my heart. But the movie (even if it cut out that scene) was even better in regards to Cato’s character.

       
  5. authzh

    July 28, 2014 at 1:31 am

    The post was awesome! Love your antagonist vs villain examples! 😀

     
  6. Victoria Grace Howell

    August 1, 2014 at 12:13 am

    Cool post. 🙂 Villains are very interesting characters, but in the books Snow did have grandchildren as mentioned in Mockingjay so showing time with his granddaughter makes him more human like you said all good villains are. 😉

    Stori Tori’s Blog

     

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