Don’t get me wrong, there’s always something to ramble about; the trouble comes in finding a subject that won’t make me fall asleep and drool all over my keyboard.
That said, I finally decided to discuss something that has been on my mind quite a lot lately: villains.
In the first draft of my novel, I didn’t have a villain. Or rather, I did but it wasn’t a person so much as a massive army backed by some ominous nation; the idea being they wanted to kill my hero. Not terribly original, or very realistic for that matter, but then I have a history with villains. The only two I ever put any real thought into ended up weaseling their way out of the whole ‘mindless killing’ gig, winning increased sympathy with every revision until finally, they became two of my most interesting good guys to date.
One of these little wiseguys also happens to be the main character for the novel I’m writing now, so there you go.
In any case, as I revised the draft for my novel, I found that my ominous nation was developing a spokesperson; and I was thrilled. At first, I admit, he was pretty lame; just some nasty man with an awesome war ship and no real motivation for hurting people. But then as I thought about him, he started to develop a personality. In the short space of two months, I had a crystal-clear idea of who this guy was, and the very simple reason for why he does what he does. I had my villain.
Still, I could not help but be apprehensive. I had never written with this guy before, and I was opening with him. So, I started doing research with just one question in mind: what is it that makes a good villain?
Seriously, you, the one behind the monitor (have a cookie), which villains stand out for you as being the most effective and creepy? Why did they work so well?
I don’t even have to think about that my answer.
Without a doubt, one of my favourite movies of all time would be Terminator 2. It has so much going for it; intense action scenes, characters I can sink my teeth into, a guy loading a shotgun with one hand while riding a motorbike, and of course the father-son relationship between the young John Conner and our good guy Terminator; which in spite of the film’s genre still managed to bring me close to tears at the end.
More than any of that though, they had the ultimate villain. This film has the sort of suspense that just wins hands down over most other examples I can think of, and it was all because of the villain. After bearing dozens and dozens of cheap, theatrical, world dominating wackos; all of them making lofty promises they obviously could not keep, here came a character who was all action and little talk. Here was a guy who just would not stop, no matter what was thrown at him. He was perhaps the first villain I actually feared (not in a nightmare sort of way, mind you), and I really felt he was a threat to the well-being of the main cast.
Of course, if I’m talking about good villains, the next guy that comes to mind would be The Joker from The Dark Knight. I know, I know, this guy is well over-hyped; but you have to admit he was an incredible villain. For the first time since Terminator 2, I was scared of the opposition. What made him work so well for me was the fact that he wasn’t this merciless killing machine. He was unpredictable, and he managed to both draw in and repulse me with his insanity.
However, for all my praises, I also have to admit that I felt the writer’s failed with this brilliant character on one account: he overshadowed Batman. No villain should ever be allowed to overshadow the hero, especially not in Christian fiction.
I could honestly write an entire essay on that film and my opinions concerning it, but I’ll close before this post gets too long.
Anyway, I’d love to know what you guys think. What villains worked for you, and which ones failed? If you have or know of any articles on the subject, I’d really appreciate it if you could pass me the link.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try to do a little more writing.
More than any of that though, they had the ultimate villain