Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What makes a fun villain

Everyone loves a good bad guy. So what makes a perfect villain we love to hate?  For a deliciously evil villain, I think you need at least three of the following:

Unconventional attractiveness

We like our villains handsome but in a weird way.  They can't be too ugly, or too pretty.  The face has to have something a little off about it: too sharp a nose, too prominent cheekbones, a cruel mouth. There has to be something that gives you pause.

Examples: Ricardo Montalban in Wrath of Khan, Benedict Cumberbatch in Wrath of Khan


If the villain has no charisma, why would we want to watch her or read about her?  What would draw your attention or the loyalty of the bad guy's minions?

Examples: Glenn Close in Damages, Meryl Streep whenever she's a villain


There's something about an antagonist who knows how to dress.  He doesn't necessarily have to follow convention or even good taste, but it's nice when a villain has a look all his own.

Example: Walton Goggins' Boyd Crowder on Justified

Sad back story

A villain is the hero of his own story, after all.  The sad back story helps motivate his actions and gain audience sympathy even when he is doing monstrous things.

Examples: Magneto,  Loki

The voice

If the villain has a voice you'd listen to reading a grocery list, you're halfway there.

Examples: Alan Rickman, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Spader


We love villains who just don't give a good goddamn, who just want to see the world burn.

Example: Heath Ledger’s Joker

What do you think makes a satisfying book or movie villain?

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