Thread: Antagonists!
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Old January 23rd, 2012, 04:36 PM
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Misheard Whisper
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I think one of the most important things to consider when creating an effective villain is that they are - at least initially - set directly against the protagonist. Maybe this is personal, like how Wile E. Coyote's sole aim is to destroy the Roadrunner. Maybe it's because the hero acts as a symbol of resistance to the villain's operations, like Vader's need to destroy the Rebellion. (There's personal stuff there too, but whatevs.)

Once that opposition has been established, you can go a number of ways. Perhaps the protagonist and the antagonist discover that they're 'not so different after all'. It's possible that the hero's only standing up to the villain to protect his family, but it might turn out that the villain is only doing his evil deeds to benefit his sickly younger sister. Maybe the hero and the villain are working towards the same goal - say, uniting a country in the grasp of civil war - but one's trying to do it by force and the other by a different method and this naturally throws them into opposition.

Another point that's crucial is believability. I like how that wonderful Pixy guy put it: that a certain amount of balance is needed to make the villain credible. Few villains do things because they are purely evil. You get the odd type like the Joker, who just goes 'F*** everything, let's blow stuff up for laughs! Look at me, I'm Chaotic Evil!'. For the most part, though, villains have established motives and necessary reasons for that motive. Some of them do just want to take over the world, but a good world domination villain will always have a reason. Maybe they're sick of the wars and just want to unite the people of the Earth. Maybe they had some horrible things happen to them as a child and became set against humanity as a result. Others might actually be aliens who, lacking the craft or the manpower to conquer Earth directly, infiltrated the planet to subjugate its people and extract its natural resources to aid their dying planet.

Hmm, I think I've talked for well long enough. I could say more, but I might have to come back and have another go later for that.
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