December 29, 2012

Heroes & Villains

If there’s one thing I love it’s the relationship between good and evil, but not just one wanting to kill the other; I mean when the villain loves to play mind games with the hero. Obviously the main one that springs to mind is The Joker & Batman.

The Joker thinks that Batman is “just too much fun” and doesn’t want to kill him; he wants to play and see how far he can push Batman mentally or physically. He sees Batman as incorruptible and just enjoys messing with his mind.

Bane also wants to screw with Batman’s head by forcing him to watch as the city he loves tears itself apart. He wants to “fulfil Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny” by leaving the city in ruins. Of course in The Dark Knight Rises, he’s basically doing it just for the love of Talia.

The best villains understand what the hero fears and will exploit it to the fullest. Moriarty is every bit Sherlock Holmes’ intellectual equal and considers their whole relationship a “game”.

Darth Vader starts off in A New Hope as the scariest villain in the galaxy but as the trilogy progresses, we find out that he is Luke Skywalker’s father. By the end of Return of the Jedi you are almost completely rooting for Vader and his redemption. It’s such a well developed character that was completely ruined by the prequels, making him a spoiled brat who just wanted his mommy; thus completely demystifying him and making him less interesting.

Sometimes the best way of doing a villain is keeping the mystique and not giving the audience too much info, that’s why we all love The Joker. We don’t know anything about him, except that he’s insane.

René Emile Belloq is essentially the same as Indiana Jones as they are both archaeologists, the only difference is that Belloq will do anything to find the ark of the covenant, including work with the Nazis, but he really just wants its power for himself.

Where Indy is the rugged and dishevelled hero, Belloq is a sophisticated and intelligent villain who is well dressed and surprisingly civilised. On the exterior he appears to be more respectable than Indy, but as the story continues we realise that is really not true.

Hans Gruber also wears nice suits, is quite charming and comes across as reasonable but when a certain “fly in the ointment” shows up, we see how brutal he can be when pushed.

The sympathetic or charming villain can sometimes be more interesting because if you root for the villain, it makes you question your own belief system and you wonder “What would I do in that situation?”

General Hummel (Ed Harris) in The Rock isn’t an out and out villain, he wants the soldiers he commanded to receive the respect they deserve, and he is just misguided and desperate. By the film’s end he says “what have I done?” and utterly regrets the choices he’s made. He failed in trying to get the money to the soldier’s families and is himself essentially classed as a terrorist.

The best villain on television is Dexter Morgan, the most likable serial killer in the business. How do they manage to get you to root for the bad guy? They make him kill other bad guys. What he does is bad but it’s for the greater good… so is he good? Hmm…

You can’t have a hero without a decent villain and the more complex their relationship, the more interesting the story will be.

So kids, who is your favourite villain of all time?

About the Author

Eoin Friel
Eoin Friel
I grew up watching JCVD, Sly and Arnold destroy bad guys, blow things up and spew one-liners like it's a fashion statement. Action is everything I go to the movies for and the reason I came up with this site is to share my love for the genre with everyone.



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