Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Whoo-ha-ha-ha aka *Evil Cackle*

Of course we all know the hero and heroine make or break a story. If these two are not likable, captivating or sexy in some way, it's a big *YAWN*. I started reading a story this weekend and from page one the heroine started tap dancing on my next to last nerve...by page three she was doing the Quick Step on my last one. And then I didn't get a physical description of the hero until half way through the book! By then I really didn't give a rat's a--I mean posterior. Needless to say I almost put the book down...almost. What saved it from the give-it-to-some-poor-sucker-at-the-used-book-store-pile was the villain. He was deliciously warped, evil and morally bankrupt. *sigh* My kind of villain.

As much work goes into creating memorable heroes and heroines, the same amount of labor is afforded to molding the perfect antagonist. After all, this person must be just as charismatic, conflicted and interesting. So I started thinking about the different types of villains. Though their purpose may be the same--keep the hero and heroine from obtaining their HEA--they come with different personalities, moral codes and motivations.

The most common is the evil villain with no redeemable qualities. The first example that comes to mind is Parrish Sawyer in Linda Howard's Son of the Morning. What a corrupt son of a sea biscuit. Not to be confused with psychotic, because he wasn't. Completely lucid, intelligent and ruthless. His hunger for power and world domination eradicated all human qualities like mercy, love or empathy. He killed without compunction or conscious. By the time he received his comeuppance in the end, I kind of thought mass electrocution and pissing on himself just wasn't enough punishment! Or another great evil-doer? Nicholas Gordon in Sweet Ultimatum...hee-hee!

Now one of my favorite villains--the psycho. Nothing like a good nut! From the stalker that misinterpreted a wink as an undying vow of devotion to the killer who makes dresses out of flesh, they have their own reasons for murder and mayhem. Part of the fun is discovering what makes them tick. What is the meaning behind their ritual of murder? Unlike the evil villain, we can sometimes feel sympathy for the psycho. Depending on the reasons he or she is crazier than a s***house rat--child abuse, personality disorder, cheating spouse--we can almost not hate him or her. Sympathy. Yes. Redeemable qualities. Not so much. Example? Rebecca De Mornay in The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.

Next up, the villain you love to hate and find yourself wishing they got away with their dastardly deeds. This one is the most ambiguous. Okay, we know this person is crooked. Up to no good. Seedy. Charismatic. Robin-Hoodish. Hot. The hot-factor is almost always a must in this category. Think Denzil Washington in Training Day. Or Adam Black in Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series. Vin Diesel's Riddick in Pitch Black. They are awful but still have redeeming qualities that make you sad to see 'em go down. Get punished. Not win. They have moments of humor or generosity that counterbalance their moral weaknesses. And, yeah, they're hot.

And then there's the antagonist you just like. They are the anti-hero. The very characteristics that make them good villains also make them awesome heroes and heroines. Again, Adam Black. Sue Sylvester in Glee. They're funny, ruthless, vulnerable, scheming, heart-warming, confident and insecure. They're complex and redeemable. And too much fun to read or watch!

Who are your favorite villains and why? Do you have another type that I haven't covered? Better yet...who is the hottest villain out there in either book or movie?


Michelle Polaris said...

I like the mad villains whose original motivation was born out of something good or understandable before they became twisted and started to become actors of evil. You can almost have sympathy with them and see how they suffer. That way when they die at the end you know it's necessary, but are a bit sad for them. Twisted? Sure.

Wynter Daniels said...

I looove Sue Sylvester, although I hate it when she wins. I agree with Michelle. I want to feel sorry for the villain for his suffering - at first. Then I want to grow to hate him or her.

Savannah Stuart said...

I'll admit I didn't view Riddick as a villain and I swear it's not b/c of who played his character. He's sort of reminds me of Zsadist from the BDB series (Just read his story last week and yes, I'm playing major catch up)

I liked Roussard (can't remember the spelling?) from Linda Howard's ATQM. He was a baddie but it was all b/c of his daughter. I dunno, he pulled at my heart strings b/c he wasn't black and white in the things he did. Ruthless, yes, but he still had a heart.

Cara McKenna said...

My favorite villain-esque character of recent media is Ben Linus from Lost. He's not sexy but he's still dripping with charisma, he's smart and wiley and a fabulous liar, but at times incredibly vulnerable. His motivations are endless—power, duty, grief… I think the reason he's such a likable bad guy (if he is one, it's so hard to know on that show) is that no matter what he's doing, it's backed up by super-strong beliefs, beliefs telling him he's doing what's right. But he's not annoying or righteous, just a hard-working genius doing what he's sees as his job.

I like villains in all forms, from the simple—like Kiefer Sutherland as Ace from Stand By Me—to the insanely complex—both of the fascinating, psychologically cracked MFs in Silence of the Lambs. Oh and of course, just about everyone Alan Rickman has ever played.

Dalton Diaz said...

You had to get Vin Diesel in there, didn'tcha?

There's also the villain who has no idea they're a villain, but they're insecure or pompous and find themselves in areas of power and abuse it. These would be your religious zealouts, and military jerks high on the power of rank. One that comes to mind is Rear Admiral Tucker in Suz Brockmann's Navy Seal books.

Naima Simone said...

Ooh, Michelle, I didn't think of that. Kind of like the vigillante killer. They're avenging a wrong but then it gets out of hand and they must be stopped...because they will never stop...*high five* How can I use that?? LOL!

Naima Simone said...

Wynter, don't you just love Sue?? LOL! She is hilarious! Especially on the "Madonna" episode! Hah!! I don't mind feeling sorry for the villain in the beginning either...but like you, when they die, I don't want to mourn them! I came out of "Training Day" wondering why did he have to die?? Couldn't they have just let him ride off into a Mexican sunset or something?? LOL!

Naima Simone said...

You nailed that on the head with Roussard (I don't know if that's how you spell it either! LOL!) in All the Queen's Men. In the beginning you just thought he was your average money-hungry, immorral villain. But then when you met his daughter he suddenly became so much more and I could even find myself understanding why he'd chosen the path he did. I can tell you, I wouldn't mind reforming him! Hee-hee!!

Isn't Z's book good??!! I love him! He is soooo one of my favorites! Like Riddick, everyone sees him as dark-hearted, but he's not. He has serious issues. I guess when I think of Riddick I see him as the man who despises being a hero--even though that's what he turns out to be. But he fought that all the way to the end. I mean, didn't you think he was going to leave her on that planet at the end?? He had me guessing all the way up to when he decided to go back!

Naima Simone said...

Cara, I don't watch Lost...I didn't from the beginning and when I tried to I was hopelessly, well, lost. LOL! But my husband does and when he read your comment he was like, Oh yeah! So I'm guessing he is completely on board with you about Ben Linus. LOL

Alan Rickman! Heck yeah! He's up there with Christopher Walken when it comes to villains! Die Hard, Harry Potter, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves! I love him! And he's so funny, witty and sarcastic that you can't help but like him even while you're rooting for him to be offed!!

Naima Simone said...

Hee-hee! Dalton, what? Why whatever do you mean? LOL! Vin just happened to fall into the category I blogged about. Purely coincidence. Dontcha believe me??

You are so right! You know who I think of for the villain that doesn't know they are? Elkanah Bent in North and South. He honestly loved serving his country but power, insecurity and a neurotic fear of being disrespected turned him into the classic villain! Good point!!