Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What makes a memorable villain?

After coming back from my third (yes, third. Don't judge me.) viewing of The Avengers movie last week, I realized that while watching the movie, I'd somehow become more interested in the character of villain, Loki, than in all the heroes. I really wanted to know why. I mean, the guy has the most ridiculous hat ever. If I had just seen a photo of the character without seeing the movie, I'd be crying from laughter on account of the hat alone.

Don't mock the hat.

My husband regularly pokes fun at me for loving the bad guys in movies/books/whatever, but I've noticed that it's not just ANY villain. So, I set out to find out what exactly it is that a villain has to have to earn my love, so I can bring some of those characteristics to my villains in my own stories. I decided to use my current obsession, Loki, as an example because he rocks and it gives me an excuse to Google images of him.

Trait 1: The main thing seems to be that I'm drawn to a villain who not only has reasons for what he is doing (ie, not just being evil for the sake of evil), but who I can also totally see being turned into a "good guy" with the right storytelling. In Loki's case, it's obvious his issues stem from jealousy of his adopted brother Thor. While Thor has been a giant war-mongering idiot for the first half of their lives (seriously, I wanted to punch him most of the time in that first movie), Loki has sort of languished away in the background while others adore his brother. Also, finding out your real parents are creepy blue frost people has to be damaging to the psyche. But, despite everything he's done, I still think he has potential to join the good guy team. (... Also, though I know chances are slim to none, if he fell in love with a human girl in the process, I would be obscenely happy. Because I am ridiculous like that.)

This is the face of the man who needs a hug.

Trait 2: Style. If you're going to be evil, you have to look good doing it. This means either being pretty or so awesome that people just suddenly start to think you're pretty regardless. In Loki's case, I remember in the Thor movie thinking he was pretty greasy-looking and not all that impressive compared to his brother. But in the Avengers movie, he suddenly got all this confidence and suddenly he was bizarrely attractive -- regardless of the greasy hair and silly hat.

All dressed up just to go poke somebody's eye out.

Trait 3: Kind of linked to my number one, a villain has to have a likable personality. He can't be killing kittens and maiming old ladies. And, yes, I guess that Loki's army was killing people, but that wasn't necessarily what he wanted (and I thought he even looked a little remorseful when Thor pointed out the destruction to him). Loki wanted his own planet to rule. I almost wanted him to win, and felt bad for him when he gets beaten. It's almost like he's trying TOO hard to be a villain at times, and isn't very good at it. (Am I the only one who -- after laughing hysterically -- made a sad face after Loki's "confrontation" with the Hulk?)

For the love of god, someone please let this man finish a monologue.

So there are my main three traits for what makes me really enjoy a villain. Is there anything I didn't think of? Any particular traits that I didn't mention that make you enjoy a bad guy? Feel free to comment below! (Or just look at pictures of Loki. That's fine, too. Several of these photos are going to be rotating as my computer background for a while....)

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