Nice From the Outset = Villain

Spoilers, by nature, ahead.

It's an incredibly common trope, especially in romantic comedies (or any form of fictional media with a romance sub-plot) for the couple who are going to get together to have some sort of dislike, friction, or reason to think of each other as enemies from the get go.

Similarly, the "competent rival" or "rogue who's just in it for personal gain" in chapter one is likely to be the best friend by chapter omega (possibly so they can be killed off by the "real" bad guy to establish them as a serious and evil threat) or the one who comes around morally and swoops in to save the day at the eleventh hour. Siskel and Ebert had an outline of Tom Cruise's early movies that suggested that "proto rival who becomes best friend" was a common element in a great many of them.

Less talked about is the opposite, which is becoming in some ways every bit as predictable. If someone is nice and friendly from the beginning- especially if they're in some way the superior of the protagonist they're being nice and friendly to- dollars to doughnuts, they're the villain or a traitor.

Liev Schreiber's character in Salt is one example. Oh, he's her superior. And he treats her with respect. And they have this nice kind of banter with each oth- he's going to be trying to kill her before this is over, isn't he?

Krysten Ritter's novel Bonfire has an example that's so obvious (in an otherwise pretty well-written yarn) that it's painful. Listen, lady- if you're in this kind of novel, and someone asks you if you've told anyone else about the big conspiracy before arranging to meet you somewhere private... And they're part of the evil conglomerate you've come to town to investigate, no less...

It was also one of the few things that disappointed me about Coco. We were so close to getting through the movie without having a real villain. There was plenty of conflict to be resolved without adding one at the eleventh hour. And yet... Some cliches, Disney apparently can't let go.

Anyone else have examples come to mind? Or for that matter, subversions?

It's funny- I remember liking Salt. Like, really liking Salt. So much I would happily rewatch it. And yet, i remember absolutely nothing about it aside from the trailer scenes near the start and her running through the scrub at the end. I should watch it again.

In the directors commentary for Hot Fuzz, they talk about this type of character, and how Butterman pretty much had to have that turn as a matter of course. They joked about it like it was an unwritten law that the initial benevolent character just -has- to have that turn. It seemed a bit of a shame really that it's considered such a narrow path such a character has to go down.

See Stranger Things, season two.

Zootopia comes to mind.

Frezzato:
See Stranger Things, season two.

Son of a bitch, that's what I was going to say! Namely

Also Wreck-it Ralph, Batman Begins, Paranorman, Coraline, and Killer Joe (to a horrifying degree).

But I think we all know who the high watermark of this trope is

Heel turn villains aren't interesting if they are obvious, pushing a character on the edge into villainy is fare more entertaining as all they needed was a wee push to become a villain or a "hero".

bartholen:

While this is a great example of a thwarted trope, and spot-on topic...as an aside, I thought...

the December King:

bartholen:

While this is a great example of a thwarted trope, and spot-on topic...as an aside, I thought...

I was trying to come up with other examples and it didn't take me long to think of Islington from Neverwhere, who has the twofer of "trust him because he's friendly" and "trust him because he is a literal angel"

the December King:
While this is a great example of a thwarted trope, and spot-on topic...as an aside, I thought...

Well, and then there's also...

I was hoping that this was how Ray was going to go in the latest Star Wars movie, in that case it would have been awesome and a real twist to the story. Unfortunately it was too risky for Disney and they just toyed with it a bit.

 

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