Editor's Note: Anti/Villain

Anti/Villain

Russ Pitts roots for the bad guys. Don't you?

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I too always prefered bad guys, i used to make up secret badguy hideouts and fortresses with my friend then we made plans to take over the world or defeat the hero, i too love it when the hero is kinda dark or crazy, like rosarch for instance, even though rosarch isn't a perfect example for a hero.

standokan:
I too always prefered bad guys, i used to make up secret badguy hideouts and fortresses with my friend then we made plans to take over the world or defeat the hero, i too love it when the hero is kinda dark or crazy, like rosarch for instance.

Except Rorschach isn't supposed to be a hero...

Honestly I'm a bit burnt out on the unstable hero thing, it's been played to death lately. I do like characters like The Shield's Vic Mackie where they're ambiguous, but not when they're actually unstable, dark or legitimately cracked.

I'll attest to this. I nearly always find the bad guy, or, the person playing the oppositte role to the hero alot more intresting.

As, mentioned above, they get stuff done, they dont wait, they are proactive, and make decision, knowing it needs to be done...

Whereas a hero follows the path set before them, sometimes seemingly blindly, or for no reason.

A bad guy, always has a motive, a reason, something driving them, and, thats makes them more human at times too.

Long live the bad guy! heh

I loved the article. I identify with a lot of what is written in it.
Fictional villains are interesting! Many of them have some pretty convoluted, yet harmless plans, and really cool costumes. It's always frustrating to know they will ultimately lose to the boring, predictable, buzzkilling, douchebag heroes, which is why I'm working on a novel that upends the table on the whole convention.

Damn good article. Personally, that's why I love playing Evil Genius - magnificently funny and interesting.

Villains are interesting characters, but this article identifies just why they are brillaint.

I see a logical flaw here. There are many kinds of villains - but as long we are talking about the underground base-owning type, they usually have more or less serious intention to take over the world for themselves. Now imagine if you will: one of those guys has succeeded in clearing the way to world domination (killed the hero[es], taken out enemy leadership, whatever). Eventually he becomes a dictator, if not of entire planet then of a sizable country at least.

Now, aren't dictators known to be bad people? To uphold their own power they are willing to kill millions of people, inflict horrible torture on someone who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, create atmosphere of fear or hatred (or both) in their domain, hire serial rapists and other really bad people to do their bidding, and generally turning what they rule into an intolerably grim and dark place. Case in point: Josef Stalin.

What i'm trying to tell here is simple: most villains may be appealing, even sympathetic - as long as they don't do anything to you. Nothing wrong with desire to take whole world for yourself, but it also dosen't hurt to imagine how horrible it would be if someone else takes it. And then goes and kills you, your loved ones, and your dog (in a horrible, very painful way) for some minor misdeed on your part or simply for fun.

DISCLAIMER #1: Villains with "freudian excuses", anti-villains and such are partially or even mostly exempt from this.

DISCLAIMER #2: Yeah. I'm in ur thread, crushing ur power fantasies. Someone has to be Major Buzzkill and bring up the opposite side of the coin, now mustn't he?

I can think of one villian who wins quite often (causing the hero to go off training, come back and kick his ass making him retreat before he comes back and does it all over again in the next episode).

Fascinating article.
Villains are supposed to be on the wrong side, by default. That's what the word means (at least in modern English; we'll leave aside the etymology that traces it back to Latin words for "country folk"). But once you start identifying with a villain, your mind really starts to go in strange directions. Sometimes they can even seem very sympathetic to you, until even their schemes seem more rational than the heroes'.

I played a villain in a LARP campaign in high school, and it was an eye-opening experience. I never thought of him as the villain - he was simply a person in a position of power who had been denied a leadership position that he felt, with some justification, to have been his by right. None of the other characters in the game saw it that way, but for him, getting what he believed he deserved was his goal, to an extent that it didn't seem wrong for him to hire an assassin to be rid of his rival. Actually seeing the character's descent, failure, and death was oddly ambivalent. He never felt like a villain to me.

I did something similar in a World of Warcraft storyline recently, and it was hard to see my character as a villain when all she wanted to do was make the world a safe and peaceful place. (Course it was under her iron-fisted rule, obviously.) It became steadily harder to take part in something that I knew I was doomed to failure in. Even when I knew she was a villain, I liked her. I sympathised with her and wanted her to succeed, even when I knew it was impossible.

Villains are the enemy. But things sure look different when you look at the world from their eyes.

I feel this way but for Antu-Heroes.
I named the feeling after my first experience with this.
I call it the Raphael effect.

Its definitely easy to sympathize with a certain type of "bad guy" but it really depends, doesn't it? I mean I definitely don't have any good feelings for psychopaths: rapists, serial killers, etc. But then there's the guy who maybe feels wronged, or feels like he could do it better if he just had the chance. The problem is the way they go about getting their way. If they worked within the system (calling the cops, running for office...) it might take a long time or they might not get the results they want at all. But when they go outside the system, now they're stepping on other people and I can't sympathize with that. The vigilante who kills the bad guy may have killed the wrong person, or the crime he did might not warrant a death sentence. The guy who manipulates things to get his way is causing people who are working within the system to lose their chance.

So no, I don't generally sympathize with the bad guy even if they do make him sympathetic.

Two words: Big Boss.

It's awesome how Kojima introduces a typical fortress building villain, and have him be defeated by the most typical hero ever (Big Boss vs. Snake in MG1 and MG2, both for the MSX). Almost two decades and two sequels later, he releases a game (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater) at which you play as the young, heroic version of the same man that YOU KNOW is going to become a fortress building mad man. And then you get to play with him again, but now showing how the hero becomes a mad man (Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker).

And when you see things from his eyes, you discover he was not that bad at all, which is why everyone around him seemed to like him so much, and even the resistance memebers of Outer Heaven turned to be his allies in MG2.

After playing MG1 and MG2 (MSX), you feel like Big Boss is a crazy old bastard. After playing MGS3, MGSPO and MGSPW, you feel like Solid Snake is a stupid dog that does whatever they tell him, and that Big Boss was an honorable man.

I like the shift of paradigms in a story.

I, so to speak, never root for the hero. Usually because the villain is much more relatable (in anime anyways), but it's true that regular comic book villains are more interesting too. I can't deny i think Batman is awesome, but the Riddler, the Joker and Hugo Strange, to mention a few, have so much to add. The psychological aspect is what makes it so interesting to read the dialogue between the good and the bad guys.
As for anime i think that, not usually the main villain but, the people working for them are more relatable as people.

Thats why "The Empire Strikes Back" is my favorite Star Wars film.

There's a reason that most villains in the majority of games aren't any more direct in their actions, because if they were, it would be impossible to have any interest in them, other than hoping the hero does them in. As the editorial mentions so offhandedly at the end, it would be very difficult to identify with a suicide bomber (in most cases), but what about a man who employs them? Kane from C&C comes to mind, and that man is responsible for the deaths of untold millions, yet he's exceedingly entertaining in most of his incarnations.

There are plenty of real world villains who enjoy huge followings, because to those who follow them, they're the heroes and the rest of the world stands against them.

I think it is also an underdog thing because we just know that they are going to lose.

For me it is a catharsys. I like villains for the same reasons I like fatalities which are evil by nature.

EightGaugeHippo:
Thats why "The Empire Strikes Back" is my favorite Star Wars film.

Not only my favorite Star Wars movie, but my favorite of all time! I loved this article because people have always looked at me askew when I tell them that I almost always root for the villain, because heroes tend to be too 'vanilla', with a few notable exceptions, namely BATMAN!. The villain is always more interesting because people tend to try to wrap their minds around the WHY of the villain, which is why I will defend the necessity of the Prequel Trilogy to my urn (you better not bury me in the ground!). People often fail to understand the complexity of the villain, and for that reason the Joker is one of my favorites. People like a villain who has redeemable qualities, like Vader, because on the whole people fail to comprehend the irredeemable. I think that's one of the reasons Heath Ledger (RIP) had such a difficult time personally with the Joker because there is no redemption, no hope for bringing him to the 'light side'. He is the embodiment of evil and chaos; no one clearly knows why, he is just a force of nature. Anyway I could go on, but I would be remiss if I didn't list my top favorite movie villains (the list would be a LOT longer if I included books too!)
1. Darth Vader
2. Hannibal Lecter
3. Joker (Ledger only slightly over Nicholson)
4. The Ring from LotR (that's right watch 'em close; the ring is as much of a character as any of the other cast)
5. The Predadors
6. John Doe (Se7en)
7. Kaiser Soze (Usual Suspects)
8. Senator/Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious
9. Sutter Cain (In the Mouth of Madness)
10. The Aliens

Good one Russ, very interesting.

But are you saying then, that the good guys can't get shit done? While your evil-boss goes around kiling people, the good guys are the ones who figure out a plan to stop him, and then they do it too! I'm sorry but I'm always the one rooting for the good-side, the heroes.

Although I'll admit that I CAN symphasize with the villains, and understand why they became evil in the first place.

I always cheer for the villains. The hero is always a charismatic, well-adjusted, good looking guy, who always gets the hottest girl in the room.

The villain is usually a tortured genius and a loner, bald, and only has his underlings who are in it for the money.

No matter how many killer robots or assassins are in his corner, the villain will always be the underdog.

Nothing like living in a post-post-modernism age in which the basic foundations of storytelling have been torn down, built back up, and torn down again. Villains used to be the guys that just sat up shouting 'Oh my, how evil I am!' but now they're expected to be believable. And, of course, the rise of the anti-hero has its ups and downs, but its ups are great. (And its downs are also great, in the So Bad It's Good sense of great.)

Although it's still hard to see villains that don't see themselves as evil. I mean, come on. Hitler thought it was his destiny to save the world from all that was destroying it, and fictional villains with relatively mild expectations can barely justify them.

Still, my favourite villain has to be Xykon from Order of the Stick. He could give classes on being evil without being stupid.

Kollega:
Now, aren't dictators known to be bad people? To uphold their own power they are willing to kill millions of people, inflict horrible torture on someone who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, create atmosphere of fear or hatred (or both) in their domain, hire serial rapists and other really bad people to do their bidding, and generally turning what they rule into an intolerably grim and dark place. Case in point: Josef Stalin.

The idea of a benevolent dictatorship exists, although only in theory. For instance, I've heard that Dr. Doom, the Fantastic Four villain, is an awesome ruler and turns every place he runs into paradise on earth, only then he gets bored and decides to invade some other place and ruin everything. For a more real perspective, Fidel Castro is pretty much your textbook dictator, right down to the military hat, curly beard and apparent immortality, and just thinking he's not very pretty can get you a beating there, but the illiteracy rate in Cuba is something like 0.1%. Now don't you think that if someone could get that illiteracy rate that way without all the oppression it would be a pretty nice place to live?

Or it could be Brave New World. Yeah, probably this one.

I've always preferred a well-written antagonist to any other variety of character archetype. Well thought, and well said.

And if you ever do decide to become a villain, and need a henchwoman, I'm your girl.

Russ Pitts:
Editor's Note: Anti/Villain

Russ Pitts roots for the bad guys. Don't you?

Rooting for the bad guy in fiction is one thing, but with anti-heroes I often can't figure out who the villain is.

Take Dirty Harry Callahan. He's the main character. If he were actually on a REAL police force, however, he would be a serious menace to society. People would be rioting in Oakland because he killed a perp without the proper procedures. Seriously, what if your stupid kid brother got stopped for speeding by Harry Callahan? You'd be worrying about how you could get a surgeon to put your kid brother's face back together.

In fiction, it's easy to say that the bad guy is the only sympathetic character.

Trying to extrapolate over to real life (as Russ Pitts does at the end of the article) opens up a large can of worms.

The Random One:
The idea of a benevolent dictatorship exists, although only in theory.

Yup, it does - but a benevolent dictator who only takes away freedom to improve living quality is an exception, not a rule. Let's face it: even in our post-post-modernism age you've so appropriately mentioned, the bulk of villains (over 50%, i'd say) don't have any "higher idea" - they just want to conquer and then rule shit. Those who do have that sort of idea though are true anti-villains.

Or it could be Brave New World. Yeah, probably this one.

I should probably quote George Orwell here and say: "man cannot live by hedonism alone". Well, i can't, at least.

kementari:
I've always preferred a well-written antagonist to any other variety of character archetype. Well thought, and well said.

Well written and thought out antagonists are great, in fact here's a like to a couple of them. Some of the villains start out very poorly written, but become greater than their stories.

My current favorite character though is, well for lack of a better term difficult to define. Her first appearance appeared to be as a villain, but she's not. I wouldn't call her a hero though, she does what she needs to do to get the job done. Her name is Abigail Brand, and she is awesome. As far as I know, her first appearance is in the Astonishing X-Men graphic novels.

IGN Comic book villains(1 by 1 slideshow, if you don't count the alphabetical list at the bottom) - http://comics.ign.com/top-100-villains/

It is pretty impressive how villains manage to get shit done even when they lose. In the Bond films, the opening sequence is usually about them tying up some lose end. The only flaw is that they can't find a way to do it without getting MI6 involved. It occurs to me that if these people had put as much attention into "public relations" (bribery) as they did into super-lasers, Bond would be working for them. I see all these evil plans get developed so smoothly then I remember the healthcare debate and I feel like crying. Why can't the goodies get shit done? :(

Remove just the right mental check and/or balance and suddenly it doesn't really matter what other people think of you. It doesn't matter who you hurt or what you destroy. Clear your mind of all existential angst and suddenly the difference between right and wrong recalibrates - what is right is what you want right to be, and what is wrong is anything that stands in the way of that.

It's this right here which makes me afraid of going insane. As a teen, it chilled me to think just how easily I could manipulate people to my own ends if I were to destroy my own "Bubba." Thankfully I realize to do that, though, would be to destroy a part of myself, and that's something I cannot do. Hopefully, that will never change.

Nice piece, Russ.

Blue-State:
It is pretty impressive how villains manage to get shit done even when they lose. In the Bond films, the opening sequence is usually about them tying up some lose end. The only flaw is that they can't find a way to do it without getting MI6 involved. It occurs to me that if these people had put as much attention into "public relations" (bribery) as they did into super-lasers, Bond would be working for them. I see all these evil plans get developed so smoothly then I remember the healthcare debate and I feel like crying. Why can't the goodies get shit done? :(

Getting stuff done is considerably easier in fiction than in real life.

See also:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WellIntentionedExtremist

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IDidWhatIHadToDo

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AntiVillain

You applaud how they get shit done, til they get shit done to you.

ETA: Done not down lol

 

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