Hero/Villain Dynamic

In my last post I started with the Hero/Sidekick dynamic, though I did go into an example using Batman [read: I clung to it tightly as I ranted off my comic knowledge.] I feel like I covered quite a few different types of sidekicks. For today I’m going to keep away from the the Bat-family and talk more about villains in general. I may reference the Joker but I promise that will only be in one style.

With every hero, there is usually a corresponding villain. Now we have many, many choices into what type of villain we go with but for the most part the cliche’ villains follow the same formula:

Image from Of Battles, Dragons, and Swords of Adamant

And it is with this formula where they fail every time, but one question I have is this: Do they get caught because they want to? Or are they just so inherently bad that they have no choice?

The Start of a Villain

Even though every hero needs a villain, but the truth is they don’t always need a connection from the beginning of the story. Often in modern literature we see the villain starting off as a outcast who either is scorned by the hero in some way, or uses the hero to take out any forms of evilness that comes upon them. But they usually have the hero and villain knowing, or knowing of each other before the actual plot begins.

Another way to introduce a villain’s connection to the hero is through prophecy. An easy way to connect them without the need of much backstory between the two but still a small connection. In this way the hero becomes a target without the need to initiate the creation of the villain.

The final way to create a villain is to give them no connection at all to the hero. They were just there causing chaos when all of a sudden the hero shows up and just ruins everybody’s fun. Difficult to create since there is no standing tension between them.

The Dynamic Itself

With heroes and villains, the way they talk to each other is very specific and is based off of both their personalities and their history together.

A hero who has defeated a villain before may be confident when he speaks but doesn’t realize that the villain has new tricks up his sleeve. Also the villain may seem cocky at first when he meets the hero, believing in their own invincibility, and not realize that the hero has the magic item needed to defeat them until it’s too late. Or the hero can be a simple character that is absolutely terrified, and probably wet himself, in the sight of the villain and only needs the confidence boost of people believing in him to help him defeat the villain.

But at the end of the day, one thing rings true. The villain and hero do not get along, if anything they probably hate each other and are the most common form of prejudice throughout the history of literature. It is only until recently do you see stories of redemption for the villains, but I’m more partial to the mutilation seen in the original Grimm Brother’s fairy tales. The redemption stories reach into the little fuzzy piece of us that wants second chances for everybody. But does that still make them a villain if there is a chance of rehabilitation? For example, rehab never works for Batman villains. (This is that one reference.) It took Joker’s multiple attempts at killing Harley Quinn before she realized she couldn’t be with him anymore. And how many times has she been sent to Arkham? She still isn’t a complete hero but her antics are still fun.

The hero on the other had does not always stay the white knight we start them off to be. There will probably come a time where their morals are tested and the capability do become corrupted will occur. The villain can reveal some truth unknown to the hero that will make them question everything. Not only do they balance each other, but they do have the ability to tip their own scales. Every hero has the ability to become an even worse villain that what you started with, and who knows maybe your villain is the hero after all.

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