Hey people and welcome to another Let’s Talk Bookish post! Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by me & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we discuss chosen topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.
Today’s topic is: What Makes a Good Villain (courtesy of Dani!)
This is an awesome topic and I am super excited to talk about it, so let’s get started!!
What makes a good villain?
#1. an amazing backstory/past.
My favorite villain is the kind who has a story that explains why s/he became the person that they are today. For example, Kaz* has such an incredible past that explains everything about him today, and it makes sense, and it’s so deep and sad.
Another great example is Victor Vale. While he’s not technically a villain, he still does some villainous stuff. With Schwab’s awesome time jumping skills, we get to see what happened to him in the past while watching his actions in the present, and bit by bit, everything comes together and makes sense and explains why he does what he does now.
Most important thing is for the backstory to make sense. All villains come from somewhere, and there has to be something which makes them a villain. Nobody is just completely plain old evil; there is something that happened to them that triggered the life path that they chose, and that trigger has to make sense and be plausible-maybe even a little sad. Which makes me sympathize with them for all of 5 seconds, and then they do something heinous and I remember why I hated them to start with.
*and I know I just literally called Kaz a villain…but you get what I’m trying to say. He’s like…a morally grey hero, who is not really a hero because he’s technically a bad guy, but also the good guy. It’s complicated. But, you get what I mean.
#2. a real villain.
What’s a real villain? A real villain is the kind of person who will slaughter everybody in their path and be amused by it. Or maybe not amused, but definitely not crying or being remorseful or sad about it. That’s not a villain….that’s more like an antihero, because that kind of person still has some kind of good in them but there’s something that’s making them do what they’re doing. An antihero can be saved. Or at least, you can work with them without fear that they’ll stab you in the back without prior warning. A villain would delight in torturing your soul.
Example: the Artifex from Ink & Bone. Now that’s a guy who has no good in him, and if he does, it’s locked up somewhere where it will never get out. He’s willing to kill children, librarians, even BURN BOOKS, just to get his way. And he’s burning treasured and rare books while being the Artifex of the Grand Library that controls everything. I’m still horrified by it.
#3. someone you can learn from. If you’ve come from a really broken past, and it’s twisted you around and made you angry at the world and determined to destroy it, or rule it, or break some prophecy, or whatever it is, then I feel like there’s something to learn from that. Especially when the backstory starts off with neglect. It’s like a reminder that everybody is human, with emotions and feelings. Abandoning them can have so many negative consequences and can result in so many bad things.
That’s not to say that all villains come from neglect, or that neglect produces a villain. It’s just that there usually was some sort of neglect or serious emotional pain inflicted on the person, and instead of them choosing the good side, their pain and hatred turned into something dangerous and powerful which pushed them to the bad side.
This point is entirely subjective, because you might not believe that there’s anything to learn from a villain, but I feel like it’s a reminder to appreciate the people around me, and not to hurt people’s feelings or abandon them.
So in the end, for me, what makes a great villain is a villain with a good and plausible backstory, a real and complete villain who really really does hate the world and the MC, and is someone that you can learn something from, or remember to be a better person by reading about them.
This Week’s Participants:
That’s it for today guys! How are y’all doing? What do you think makes a great villain? Do you agree that there’s something to learn from villains and their pasts? Would you like to see topics about antiheros, side-characters, etc? Chat with me in the comments below!