Everybody wants to be like me
The villain is the one that you came to see
Sick of all the good guys saving the day
‘Cause the villain always wins when the hero’s away
– Theory of a Deadman, Villain
I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s nothing that makes a story so thrilling like a good villain to raise the stakes. Someone particularly cunning to give our good guys something to fight against. Someone with great plans, great intelligence, and usually a great smile, often used on a female protagonist or when plans go infinitely right. Even though they usually leave death and destruction in their wake, they add so much more to the story. Suspense to the max. A battle between good and evil. Grueling consequences.
As someone who’s interested in psychology and how the mind works, it’s also really interesting for me to find out about any back-story to these villains; what motivated them to choose for evil to prevail. While I’m fascinated about their motives, I don’t really need a tragic past to justify their actions. I like it better when they’re confident in their villain-ness instead of just bitter. Have them revel in it. Let them have a good time with it. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good redemption story as much as the next guy, but… real villains are/have more fun. 😉
It doesn’t help that they’re usually incredibly good-looking either. Like, what are you doing to my morals? I’m supposed to be rooting for the good guy here, yet I can’t help being physically attracted to the villain. And then they give him a sense of humour too, and yup, guess who I want to win? It’s like they’re saying, “Come to the dark side, we have sexy men.”
Here’s a list of some of my favourite villains.
Loki, Thor/The Avengers
“You were made to be ruled.”
I’ll admit right away: part of Loki’s charm is the fact that he’s played by Tom Hiddleston. But there’s also the fact that he’s played by Tom Hiddleston, and did I mention he’s played by Tom Hiddleston?
I think a lot of fangirls associate Loki with the term “misunderstood” — you know, our way of trying to find an excuse for his behaviour. Because he’s killed so many people and has no qualms with taking over planets, but when he puts up those puppy eyes, you just feel his sense of betrayal seeping through and all you want to do is give him a hug. Why can’t we just give him a planet, guys? All he wants is a planet.
He’s not bad to look at, either. Just sayin’.
The Darkling, the Grisha series
“Make me your villain.”
Don’t deny it, you were all secretly hoping the Darkling was a good guy in Shadow and Bone. Because he had charm by the buckets and he was good-looking, and he knew how to use them both on our gullible protagonist. On top of that, he was always clad in black and wielded darkness, which just sounds really cool. But darkness always has a way of getting under your skin. And he got under our skin good. Darkness holds power, and power is alluring. But in the end, how could a guy called The Darkling not be bad? I definitely like him better when he’s bad.
The Master, Doctor Who
“Here come the drums.”
I love the Master so much, it’s not even funny. But just this regeneration of the Master, not the next regeneration. Missy is just… no. But John Simm’s Master? Love him.
I made up a term for this type of villain, which is by far my favourite type: the “psychotically happy” villain. They’re evil through and through, but they’re just so pleased with themselves whenever they get something right, and they shout it from the rooftops. Not only that, but there’s a good amount of crazy going on in their brains, which makes them all the more interesting.
It’s also just a really good story because there’s a small shred of good left in him — we know it, the Doctor knows it, so it’s really a matter of will he/won’t he. But when they’re not yapping about the fact that he can still turn things around, he’s so much fun to watch.
Julian, The Forbidden Game
“I’m as cruel as life. As cruel as love.”
Julian was one of the first villains I ever truly sympathised with, even though he’d been following Jenny around for years and had some serious creeping skills going on. You just couldn’t help not liking him in the end, because even though he was a Shadow Man — a creature that lives in the darkness — he wasn’t purely evil. He’d found the very clichéd “light to his darkness” and simply wanted to do anything to hold on to that. Even if it meant kidnapping a teenage girl and threatening to kill all her friends if she doesn’t stay with him forever. Still, I totally ended up rooting for him a little bit, because he wanted to be different from the other Shadow Men. See? Told you I could be a sucker for a good redemption story.
“I will burn the heart out of you.”
Moriarty also falls under the “psychotically happy” category — just look at all the times he randomly STARTS YELLING IN THE MIDDLE OF A SENTENCE. On top of that, he’s also incredibly cunning, ridiculously smart, entertaining, and just downright creative (e.g. playing Molly’s closeted gay boyfriend to get closer to Sherlock), which makes him all the more fun to watch. He scares the living daylight out of me, but I can’t help but love him. Easily my favourite Sherlock character (although Lestrade is a close second, for obvious reasons) (it’s because he’s dishy, in case it wasn’t obvious).
Gaston, Beauty & the Beast
I don’t really like him because he’s a great villain or anything. He’s kind of a mysogynist scumbag. I just love him because I find it hilarious how much he’s in love with himself. I can totally see him standing in the mirror for an hour or two every morning and kissing his biceps and winking at himself. He’s like the Johnny Bravo of Disney. Just imagine Gaston going, “Hello, 911 Emergency? There’s a handsome guy in my bathroom! Hey, wait a second. Cancel that – it’s only me!” It’s especially funny because in Gaston’s ode to Gaston, they sing, “No one’s neck’s as incredibly thick as Gaston’s”. In Dutch, “having a thick neck” means you’ve got a massive ego. And, well, Gaston’s ego’s so big it could cause a solar eclipse.
I know that secretly
Everybody’s rooting for me
Also, I can’t help but imagine how cool it would be to actually have the villain win the battle. They always bite the dust in the end. What kind of story would that give, how would things look after that? Or would they all just dance around and sing “I can’t decide whether you should live or die” like the Master did? I know Brandon Sanderson played around with that idea a little in Mistborn (evil conquering, not the dancing), but I want more.
I’ll always want more.
Because being on the side of the angels is boring.
Who’s your favourite villain?