Villains: Better that They Don't Believe They Are "Evil?"

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #31
    Re: Villains: Better that They Don't Believe They Are "Evil?"

    Originally posted by Mr. Earth View Post

    I challenge anyone to write a villain or come up with an example where he/she isn't motivated by achieving their own selfish goals....oh, crap, maybe the shark in Jaws is one. Okay, besides the devil, psychopaths and forces of nature, come up with some examples of non-selfish villains.
    I'm working on a story where the villian is a religious leader, fanatical by our (U.S.) standards, who sends young suicide bombers on missions to kill innocent civilians in the name of God.

    So this guy is the villian in my particular story, for my particular audience. He is not doing his "evil" for selfish reasons.

    Comment


    • #32
      Re: Villains: Better that They Don't Believe They Are "Evil?"

      Originally posted by ATB View Post
      True, he does want chaos. But why? He enjoys it.
      Oh absolutely. But part of me wonders, does he enjoy it, or does he need it? You mentioned John Doe from Se7en, and I think if we're going to compare antagonists, The Joker and John Doe are very similar. Both of their crimes are intentionally theatrical and appalling, designed to create hysteria and to send a message. We know from John Doe's behavior and his own words that he finds this world disgusting because of what he perceives as perversions. Everyone is "sinners" to Doe. I'm being incredibly speculative here, but I wonder if The Joker feels the same level of discomfort having to live (if you can really call it that) in a society of false order. False to him at least. Several times in the movie The Joker criticizes the idea of order and authority:

      "You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all part of the plan. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!"

      So yes, you're absolutely right, I think he enjoys the chaos. I'm just going a step further and saying I think his psyche demands chaos.

      I could go on and on about villains, though. Villains are one of my favorite parts of cinema and storytelling. I forgot who the hell said it, but I really think your hero can only ever be as good as your villain is.


      Oh, and Emily - Aku is awesome.
      Ring-a-ding-ding, baby.

      Comment


      • #33
        Re: Villains: Better that They Don't Believe They Are "Evil?"

        You make some good points. I'm all for a villain being as complex, if not more, as the protagonist. So if you The Joker as that complex, awesome. I prefer a complex villain, personally.

        Comment


        • #34
          Re: Villains: Better that They Don't Believe They Are "Evil?"

          Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
          I'm working on a story where the villian is a religious leader, fanatical by our (U.S.) standards, who sends young suicide bombers on missions to kill innocent civilians in the name of God.

          So this guy is the villian in my particular story, for my particular audience. He is not doing his "evil" for selfish reasons.
          Killing innocent people in the name of [your] God is about as selfish as you can get.
          On Twitter @DeadManSkipping

          Comment


          • #35
            Re: Villains: Better that They Don't Believe They Are "Evil?"

            Originally posted by NoirDigits View Post
            Oh absolutely. But part of me wonders, does he enjoy it, or does he need it? You mentioned John Doe from Se7en, and I think if we're going to compare antagonists, The Joker and John Doe are very similar. Both of their crimes are intentionally theatrical and appalling, designed to create hysteria and to send a message. We know from John Doe's behavior and his own words that he finds this world disgusting because of what he perceives as perversions. Everyone is "sinners" to Doe. I'm being incredibly speculative here, but I wonder if The Joker feels the same level of discomfort having to live (if you can really call it that) in a society of false order. False to him at least. Several times in the movie The Joker criticizes the idea of order and authority:

            "You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all part of the plan. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!"

            So yes, you're absolutely right, I think he enjoys the chaos. I'm just going a step further and saying I think his psyche demands chaos.

            I could go on and on about villains, though. Villains are one of my favorite parts of cinema and storytelling. I forgot who the hell said it, but I really think your hero can only ever be as good as your villain is.


            Oh, and Emily - Aku is awesome.
            I think the small difference is that John Doe was trying to prove some kind of point and send a message, but for the Joker, the game and execution seemed more important than the actual outcome--although it's not as if he completely ignored the outcome after the fact.

            Probably splitting hairs, but I always felt like the Joker (especially the Dark Knight one) was driven to play a game of chaos, not necessarily to do bad things. It's just that playing a game of chaos is going to mean you're setting up some pretty evil situations. He's a literal wildcard in the game of life. To me, although disappointed that it didn't go his way, he didn't seem entirely flustered by a bad outcome because he was already on to the next social experiment in chaos. Nicholson's Joker had a little bit of that trait as well. And maybe that's what the comic Joker actually is supposed to be, but I never really followed the comic.
            On Twitter @DeadManSkipping

            Comment


            • #36
              Re: Villains: Better that They Don't Believe They Are "Evil?"

              Originally posted by Mr. Earth View Post
              Killing innocent people in the name of [your] God is about as selfish as you can get.
              A fair interpretation. But people are motivated to do things and not do things in the name of God all the time. I wouldn't agree that they are all obeying their God for selfish reasons.

              My "villian's" reasons are based on his faith. He is doing it for what he and many others truly believe is the greater good.

              Comment


              • #37
                Re: Villains: Better that They Don't Believe They Are "Evil?"

                I thought the villain in The Peacemaker was a great complex character with a tragic backstory. In a different movie, with a couple of tweaks, he could have well been the hero. Has someone already said one man's patriot is another man's terrorist?

                Comment


                • #38
                  Re: Villains: Better that They Don't Believe They Are "Evil?"

                  Anton Chigurh could be associated with the image and characteristics of Death as we know the figure. For sure.

                  But he kills without any concern for consequence. Innocent or not. Giving someone a coin toss to determine whether they die or not for no reason but his own satisfaction? Pretty sure that can be called evil.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Re: Villains: Better that They Don't Believe They Are "Evil?"

                    Chigurh kills by coin toss not for pleasure, but out of metaphysical necessity.

                    "I got here the same way the coin did."

                    There is no purpose or meaning to our deaths, only a universe of blind, pitiless indifference. His character is an anthropomorphism of this fundamentally atheistic insight.

                    To answer the OP: many of the best written heroes correctly believe that they are evil, insofar as they find themselves overcome with angst and guilt for the things they've done. Think Raskolnikov in Crime & Punishment, or to return to the Coen Bros., Tom Regan's guilt over sleeping with his best friend's woman.

                    So, if protagonists can believe they're evil, a fortiori the villains can too. Just not "mwahaha" evil, unmotivated evil, or evil whose only purpose is "because the hero needs a bad guy to fight".

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Re: Villains: Better that They Don't Believe They Are "Evil?"

                      What about if their motivation is nothing more than just whatever they are doing is what they like to do or enjoy doing? Or, what if their motivation remains more or less mystery?
                      Doable, but with a high degree of difficulty. Your villain can be a cipher, but if so, must be a fascinating one... without the humanity that tends to fuel fascination.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Re: Forteans Don't Really Believe In "Evil"...

                        Originally posted by Fortean View Post
                        Writers limited by their Manichaean morality constantly identify their protagonist as a "good" guy versus the "bad" guy antagonist. Perhaps, most writers at DD are too young to remember when the cowboys in westerns were so easily identified as "good" guys or "bad" guys by their hats. Before the age of the anti-hero, there was the Code, (and the Legion of Decency), which constantly infected films and television with melodrama.

                        The trouble still remains that a large segment of audiences going to see films do believe in "good" versus "evil", (as much as some screenwriters believe in redemption as part of an anti-hero's character arc). So, (with a condescending laugh), I
                        sez: "Go ahead, conform with the other hacks. Make that black sheep think that it's as morally correct as, (if not superior to), all those white sheep. To a big bad wolf, (or to a Fortean), knowing what "evil" lurks in the hearts of the flock, they're all just mutton, under the fleece.




                        Please don't confuse the Opium Wars with the Boxer Rebellion. And, the misery caused by the opium trade was trivial compared to the death and destruction in China wrought by Hong Xiuquan and the Taiping Rebellion.
                        ... You okay there, Fortean?

                        Originally posted by ATB View Post
                        You're kinda talking about a certain type of movie. One that scares the **** out of its audience.

                        That's not every film. Sure, The Strangers is scary. It's interesting in the way that the actions of a serial killer are interesting. You just wanna know why. And when you can't, you have to fill in the blanks yourself.

                        Same goes for The Joker and Anton Chigurh. They instill fear. And they do so without cause or motivation. They just seem to... enjoy it.

                        But these are only one type of iconic villain. You've also got, as someone mentioned, Hannibal Lecter and Bane and Magneto and The Replicants from Blade Runner and Harvey Dent and John Doe (from Se7en) and Max Cady and Gollum and Gordon Gekko and Norman Bates and Alonzo Harris and Doctor Octopus and Don Logan and Alex (from A Clockwork Orange) and even Leatherface.

                        All relatable villains in some way. All have a reason for what they do. All of them are... human. And that makes them all the more terrifying to us.
                        Nicely put.

                        Originally posted by TheConnorNoden View Post
                        To tag in late on this I think different films call for a different breed of villain. But I'm really struggling to think of a villain who is pure evil for no reason. Every single villain has the shred of humanity.
                        Why isn't because they desire or enjoy it a reason, or why does that line of reasoning make one less human? The human psyche comes in all different shades and shapes, with not one being any more "human-like" than the last.

                        Originally posted by Jon Jay View Post
                        Anton Chigurh acts logically throughout. He kills people for a reason - often a fairly slender reason and not a reason any sane person would understand, but reason nonetheless.

                        The most heavily trailed scene of that movie was the one where he flips the coin and lets the old guy at the gas station live. He has a system. A belief structure of sorts. He returns to kill Kelly MacDonald because he offered Brolin the chance to save her and he declined. He's simply doing what he said he would.

                        If he was pure evil he'd just everyone regardless and would be less interesting because of it.
                        Have to disagree at least with that last sentence, but to each their own interpretation/opinion.

                        Originally posted by Mr. Earth View Post
                        But aside from some portrayals of the devil incarnate and hellbent, insane psychopath slashers, what do almost all villains have in common? They are all selfish. Greed is the root of all evil and greed makes you perform selfishly which automatically makes you a villain in the eyes of most people.
                        If greed is at the root of all and every kind of "evil," then we human beings are quite a boring/uninteresting lot. I personally just can't agree with that sentiment.

                        Originally posted by Mr. Earth View Post
                        I challenge anyone to write a villain or come up with an example where he/she isn't motivated by achieving their own selfish goals....oh, crap, maybe the shark in Jaws is one. Okay, besides the devil, psychopaths and forces of nature, come up with some examples of non-selfish villains.
                        Depends on what you mean or how you define "selfish," and I personally do not necessarily consider characters like Anton Chigurh, The Joker or the masked strangers to be psychopathic or sociopathic; they just unfortunately have desires or enjoy doing things that are to the detriment of the rest of society.

                        Originally posted by sc111 View Post
                        I agree that different villians are required for different stories. But I think what they have in common is they're not psychologically or emotionally complex. They don't reflect on their actions or choices.

                        They're like toddlers who want what they want when they want it and when asked, "Why," the answer is usually, "Because I want it."

                        There's no rationalization of their motivation other than desire for the result or object they seek.
                        I think you may be brushing all cinematic villainy there with a bit too broad of a brush as I think there is more diversity then that, but that certainly could be true for a number of them (but not necessarily some of the ones I'm referring to or the ones I find the most interesting).

                        Originally posted by one seven spectrum View Post
                        But he kills without any concern for consequence. Innocent or not. Giving someone a coin toss to determine whether they die or not for no reason but his own satisfaction? Pretty sure that can be called evil.
                        By most common folk reasoning, I'd have to agree.

                        Originally posted by Staircaseghost View Post
                        Chigurh kills by coin toss not for pleasure, but out of metaphysical necessity.

                        "I got here the same way the coin did."

                        There is no purpose or meaning to our deaths, only a universe of blind, pitiless indifference. His character is an anthropomorphism of this fundamentally atheistic insight.
                        Perhaps that's what Cormac and/or the Coens ultimately view him as, but inside the reality or universe of the story I don't think that's the case; otherwise, the character becomes a pretentious silly snorefest.

                        I also think Anton actually enjoys (at least enough for it to subtly register at times) causing fear and taking lives, so I don't think he himself is fully indifferent to what he's doing.

                        Originally posted by Staircaseghost View Post
                        So, if protagonists can believe they're evil, a fortiori the villains can too. Just not "mwahaha" evil, unmotivated evil, or evil whose only purpose is "because the hero needs a bad guy to fight".
                        Again, I was never referring to completely unmotivated reasoning but simply just a desire or enjoyment which to me is a reason. Although, have to say I'm also again perfectly cool with a total mystery or not ever knowing what the reasoning is behind the actions of a villain as long as I find them interesting.

                        Originally posted by Craig Mazin View Post
                        Doable, but with a high degree of difficulty. Your villain can be a cipher, but if so, must be a fascinating one... without the humanity that tends to fuel fascination.
                        Why is a character/villain who do what they do because they desire or enjoy it a "cipher" or without "humanity?" We all can have dark(er) thoughts or impulses, and if someone just happens to have more of them than others and actually acts on them doesn't make them any less human to me.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Re: Villains: Better that They Don't Believe They Are "Evil?"

                          Originally posted by Craig Mazin View Post
                          Villains don't have to believe they're not evil. Frankly, evil is beside the point.

                          The villains should be motivated by something *positive*. I don't mean positive as in "nice," but positive as in "moving toward something."

                          Villains can be motivated by greed, lust, fear, envy, ideology, madness, insecurity, rejection, religion... pick your poison.

                          They must be motivated though.
                          One of my favorite villains was Dennis Hopper's Howard Payne in Speed. Completely insane, completely driven, completely single-minded. Nothing was going to separate him from his money.
                          STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Re: Forteans Don't Really Believe In "Evil"...

                            Originally posted by J Linc View Post
                            ...

                            If greed is at the root of all and every kind of "evil," then we human beings are quite a boring/uninteresting lot. I personally just can't agree with that sentiment.
                            Well, we are a boring lot when you distill everything down. Greed/Selfishness/Self-Centeredness, whatever you want to call it, is the root of all evil. It can obviously take many manifestations, but that's the nut of nearly all villains in cinema...and in real life for that matter.
                            On Twitter @DeadManSkipping

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Re: Villains: Better that They Don't Believe They Are "Evil?"

                              But isn't there a big difference between villians and bad guys?

                              I think pure villians are archetypes. Not emotionally/psychologically complex in any way. You can't imagine archetypes going home to read the evening paper or play Candyland with their kids. Bad guys can be more complex, they can and some do function within society. They simply refuse to follow society's rules.

                              The Joker is an archetype -- like the Native American's Trickster, a personifiation of chaos that defies our well-laid plans and our own moral (religious?) constructs about right-wrong/reward-punishment. The Joker/Trickster forces us to consider that the universe is indifferent to our suffering and chaos often rules.

                              Chigurh is also an archetype in my opinion. He's death carrying around his schythe (sp?) with a little of the Sphinx thrown in (i.e. your fate depends on answering the Sphinx's question correctly). There are similar mythic characters throughout many cultures.

                              Hans Gruber is a classic bad guy out for money and willing to kill anyone who gets between him and the prize. But if you give him what he wants, you will live. Still, you can imagine he has a normal life somewhere with family who care about him; the sequel shows that.

                              John Doe from Se7en is definitely more villian-like because his insanity has driven him to think and act like an archetype. He doesn't even have a name. But one could argue that with the right dose of lithium he wouldn't have done any of those things. John Doe personifies society's mistakes coming back to haunt.

                              I'm wondering that, if you make your bad guy highly emotionally complex, can he ring true? How emotionally complex can a character be and still be bereft of any sense of humanity? Still be soul-less without a conscience? It's something to think about.
                              Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Re: Forteans Don't Really Believe In "Evil"...

                                Originally posted by Mr. Earth View Post
                                Well, we are a boring lot when you distill everything down. Greed/Selfishness/Self-Centeredness, whatever you want to call it, is the root of all evil. It can obviously take many manifestations, but that's the nut of nearly all villains in cinema...and in real life for that matter.
                                I think that that's simply altogether too simple a view even to encompass movie villains, never mind any meaningful moral framework.

                                There are plenty of genuine patriots or religious leaders or people who do things for their families where the "things" that they do are frankly abominable -- and for you to twist that into "selfishness" by suggesting -- well, they've simply extended the definition of self to include family, country, divinity -- is to simply render the term meaningless -- especially since there are countless examples, in real life and in the movies, where the villains are literally willing not only to kill, but to die to achieve their nefarious ends.

                                When you're willing to die for what you believe, whether it's for the cause of the Confederacy, the Nazi party, the Communist Party, the worship of Baal, or you name it, you may call it what you will -- but "selfish" it certainly cannot be.

                                NMS

                                Comment

                                Working...
                                X