Thursday, 16 July 2009

Excellent Unrelatable Villains

I've been thinking a lot lately about villains. I'm trying to decide what makes a great villain. So often the advice is the same.
  • Make him relatable
  • Give him strengths we can admire
  • Don't have him send his minions to certain death
  • Make him seem more human (even if he isn't human)

Is a nicey-nicey villain really the best we can come up with?

I have in mind a movie villain. I'm not going to say which one yet. Feel free to try and work it out.

This villain received almost no criticism at all. Rave reviews were given by everyone. He was loved.

  • He wasn't in anyway relatable. I'm not even sure if he was sane.
  • Despite loving this character (and before the movie I wasn't a fan of him in the other mediums he has been presented in) I admired little about him.
  • Some of his plans actually hinged on all of his minions dying.
  • He did things to make him seem less human, if that was possible. In fact, he told a story about an abusive father that immediately made me feel sympathetic towards him. Not long after that, he told a completely different story about his wife, showing that he was a liar and any sympathy gained was false sympathy.

Do you know who it was? B Mac, you at least had better know.

It was TDK's Joker, played by Heath Ledger. The best movie villain ever. Better evan Darth Vader.

To break up the text here's a picture.

Yes, I know it's an onion. Like onions, villains should have layers.

What makes the Joker so amazing?

  • He has ALL the best lines in the movie (as opposed to BB, where Batman had the best lines)
  • His face paint is not just a clown, it's a seriously screwed up clown
  • He's just having so much fun
  • Again, because it's important, he's just having so much fun
  • His plans are pure genius
  • You really get the impression that he's unstoppable

I think the fact that he has the best lines is part of it. His dialogue is the wittiest, his speech the most quotable. A big factor is also his appearance; purple suit, skanky hair, the make-up.

He looks awesome.

Some of that is just wardrobe, and some is body language. His head is often bowed forward, as if he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.

This can be hard to convey in a novel.

But dialogue is easy. I'll do a post soon on snappy dialogue and how to write one-liners, but in the meantime, let's concentrate on the Joker.

He's the most intelligent character in the movie. He thinks rings around the rest of them. When Batman gets a fingerprint and traces it to an address, he discovers not only has he been sent on a wild goose chase, he has become the decoy... the police start shooting at him leaving the Joker's men to shoot at the mayor.

This leads, eventually, to the Joker being arrested... which was what he had been planning for all along. The entire story moves where the Joker wants it to move. Everyone he goes against has rules and plans... he quips at one point "Do I look like a man with a plan?"

He is able to anticipate every action Batman and the police force will take. The Joker can then outthink them. He's a logical creature, an enemy of logic, but still able to understand it. He wants to disrupt life by spreading chaos.

But he doesn't understand emotion, and in the end that's why his final plan (with the 2 boats) fails... it depends on people making emotional decisions, not logical ones.

So why, then, is the Joker so awesome?

Ultimately I think it comes down to four things, three of which can be conveyed in a novel.

  • Dialogue
  • Intelligence
  • Fun

I've covered dialogue and intelligence. Fun, then.

In everything we see the Joker do, he seems to be having fun. The fun is contagious. We're seen having fun just by watching him.

There should be more villains like him in fiction. Villains who are witty, intelligent, and fun. Villains that, despite being completely evil, we can't help but love.

What do you think?


Removed dead links.
Took out the adverts.

Gave the place a lick of paint.

Woo hoo hoo, looking good

Friday, 10 July 2009


I recently visited Summerlee Heritage Park in Coatbridge. Here's the website:

It was free to get into, and the day was just fantastic.

Now I can write about trams having traveled on one myself.