Today, I think it’s time to talk about the villains. Yes, you heard me. What makes them tick? What are their motivations? Especially since an intelligent villain always has an ulterior motive. To do this, I think that the best way is to go and look at a list of villains.
1. The Sidious archetype. Another villain falling into this category would have to be “IT”, from Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.” Her Time Trilogy actually doesn’t have any named villains other than “IT,” because after that… it’s all Echthroi. Of course, in “Many Waters,” there are the Nephilim, but “Many Waters” isn’t neccessarily part of the trilogy. (An Echthros is, for those of you who may be wondering, roughly equivalent to a demon. You know what they are. The destroyers. The haters. The dragons. The worms. Anyway…) Sidious and “IT” are archetypes of this villain because they are basically capable of anything and everything to accomplish their goals. They don’t care who gets in the way or who dies. But they each (oddly enough) run across one person whom they will do ANYTHING to corrupt and possess (i.e., Anakin Skywalker and Charles Wallace Murry.) This is not a necessary requirement for this archetype, however. This type of villain is totally ruthless, but I would not say that they were amoral, simply disgusting. For the same (probably impossible to articulate) reason, Sidious does not strike me as particularly intelligent (even though he undoubtedly is,) merely cunning, conniving. This type of villain does not seem to have any emotions, and does not go on a rage-induced killing spree under normal circumstances. Unlike her husband, I would class Lady Macbeth in this group, because she is after power and doesn’t seem to have any of the complexities that would place her in the next. Another villain in this class: Maguda Razan, from “The Angel’s Command.”
2. Dooku/Xanatos/Ublaz/Robespierre-style complex villains. Yes, you saw it. I prefer Xanatos and Dooku to Sidious. Dooku is probably the most forthcoming of these villains. These villains are heartless and truly amoral, charming and deadly. They tend to have a very high, classy intelligence (they’re the sort of people who would quote Shakespeare to their victims before roasting them alive) and taste. They don’t go in for decadent, generally (like the type 1, Sidious archetype), because they prefer understated elegance. (I say generally, because this is not a requirement.) However, they will not hesitate to throw ALL their troops at one target if they want its destruction. These villains are not prone to fits of wrath (at least, not so much; you’d be astounded by what a villain was capable of), but may have them occasionally. At the same time, they generally are not seen on the battlefield, preferring to orchestrate things from behind the scenes. But when they are there, WATCH OUT. I have heard it said that, should Obi-Wan Kenobi turn bad, he would have likely been another Dooku, only more deadly. Sure, they are kind of similar; both have an above-average intelligence, can be manipulative at times, and even come from the same teaching line. But Obi-Wan has the redeeming features Dooku doesn’t; 1. A moral compass, 2. Sincerity, and 3. a willingness to give his all for what he believes in. I would list Captain/Admiral/Grand Moff Tarkin among these intelligent, eeeeeevil villains, even though he doesn’t quite meet all the requirements. Tarkin is merely a sociopath with an agenda, not a high, proper villain, but he is the sort of villain we all love to hate. Wouldn’t ANYONE who watched “The Citadel” and its companion pieces want to kick his behind, hurl him out a window, or Force-choke him at least once? If you didn’t, it’s a sure sign that you’re a sociopath yourself. (Oh, and by the way, I would love to see Obi-Wan face down Tarkin. The jerk needs his ego taken down about a hundred pegs or so. If anyone wants to write that, tell me about it and I will LOVE YOU FOREVER.) Another villain in this class: Al Misurata, from “Voyage of Slaves.”
3. Cluny/Tsarmina/Darth Vader/General Grievous/Hitler style villains. These villains can be cunning, but in some cases are not particularly intelligent, or do not have much of an education. They are also prone to fits of rage in which they destroy anything and everything in sight (poor Sandpeoples), and have a tendency towards insanity. Some of these villains can be ridiculously childish, as well. Again, we all love to hate ’em. You know we do. More villains in this class: Both the Dutchman and the land baron from “Castaways of the Flying Dutchman.”
4. The ordinary person who becomes the villain. These types of villains tend to see themselves as the heroes of the tale, but it’s all lies. We, the readers, know that. I’m hard put to it for an example right now… I may edit this post later if I think of one. This type of villain tends to be more pitiable, though no less despicable. Oh wait– Gollum! That’s a good one, I think… Then there is Macbeth himself, who wasn’t always evil, and who at least has some regret for what he has done. And Uther Pendragon, who is also a bit amoral…
4. The villain who later becomes the anti-hero, or even a full-fledged hero. Cases in point: Romsca, Pakatugg, a few others in the Redwall books, Darth Vader, and Ventress. In the Clone Wars episode “Revenge,” Obi-Wan asks Ventress, “When did you become the good guy?” in an ironic tone. When, indeed. In these cases, there tends to be a slow progression. Nothing happens very fast when a hero becomes a villain or a villain becomes a hero. They must have motivation to change. Ventress’s came when her whole “family” was destroyed; Vader’s, when his son was revealed, and later, threatened; and Romsca’s, when she saw the Father Abbot’s good heart and thought, “I want that too.” Though I’m sure if you’d asked her, Romsca would say it was because she was always a bit of a punk anyway. These people tend to live partially overshadowed by their life as villains, but are generally able to cement their redemption. The ones that lack the determination never were meant to be heroes, anyway.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my rundown of the “types” of villain! Just needed an articulation, I’d say. Thanks for reading, and God Bless!