January 23, 2021, 02:23:50 PM

Author Topic: Making villains pathetic  (Read 4377 times)

Offline The Gem Cutter

  • Captain Analogy
  • Writing Group
  • Khaleesi
  • *
  • Posts: 2985
  • Total likes: 2475
  • Gender: Male
  • We've exhausted all possibilities - time to begin.
    • The Gem Cutter Tales
Re: Making villains pathetic
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2019, 03:55:32 AM »
The bad guy in the Green Lantern movie was pathetic. There are a lot of things about Kylo Ren in SW that are pathetic. There were aspects of Loki that were pathetic in many ways/much of the time in several Thor films. There were many aspects of the emperor in the movie Gladiator that I found pathetic. So it can be done. Making a villain pitiable can be effective, I suppose, if you can craft a story where even the pitiable sometimes must be beaten.
The Gem Cutter
"Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There's always the possibility of a fiasco. But there's also the possibility of bliss." - Joseph Campbell

Offline Neveesandeh

Re: Making villains pathetic
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2019, 09:24:41 AM »
I think Joffrey from 'A Song of Ice and Fire' is a fantastic example of a pathetic villain. He causes tremendous damage but he's weak, insecure and childish and using his power to make the lives of others miserable seems to be the only thing he's good at.

I completely agree with Eli's original post about evil people in real life. These aren't cool or admirable people. In fiction we tend to give villains more sympathetic traits for the sake of realism, but I think even the total scumbag has a place in more realistic stories, seeing as there's no shortage of those people in real life. I remember reading that when one key figure in the Nazi regime was appointed to lead the police, he said something along the lines of 'My mission here is not to bring justice, but to destroy and annihilate, nothing else'.

The dictator is my favourite antagonist. I think it's because I like writing revenge fantasies after watching these people dominate the news. Dictators aren't the ultra capable strongmen their propaganda makes them out to be. More often than not, they're idiots. Stalin had all his best generals purged before the Nazi invasion. Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi has almost completely destroyed Egypt's economy after just six years in power and Hitler provoked a war which lead to his country being devastated and then partitioned into two states, one of which was ruled for decades by the communists he hated so much. Stupidity can be far more dangerous than outright malice, but plenty of leaders have opted for both.


  • Guest
Re: Making villains pathetic
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2019, 02:19:42 PM »
The fact that some villains are so popular that they sometimes even eclipse the protagonists, as someone said, should be attributed to the reaction of the reader/spectator. Darth Vader does not emerge, nor do I think he has been thought of as a popular figure, he is the archetypal villain (his robotic mask evokes a skull, his colour associated with darkness and the colour of his sword with blood and anger, the fact that he kills a subaltern only so that the spectator knows how bad he is, his dehumanisation by being more of a machine than a man), but his real leap is in the turn in which he reveals to Luke that he is his father. It is then that he becomes a more complex character, introducing a moral challenge to the protagonist and himself. Gradually we have witnessed a humanization of the villains, to the point that we have abandoned Manichaeism to evolve into gray characters, where there are not always good and bad but different points of view. And humanizing villains does not necessarily imply justifying or empathizing with them.

Offline Bender

Re: Making villains pathetic
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2019, 01:50:59 AM »
I don't subscribe to the Dictator's are stupid theory. It's just that their objectives are immediate. Though many had grandoise let s change the world ideas, they were fundamentally living for their lifetimes only. 

They are charismatic leaders and have a street smartness to work their way up military bureaucracy. Both Hitler and Stalin were charismatic leaders who generated an mass appeal.

I recall Asimov's psychohistory their on manipulation of mass of people and these fit that theory.
"I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell them of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!" - M-Bot

"Who needs science when you have a dragon?" - Neil DeGrasse Tyson in Sharknado 6