Hero or villain?

We all love the hero, but it's just us here now...admit it...isn't the villain a little more fascinating sometimes?

For example, in Gladiator. Yes, Russell Crowe was an incredible hero and he earned an Oscar for his efforts. Yet, how could you not help but to be riveted by the evil and deranged performance of Joaquin Phoenix? Perhaps Gladiator is a poor example because the hero's character carries with him enough pain and trauma to flesh him out as significantly as the villain. But many times we can cheer on a hero, only to find that he is nowhere near as intriguing as whatever makes the 'bad guy' tick.

In Heat, two masters of the art face off. Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. Is there a hero and villain in that duo? Yes, the characters reflected that, but as a viewer you just strapped yourself into the roller coaster and watched these actors execute a dance of talent that you never wanted to end.

Can we not make the argument that Darth Vader far exceeded the attraction of Luke Skywalker? Was Heath Ledger's Joker not more fascinating than Batman himself?

I am a romance author. I love my heroes, and I always want them to win, but the villain will continue to fascinate me. The villain will make my mind work extra hard to analyze his motivations. Without the villain, my hero ceases to exist.


  1. I personally am a sucker for the "bad boy" - he's kind of like a tasty hero/villain combo. The heck with wimpy Luke Skywalker - give me Han Solo. (no, really - give me Han Solo. Please?) LOL

  2. The antagonist is a least as important as the protagonist. A lot of times the villain has a more complex background than the hero, and sometimes has a more colorful personality than the prototype 'good guy.' Since I use an 'anti-heronine' the editor had to reel me in on the 1st book because she was too dark. I had to lighten her up, realizing that if the reader doesn't like the protagonist, the story doesn't fly.

  3. You have learned the ways of the Force, C.C. I'm sorry the editor had to reel you in. For today I will call he/she the antagonist because I would like to see your characters flourish as you intended. :)

  4. With out Hannibal, who is Clarice? A pretty girl in a pressed suit working for the FBI solving crimes. However, he puts her to the test, challenges her and your mind. Perhaps the most important villian to a heroine success.

    I mean Jodie Foster did win an Academy Award after all. :)

    That's where your post led me in my mind. Nice.

  5. I was actually thinking the same thing, Amanda! There is nothing better than a battle of wits. For me that battle takes place everyday with the lid of my coffee pot. It is my nemesis-with its flawed engineering and brazen arrogance!

  6. Villains can definitely be fascinating and way more complex. It takes more motivation to be bad than to be good.

  7. Often, more time will be spent building the back story of the villain than the hero. There seems to be more of a need to explain as to why someone, who would otherwise be good, has gone bad than why they remain good. Good seems to be a commonly accepted trait of man (with which I would disagree for various reasons I'll not go into here), so I guess that's how the villain comes to be more interesting.


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