” A hero’s a hero, but everyone loves a great villain.” – Ferb, Disney’s Phineas and Ferb
How very true.
I can think of many villains I grew to love… but why do we love villains so much?
I think the main reason is that the best villains have such a deep, usually emotionally scarring back-story. We’ve probably heard, somewhere or other, that evil isn’t born, it’s created. Heroes, of course, can also have an equally emotional back-story… but they managed to deal with it positively enough, to remain ‘good’. They’ve gone through the hurt, healed their wounds (as much as they can) and chosen to dedicate their life protecting others, so that nobody else has to feel the same pain that they went through.
The villain, however, has fallen into the side of ‘evil’… with the aim of causing hurt to everyone. And if you think about it, they’re actually still battling his back-story scars. Potentially, they haven’t gotten over whatever happened yet. And if a writer has chosen to expand on this battle, then this is what makes a villain so interesting and (gasp!) loveable.
Because the hero’s tragic past is just that… it’s in the past. But the villain is still battling on. We don’t connect to a ‘past’ emotional fight quite as much as a fight that’s happening right now, in front of our eyes, on screen. Even if we’re supposed to be watching the hero’s story, sometimes it’s the villain’s side that we are captivated by. We’re actually there fighting alongside the villain. We’re next to them as they deal with their pain and anger.
And somehow, that’s what makes them the most interesting.
Ultimately, hero or villain… we all love a character we can relate to :)