By: Nick “Novel” Gabanski
Psychotic. Sadistic. Vicious. Humorous. Malicious. Mischievous. Murderous. Devious. And everything in between and even all or some of the above is what makes a good villain. We all love villains, don’t we? Who doesn’t love those scheming deviants of society that bring such pain and misery to other characters’ lives? The more dangerous ones even succeed in taking the lives of the main characters or their loved ones. And of course the absolutely most horrid villains don’t kill the protagonist but rob them of their sanity. Because that’s infinitely crueler, and far more evil than the simple act of taking a life.
So with all those disgusting, taboo, or odd assortment of characteristics, why then do we love villains so much? If someone in society, in our world, displayed any of the aforementioned traits, they’d be ostracized, spat upon, and hated for the abnormal tendencies they possessed. Such people have, and still do, exist and they wreak absolute havoc and destruction on any unfortunate enough to encounter them. This begs the question, once more, why do we love villains so much in books, movies and comics?
Are they larger than life? Are they disconnected from real life just enough so that we can feel sympathy for them and enjoy their crazed antics as opposed to being terrified of them? We’re scared of the Joker from DC Comics™, but more often than not, there’s this odd level of attraction to him, whether someone actually finds him physically attractive, or someone just loves how psychotically evil he is. People love Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty by Disney™ because of how wicked she is and how she treats a neglected invitation as a declaration of war.
There are a multitude of other villains from multiple books and movies and comics that everyone adores, loves, or sympathizes with. Why? Well, I think there’s another reason. One that most people probably don’t want to acknowledge. We love villains so much because deep down, where our animal-side dwells, we long for the ability to act on our basest of impulses. We desire to be evil and commit evil. So when a character in a story comes along and shows what it’s like to be evil, we are drawn towards that because we get a taste of what that’s like, but without the consequences of actually carrying out atrocious acts of violence and insanity.
In those regards, writers and artists get the longer end of the stick on that. We get to go down to that abyssal part of our minds and draw up creations of evil and set them loose in the universes we create. We get to live through our villains and revel in the horror of death and destruction. And the people who do not create are in turn drawn to those villains. Any evil character is all fun and interest until it becomes real life. In real life, there is no escaping the villains. But in the world of fiction, one only has to close the book to stop the evil.
Edited by: Maddy D.