Unwarranted Opinions: under glorified villainhood


Morgan Kong

In her weekly column “UnWarranted Opinions,” staff reporter Drew Julao takes on a variety of topics and gives her take.

Drew Adrian Julao, Staff Reporter

Growing up, I have always loved villains. There is something so intriguing about flawed characters to me, seeing real humanity in them. I never liked the romanticized perfect princes and princesses, or your classic perfect, goody-two-shoes superhero who has close to no faults. I loved heroes who were real like Hellboy, Han Helsing, and V for Vendetta. Heroes who knew that they made mistakes and they weren’t perfect by any means and villains who don’t care about being bad. The Joker, the biggest nihilist of them all. This is why, if I ever had to be a character for anything, I would want to be a villain.

Oftentimes, villains have more interesting character arcs because there are so many different secrets you can reveal about them over time. For example backstories. What made them evil? You can expound on how crazy they are and all their job is to make it difficult for people. Think of what the protagonist wants and write the antagonist doing everything they can so that they don’t reach that goal. It sounds like so much fun to be that character.

The ambiguity of a villain in a story is also what makes them so amazing. No one really knows what to expect from a villain, especially when a writer can maintain mystery and suspense. You can sympathize with them even though they are evil which is such an interesting character and audience relationship. Also, there are so many different ways to make your villain unique. For example, your villain could have an army, they could be powerful or the exact opposite and still be scary because of their traits.

Someone who has no power isn’t really a threat to the protagonist, but a villain’s traits can make or break them. It doesn’t matter if a villain has power when he is a psychotic nihilist that isn’t afraid of death. All he wants is to wreak havoc. A villain with no cause is more dangerous than one with a goal. They’re unpredictable and you don’t really know what they are going to do next.

Some villains I have loved growing up are Ursula, because I love her song in The Little Mermaid. The fact that anyone could be so indifferent is so interesting to me. To name a few dangerous villains, there is The Phantom of the Opera because his story is very sad, the Joker, because he’s crazy and unpredictable, and Hannibal Lecter because he is terrifying.

If someone were to ask me what kind of villain I’d like to write about or play as, I would choose a villain who can’t help but be bad. Someone whose story is malleable. Like, they have naturally skewed perception of the world and everything around them and they are often confused by things, but their intentions are good. They should also have a tragic backstory and probably would succeed as a villain because there aren’t enough stories where the villain wins, we need some realism in the world.

I think another reason that I like villains so much is their unpopularity. Everyone is always going to be the villain in someone else’s story, so since we are looking at the story from the view of the protagonist, we sympathize with them more. Unlike if we were looking at the story from the viewpoint of the villain, for example, Todd Philipp’s The Joker, we feel so much emotion for the villain because they are the protagonist in this case. One thing that I think is very interesting about the specific example I’ve cited is that the antagonist is actually society itself. This is similar to the antagonist, society and societal values of the time, in the movie Jude.

Villains are a pivotal, yet often overlooked, structure in literature; however, they are definitely my favorite kind of character. This is because of the liberty a writer has in creating their villain and how you can twist the stories such that your audience loves the villain, and you can make them disgusting and ruthless and the worst thing you could have ever possibly imagined. There’s so much depth to this type of character and yet, oftentimes, that is who we know the least about. This mystery mixed with their indifference is what makes them so interesting and fun to a person like me who tends to overthink everything. I only hope that you can find a larger appreciation for villains. You don’t have to like them but appreciate the value that they can bring to a story.