Digression Girl

Let's Talk Comic Books & Genre Media!

People have always been fascinated with characters who are presented as the villain of the piece, which leaves other people scratching their head and asking, “What the . . .?” It comes down to the characterization; aside from these villains fitting the “Byronic Ideal,” they aren’t so much villains as anti-heroes.

Anti-heroes do share a very common set of characteristics. They’re flawed, but not some strange flaw that doesn’t resonate with the reader—no, they are flawed in ways the reader can relate to. Despite their flaws, they are also strong; they demand respect. They don’t let anything or anyone get in their way. They are extremely complex; often that complexity is rooted in a tragic backstory.

When it comes to their goal . . . their intentions are good, at least in regard to a certain subset of the population (which they, of course, happen to belong to). They want to end the persecution of the group to which they belong. They want to end war. They want to protect their own nation. They want to save their family. They are helplessly in love with someone who is not in love with them, but surely, surely, that person can be made to love them. They are misunderstood. So the reader can look at their actions, and say, “Sure, he’s done some horrible things, but it was all in the name of X!”

Anti-heroes are smart. They are often smarter than any of their opponents. And they have at least one positive aspect that the reader can identify with and relate personally to. “Sure, he wiped out all the humans on the African continent, but he saved all the animals!”

Whether or not the author has any intention of allowing the villain to be “saved,” there has to be a perception that he can be saved and turned from the Dark Side, particularly by “the right person.” And, of course, in his/her imagination, the fangirl/boy just knows s/he is the right one to do that job.

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