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How To Make a Great Villain

Lessons from Marvel and Disney

Now, many writers struggle with creating a good villain. Here is a simple list of elements that every villain needs:

1. Motivation

Every villain in every movie has some motive to do evil. It could be because someone ruined their life, or because of the villain's childhood, or sometimes they just want to take over the world. If your villain has a motive than they can be a successful villain. Think about the backstory and how it affects their lives and why they are the way they are. Also, villains do not have a regular brain, they think evil is good. For example your villain can think that everyone in the world is out to kill him, so he has to kill everyone before he/she dies.

2. Scary/Frightening

Every villain needs to come off as terrifying; that way when the hero finally beats them, you as the reader or viewer has that satisfaction that the character defeated the villain. Without the scare factor, we would be cheering on the villain and not the hero.

3. Backstory

Every single character should have a great backstory, but if the villain has a great backstory then it helps explain why the villain thinks the way that he/she does. It might be twisted thoughts such as the Joker from Batman, but he was mentally unstable, which is why he made a great villain for Batman to defeat.

4. Reason

Your villain has to have a reason for existing in the first place. It cannot be just to have your hero to have someone to defeat. the villain must serve a greater purpose. For example, Palpatine from Star Wars was in the first movies a subtle villain but then became greater and more powerful over time. This was a great way to create a villain.

5. Using Fears

Many people have common fears such as spiders, clowns, and witches. By creating a villain that has or are these fears makes the reader or viewer more afraid of it.

6. More Power

All villains have more power; think about Daredevil and Lex Luther, these villains were rich and had people doing their dirty work so their hands were always clean. If a villain has more power then the hero comes off as more heroic.

7. Nihilism

Nothing really matters to villains other than possibly ruining the heroes lives. The Joker is a great example such as when Batman throws off the Joker he laughs as he is dying because to him his life does not matter that much. Also, if the villain has henchmen it does not matter to them that they die or that they themselves killed them.

8. Goals

Every character has an end goal. Usually the hero character is trying to stop the villain from achieving his/her goal. Or even vice versa where the hero has a goal and the villain is stopping him/her. Or there third option where both characters are trying to reach the same goal, but in different ways. An example would be if the villain wants to end chaos by killing off everyone, and the hero wants to end chaos by killing those people that are terrible such as the villain.

9. Build Up

In many series there is one villain throughout the whole book series. For example, Harry Potter. Harry Potter had the one villain the whole time, which is Voldemort. At first we learn who Voldemort is and how he is the villain, then as the series goes on it gets darker and darker. This build-up helps create a great villain because then there are more audiences who want Voldemort to die.

10. Making Them Good

Now, what I mean by making them good is by making them good at being bad. Mother Gothel is a terrifying woman who manipulated and used her evils to keep herself alive. She knew how to survive and that's what made her a good villain. Maleficent had many tricks up her sleeves and she kept pulling them out one by one, which is what made her a good villain.

Hopefully, this list is what you needed to create a great villain for your story.

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