What Makes a Villain a Great Villain?

Posted by: Tanner McElroy @ 03:58PM on 10/11/2012
What Makes a Villain a Great Villain?
I learned years ago from a wonderful teacher that “everyone is the hero of their own story” and “everyone justifies their own actions.”  When was the last time you saw a great performance in a film from an actor who judged his character or read an incredible book about a villain who thought they were just bad for no reason?  For me, it’s never!  I can remember a few years back when Forest Whitaker won an Oscar for best actor portraying the brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.  The story was told as was seen by his personal physician during the 1970s.  What made the performance so amazing and haunting at the same time was not that Whitaker chose to play this dictator as a bloodthirsty maniac, but instead he played him as a charismatic leader and justified every action he made. 
In research for War of Wings, I watched the enlightening 1985 documentary about the Holocaust, Shoah, in hopes that I would understand how Hitler was able to not only fool the masses into traveling to their death, but also lead so many as a dictator without being assassinated.  I realized after seeing the 9 and ½ hour film that Hitler too was also extremely charismatic. 
People don’t follow leaders they don’t like, so I had to make Lucifer who brought down 1/3 of the angels the same.  The only way to handle my antagonist in War of Wings was to have Lucifer truly believe he was right and justify every decision he made even if it was wrong in the eyes of others.  I hope you read War of Wings and I hope you are able to see the similarities in Lucifer and the two infamous figures I have mentioned.  Happy reading and thank you for your support!


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