Sunday, June 10, 2012

Villains We Love to Hate

Again, I apologize for my absence. My job is requires so much travel - and when I do have the time to sit down to write or blog, I'm mentally exhausted. To those writers that are fortunate to be able to focus on your craft, I'm so jealous! And to those that somehow find the time/energy to write after working a demanding job, I salute you.

While I was driving all over God's-green-Earth, I was thinking about literary villains. What's a good guy without a bad guy? To me, a great villain works as the most effective foil for your hero. The contrast can highlight your protagonist, thus strengthening characterization. So I thought: What makes a great villain? And which ones are my favorites?

Here's what I came up with:

Lord Voldemort - Harry Potter Series. Nevermind that he looks like an evil Ninja Turtle. This is one badass dark wizard. He reminds me of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in the Harry Potter world. Here's this gifted kid, who turns to the darkside, and wants to kill people. Voldermort embodies pure evil in the series as he pursues immortality. Oh, and he tried to kill baby Harry!
"Who are you going to use as a shield today, Potter?"

Hannibal Lecter - Red Dragon. What makes Hannibal evil? Um, he eats people. And he's pretty proud of it. The dude pairs a human liver with freakin' fine Italian wine. What makes Hannibal extra creepy is that he's profoundly intelligent and cultured. Gives me the willies just thinking about it.
I love a good thigh.

Iago - Othello. I LOVE me some Shakespeare, and I will admit that a lot of my writing is inspired by the bard. Iago is one bad dude. Driven by jealousy (and racism), he tricks Othello into thinking that his wife Desdemona is cheating on him. He's a master manipulator, and eventually his dastardly schemes come to fruition when Othello kills Desdemona. And Iago almost got away with it, but his own wife turns him in. Ha!
Don't listen to him Othello!

Pennywise the Dancing Clown - It. Clowns are scary, and Stephen King's demon shape-shifting clown that lures and murders children might be to blame. The 1990 TV movie scared the hell out of me too. Everything scary is embodied in this freaky clown: it's a demon, uses your phobias and fears against you, and dares to target innocent kids by biting them or ripping their arms off. Geez, Stephen King is one troubled bastard.
Pennywise the SCARY!

Alex - A Clockwork Orange. I read this book in college, and man was it disturbing. This is one of the granddaddies of dystopia, and I think what makes books like this so haunting is the dark truth in all of them. Alex is a crazy teenager and gang leader  that engages in just about everything bad you can think of . Violence and assault, breaking and entering, stealing, raping, and murder. Karma's a bitch, and in the end, he gets his!
Alex about to ravage two girls


How about you? What are some of your favorite literary baddies?



29 comments:

Brinda said...

Okay. I had nightmares about that clown from It for A LONG time. He wins as evil baddie extraordinaire. Your list is good.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Crap, forgot he was an Alex! No relation, I promise.
I'd add Saruman and Smeagol from LOTR.

Jay Noel said...

Brinda: I never liked clowns much to begin with. But that TV movie gave me nightmares too!

Alex: No worries. My brother's name is Alex. It's a good strong name. Saruman was definitely on my list too. Smeagol...I sympathize with him too much to make him a pure villain.

Laura Eno said...

Ahh! Good choices. I'm going to hide under a blanket now...

Julie Dao said...

Ooh, great choices for villains. And thanks a lot for posting that clown picture, now I'll see it every time I close my eyes.

Jay Noel said...

Laura: Get some rest!

Julie: No problem. Anything I can do to keep your nightmares vivid.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

IT just got greenlit for a reboot. I wonder if they will keep the scene where the girl has sex with all of the boys.

Matthew MacNish said...

Especially fascinating when a villain is also a protagonist, like in A Clockwork Orange.

Christine Rains said...

Awesome post! I like intelligent villains. It's one thing to be powerful, but it's another to out-smart the heroes. It's also interesting to get bad guys who think they're in the right. It's makes them all the more dangerous.

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

You have a solid list of bad boys! The Clockwork Orange gang reminds me of The Lost Boys. Kiefer Sutherland is such a likeable villain.

Ciara said...

I got chills seeing some of their pictures. Yikes!

DEZMOND said...

probably the Macbeths since they are so complex in their negativity.

Jay Noel said...

Michael: Among a few other things, I doubt it'll be in the reboot.

Matthew: Into the mind of the bad guy. Love it.

Christine: Or one that you kinda sympathize with.

Gail: LOVE that movie.

Ciara: The clown does it for me.

Dez: I agree. Lady Macbeth is in my top 10

farawayeyes said...

Oh yeah Alex,almost forgot about him.

The Golden Eagle said...

I was wondering if you'd list Alex. He's one of the villains that really stuck in my head after I finished the book.

M Pax said...

That clown is chilling.

You picked great villains. Mr. Croop and Mr. Vandemort [I probably misspelled those] from Neverwhere were excellent, creepy villains.

Jenna Howard said...

Pennywise FREAKS me out.

The Desert Rocks said...

The Wicked Witch of the West!

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Also...I can't believe that Darth Vader did not make this list. Really, Darth Vader is one of the best villains I have ever seen (especially in the original trilogy of movies).

Kelly Barnes said...

Pennywise is one of my all time favorites. I read IT in record time because the clown (yep it's clowns with me too) scared the chips outta me and I had to get to the end.

One villian I think bears qualifying is Heath Ledger's JOKER.

Jay Noel said...

faraway: He's a good bad guy!

Eagle: He's a pretty unforgettable character. The movie was pretty good too.

MPax: Wasn't that a TV show?

Jenna: I agree.

Eve: Thought about adding her, and she's more evil in the book.

Michael: He's an iconic villain, but I decided to list only literary villains this time around - although he's been in books.

Kelly: I agree, one of film's best villains.

Pk Hrezo said...

Hi Jay! Yep you picked some really good ones here. Hannibal is definitely a fave, and Dollarhyde from Red Dragon was pretty darn cool too. I wonder if he inspired The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo story at all.As for super creepy villains, I'd say the Emporer from Star Wars. He always gave me the willies.

nutschell said...

A good villain list, for sure. Glad you added Voldy in there:)

Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Callie Leuck said...

Good choices, but I'd argue that Alex isn't as black-and-white a character as the rest of this group. That's one of the reasons he's such a disturbingly great character.

Lubaina E. said...

Galbatorix in Eragon. He scares the shit out of me.
Aaaand, I get goosebumps whenever Gary Soneji appears in James Patterson's Alex Cross novels.

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