Sunday, May 31, 2015

Monday Musings: The Dark Side

I know this post is long overdue. I intended to share this post about my favorite fictional villains last week (Are we even supposed to have favorites when it comes to diabolical and fiendish characters?!) but my schedule was simply too full last week. Besides, villains are a tricky subject and having a bit of extra time to process my thoughts was not a bad thing. I will be fluctuating between literary and movie characters at random, so I hope that won't distract anyone.

Villains aren't like protagonists. The heroes stick in your head and when you hear a story title, such as The Hunger Games, you think "Oh! That story is about Katniss!" You don't ever think "That is President Snow's story!" It just doesn't work that way. But these poor, under-appreciated and despised characters have their vile fingers on the heartbeat of literature. They control the pulse. The flow. The dramatic ups and downs of the plot. And, man, do they have their moment to shine in the climax. Of course, the climax usually ends quite badly for them, and we do SO enjoy that moment when the Wicked Witch of the West finally gets her comeuppance and melts into a puddle of goop on the floor. That has to be one of the best moments in cinematic history. Period.

But lets move on.

Smaug is one of my all time favorite villains because he is a dragon. Of course that isn't the only reason I like him, but mainly that sums it all up. The Hobbit was one of the first epic classics I ever read. I read a great deal of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott when I was a girl, but this was one of the first books I read that had a REAL villain. He wasn't just a cad like Mr. Willoughby. He was powerful and murderous and greedy and incredibly vain. And he was a dragon. Did I mention DRAGON? And the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch did his voice in The Hobbit films only makes him more epic.

Yes, I am a huge nerd. I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek and comic book heroes. Darth Vader is truly one of my all time favorite villains because he has such a strong back story. When you watch the first Star Wars film, he comes across as pure evil, although never quite as evil as Emperor Palpatine, who is about as evil as they come. I don't think I could ever picture HIM with a back story, but I love Anakin Skywalker's back story. It made him human, not just Evil-machine-on-a-Rebel-killing-rampage. And I especially like how there was a chance for "redemption" for him in the end, when he chose to save his son at the expense of his own life. When this sort of attention and detail is put into a villain, they do truly become memorable. I could almost admit that Star Wars is truly about Darth Vader. Almost.

Lord Voldemort is another powerful literary villain that managed to remain the primary antagonist throughout an entire series. Voldemort had always been intended to be the counterpart to Harry Potter. Their stories were so intertwined, their fates so bound together, that there could never have been a story without the Dark Lord. I love how these two characters are constantly compared and contrasted throughout the series, causing heartache for Harry and frustration for Voldemort, because neither character fully understands why or how they are bound to one another. It is the ultimate battle of good versus evil. I also like the fact that Voldemort's history is fleshed out in the stories, that he isn't just left the Master of Pure Evil but that he is also shown as Tom Riddle, the boy with a name that would one day become He Who Must Not Be Named.

And let's not leave out the Weeping Angels from Docter Who, because they give me the creeps. Admit it. You like them, too.

There are so many other iconic villains I could mention, like the White Witch from Narnia, or the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, or Kahn from Star Trek, to name a few more. Please, take a moment to tell me who your favorite villains are and don't forget to tell me why! I love hearing from you all.  

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