Mustaches A-Twirl

I’m taking a crack at a villain right now, and so have been trying to get into a villainous, mustache-twirling frame of mind. This has been a bit difficult, not the least because I haven’t a mustache to twirl.

I recently picked up a project I had been working on last year. In the throes of furiously hashing out a story, I hadn’t noticed – or allowed myself to glaze over and patch up – the bits that didn’t feel right. Now that I’ve come back to it after a few months, I’ve realized that one character, who was certainly responsible for a lot bad things, but I had never really seen as THE antagonist, was most definitely THE baddie of the story. And then I realized I didn’t really know the character at all.

So I’ve spent the last few days considering the greats in the field of villainy. Not surprisingly, a lot of my favorites come from the world of geekery, and the rest come from the domain of nerdism. Honestly, a lot come from comic books, and those that don’t come from the English canon. And yes, I am that uppity. Chaucer is my homeboy (especially when he looks like Paul Bettany). And if I try to narrow it down, my absolute top three – The Joker, Loki, and Lucifer – could be argued into both categories. At the very least, they are all characters of mythological proportions, and they’ve all appeared in comics.

The Joker, is the least surprising, and the hardest to cram into that whole Western canon dealio (though I bet I could convince you of it, given a loose enough definition of “canon”). And Batman is definitely an American myth at this point, don’t argue with me on this, just nod and accept it, because otherwise I will lawyer the shit out of you to make you accept it. Everyone loves the Nolan/Ledger Joker, but he’s always been a villain with style. Nolan’s Joker just really brought out the whole “motiveless malignity” thing, like Iago in Othello (see that, canon, BAM, LAWYERED!). Usually Loki falls into a similar category, but my favorite was in the Marvel movie, as played by Tom Hiddleston. He’s so clearly the bad guy of that story, but I felt so bad for him sometimes. Having to look into Hiddleston’s wide, sad blue eyes probably helped with this a lot. Really, the motiveless malignity thing doesn’t really work for my purposes, obviously since it took me a few months to realize just how bad my baddie was. So that version of Loki moves closer to what I’m going for. I think the ultimate in this concept of the villain who’s been wronged is Lucifer, especially in Milton, or, in a rare move on my part, I decide to be less pretentious, but no less geeky, any of Neil Gaiman’s incarnations. Neil Gaiman has two particularly good depictions of Lucifer turning to a baddie, in a short story and in the Sandman series.

The problem with Lucifer is that his raison d’etre is usually simply to counter God, he provides the flipside of the coin, as in all part of God’s plan, etc. And in the classic discussion of villains, they are exactly this, the opposite of the hero, the personification of the hero’s weaknesses and flaws. I have sort of a kneejerk reaction to this and just want to reject it as too simplistic, but the more I think about it, the more I can see how my baddie starts to fit into that mold, without much force at all. But still, that’s not all that makes a perfect baddie, and there a lot of aspects of this character that I need to work out, without even considering his role as the antagonist. Which I mean, really, is probably the best way for me to go about it. If worse comes to worst, I’ll just give him a fabulous mustache and call it day.

Next Post
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: