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OP Villains

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

This post for villains is about a few smaller topics for your villain. Two that I want to address are the over-powered villain and the villain monologue.

Let’s start with the over-powered villain. These are present in books and movies, and can even be effective. The point of the villain is after all to be an obstacle for the protagonist, and if they are easily toppled, that is not much in the way of a challenge. Modern superhero movies and fantasy films have villains which are over-powered. If Thanos had come to earth in the first Avengers movie, things would have worked out very differently.

In fantasy we also accept that even the great works of fantasy show the side of good winning by luck sometimes. Cutting the ring off Sauron anyone?

Ring of Doom
Just gonna reach for that there...

In science fiction we see vast armies arrayed against weaker under dogs. The IDEA isn’t the problem, the implementation can be.

Why do we accept that Thanos doesn’t hunt down the stones on earth himself?

Why do we accept that the dragon queen doesn’t trounce across the world of Krynn?

Why doesn’t Artemis Entreri just kill everyone he meets? (He almost does.)

Just because Thanos is more powerful than the Avengers at the time they first begin their tertiary interactions, doesn’t mean he is their direct enemy. He doesn’t know about them yet. He has many people out looking for the infinity stones, and it took time for him to confirm the truth and send what he believed was a reasonable force to retrieve them. He was busy. It is an example of a villain as a leader who has many activities in process and an inability to directly confront the heroes and heroines.

The Dragon Queen is shown as distrusting of her own forces, which in the end proves her undoing, but also slows her war effort because she needs to constantly monitor for betrayal. We believe she can’t spread her true power because she is again otherwise occupied.

Entreri for all his skill is an assassin, who operates inside of a guild structure. We are shown a man who while ruthless has a set of laws that he follows without question. His nature prevents him killing with abandon.

These are some villain examples who are over-powered but who are accepted that way because other things allow the protagonists to defeat them. Beware of having no restraint on villains who are extremely powerful. It can shatter verisimilitude if a reader sees a villain interact with a protagonist, toy with them, monologue at them, could kill them anytime, and doesn’t … because.

Because they are not respectful that the protagonist can amount to anything.

Because they are so vain, they can’t imagine anyone hurting them. (Plausible in narrow circumstances.)

Because they just are on their way out the door… but now you know my plan, so good luck stopping it…

If there is no good reason for the villain not to crush the person who tried to stand in their way, when they can, and should, the end result will feel like plot armor. The good guys and gals get away with it because the writer wants them to.

On the topic, beware of villain monologues. There are rare cases when they work. More often they do not work. Why would any reasonable villain who wants to succeed in their plans, tell the protagonist what their plan is, and how it can’t possibly be stopped, when the less they say the better off they will be?

Anyone else on team killmonger?

Moments like when Killmonger monologues, are already past the point of the trap being sprung and the plan being implemented. There is no loss to him by talking the way he does. Other similar examples can be found in literature. We need to understand the villain’s motivations, goals and actions, but don’t make your villain look silly when you do it.

Keep writing hated villains, and relatable villains, but whatever you do, beware the silly self-defeating ones!

For more on the villains series and other writing and motivational topics, don’t forget to subscribe here.

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