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I watched the 2003 Peter Pan last night, the one with Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook, and a thought came to me. What makes Peter Pan work? I mean there’s some great little concepts, like happy thoughts making you fly and the lost boys, but I think what makes Peter Pan really work is the amazing relationship between Peter Pan and the Captain Hook. There’s a point in the film where Hook sees that Peter and Wendy are together and treats it look like Peter has left him saying something similar to ‘I’m going to die alone’ this line of dialog hints at a crucial aspect of villain creation. A good hero and villain are like a good couple, they have chemistry.
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Just as Batman fighting against the Joker represents order fighting chaos. Peter Pan fighting Hook represents the fight between the inner child and the inner adult. These dichotomies create amazing chemistry, no matter what the situation the two characters will clash in the same way that a good couple will always pull together in any situation. This is very important to consider when creating your own villains and heroes. The best place to start is with your hero, what are the core concepts of your hero? For example, if you want to try to come up with a villain for Wolverine, in a fan fiction for example, consider the core aspects of his personality; he’s controlled, loyal, tough and a survivor. Each of these aspects can be flipped into a great idea for a villain.
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If you wanted to play on Wolverine’s control over his anger consider a villain that manages to exist without control over anger, acting as a dark reflection of Logan, and then stop because Marvel have already beaten up to the punch with Sabretooth. If you were looking to warp Wolverine’s loyalty back at him Marvel have already done that to with characters like Lady Deathstike who is loyal but to the wrong causes and Viper whose loyal to no one. Looking to exploit his toughness? Weapon X and Omega Red already exist to prove Wolverine can still be broken. As for being a survivor, any enemy challenges that but an enemy that goes to longer lengths to survive like Cyber whose prepared to kill Wolverine to gain adamantium and survive better. So the best lesson to learn here is that you can’t make a good new villain for Wolverine or Batman or Iron man. Also if you ever make an Iron Man villain do not make it another dude in armour!
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Going back to the main point, it’s important to consider hero vs villain relationships as a writer no matter what medium or genre, as almost every story needs an antagonist as much as a protagonist. It’s also important to consider as a reader because it can lead you to better understand the internal mechanics of the plot and the aspects of a character the writer of the plot is trying to confront. So go out and embrace the dark side!
…and that’s another great Grr(aphic) Mondays check back on Wednesday for the results of this week’s BearSleuth Contest! Also look out on YouTube for Bloodborne vs The Sleuth, with a new episode released every day!