Era of the Hero-Villain?

Discussion in 'Misc. Films' started by Victarion, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. Victarion Iron Captain

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    The Star Trek: Into Darkness thread got me thinking. Does the villain draw audiences to a given film moreso than the hero? Joker and the Into Darkness villain seem to indicate this. So do you think a film with a hero-villain and an antagonist who is worse than the hero-villain could do big numbers at the BO?

    The best example of a hero-villain I can give you is Elric Sadricsson: A politician in a decadent city poisoned Elric in order to pressgang the Melnibonean into his service. The politician agrees to give Elric the cure so long as Elric enters the Dream Realms to retrieve a McGuffin. To ensure Elric's total cooperation, the politician takes a young street rat hostage. Prior to Elric's capture, the street rat had helped him survive in a desert wasteland.

    Elric has a soul-drinking runesword. He could've used it to threaten or kill the politician, then just take the potion that would cure the poison. Elric doesn't do that; he goes on a quest and retrieves the McGuffin. Back in the city, Elric drops some hints to the politician's servants--and even the whole of the political council--that they should get out of town or give up their petty, greedy ways and leave a tribe of desert nomads that had befriended Elric alone.

    In the end, Elric ends up killing everyone in the city, giving their souls to his runeblade, Stormbringer.

    The above is my definition of hero-villain. Is this the time for such a character in mainstream cinema?
     
  2. Hunter Rider Ronin

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    The Avengers, Skyfall, TDKR and The Hobbit all did big box office and I don't think it had anything to do with the villains in those movies. The ticket to big numbers is adapting something that already has a built in fanbase.
     
  3. Victarion Iron Captain

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    True, HR, but it seems that in certain cases (especially TDK), people are more enthralled by the film's villain. Lots of discussion for ST: ID is around Benedict's character. These days there's more consideration given to the villain(s) and his/her motivation. I'm not upset about that by any means; hero-villains are my favorite sort of protagonist.
     
  4. Ultimatehero Life is infinite

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    I'm a screenwriter out here and can simply state one thing - the film is as only as good as it's villain. It's an age-old statement and it's a true one. If you have a hero going up against someone who isn't that good of a villain, then the challenges and obstacles aren't that great. There is not much to overcome. A villain should steal part of the show but only in that he or she provides greater obstacles. Would someone want to watch a film about a terrorist or super villain harming people and be stuck all the time with them? No. Absolutely not. However, does the audience want to see evil personified that scares them or makes them think only to then be destroyed - yes. I think what current Hollywood is finding, myself included, is that the best villains are the ones that make us think and question ourselves just as they make the heroes question themselves. Thereby striking more of a chord than just somebody blowing up buildings.
     
  5. Victarion Iron Captain

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    Thank you for chiming in, UH. Do you believe a morally gray, or amoral hero could attract an audience?
     
  6. Ultimatehero Life is infinite

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    That kind of hero already has. The Punisher, any revenge movie on Earth, going back to Shakespeare's time even with Hamlet. People love Tony Stark - an alcoholic playboy billionaire who is somewhat anti-social. Riggs who contemplates suicide, is devil may care, and has substance abuse problems. John McClane who seems to have really strong family issues. And I'd hardly call Wolverine a role model either.

    If somebody mentions Andrew from 'Chronicle,' I'd say even there it's different. For most of the film he is just a guy like any other. He has tough problems and the only people he hurts are criminals or an accident. I'd hardly call killing gang members to take the money they probably beat old ladies for even a villainous thing, that was more Frank Castle - plus it was to save an innocent life. His mother. I would have done the same thing. But that's just my skewed moral compass. Here I highly doubt the audience would want Andrew as he was in the last ten minutes as our protagonist. It's a completely different being. This is more akin to Cronenberg's 'The Fly' in that we see hints but not the true evil until the very end.

    People love to hate the villain. Thus, a lot of consideration is put in there. And I think what's being found is a villain that makes people doubt themselves. In TDK, we had Joker calling into question what you would do if you had that detonator. In AVENGERS, Loki called into question how many secrets people keep from one another and how that could turn people against each other. TDKR was the Wall Street Protestors on acid. STII seems to be calling into how far someone will go to protect their family even if it includes mass murder. Throughout it makes one question - are these guys right, is there something more here? They scare us because they make us question ourselves and our beliefs. I think in part that might also come from the darker times we are living in that it's making people question how far they will go to survive. As in the more a villain scares us, the more we love that villain (think of the psychology of why people love horror movies), and the more we want to see that evil get defeated.

    They steal the spotlight also because there is an element of mystery and surprise to them. The less you know and the less you see them, but see what they are capable of and what their reach is - the scarier they become. With most villains, I'm figuring they'd lose that extra spark if the whole film revolved around them. It's kind of the extra spice that you get to play around with as a writer to liven things up and bring in the unexpected.
     
    #6 Ultimatehero, Dec 31, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
  7. Drizzle Yesferatu

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    In superhero films, more often than not, the villain is the one who steals the show. Look at Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy. Look at any of the Batman movies with the exception of "Batman Begins". It's no surprise that people have become more excited to see what the villain will bring to the table.

    There are so many reasons why The Joker is the most popular character in The Dark Knight, and they've all been discussed to death on these boards. People flocked to see this character because A. they had seen from the trailers that Heath Ledger truly brought something special to the character that hadn't been done before (which was also a posthumous performance), and B. the character hadn't been seen in a (live action) film in nearly two decades. He's inarguably Batman's most famous villain, and people were chomping at the bit to see this character on film again. Ledger's iconic performance was one for the ages. People love a good villain. Personally speaking, Tom Hardy's Bane was what I was looking forward to seeing most when going into The Dark Knight Rises, and he didn't disappoint.

    Hollywood undoubtedly paid attention, as shown by the marketing campaigns for films like "Skyfall" and "Star Trek Into Darkness", which showcase the villains. But when you think about it, the villains in franchise sequels such as these have a pretty big spotlight on them. The other main characters have already been established, so there's a lot of pressure on the filmmakers, the actors, and screenwriters to make a memorable villain that stands on their own.
     
  8. Legion Registered

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    In a film franchise the villain is what differentiates one film from the next. Batman is a constant in the batman series. Every film is going to have Batman in it. It's the new villain introduced and the threat that they present that changes things up.
     
  9. Project862006 Registered

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    the hero also needs to be developed you dont want the villain to outshine hero so much where you dont care to see him overcome obstacles
     
  10. Ultimatehero Life is infinite

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    Well, the job of any writer is to develop all including the secondary characters. From there it's mainly audience perception of who catches their attention the most. A film undergoes many lives - life on the page, life while shooting, life in the editing room, and life with the audience for years to come. Sadly I only have my hands in one of those lives, but that's also for the best. With the best writers the villain will also serve to reveal something about the hero as well.
     
    #10 Ultimatehero, Dec 31, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
  11. Hunter Rider Ronin

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    I think in the case of The Joker you are dealing with an iconic character so that changes things. In the Star Trek situation I think the reason the villain is getting so much discussion is due to the uncertainty over who he really is. For the most part the key is to get your hero right, whether he's got anti-hero traits or is a Captain America type, then you design your villain to play against his weaknesses to create a threat for him/her to overcome.
     
  12. gwynplaine L'homme qui rit.

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    From M, to White Heat, to Psycho to Scarface, to Night of the Hunter etc... there's been a lot of awesome Hero-villain movies.
    Anyway like Hitchcock said "The better the villain, the better the film."
     

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