Villain, Final Boss, The Antagonist. For every Batman, there’s a Joker, for every Mario, there’s a Bowser, for every…you get the point. Books are no exception, antagonists are a vital part of the novel as in most cases, they are the main source of conflict in the book. A weak villain can turn a great book into something less so and a great villain can turn a great book into something one-of-a-kind. While we all love our heroes, there’s something satisfying about being a villain. The chaos, the arrogance, the feeling of being one step ahead of the hero. I normally organise my thoughts into major points, but I feel like just writing it all out into paragraphs (pardon my bit of laziness).
Villains are cunning, intelligent, strong, etc. Most of them are excel in many attributes that the hero does not possess. It gives this underdog feeling for the hero as they train to get better and eventually, defeat the villain. My point is a great antagonist should make the hero seem like he/she is nothing, at least at first. I gues what I’m trying to say, is that they should be powerful. They should be intimidating, they should make the hero, or even the reader, fear their every move. What makes the antagonist powerful? Well, they are exceptional at attacking the hero’s weaknesses. The greater the struggle, the better and more compelling story. When you begin to pressure the protagonist, it forces them to make choices. These choices causes the protagonist to change and develop as a character.
Have you ever seen those medieval movies where an enemy invades the protagonist’s village or castle and absolutely destroy everything. Yeah, that’s what they should do. No, it doesn’t have to be physically or even that large of a scale, but their actions should affect the protagonist in some way shape or form. It doesn’t have to instantly affect the hero, but maybe down the line like creating a weapon that will destroy the world. That will certainly affect them. I think the most important part of creating a great antagonist is that they change the hero, essentially, the hero develops as a result of them. The Dark Knight is my favorite movie of all time and Heath Ledger’s Joker is the best performance I have seen in all of my life. But the Joker is not only a great villain because of Ledger’s performance, but the writing behind the character as well. The Joker constantly attacks Batman’s weaknesses including his main one: Batman’s unwillingness to kill. And when you attack a person’s weaknesses, you force them to adapt, to make choices that affect them, and shows their true character. When Batman goes to save Rachel, it shows his limit, the only thing that he is not willing to sacrifice. Above all the Joker causes Batman to grow wiser. He shows Batman that he does have a limit, but to overcome those limits he needs the help of others. In a way, the Joker wins in The Dark Knight. Joker shows that even the best of them, in this case Harvey Dent, can become corrupt.
A great antagonist is poweful, attacking the hero’s weaknesses causing them to make decision that will change them as a character. Above all, a great antagonist not only impacts the story, but affects the protagonist. They cause the protagonist to grow as a character.