Why Do We Like Villains More Than Heroes Nowadays
Since we were kids, we’ve been taught the difference between what’s good and what’s bad. That there are good people like Cinderella and bad people like The Evil Queen. But the world is not black and white anymore, even in the movies. Leaving behind Batman and Superman, we’re getting more and more obsessed with “bad guys” like Harley Quinn and Joker. And there are reasons why we’re so enamored by them.
Here at Bright Side, we are sometimes tempted by the dark side too. And we’ve decided to figure out why.
Villains are realistic.
Studies have proven that we are more likely to sympathize with characters who are similar to us. Good guys are often portrayed in movies as nearly perfect, and it’s hard to relate to them. We all have our own imperfections and a dark side. So, villains are often more realistic than good guys are.
At the same time, modern antagonists aren’t 100% evil. They’re complex and troubled characters who have their own story. Everyone hates Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter movies because she’s unreasonably malicious. There’s no story and no logic behind her behavior. She’s just self-serving. But many antagonists actually have their point which we see, and often even accept.
This works especially effectively when we see the villain from the very beginning of the movie. We’re put in the same shoes as the character and see their story. We see what they’re going through and what they’re thinking, and we can’t help but empathize with them.
But at the same time, they push boundaries.
In society, we usually follow the rules and behave according to social norms. What’s special about antagonists is that they don’t think about society at all. They act the way they want to, without caring about anybody else’s expectations or being limited by them.
They won’t say nice things just to be nice. They’ll tell you what they think. They’re free, and that’s what we probably want for ourselves. So, we admire them for it.
We’re curious about them.
Every time we see a person acting bad or weird, we want to know why. And that makes us curious about them, about their past, and about what they’re even thinking. They’re controversial, and we like to analyze these characters and their actions.
They’re not pure evil, and modern movies do a good job of emphasizing this. There’s something that made them evil or something that won’t let them be good. There’s some internal conflict constantly going on within the character that we just find fascinating.
Villains are unpredictable.
We all know what usually happens to good guys. They do the right thing and then they win. They survive, beat the antagonist, and save the world.
But we never know what will happen to the villain. And that makes us care about them during the whole story. It’s what gets us hooked on watching them through to the end. Also, you can’t predict their actions. There are not many options aside from the right thing to do for the hero. But there’re many absolutely crazy possibilities for the villain that we couldn’t come up with even in our wildest dreams. And this makes us interested in watching them.
They make us face our own dark side.
We are not perfect. Finding similarities between ourselves and the antagonists makes us unveil our own dark secrets and face our own dark side. But at the same time, the characters we start to associate ourselves with aren’t real. So, these discoveries don’t threaten our positive image of ourselves, yet still keep us interested.
Who is your favorite villain?