Heroes and Villains

Discussion in 'Story Board Workshops' started by Matthew Williams, Jun 4, 2004.

  1. Matthew Williams

    Matthew Williams Owns A Homey The Clown Shirt

    Mar 14, 2002
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    "You don't get to be an editor for almost five years (and an assistant ed for four before that) without developing some sort of editorial philosophy about what you're doing. Much of what we're doing here at Marvel is heroic fiction. So here's my philosophy (or at least part of it) about heroes: A hero is heroic in direct proportion to the villainy of villains he/she confronts and triumphs against. Sounds simple and obvious enough, doesn't it? Who wouldn't pit his/her hero or heroes against as powerful and as evil a villain as possible in order to test the hero's mettle? Yet, certain heroes have managed to acquire "better" regular opponents to clash with than others. A "good" villainm should a.) have a clear motivation for his/her villainy, b.) a credible background to foster that motivation, c.) an effective superhuman power or gimmick to help him/her accomplish his/her goals, d.) a good name and costume. A "great" villain should have all of the above plus a.) a comples (not complicated) personality, and b.) a good track record of how many times s/he succeeded in accomplishing his/her goals, or at least how difficult it was for a hero to thwart them.
    So how many "good" and "great" villains can you think of? Does every hero who has his/her own series have at least twelve of them? If not, says this editor, the writer will have to repeat him/herself a lot - or resort to "bad" villains (those who don't fit the above criteria). That's why I'm on a campaign to get my writers to come up with new villains, at least every third storyline or so. That way, there will be new blood to replenish the tired old blood of villains who have lost one too many times to be taken seriously.

    A hero who has it easy cannot prove his heroism. On the other hand, a villain who has it easy can prove his villainy. Villains need victims, not heroes. A hero may only be as good as the toughest opponent he/she has faced. To make our heroes better, we've got to have better villains."

    This came from the late, great, Mark Gruenwald, on creating villains. It's a solid philosophy and something that really should be followed in coming up for life-shattering threats for your heroes, original or pre-existing.

    Another thing that can be explored is making your villain the opposite of your hero. While it's not as well known as some other comic book rivalries, a great example can be found in the pages of The Incredible Hulk, with the Hulk and his arch-enemy, The Leader. Hulk is probably the strongest being on earth and can flatten tanks with one punch, but he's got the intelligence of a small child. The Leader is this small puny thing with a huge head but he has intelligence beyond genius.

    Though this advice can be used as a pretty important reference, going outside of the box to create a villain isn't always the wrong choice, and there are always great possibilities from those things that are rare and well thought out. ;)

    So... let's throw it to you. What makes a good hero... and what makes a good villain... and how should they relate? Feel free to provide your own creations!

    Special thanks to Selena Kyle for editing.
  2. percguy89

    percguy89 Things Change

    Feb 21, 2005
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    id say good heroes and villains are real.

    i must say i absolutely hate cliche heroes and villains(kind of like the superfriends in the 1960's who were one dimensional "always do the right thing" kind of guys) since you never really care about them.

    a good hero is one that u care about, and a good villain is one that u care about as well.

    for any that read the comic Runaways by marvel (if u havent u really should) id say they are a perfect example of villains and heroes.

    for any that dont read the comic, the basic premise is a bunch of teens find out their parents are supervillains, and runaway.

    the kids find out later that their parents actually comitted crimes for their kid's sake, in creating a better world for their children to live in.

    both have a valid point, but anyone can clearly see who the villains are, since despite the fact that the parents do wrong for a good cause, they are still doing wrong.

    and so u care about the runaways, as well as their parents, which makes for awesome villains and super heroes.

    thats all from my end, peace out
  3. ArtificialIdiot

    ArtificialIdiot Doktor Aies

    Jun 7, 2004
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    I think it depends on the type of villain you're after. A one-note, gimmicky, parody style villain can be fun for a one off and can provide a few laughs and a challenge for your heroes a few times. Which is ok, as nobody is serious all the time - And that's what kills most super hero stories.

    For a minor reoccuring villain, then I'd say a good, solid motivation, with the ability to really make your target audience react to them. Personality is really the key here, they should have strong aims, clear objectives and a strong personality - Basically the should feel like normal people gone wrong.

    Arch-Nemesis' however, need something more. They can't afford to be one horse wonders, or obcessed over the same old goals. They need to change, to shift, to be able to cope with different situations and go after other goals. I think they need to be more of a chamelon than most villains, and have a strong connection with the hero. When your hero and your arch-nemesis even set eyes on each other, then all gloves should be off. In fact - I dare say, that your arch-nemesis should know your hero better than anyone.

    The most important thing though, I think at least, is to have a very simple, stable base to start on. You don't want to make your villains too complex and convolted from the get-go. You want to have something you can slowly build on, something you can develop and a background, powers, relations, etc. that aren't going to bog you down in pointless details later - Or slow down the narrative making it dull and boring. Basically, a boring villain is still a boring villain no matter how many powers/little bits of background/etc. you tack onto him.

    I find an easy thing I've done with my latest Rogues gallery is stick them in a kind of hierarchy. With comedy villains and minor villains at the bottom, and the Arch-Nemesis at the top - With anybody more powerful than my hero above him. As I quite like the idea of giving a hero somebody they're not evenly matched with, either in terms of raw power or in pure cunning or position (Head of a Multi-national company, Empress of a long forgotten Kingdom, etc.).

    I dunno if any of that made sense, but considering I've been building up a nice little Rogues gallery of my own, I thought I'd throw in my two-pence :)
  4. Cerberus

    Cerberus Get down with the clown

    Feb 1, 2005
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    i need some names for some bosses in my book
  5. Anima

    Anima Her royal ecentricity, will do

    Mar 1, 2006
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    One thing that I think makes up good heros and villians is that I don't think it should never be Heroism=Villiany. Either the hero should be more righteous and noble than the villian is bad, or the villian should be commited to evil and the hero is hesitant to take action, whether it be for fear, or just because they plain don't care. When it comes to villians and heros, an equal equation is kinda boring. But then you have to take into consideration the fact that Heroism or villiany are not the same as motivation, though, they can be linked.
  6. Acid_Reflux

    Acid_Reflux Guest

    I like Storyline. Face it the world is never "Bad Guy Vs. Good Guy". The age of superfriends is over. The days when joker would hang batman over a vat of acid and leave him there while he went somewhere to have a sandwitch and give batman time to escape are gone. Everybody has a story. That includes heros, AND villans!

    So, what makes a good hero? Story. A hero has to have overcome something horrible, and been pushed to the edge and had every excuse to become a villan, and to some my be considered a villan. The best heros are borderline villans: Wolverine is a phychopath who regenerates with a heart of gold, and loves to kill people. Nobody can controle him. Batman is called the "Dark Knight" for a reason He fights dirty and gets the job done HIS WAY because the cops are pansies. The punisher does pretty much the same thing!

    Now lets look at some great villans. You can see their cause is just, and they have a heart of gold, but they believe the ends justify the means.

    Great villans include: Magneto: a man in charge of magnetism who is afraid to see mass genoside and war like he did during world war 2. or the sandman an escaped convict with a heart of gold who escaped from prison and has the ability to turn himself into sand and cannot be killed. (if those two ever got into a fight magneto would surely die)

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