Villains: Why Rushing A Bad Guy Is Bad
Countless times have I been subjected to seeing a plot rushed to the finish line, the moment it gets away from the starting post. A hero should be triumphant, they say, so they give you fifteen thousands of hours of hero development, but what about the protagonists of the developing world? I think rushing a story for the sake of a hero to save the day is one of the worst things a story can do. Here’s some examples of what I mean and how we can remedy this.
I watch a lot of professional wrestling, anyone who has stuck around us at GeekOut would be aware of that. So I see this happen a lot, where a character who was a happy-go-lucky individual would suddenly want to taste the blood of their enemies, by battering them around the place with a chair. It’s great, it’s effective and it’s dramatic – However sometimes, the transition from the nicest guy in the room to Massacre Michael is a little bit jaunting. The same can be said of all media; be it film, tv, video games, literature and so much more.
Anime Culprit: Sword Art Online
Now don’t worry – I’m not going to say too much bad about the series here, but there is definitely an argument to be had for the first series antagonist being a little bit rushed. The series was well thought out overall, even if I didn’t like the way it turned out… However, we learn pretty early on about the antagonist and actually, he’s a very believable baddy. In fact, he’s very believable. So imagine my surprise when that whole story is cut short so they can just go down the romantic angle.
If you’d like to watch an anime where they give the villain a really long time to fester, then I’d recommend InuYasha. You know early on who the baddies are, but the first confrontation between InuYasha and Naraku doesn’t happen for quite some way into the series. It never feels like the confrontations are rushed into. There are many teases of these two duking it out and yes, it happens, but it never feels like it’s the end. It takes a very, very long time for these two to finish their story.
Film Culprit: Fantastic Four (2015)
One of the biggest disappointments of 2015; Fantastic Four tried to reboot the superhero team and to give them a great big backstory. Well, they succeeded in giving them all a backstory, but what they seemingly forgot is that there was a bad guy they had to deal with. In a scene that’s quite literally a blink and you miss it, the quad manage to deal with their adversary in such a quick manner that you’d probably forget who the bad guy was. Who was it again?
Like antagonists to be a little bit flashy? Like them to be present from start to finish? Then you might be looking for the classic film Labyrinth. Your eyes can be so cruel, Mr. Bowie, as you taunt and tease the teenage Sarah. The Goblin King gives Sarah everything she wanted; which was entirely her own doing. She learns the error of her ways and she ends up dealing with the situation by confronting Jared by herself. Ultimately, no matter how manipulative he could be, she proved that he had no power over her.
Video Game Culprit: Broken Age
The Mog Chothra is the main antagonist and a minor character in Broken Age. I can’t say too much about this, as I really don’t know much more about it than that. However to call your main antagonist a minor character so nonchalantly kind of says a lot about the impact of the villain. Very little. Thanks to Kevin Kutlesa for this particular entry.
Video Game Culprit 2: Final Fantasy IX
Even though this is my favourite RPG ever made, I can’t lie about the end boss of the game being given basically no time what so ever. In fact, I personally think that Necron fits the game pretty reasonable (What with Kuja wanting to be an angel of death, just like his brother should have been). Necron is a character who just appears out of the blue at the end; but there are incredibly subtle hints if you really try to squeeze your eyes together and try to make it out. Don’t get me wrong, I actually really enjoy the fight and as I mentioned, it makes logical sense as to what it’s doing there, but they give it no air time throughout the game that I decided that this was worthy of being thrown into the list. The only real blemish on an otherwise brilliant JRPG.
Instead, I’d like to turn your attention to the original Bioshock; a game that masterfully told you who the bad guy was throughout, only for your expectations to be completely shattered once the game was over. After all, it’s not everyday you get a complete swerve from the story that fits it so perfectly, that you can’t believe you didn’t see it come beforehand. Whether or not you’re a fan of the game, the story is beautifully executed and I’d highly recommend you check the game out just for that last minute change of pace.
Literature Culprit: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
I’m going to be expelliarmus’d so hard for even daring to bring this one up, aren’t I? Don’t get me wrong, the story is brilliant and in terms of the end result, it’s an excellent swerve. However, unlike Bioshock, where the swerve is given purpose from start to finish, the execution of Professor Quirrell being the big baddy at the end was a bit… Strange really. Yes, the clues were sort of there; but with all signs pointing at Snape, to have Quirrell do so much to help young Harry only to then be the big bad? It felt almost like a retcon situation. Man, I hate the fact I’ve brought that up!
However, let’s now do something nice and explain that although I feel Quirrell was a rather rushed villain, the main villain of Harry Potter is a different story altogether. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, or Voldemort as we all know him, is a very well rounded character, with some incredibly intriguing elements about him. From Tom Marvolo Riddle, through to the last form of the dark wizard. He’s powerful, he’s bound to Harry in a way that makes sense in the wizarding world and all in all, he’s one of the most iconic villains of literature.
There are so many examples of this out there, that I hope you’d forgive me for only pointing at a few of them. We would legitimately be here until the next millennium if I were to try and list every single instance of this happening. However, I’m curious to hear about what you think about a rushed antagonist. Do you think this dampens the effect of a story, or do you feel it helps you get behind the goodies more? Let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.