What do you think makes a good villain?

Navarro

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You know, what with all the things we've discussed, I think Lord Voldemort's failure to live up to most of that makes him a little...underwhelming. As one of the most famous fantasy villains of all time, Tom Riddle is not far off from a case study in sub par villain writing, what with his psychopathic man babying and inability to defeat a bunch of teenagers, whilst in the end dying to a legal argument.
The Tom Riddle we got glimpses of in CoS and HBP was way more intimidating than present-Voldemort. Prettyboy magical serial killer beats Skeletor knockoff anyday.
 

Aaron Fox

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Well, given half the shit that Riddle did to himself to become Voldy...

... I wouldn't be surprised that his faculties have got fucked rather seriously, especially in his quest for immortality. I mean, come on, he split his fucking soul five times with Harry being an unintentional sixth when he decided to murder his parents and tried to kill Harry. Not to mention that an ACTIVE Prophecy is in play and the implication that once a prophecy becomes active, reality railroads events to make it happen.
 

Simonbob

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Eh.

That's just fans trying to explain bad writing. There's a reason a lot of people, myself included, didn't much like anything beyond book 5.

Voldy just didn't seem like anything but a shortsighted thug with a bigger wand than his minions.
 

Aaron Fox

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Eh.

That's just fans trying to explain bad writing. There's a reason a lot of people, myself included, didn't much like anything beyond book 5.

Voldy just didn't seem like anything but a shortsighted thug with a bigger wand than his minions.
Then again, he was always that way, personally.
 

Lord Sovereign

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Voldy just didn't seem like anything but a shortsighted thug with a bigger wand than his minions.
I think Rowling got carried away with herself and failed to live up to the build up. I never got the sense of "terrible, but great" from Voldemort. He should have been a bit of a badass, completely cold and calculating, with an actual vision that extends beyond "reeeeeeee, muggles," and capable of completely bullshit magic. Dumbledore should never have been the one Voldemort feared, he should have been the challenge the Dark Lord relished.

You should have been able to understand why this man was so feared and respected, if not loved, by his followers.
 

LindyAF

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So what we wanted was Sauron from LOTR in a modern magical fantasy story?
Not necessarily, but I'd say a lot of the Dresden villains are pretty good and maybe something like that would be what to go for?

I think part of the problem was (and this was definitely made worse by the movies) that actual combat magic in Harry Potter increasingly came off as like a laser gun fight as the series went on. Like you just through around a beam spell of some kind, often an AK if you were a bad guy or a Stunner if you were a good guy, on Expelliarmus if you were Harry Potter, and if that hit someone it did the job.
 

The Whispering Monk

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I think part of the problem was (and this was definitely made worse by the movies) that actual combat magic in Harry Potter increasingly came off as like a laser gun fight as the series went on.
I think the only duel worthy of the name in the movies was when we got to see Voldy face Dumbledore at the ministry. Never really saw DD throw a direct attack so much as use situational magic to effect a defense and form an attack, like the fountain water encasing Voldy.
 

Reveille

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A good villain must have charisma. It doesn't matter if they have physical prowess or if they're a crippled midget in a wheelchair. They must have a commanding presence from the moment they enter the room to the moment they leave. Good villains know when to chew the scenery and exactly how much.
 

LindyAF

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Hmmm, so an interesting question I think there is on this topic is: Is it okay for a villain to be a loser? Should a villain be a loser?
 

Val the Moofia Boss

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In what sense do you mean loser?
I think he means a pathetic villain who isn't epic. Like Nuwangi from Utawarerumono: just some peasant kid who was uplifted by a noble house and given a little power and let it go to his head and became a bully, shoved his grandma and killed her (because he didn't like that she was calling him out for what he was), and incited the peasants (his own neighbors) to revolt against him. He was given troops to command and acted as a terrible commander, sending them to die in an obvious trap. Abandons his men as they dying and flees, and then gets unceremoniously shanked on the road by random bandits.
 
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The Whispering Monk

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@LindyAF In this topic, I don't a 'loser' makes a good villain. All that gets us is someone that has power and no clue. Cue schmuck w/delusions of grandeur.

He's the little man that the real villain casts in front of him to draw the ire of the heroes and make them expose themselves.
 

LindyAF

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I think he means a pathetic villain who isn't epic. Like Nuwangi from Utawarerumono: just some peasant kid who was uplifted by a noble house and given a little power and let it go to his head and became a bully, shoved his grandma and killed her (because he didn't like that she was calling him out for what he was), and incited the peasants (his own neighbors) to revolt against him. He was given troops to command and acted as a terrible commander, sending them to die in an obvious trap. Abandons his men as they dying and flees, and then gets unceremoniously shanked on the road by random bandits.
Yes to a lot of this, but I don't mean necessarily not epic.

For instance - Sauron and Melkor were both losers. They were continually hemoraging power, becoming weaker, uglier, more twisted versions of themselves. Neither of them really got it - they could never have succeeded in replacing Eru Illuvator's song with their own, just fucking it up with discord.
 

ParadiseLost

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I think Lung from Worm is a great example.

He's considered a terrifying villain who's very much feared. In his first fight with Skitter she's bailed out by the Undersiders; the second time by Newter.

He loses hard, but he still works well as a villain, and plays up the theme of brute strength versus intelligence.
 

bintananth

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Altena from Noir is a great behind the scenes villian.

You don't see much of her on screen except for writing letters and her narrative commentary until the very end, at which point "the heroes"* are coming for her and they aren't stopping until she's dead.

* A pair of highly skilled assassins who she'd been manipulating since they were little.
 

VicSage

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Doctor Horrible makes a decent example for the loser villain done right. He's no great shakes. Hell, he fails at his primary mission most of the time (bar of gold is now liquid, fails to kill the hero but kills his own love interest), but he succeeds because he has two things going for him. He never gave up trying, and when he finally scored THE pyrrhic victory he went along with making it look like it was his plan the whole time, flinging him into the highest halls of success. He has everything he was demanding. Power, respect, fear, wealth, infamy. And no one can know that he's basically dead inside now.
 

The Whispering Monk

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I think one of the most powerful/effective villains ever potentially would have been Batman if had actually killed Superman in order to protect the world.

EDIT to ADD:

It does several things:
1. It forces Batman to break his 1 Rule. The psychological ramifications of that on an already battered mind are UGE.
2. Now, more than likely, the whole WORLD hates the Batman.
3. Maybe the Bats has to fake his death in the fight so that Bruce Wayne can remain in public.
 
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Navarro

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I think Rowling got carried away with herself and failed to live up to the build up. I never got the sense of "terrible, but great" from Voldemort. He should have been a bit of a badass, completely cold and calculating, with an actual vision that extends beyond "reeeeeeee, muggles," and capable of completely bullshit magic.
The thing is ... it isn't actually clear what Voldy's motives are. Is it "take over the wooorld"; "reeeeee, muggles"; "immortality" or "must destroy Harry Potter"?
 
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