Explorations: my author blog

Is the villain the story? Really?

I think we've all heard that the villain is the story. That worries me because I'm not at all sure I have strong villains. Do you really need a villain in order to have a viable story, and what is the villain's role, structurally?

 I've been avoiding this series because I don't like darkness and mayhem, but I’m finally showing the most recent Batman films in the library. Yesterday, I showed The Dark Knight. And I've been pleasantly surprised.

Just like so many other people, I think these are really strong films, at least so far. And what a villain the Joker is! He’s terrible, absolutely without conscience or remorse. I cringed just about every time he was on screen (which was a lot, obviously), and had my eyes shut some of the time – particularly when one of the young boys in the audience warned me that some particularly awful mayhem was about to erupt. As over the top as he was, you actually believed in the story while you were watching, and longed for the Joker’s defeat, even as you tried to anticipate what he would do next. At least, that’s how the performance and script affected me! I remember whispering to the young man who’d been warning me, “I wish he would die!” And I am strongly opposed to the death penalty in real life. But what can you do with a villain like the Joker? He’s a complete sociopath, incapable of empathizing with anyone, and he does terrible things just because he finds them funny.