Relatable Villains and Questionable Heroes

Black Panther. Had an incredibly opening box office weekend, but, even more than that, it continued to have good success afterwards. Why? Well, in addition to having an incredible cast and music of all African American artists, it had a good plot, and I think that’s had a big role to play. What Black Panther had, unlike it’s counterparts, was a good villain.

Good villain. Sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, but, what I mean by this is not someone having a grand ‘ole redemption, or one with elaborate, never before seen plans or weaponry. I mean a villain who you can understand, see where they’re coming from, and perhaps even root for (or more than most). They delved into his backstory and the audience, as well as the protagonist, sympathised with him.

I know what some of you hardcore movie fans are thinking, Black Panther isn’t the first movie to do this, not by a longshot, but what I think everyone agrees on is that they did it well. The rise of these well thought out villains are appearing more and more recently, or at least what I’ve seen. Another that stands out to me is in Ruin and Rising, a novel by Leigh Bardugo. Its antagonist is The Darkling, a man with extraordinary powers, and is probably the first villain who’s feelings and backstory emotionally affected me in a similar way. I could list several more from other novels but that would mean spoilers, and nobody wants that.

On the other the side of the spectrum there’s heroes. As I said in my post about DareDevil, heroes are becoming more real with their own troubles and I think a perfect example of this is another Marvel hero: Jessica Jones. Jessica Jones (who funnily enough is the protagonist of the Netflix show: Jessica Jones), is tormented by her past, has family issues, (with her biological one dead and her adopted mother severely disliking her;) she only has her adopted sister, Trish Walker, to rely on, and even then their relationship can be troubled at times. In addition, Jones has unhealthy relationships with other people in her life, whether it be her own fault or not, and copes with it using alcohol, yet another negative habit.

While this all makes her a more interesting and down to earth character, as opposed to this unreasonably well-rounded protagonist we’re more commonly exposed to, it does pose the question if she’s really a hero at all. Do her wrongdoings counteract the good she does? Does the crap that she’s had to deal with make her actions excusable? I do think she is a hero, an atypical one yes, but a hero nonetheless.

The lines separating heroes and villains are diminishing, which can only be a good thing. Our screens, both at the cinema and at home, are becoming more diverse, in terms of the actors and the characters, and we can only hope that there’ll be many more films and TV series following this trend. Or even better, it be an integral part of Hollywood and the industry.

What do you think about the TV and Film industries? Do you think they’re improving in terms of realistic characters and plots, or rather they’re losing quality as time progresses?

 

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Kate
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Somewhere in the 2nd paragraph, when you were talking about good villains, I was like, “I’ll talk about The Darkling in the comments” and then I see you talked about him and yaaas, I loved The Darkling! I especially loved the way Leigh Bardugo presented him in the third book. Killmonger was the same too, and I’m really glad that these kinds of characters and great stories like in Black Panther and Wonder Woman are getting incorporated in blockbuster, mainstream films. These used to be usually in the realms of Oscar-worthy films and indie ones. I’ve never seen Jessica Jones… Read more »

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