This post is on heroes, villains, and anti-heroes. I’m not going to claim I know everything about how to make them. But I have learned some things while writing the Dark Veil saga. I still have a long way to go. This is a compilation of what I’ve learned, and some info on the ones I already have.
Heroes are really cool. Whether or not they’ve been damaged, they still fight for the side of good. They are my second-favorite character type to write. They always remain pure. This is clear with characters like Spiderman and Batman. Some say Batman isn’t a good person deep inside. But there is one thing that separates him from the criminals he fights. He refuses to kill. His main goal is to save the innocent, and that is what keeps him good. His moral compass drives him.
There’s something comforting about a hero. It’s nice to know that, no matter what they do, they’re going to try their darndest to do good. You can beat them as hard as you want, but they’ll just look at you with pity. In the end, a hero will really, honestly care about people. All people. That’s something you don’t see in villains or anti-heroes.
A thing that separates a hero from a true hero is determination. They can be beaten, battered, bruised, have their back broken and they still continue fighting. They still stay pure no matter how many chances to do otherwise are thrown at them. It may take a while for them to get to this point. They may be an antihero or even a villain before they come to this spot on their life. But very few, if they are truly good, will stray from this path.
I would say who the heroes are in Dark Veil saga, but to say who stays good and who doesn’t is most definitely a spoiler. That is the saddest part of writing this series. In a world like the Dark Veil saga, there’s not much of a place for heroic types even when I want them there. But they are there, and I think you’ll come to love them just as much as I do.
Villains are still lots of fun to write. It may just be due to a lot of “Criminal Minds” episodes, but I find their logic fascinating. To sum it up in one shot, I must quote one of the greatest.
“I’ve demonstrated there’s no difference between me and anyone else! All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.” – the Joker, Batman villain
An evil person is, in one way or another, a lunatic. Sometimes it isn’t so clear. In fact, some villains in books that I’ve read are so logical that it’s downright eerie. But deep down inside their psyche, no matter how normal they may seem, something’s off. In the Joker, it’s pretty much everything about him. He desires to kill people and just hates all of humankind. But there’s a great deal of difference between villains like the Joker from Batman and Lex Luthor from Superman. One is so cold and calculated that few might notice his villainy unless they’d been around him for a while. The other is so insane that nobody would recognize a shred of sanity until they’d been around him a while.
Take Jigsaw, for example, the Saw villain who inspired the Dark Veil saga’s Trizkol. I have not seen the movies, as I think the brutality they include is completely disgusting and just for shock value. A part of him makes logical sense. People who do bad things ought to have some form of justice – whether it’s simply being told that they are in the wrong or being put in jail. But the extent to which he goes to make it happen is pure insanity. He is a good example of the eerie calculated villain. I personally think that these sorts are far creepier than the insane ones. It’s the ones that aren’t pure evil that are harder to want to kill.
Finally, there is the anti-hero. The anti-hero is the most human of all the character types. They are by far my favorite to write, and I have a good lot of them in the Dark Veil saga. They’re complex people. They aren’t black and white. They are, in fact, basically neutral. They’re not striving for the absolute best or worst decision. They’re just going to make the decisions. They may kill people who they didn’t need to, but they’ll get the job done.
It’s not to say that there are not good people in real life. I’m not even saying that all anti-heroes are bad people. But they don’t have to be choirboys either. With characters like Rorschach, it’s due to a troubled childhood. The ones who have good intentions will go to extreme lengths to take down the bad guys. Those without good intentions are often in it for themselves. They basically do whatever they feel like but they’ll still do the good thing on occasion.
The closest to this archetype in the Dark Veil saga are the characters Addom and Ashlin. They care less about honor and more about taking down those they consider bad people. They don’t really care about the suffering of people involved along the way. They haven’t been treated well by people for a very long time. They were thought to be monsters. But they think of normal humans the same way. So, rather than being swayed by what these annoying humans are telling them… they just do whatever they want.
I enjoy writing these types not for their decisions, but for their complexity of character. They’re messed up, and it isn’t hard to tell. They’re damaged by a cruel world. They don’t have always have one distinct pathway that they desire to follow. Villains want to be bad. Heroes want to be good. Antiheroes are just kind of… there. There is more room for a realistic human in an antihero. Whether they are mostly good or mostly bad, every human has a ying and a yang. Antiheroes show both of those sides a bit more equally.
Wow. This was my longest post yet. Admittedly, I had a lot to say. What do you think about all this. What’s your favorite type of character to write or read? Let me know in the comments below!