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Movie Mom

What Makes a Really Good Bad Guy

posted by Nell Minow

Roger Ebert’s “Far-Flung Critics” are some of my favorite writers on film and Olivia Collette has a terrific new essay on  one of my favorite topics — villains, with a focus on Bane in the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”  (Warning — there are spoilers.)

A great villain isn’t the protagonist’s polar opposite. It’s someone who reflects the flaws in the hero and says – as Frank Booth in “Blue Velvet” did – “you’re like me.” Villains are also a reminder that heroes conquer their foes with violence. Even if it’s for all the right reasons, violence is violence. Heroism requires some darkness and a reasonable stretch of the moral code. A poorly developed villain is all darkness and no moral code. A great villain asks us to define “reasonable.”

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