Who’s your favorite fictional villain?
Yep, I said villain. Who’s the guy (or gal) you most love to hate? Why is he or she your favorite?
My favorites aren’t true villains. I think anti-heroes would be a better description. There’s Thor’s adopted brother Loki…the enigmatic Raymond “Red” Reddington of The Blacklist…Dallas’ scheming oilman J.R. Ewing…Victor Newman and his son Adam from The Young and the Restless.
Loki’s done some pretty bad things, I can’t deny that. If I were a criminal defense lawyer defending him, I’d go for the plea deal. He’s sent the Asgardian Destroyer (who, by the way, deserves that title) to kill Thor and trash a small New Mexico town. He’s come to New York City with an alien army, made a big mess and killed a lot of people.
But Loki’s not all bad. He’s dealing with a lot of childhood resentments. He grew up in the shadow of older brother Thor, god of thunder, heir to the throne of Asgard. Their father, Odin, favored Thor and apparently didn’t bother to hide it. Then, Loki found out he wasn’t an Asgardian by blood. Now, his whole identity was a lie, in his eyes. He was angry–and directed all of that anger at Thor. Loki wants the Asgardian throne. He wants to re-establish his identity by becoming king. He wants to take away all that Thor loves.
No matter what he does, I just can’t hate him.
Then there’s The Blacklist‘s brilliantly-written, brilliantly portrayed Raymond “Red” Reddington, the rogue intelligence agent who, after twenty years of eluding capture, suddenly surrenders himself to the FBI–on the same day rookie agent Elizabeth Keen joins the team. He promises to reveal the names on his “blacklist”–the world’s most dangerous criminals–but only to Elizabeth. Why? Looks like there’s a connection between them of which even Elizabeth isn’t aware.
Red is brilliant, manipulative, resourceful, and yes, dangerous under certain circumstances–but with Elizabeth, he’s gentle, protective and caring. Could he be her long-lost father? Looks that way–but with Red, looks can be deceiving.
My all-time favorite bad guy redeemed himself in the end. Dallas‘ J.R. Ewing had screwed over so many people–including members of his own family–that when he was shot, even his parents were on the list of suspects. But J.R., eldest of the three Ewing sons, was driven by a need to prove himself to his father. Brother Gary was their mother’s favorite child, while father Jock favored the youngest brother, Bobby. The original Dallas ended its run with J.R.’s sins catching up to him, prompting him to contemplate suicide. But in the new Dallas series, as old and new enemies closed in on his family, J.R. finally used his “powers” for good–and in his final hours devised a brilliant plot that saved the day for the Ewings. J.R., you’ll be missed!
The Young and the Restless’ Victor Newman reminds me of J.R.–and in some very basic ways, of my own father. Maybe that’s why I love him. Victor wasn’t always rich and powerful–quite the opposite. Born Christian Miller, his mother left him at an orphanage when his father abandoned the family and she was unable to take care of him on her own. He grew up angry, bitter, and determined to never again be as helpless as he’d been as a child. He reinvented himself–hence the name he chose for himself, “Victor New-Man”–and built a financial empire. He can be ruthless, but he loves his family (on-again-off-again wife Nikki, children Victoria, Nick, Adam and Abby and grandchildren Cassie, Noah, Summer, Reed, Delia, Johnny and Connor) above all else. If only he didn’t have so much trouble showing it–but then, that’s the result of his own troubled childhood, as is his need to control them.
Ironically, the child most like him–Adam–is the one with whom he’s had the most difficult relationship. Adam didn’t know Victor was his father until adulthood. His mother, Hope, raised him on her Kansas farm, only revealing the truth to him on her deathbed. Victor persuaded him to go to Genoa City–but Adam was rejected from the start by Victoria and Nick (Abby didn’t yet know she was Victor’s child, either). Adam worked to prove himself, but nothing he did seemed to please his father. When he discovered he was a father himself–to ex-wife Chelsea’s baby boy, Connor–he vowed to be a better father than his dad had been to him.
That’s my list. Who are your favorite villains–in books, TV or movies–and why do you love to hate them?