Villains and Antiheros

Jun 21, 17:33 by John Frost
Thoughts on heroism, or its antithesis.
Jun 22, 05:14 by Greg Lindenberg
Two words: Harry Flashman!
Jun 22, 05:15 by Greg Lindenberg
“One thing strongly motivated villains do not do is magically transform themselves into compelling heroes. The fact that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father does not provide motivation enough for the about-face at the end of the first Star Wars trilogy. Vader himself always knew that he was Luke's father. It is not plausible that evil of that magnitude would be redeemed so easily by a son's pleading and further confrontation with the good side of the Force. The about-face undermined the nature of Vader's character as established from the start, rendering him incoherent.”

I think this overlooks the fact that the struggle was going on in Vader all along and Luke’s words/actions pushed Vader across the right finish line.

gl
Jun 22, 06:47 by Greg Lindenberg
...and it was not Luke's words and actions that made Vader change as much as it was the fact that his superior, the Emperor, was KILLING his son.

gl
Jun 22, 08:45 by Lavie Tidhar
Did you say Harry Flashman?
Without a doubt the best anti-hero in the galaxy. (and he makes a cameo appearance in Kim Newman's The Bloody Red Baron, too!)
Jun 22, 11:56 by David Gardner
I think this overlooks the fact that the struggle was going on in Vader all along and Luke’s words/actions pushed Vader across the right finish line.

Possibly, but I think this overlooks that there's precious little foreshadowing for Vader's turnabout, and virtually all of it is it RotJ itself, leaving the audience with the feeling that Vader has done a complete turnaround in a very short time frame.

David
Jun 22, 12:15 by Bluejack
Flashman does, indeed, rock. One of the things that makes him such a perfect anti-hero is that he's not actually quite as bad as he believes himself to be -- a nihilist with a heart of gold... or, well, maybe silver. Bright shiny copper?
Jun 23, 08:19 by Lavie Tidhar
Interesting article, couple of points that came to me on reading it though:

"In a historical context, we could examine Pontius Pilate. He did not want to crucify Jesus but ended up doing so nevertheless."

Historical context? Since when has there been any kind of historical evidence to the fable of Christ?

"Mythology is populated by black and white characters depicting the forces that each god and goddess originally represented. Zeus, Astarte, Thor, Woden—all personified aspects of the world around us."

Again, I have to disagree. In Greek mythology, for instance, the gods are full of flawed human characteristics, especially Zeus, who is womanising, lazy, tends to uncontrollable rages and yet, on occasion, generous, kind and even majestic. In relation to SF, Roger Zelazny was probably the best writer to use mythologies in his work, and they are interesting precisely because none of the gods (or pseudo-gods, as in Lord of Light) are simple black and white characters.

I think generally - and I hope someone disagrees with me(!) - crime fiction has been a lot more interesting in terms of examining the role of the anti-hero. Although the recent success of private eye SF novels might form an example of genre-feedback. Or something. :-)
Jun 23, 14:38 by Bluejack
"In a historical context, we could examine Pontius Pilate. He did not want to crucify Jesus but ended up doing so nevertheless."

Historical context? Since when has there been any kind of historical evidence to the fable of Christ?


Actually, there's considerable historical evidence, particularly for his interactions with Roman administrators. We know that Pontius Pilate was the administrator of Rome during the reign of Tiberius from archaeological inscriptions, as well as the historians Tacitus and Josephus, who both mention Pilate's execution of Jesus. They don't go into the psychology of the moment, or the complex interactions between Pilate, the Jewish priesthood, or the character of Jesus himself, so are free to scoff at that, although personally, I find the dilemma that the New Testament Jesus forced onto Pilate to be a particularly fascinating, and rather convincing quandary.
Jun 24, 04:37 by Lavie Tidhar
bluejack, are you talking about that one paragraph in the Testimonium Flavianum? controversial...

the point is, the new testament books all date from a considerable time after Jesus. There are no real surviving records, Roman or Jewish, to support the story. using the term "in a historical context" is misleading. of course, I'm not going to argue about it being a great story.
Jun 24, 07:23 by Bluejack
Well, the phrase "historical context" is not particularly central to Agnew's point, I think.

Your dismissal of any historical evidence to the "fable of Christ" suggested to me that you were one of those who argue that there was no Christ, that the whole business is a manufactured fiction. I think there is ample evidence that there was a Jesus, that he inspired followers, that he was executed. Now, exactly how that happened is described only in the documents collected into the New Testament (and a few other, considerably less reputable documents). So if you are saying that there is no reliable, independant historical record of the particulars of what happened, I agree.

(Finally, of course, what the books in the new testament actually mean is more debatable still, and many intelligent readers come to wildly different conclusions.)
Jun 28, 11:47 by Adrian Simmons
Getting back to the Darth Vadar for a moment. You know, the Emperor also had to know that Luke was Vadar's son. I mean, how many Skywalkers are there in the galaxy? There is also more forshadowing than Number6 may believe. For example, in ESB, it is Vadar who comes up with idea that Luke could be 'turned' (as opposed to destroyed, which I believe is the Emperor's solution). Plus, in ESB, Vadar uses all his tricks to get Luke to join him instead of destroying him (I especially like the argument that together they can defeat the emporer... a ruse or a long held hope?).

Of course, no discussion of Star Wars would be complete with out mentioning that Luke was one bad mutha (as the kid's today would say). And how did he get that way? Two words my friends: Uncle Owen.

Search your feelings, you know it to be true.
Jun 29, 05:57 by David Kawalec
For example, in ESB, it is Vadar who comes up with idea that Luke could be 'turned' (as opposed to destroyed, which I believe is the Emperor's solution). Plus, in ESB, Vadar uses all his tricks to get Luke to join him instead of destroying him (I especially like the argument that together they can defeat the emporer... a ruse or a long held hope?).


Vader was a Sith. There can be only two Sith. The only way to move up the corporate ladder is to kill the boss. Is this compassion or PURE EEEEVIL?

I think in a lot of ways, Lucas was just making the whole thing up as he went along. Despite the fact that Star Wars is "Episode IV", the five completed films don't seem to hang together very well as one whole story. Perhaps Episode III will have enough plot-shims to make it all nice and pretty.
Jul 2, 08:58 by Adrian Simmons
You know who one of my favorite villians is? Clarence Boddiker from the original ROBOCOP movie. Played amazingly by Kurtwood Smith, Boddiker is a unique villian. Most of the movie bad guys I was familiar with usually relied on straight violence or fury or overt bad-assedness. Boddiker was intimidating because he was so incredibly confident, a real proffessional. And heartless (I still expect Kurtwood Smith's 'Red' character from THAT 70s SHOW to kneecap one of those kids).

The other thing about this character is that since RoboCop can't really express much emotion (although Peter Weller still does a good job of it), he has to balance it out. And he does a great job of it.
Jul 2, 12:14 by Anonymous
Gary Sinese has some amusing villains along the way. Alan Richman does a nice villain now and then. But so much of it is style and clever one liners rather than interesting character motivations.
   

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