Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dark side of the coin

Yesterday, I was discussing with my wife and our friend Michelle how I had to do “N,” and I was a little tapped for ideas. In unison, they said “Narcissistic.” Time for some soul-searching, methinks.

But enough about me (See! They don't know what they're talking about). One of the most important things to get right in fiction is the nemesis. If the hero isn't sufficiently challenged, they aren't very heroic, are they.
Let's take the Joker. I've heard his motives described as chaos for chaos' sake – pretty two-dimensional, but he's such an eccentric and unpredictable character that we like to see him succeed from time to time.

One of my favorite's was Magnito from the X-Men. He was friendly with a protagonist, Xavier, and his motives were understandable. (having seen his parents hauled-off by Nazis, he was deeply suspicious of the government's treatment of Mutants, and fostered an uprising. The villains weren't bad for the sake of being bad, they were scared and defensive, and who can't relate to that?)

Of course, if I didn't mention Darth Vader, you may think that this was plagiarized or guest-hosted. In the first movie, he pretty-much got by with being a big, dark, raspy robot/monster. His motives of “retrieving those plans” served the episode, but not the character, but he mirrors the hero in his access to magic (there aren't many Force-users in their world) and magical weapons (there seems to be three people in existence with Light Sabers; two by the end of the movie).

Who are your favorite Nemesis', and why?


  1. I enjoyed reading your post Wll, but as I am not a writer or a film goer I don't seem to have a nemisis, I of course have seen The Joker and Darth Vadar.......Dave Prowse who played Darth Vadar early on In Star Trek was once a doorman at the dance hall my husband and myself used to go to at Bristol UK, We were amazed to see him doing that years later.


  2. Narcissistic nemeses knows no nuisance (now say it five times, fast - GO!).

    As for villains, and nemeses, I'd say you've pinpointed some important points here. They need more than one aspect to make interesting characters. Back-story can do the trick, insight into their psychology. I think some of the more clever ones are those where you (as a reader/viewer) are led to *almost* sympathize with them, because a part of you can understand their motives. An example of this is (some of the versions of) Lex Luthor. He is power-crazed and desires world domination, yes, but behind that lies issues from childhood and past. I quite like that...

  3. I had a dog I named Nemesis. Does that count?
    Wanna buy a duck

  4. Awesome post Will. I have to agree with you the nemesis is the most important. My favourite is either Darth Vader, Lex Luthor and the Decepticons. Yeah I'm a nerd

  5. Some stories don't call for a nemesis, but if you have one, the same rules should apply as to the rest of your characters. Try to avoid making them a stock character and don't have their goal be to "rule the world" or some lame Dr. Evil thing like that. They should have a realistic goal, like the Joker's to simply create mayhem.

  6. I bet David Prowse nemesis is/was James Earl Jones !

    Fancy spending days in a vader suit hot and bothered, then some other bloke gets the gig to do your voice over !!!!


  7. Magneto for the reasons you mention and, y'know, because he's a badass. The Joker because he's batshit insane. Lex Luthor because he's an evil genius.
    - Sophia.