Every hero goes up against a villain. Every protagonist against an antagonist. This is the main clash that drives your story, any story, forward be it slice of life or epic drama.
One of the elements that can make this driving force compelling, that will make the clash interesting and engaging, is how seriously your audience will take the villain, the antagonist. And there are ways to do this that work, and others that don't. Today I want to look at a few things that will make a villain look intimidating and the fact that he/she is the main antagonist important enough that it takes an entire story- your story to have him beat… IF that is even manageable.
In my experience both as a creator and as a consumer of stories, be they in webcomic form or movie form or novel form, the powerful villain (or antagonist) is the one that concentrates as many characteristics as following from the ones I'm listing below:
He/she is confident
It might sound innocuous, but as in real life, confidence gives an impression of inner force and outward power. A person who is confident is so because they feel they can do whatever it is they set out to do. A confident villain is by default more intimidating exactly because we, as the audience, infer this confidence to mean exactly that: a learning history of success upon success for this very odious, evil, threatening person. So- make them having a resting face of smugness if you can.
He/she generally remains calm and composed.
This is another key behavioral trait: the powerful person, the one in control of the situation, is the one that also keeps their composure. They won't be angry. They won't be ruffled. They may be annoyed, but that won't make them lose their calm and their vice-like grip on the reins of the scene.
Bonus points if they are SO confident they are in control, they taunt the other characters by pretending they aren't.
He/she is efficient
The reason stormtroopers are more of a joke than anything else, is that they wouldn't get an elephant if it smacked them across the face. That's how incompetent they are at shooting. An incompetent villain isn't intimidating, just like a gun that shoots blanks can't be threatening (if you are aware it's shooting blanks). So your villain must be shown to be quite efficient in everything they set out to do. So much so that it gets across to the audience the hero is up against someone much stronger than they are- even if the hero is ‘the chosen one’.
That means you have to be prepared to sacrifice members of your ‘good’ cast that aren't third tier extras only. It might not be easy for the villain (in fact, it better not be) but he/she should succeed in taking some of the big players out of the game. This will raise the stakes and make the audience take the villain seriously- UNLESS the death of your good guy is a cheapshot, that the audience doesn't buy it should have occured the way you presented it *coughSnapecough*
Your villain must have few or no moral limits
Your villain must be prepared to go where most of your cast (or no other) will. What will that be? It's entirely up to you. But whatever limits of morality you put to your villain (unless they're an anti-hero) they cannot be strong enough to stop them from getting to their goal. And especially, they must be willing and able to go where your hero won't. Every line they cross is one more notch of intimidation going up for them. It doesn't have to be too many lines. Just enough for the audience to understand and believe that if this guy has to, they WILL do whatever it takes.
And these are the main trajectories that I've found work best! Other things, like intelligence or finesse or prowess, definitely help but won't be enough to make the villain someone the audience won't want to meet in a dark (or lit) alley.
What's your opinion? How do you design your villains in your webcomic?
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Aug. 4, 2018
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