The last villain type I want to discuss, for this current series anyway, is the Ultimate Evil. You know the kind. It’s the evil force of nature that threatens to blanket the world in everlasting darkness…or something similar along those lines.
This type of bad guy used to be the common norm whenever you’d read a fantasy novel or watched a movie. The best example is, of course, Sauron from The Lord of the Rings. This evil dude not only had a fetish for magical jewelry, but he’s also got a dark desire to conquer all of Middle Earth.
In Terry Brooks Word/Void trilogy, the big bad is an entity called The Void. The Void utilizes demonic minions to subjugate humanity. Why? Because that’s its purpose. That’s the goal of The Void.
A final example can be seen in Star Wars. Yes, I know. I always use Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, but I do so because they’re popular and most people know of them. Emperor Palpatine may be human and not immortal, but he shares the same desire to enslave the galaxy.
Emperor Palpatine, The White Witch, The Void, Sauron, Randall Flagg, and every other dark overlord share a lot of the following traits:
- Little to no personality. Sure, Emperor Palpatine is pretty dark and laughs a lot and has a penchant for shooting lightning out of his fingers. Sure, the White Witch likes to offer children candy and a ride. Sure, Randall Flagg is very charismatic and has flashes of angry outbursts. However, that’s about the extent of it. Ultimate Evils are two dimensional characters because they don’t have a lot of backstories about why they want to conquer the land. They do it because that’s what the author wants them to do. They’re there to create the conflict for the heroes to extinguish and restore peace to the land.
- Singular goal. The Ultimate Evil has one single task and that’s to conquer the land by any means possible.
- They don’t have a lot of screentime/pages. There’s a reason why Frodo and Aragorn don’t fight Sauron on the field of battle. They’d lose, terribly. In Stephen King’s The Stand, the battle isn’t a physical one, it’s a spiritual one. The Ultimate Evil in that story, Randall Flagg, would tear the heroes apart with considerable ease. Ultimate Evils are saved for the climax of the story when the hero has leveled up and gotten on a similar power level as the bad guy. Authors won’t have these villains conquering the land off the bat because it wouldn’t make for a good story. Sauron won’t attack until he has his ring back. Voldemort doesn’t attack until he knows Harry Potter is out of the equation.
- Minions. Deatheaters, orcs, goblins, stormtroopers, etc… there’s literally hundreds of names for them. Because the Ultimate Evil doesn’t show his/her/its face until the end, there has to be an oppressive force to do the dirty work. Normally, there are an unlimited supply of minions. Sure, you might notice that Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has an unlimited supply of minions, but he gets his hands dirty for most of Avengers: Infinity War (2018).
Have you ever wondered why books and movies have sort of veered away from this type of villain? Nowadays, the villain is explained and has a backstory and motive. The Ultimate Evil is suddenly humanized leading the reader/watcher to empathize with it. Look at Leigh Bardugo’s GrishaVerse fantasy series. For those that haven’t watched the Netflix series or have never read the books, the hero is Alina Starkov who just happens to be the only Sun Summoner in the land. It should be pretty obvious that the bad guy in this series is the dude named the Darkling. However, for a lot of the first trilogy in the series there’s this sort of love triangle between Alina, the Darkling, and Alina’s best bud.
Because it’s all a conspiracy. That’s right, I said it. All of the villain types I’ve ranted about have risen in popularity because another ultimate evil wants to take over the world. This ultimate evil wants to do away with the villain that doesn’t have a face, that doesn’t have feelings to empathize with, that has an endless number of minions to throw at you.
I’m talking about Big Book, the shadow government of the literature world. Call me the Morgan Spurlock of literature because I’m uncovering the conspiracy around the book industry. It makes sense once you think about it for a minute. Just about all the entertainment Americans consume is based off of books. All those Stephen King adaptations, all those iterations and reboots of Pride and Prejudice, all of those comic book movies.
It’s no wonder why villains are made to be cared about, even accepted, in today’s society. It’s because Big Book is issuing a mandate saying no more stories about Ultimate Evil villains.
What other reason could it be? No, it’s not the fact that I’ve stayed up all night drinking only coffee and eating Cheetos. Nope, that’s not the reason at all.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this series. If Big Book doesn’t put a hit out on me, then I’ll be back next week with something new. Until then, keep calm and write on!
Categories: Mastering the Craft