Villains are tricky concept in fiction. A villain, in general terms, needs to stir up trouble for the protagonist. They create a problem and the hero has to go and solve that problem. Villains tend to have a plan and that plan often involves taking over the world.
The Bond franchise contains villains who want to destroy and or rule the world. The question is why? Perhaps because I’m normal, well its all relative, I can’t see why anyone would want this. Even if you’re planning to be a dictator you would still need some sort of infrastructure – a civil service. And you can’t just kill everyone who doesn’t agree with you.
I’ve thought far too much about this but lets take a look at the accounts of Karl Stromberg. Karl Stromberg is the billionaire villain in The Spy Who Loved Me.
He has a super tanker which probably costs in excess of $4.5 billion. He has easily 1000 people working for him. Of course he pas to pay all those people and I can’t begin to think how you would advertise for such a job…
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I got the $4.5 billion from the approximate cost of Nimitz class aircraft carrier. Surely you could buy a small island for that money. I’ve never looked into the price if islands.
To me power has never been a great motivator I don’t want power. Ruling the world would be nothing but a headache. A Bond film though, at least until the reboot, is not to be taken seriously. A villain in Bond can be a bit silly and over blown this is most obviously shown in the creative ways they come up with of killing Bond.
I think what makes a villain really work is when the audience can identify with the villain. Where we could see ourselves doing a similar thing in that situation or we can at least follow the logic of their argument.
William Edgers is one such villain. Edgers is a from the Babylon 5 universe. In Babylon 5 there are telepaths. In the fourth season Edgers is concern that the telepaths are going to become thought police. Which would make normal humans second class citizens. The biggest issue is that the telepaths look identical to normals and, as Edgers says, ‘They don’t have to be everywhere to make people believe they might be living next door.’ (‘The Exercise of Vital Powers‘ Babylon 5)
Edgers plan is to get the telephaths addicted to a deadly drug. This forces them to take injections all their lives which means that all telepaths can be tracked. It is not difficult to see how Edgers reached this conclusion. The telepaths are, almost certainly, going to be a threat. His solution would largely solve the problem although it is obviously moral bankrupt.
More and more villains seem to be obsessed with revenge and power. Edgers motivation is freedom. I think that we need to see villains worked on as much as protagonists. A great villain can really make a film work.