Writing Advice: The Key To A Great Villain

Writing Advice: The Key To A Great Villain

Animated films do this really well.

Note: This article contains spoilers for Pixar’s Up, Dreamworks’s Kung Fu Panda, and Pixar’s The Incredibles.

It’s undeniable that villains have fans, sometimes even more fans than the heroes. But what is it that makes a villain memorable, beyond the awesome songs and general badassery? What makes a villain an essential part of a story?

A great villain is facing the same problem as the hero. Both the hero and the villain have a way of dealing with the problem – sometimes the same way, sometimes a different way. In order for the hero to win, they must overcome the problem in a better way than the villain.

Animated films in particular use this hero-villain dynamic to great effect. For example, in Pixar’s Up, Carl Fredricksen (the hero) and Charles Muntz (the villain) both have the “can’t let go of old dreams” problem. Carl is fixated on fulfilling his childhood promise to take his wife Ellie to Paradise Falls, and Muntz is still – after an implied seventy years! – obsessed with capturing the elusive bird and regaining his reputation as a great explorer. For both men, the focus on the old dream holds them back from having any new ones, or even recognizing any path towards happiness besides the one they’ve trod for so long. Muntz never lets go of his old dream, but Carl finally does – which allows him to defeat Muntz, rescue his friends, and go off on new adventures.

Pixar isn’t the only studio that follows this formula, of course. Dreamworks’s Kung Fu Panda focuses on two characters – Po (the hero) and Tai Lung (the villain) – who share a “self-worth” issue. Despite Po’s happy-go-lucky demeanor and Tai Lung’s constant displays of strength, and their shared dream of becoming kung fu masters, over the course of the movie it becomes clear that they each don’t think very much of themselves. Though selected as the “dragon warrior,” Po doesn’t believe himself worthy of it. And despite Tai Lung’s great skill, he took being denied the secrets of the Dragon Scroll so personally that he waged war on his home, and to this day seems desperate to beat approval out of his father-figure Shifu. Po finally gains the ability to defeat Tai Lung when he learns that there is no “secret ingredient” to greatness – the Dragon Scroll is blank. Tai Lung insists to the end that there must be a secret that he is being denied access to. And, in the end, Po emerges on top.

Let’s return to Pixar for one more example – The Incredibles, because I’m so excited about the upcoming release of Incredibles 2. In this movie, Mr. Incredible and Syndrome have an “obsession with glory” problem. For most of the film, both characters prioritize the glory associated with being a hero over the “do good and help society” aspect. Mr. Incredible repeatedly puts his family’s safety at risk in order to relive the “glory days.” Syndrome flat-out kills all other supers so that he alone will have the world’s adoration.

As a matter of fact, every character in this film has some connection to this conflict between prioritizing glory or good. A cape looks cool, yes, but as Edna Mode will vehemently tell you, it is not safe, and certainly not worth risking your life and loved ones for – but she leaps at the chance to “design for gods” once more. Elastigirl firmly prioritizes the safety of her family over the thrill of hero work, which has the unfortunate side effect of raising children who have never been free to explore their full potential. Having all characters tied to a film’s central issue helps make everything feel purposeful and linked together, as one coherent story.

By the end of the film, Mr. Incredible gets his priorities straight, and works together with his family to find the proper balance between being great and doing good. Syndrome, on the other hand, puts the public good, the safety of the people close to him, and his own safety so far down his list of priorities that it kills him.

Cover Image Credit: Wingblade Reviews//YouTube

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18 Times Kate Middleton Was Actually All Of Us In College, Beside The Princess Thing

Every girl has to go through her clueless college stage before she reaches Duchess status.

Kate Middleton is basically a household name by now, and how could this not be the case when she has the gorgeous hair, kind smile, and incredible fashion sense. With her constantly in the spotlight looking so put together, we sometimes forget that the Duchess was actually all of us in college!

Here are 18 times that Kate proved she was just like all of us.

1. Going all out in the name of school spirit

There is nothing like breaking out the war paint and screaming for your home team. Like Kate, we all love to get a little messy and make some memories with our friends.

2. Hanging out with the roomies

Some people may not get lucky in this area but for those who are best friends with their roommates, they understand the love. It's a dream come true for everyone who has always wanted to live with their best friends. It's like a sleepover that never ends.

3. Dressing up cute on the first day of school...

You got to make a good first impression on your way to school. Whether it's during your 7 A.M or 4 P.M., it's always best to dress to impress.

4. ...and wearing yoga pants for the rest of the year

And this goes all the way until the last week of school when you don't bother getting out of bed to wear pants at all.

5. Going grocery shopping and throwing in cookies, ice-cream, and every type of Pringles because your mom isn't there to say no

You'll probably regret that in a few months when the Freshman Fifteen kicks in.

6. Walking for miles from your car to your dorm carrying groceries

We can't park by the apartment for a solid five minutes to carry our groceries up to the kitchen or we will risk a ticket, but we can walk a few miles carrying food that gets heavier, and heavier, and heavier with every step.

7. Going out for a night on the town on a Friday night

Dancing, laughter, and fun? Everyone in college has been to a party or two. It's a classic part of the college experience. Sometimes you just need a distraction from all the essays and tests.

8. Being so late to class you threw on whatever your hands grabbed next

We've all been there. Our alarm doesn't go off, we press snooze a few too many times, or forget to even set an alarm and next thing you know we are running around the dorm room like Taz from Looney Toons. You throw on whatever, then run to class.

Unfortunately 9/10 times our outfits don't turn out. Although, Kate can certainly pull off this look, no matter how mismatched.

9. Pretending your walking to the same building as the cute boy you met so you have the excuse to keep talking to him

I am very guilty of doing this. Although I missed my class, at least I got to talk to the really cute boy who has class at 9:45 in the STEM building. It was worth it.

10. Sitting on the floor or standing because you're a poor college student who can't afford chairs or tables

Eating on the floor? Always. Being a college kid is tough and sometimes you have to sacrifice some things to obtain the others. Such as choosing chocolate milk and Halo Top over vegetables and hair conditioner.

Judging by Kate's beautiful locks, she chose the conditioner.

Probably the vegetables too.

We should just all follow her example.

11. Going on cute date with the boy you followed to class-turned-boyfriend

Now my short-lived romance may not have extended farther than us talking and walking to his class, but Kate and William obviously had a better ending. Nevertheless, college is the place to grow and date and possibly find the one.

12. Keeping your hair long and growing because you can't afford to get it cut

Don't trust your roommate. No matter how many times she begs you to let her cut it. Don't.

13. Turning 21 and getting dressed up and going out with your best friends

While this one probably doesn't apply to Kate, since you can drink at age 18 in most countries, all my people in the United States know the sweet freedom of turning 21. It's an iconic time in a students life and marks a huge milestone as well.

14. Passing out flyers for some type of movement or protest

Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger - which is why college is the time to stand up for what you believe in. May that be RedforEd, Planned Parenthood, anti-Abortion, Trump, the Wall, pizza bagels, it's all an exercise of the first amendment.

15. Ranting to your friends about the professor that just "doesn't understand you"

You know your thinking about that professor right now as you read this. And you know that that's your reaction whenever they give you a bad grade or say something you disagree with at the tiniest degree.

16. Getting glammed-up for those senior photos

Pick out your best outfit and make sure it's a good hair day because everyone will be viewing these photos forever... and in Kate's place that is more than true. Luckily she looks as gorgeous as ever. Does she ever have a bad hair day?

17. Walking out of your last class knowing you'll never have to write a single paper again

And purposefully not thinking about how you will be going into the real world in less than a few days.

18. When you've graduated and realized you have no idea what you're going to do with your life

Maybe a prince will be right around the corner to sweep you off your feet so you won't have to figure your life out.
Cover Image Credit: Laura Warshauer

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The Football World Loses One Of Its Finest Players

Bart Starr passed away and NFL players, coaches, and fans all mourn the loss of the Packer legend, but his life and career will live on in hearts of Packer nation forever.


Bart Starr passed away at the age of 85 in Birmingham, Alabama. The NFL lost a great player. The Green Bay Packers lost a hero. And, the world lost a true gentleman. Starr's legacy has surpassed his accomplishments on the gridiron. He inspired not only his peers but the generations that have come after him. He is — and always — will be remembered as a Hall of Famer, a champion, and a Packer.

Bart Starr was a Packers legend. Starr led Green Bay to six division titles and five world championships. As the quarterback of Vince Lombardi's offense, he kept the machine going and executed the plays like no other. His mastery of the position was a large part of the Packers success in the 1960s. Starr was also the perfect teammate for the perfect team. His leadership put him in command of the Packers. Starr's time in Green Bay will not be forgotten by former players, coaches, and the fans.

Bart Starr's resume is rivaled by few in NFL history. He played in 10 postseason games and won 9 of them. He led the Packers to victory in Super Bowls I and II and won the MVP award in both games. He was the MVP of the league in 1966 and was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s. The Packers retired his number 15 and Starr has been inducted into the Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After his playing days, Starr would become the head coach of the Packers. He could not repeat the success he had on the field from the 1960s teams. His coaching years do not take away from his legacy as one of the all-time great Packers. Starr was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

One of Starr's last visits to Lambeau field was on a cold November night in 2015. Starr and his wife attended a ceremony in which the Packers retired Brett Favre's jersey number. Starr was the perfect personification of what it meant to be a Packer. His most heroic moment came in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. The Ice Bowl came down to a third and goal in Lambeau Field's south endzone against the Dallas Cowboys. Starr came to the sidelines and bravely told Vince Lombardi that he can sneak it in for a game-winning touchdown. Lombardi then replied, "Run it, and let's get the hell out of here." Starr ran a quarterback sneak for the game-winner and the Packers were off to Super Bowl II. Without Starr, Green Bay would not have won a second straight Super Bowl. His leadership in big game moments will live with Packers fans for a lifetime.

Vince Lombardi: A Football Life - The Ice Bowl

Starr leaves behind his wife Cherry, his son, and three granddaughters. Packers fans will have a tight grip on the memories Bart Starr and the 60s teams created. Starr left behind a template for being a Green Bay Packer. He also left a template for being a good man and a gentleman of the game of football. He was a competitor and a leader. Packer nation mourns for the loss of one of the finest human beings the game has seen.

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