Legends of Windemere
Now, we’ve seen villains with a sense of humor in comics (Joker), cartoons (Hades), and comedies (Dark Helmet). You can obviously have a villain with a sense of humor that is goofy, sarcastic, or twisted. They can still be effective too depending on the genre. Not all comedic villains are bumbling idiots that would fail even if the heroes hadn’t gotten involved. I always got that sense that He-Man didn’t really have to work hard to thwart Skeletor at times. Don’t even get me started on Cobra Commander in the cartoon.
Effectiveness is a major challenge if you’re writing a villain that is funny. Looking that three examples, you can see what some of the choices are:
- Dark Helmet– From Spaceballs, Dark Helmet is powerful, but he’s rather accident prone and a goof. You lose a lot of effectiveness with him because funny stuff happens to him without his intent. This works in a comedy, but outside of a comedy, it makes for a weak main villain. A secondary villain could get away with it, but the main villain does need have some semblance of control.
- Hades– Cunning and in control of the situation, this type of villain is like an evil Grouch Marx. Many times this is the egotistical planner that is manipulating everyone around him or her. The humor comes from his wit and sarcasm, which is difficult to write. Not everyone has this ability, so you really need to get feedback on this kind of villain or watch sarcastic comments. This type of humor can improve the character’s effectiveness because it is a sign of intelligence.
- Joker– While Joker can be a catch-all at times, he is a twisted humor character. Victims with his smile, crazy traps, wild laugh, and murderous plots that you laugh at for some bizarre reason. It’s a delicate balance between crazy and effective here. Go too far and you have a raving psychotic that is merely disturbing. Don’t go far enough and you have a mildly humorous villain that seems to be phoning it in.
Personally, I like humorous villains that are effective. The goofy villain is great in comedies, but only comedies for me. A series story should have a seriously dangerous villain, but you can give them a sense of humor. Most people have that in some form and villains are people too. Unless they’re robots, aliens, animals, ghosts, zombies, possessed farm equipment, haunted house, lawyers, shparkly vampires, politicians, or a bio-engineered disease.
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- What Do You Look for in a Villain? (legendsofwindemere.com)