Why Villains Winning Can Make for Compelling Movie Storytelling

Isla Davis

Updated Friday, December 8, 2023 at 10:31 PM CDT

Why Villains Winning Can Make for Compelling Movie Storytelling

The Allure of Villains in Movies

Villains have always held a certain fascination for audiences. From their captivating personalities to their devious plans, villains often steal the show and leave a lasting impression. This observation is especially evident in movies like "Trolls," where the villains are portrayed as more interesting and entertaining than the heroes themselves.

Intriguingly, there is a suggestion to explore storylines where the villain emerges victorious in the first installment, only to be defeated by a new cast of characters in the second story. By learning from the mistakes of the previous generation, the new heroes can overcome the villain's reign and provide a fresh perspective on the narrative.

One of the reasons why villains winning can be so compelling is the excessive luck often bestowed upon heroes. When heroes effortlessly overcome obstacles through sheer luck, it creates a sense of distance and makes the storytelling less engaging. In contrast, the success of George R.R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" is attributed to the absence of plot armor, where characters are not shielded from death based on their importance to the story. This unpredictability adds a layer of realism and tension that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats.

Surprise character deaths, regardless of their alignment as heroes or villains, can also add depth and meaning to a story. These unexpected twists not only challenge our expectations but also create a sense of unpredictability that attracts audiences. By breaking away from the traditional narrative structure, filmmakers can create a more immersive and emotionally impactful experience.

Instead of relying on stock standard heroes and villains, there is a suggestion to tell stories from different points of view. By highlighting the complexity of the world and its characters, audiences can gain a deeper understanding of the motivations driving both heroes and villains. This approach adds layers of depth to the storytelling and allows for a more nuanced exploration of morality and human nature.

While having villains win can be intriguing in media, it may not always be considered good storytelling. It is essential to ensure that the audience is satisfied with the narrative outcome. To achieve a satisfying villain's victory, the villain would need to be the protagonist, and the audience would have to be emotionally invested in their journey. This way, the audience can experience a range of emotions, from empathy to conflict, ultimately making the villain's triumph all the more impactful.

Returning to "Trolls," it is worth noting that the villains in the movie are portrayed as somewhat incompetent, making poor decisions that undermine their effectiveness as villains. However, despite their shortcomings, these villains are still entertaining as characters. Their humorous scenes and witty dialogue add a layer of enjoyment that keeps the audience engaged.

While the prevailing belief is that having the hero win is an easier and safer option for wrapping up a story, it is important to consider the specific narrative and its impact on the overall quality of a movie. While a villain winning or a hero losing can work well in certain contexts, it should not be done merely for the sake of it. The ultimate goal is to create a compelling and satisfying story that resonates with audiences long after the credits roll.

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