Bad Boys Rule! My Favorite Villains of All Time
By Rebecca Baumann of Dirty Sexy Books
Hardly anybody takes the time to build up a really good villain anymore. It’s a lost art form, and I didn’t realize there was a dearth in bad guy greatness until Heather brought up the idea of doing a guest post about my favorite villains.
Then I started listing them, and I only got to three.
That’s pathetic! A truly menacing enemy is the cornerstone of most fantasies, and a lot of romances too, so you’d think I’d have heaps of baddies to choose from, but not so. Most series writers cycle in new bad guys for each installment, like changing out the paper targets at a practice range. They pin up somebody new for the hero/heroine to blow away, but it’s kind of a shame, because it’s rare to have a really satisfying relationship with someone I can love to hate.
So here they are… a short list of my three favorite villains.
1) I’ve got two words for you. Baby powder.
If you’re a fan of J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, you’re having an ‘oh yeah’ moment right now, because the villains in her on-going paranormal romance epic (‘series’ is too tame a word for what Ward’s constructed), all smell like baby powder. They are known as Lessers, and their sickly sweet odor is just one of the details that makes these albino bad guys stand out. They’re not obvious monsters, and on the surface they even seem benign, but these heartless, soulless beings are pure evil, and they creep me out! The only thing about them that pleases me is that they’re impotent (ha ha, no sex for you), but I can’t wait for the brothers to slice and dice these guys to bits.
2) This next one is so famous, he’s practically in the Boogeyman club. I’m talking about Lord Voldemort from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The Dark Lord was an ever-present menace throughout the entire series, but Rowling really brought him to life when she shared parts of his tragic childhood. It wasn’t an excuse, or even an explanation for why he became such an evil guy, but my hatred for Voldemort was tempered with pity too. If you only watch the films and have never read the books, then you’re missing out on a lot of the nuances that I’m talking about, and you’ll have to take my word for it. Voldemort is much more than just a simple caricature, and Rowling knew that Harry would only be as great as his greatest foe.
Photo Caption: Geez, it looks like Ralph Fiennes is auditioning for a role as a Lesser, but this is how the Harry Potter movie crew pictures Lord Voldemort. I always thought he had glowing red eyes, but perhaps that’s my overactive imagination making him even more demonic. The snake-like nose is a nice touch.
3) I’ve saved the best for last. The ultimate villain of all time is Mr. “I am your father.” You may be wondering how I’ve slipped Darth Vader into a list of favorite book villains, but there are a whole bunch of Star Wars novels out there, so I say he counts. Have I read those books? No, I’m going off the movies alone, but it’s enough. That black masked visage is more recognizable around the world than our last five Presidents combined, I’ll wager. Vader is the iconic epitome of bad guys everywhere, and I can only hope that someone somewhere is dreaming up a villain who can top him.
Photo Caption: I’m going to go on record stating that I pretty much hated the three latest Star Wars movies, although seeing how Anakin got stuffed into the Vader suit was interesting. Nothing can compete with the originals.
As I close out my list, it occurs to me that I’ve chosen male villains only. I’m wracking my brain for a really good female example, and I’m coming up blank. Unless you want to count the ultimate female villain in history - the hapless Eve who gets humanity booted from the Garden of Eden. What do you know? It turns out that a woman trumps them all.
Great post Rebecca! Be sure to check out her blog - Dirty Sexy Books - she does great reviews and very entertaining book news and book related posts.