The Intimacy of Heroes and Villains

Color Spectrum of Heroes and Villains via

Color Spectrum of Heroes and Villains via

As I’ve figured out story elements in movies of strong linkages between the hero and the villain, you do this to make the story more personal as much as they are often going for those epic stories. As a writer and someone who has read more on the subject. The Star Wars Trilogy which has a fairy tale like structure according to John Truby in Anatomy of a Story is a perfect example of these linkages where the antagonistic force that drives major portions of the plot is literally Luke’s father and one of the other protagonists is his sister.

This makes the story more personal, raises the stakes for the characters in a physical way that just the broad nature of the conflict doesn’t do itself. It forms the backdrop between the protagonist and antagonist to bring the nature of the conflict in a personal way. It happens often enough in media be it books, movies and or TV that it creates a small circle of profound influence who seem to be all connected and impacting the universe.

In the Expanse books one crew become responsible for opening up the stars to humanity and then later someone from one of their pasts becomes in instigator in a future book making a world that seems so grand in some ways feels so small. I remember when playing the video game Mass Effect, a role-playing game, which was the first in a trilogy the scale of the universe felt so large, you could go to any number of planets, go to the planet surface and explore.

While the mechanics were solid they would be refined over the next two games but the scale and the perception of the universe became smaller and smaller. Games are different because they are interactive but that makes you feel like you are more a part of the world than in movies or books where you are simply watching the story unfold.

In a game they use gameplay and the illusion of choice to get you invested in the world. By the time Mass Effect 3 came along, while the mechanics were much improves the feeling of scale and exploration was non existent. The game was story driven and the play had the illusion of choice that would seem to have huge repercussions in the future.

When the villain is not linked strongly to the hero even though the stakes may be high the tension isn’t. Usually you would meet the villain or the antagonist who may or may not be the villain several times to get to know them, to understand their motivations so tension is always escalating with the stakes and that by the final confrontation it has become personal.


A villain never thinks they are the villain, this person is always the hero of their own story while I like the hero that is thrust into the role. I wonder if I can start with a villain, that is the antagonist of another story and shift him to become the protagonist. This has been done before but I think it would be fun but the problem with that is finding how these they can switch from one worldview to another in a way that feels real with the context of the story and doesn’t feel like simply a plot point or a twist but organically works.

What I am thinking is that I start with an intimate story, at the middle of the one story friends who are on opposite sides, they hate each other in some ways but continue to be almost like brothers due to their shared history. They are risking it all for what they believe in and one is dispatched either killed or rendered inert (in some fashion). His former friend in effect wins his story but through other events comes to a realization that makes him question what he has fought for.

At the end maybe they never fully commit to one side or worldview or the other, maybe the options are just not good but through their actions in respect for what their friend sacrificed their actions eventually fulfill what the original protagonist was trying to do, maybe not completely maybe not the way they would have done but enough.

I am thinking of something like that, it doesn’t feel too different from what I have read and it’s all in the details but maybe, just maybe it can work.