In story development we often speak of heroes as having a weakness or imperfection. It is what allows audiences to identify with the protagonist and morally be sutured into his or her life. We also speak of villains has having an understanding (within themselves) that what they are doing is just, good, and right. No one else may believe it, but the villain, in his or her twisted logic, believes it.
This "light" of righteousness, as dark as it may be, also allows the audience to identify with the villain. Why? Because subconsciously, we, the audience, know that our best intentions often miss the mark. What we think is right, is often wrong. Maybe not to the extent that we'd be thought of as a villain, but it does put us in that arena.
What is right and wrong lies on a continuum. See this POST.
Today I was struck by three headlines where the three villains written about all have noble intent behind their actions. AP reports both:
From the AP & Fox News: Dr. Jack Kervorkian, the Michigan pathologist who championed physician-assisted suicides, died early Friday after being hospitalized with kidney problems and pneumonia. The 83-year-old Kevorkian, who said he helped some 130 people end their lives from 1990 to 1999, died about 2:30 a.m. at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan."
Notice the "noble" smile on Jack's face as he prepares again to help kill someone. Have you seen this man's "art." Google it. It's what an art director would create for a villains lair.
And then there's Ratko Mladic claim:
From the AP and Fox News: "Ratko Mladic defiantly refused on Friday to enter pleas to what he called "obnoxious" allegations that as the Serb military chief during the Bosnian war he orchestrated the worst atrocities of a conflict that claimed 100,000 lives. He claimed he was defending "my people and my country."
Notice the ironic patriotic salute.
Well, we don't want to be like these guys, but they're great "role models" for our story's villains.
And just a reminder... the villain can be the protagonist.