Lessons from Villains

I've noticed that the older I get the more I appreciate villains. When it comes to movies, books, or TV shows (even though I rarely watch TV shows), I feel I'm able to see both sides of the story.

We're obviously led to love the hero and protagonist, but the problem is that all of these stories are biased. We're not getting the full picture on both sides. We're getting the origin, the journey, the struggle and the triumph of the hero.

All we see of the villain is the "bad" things they are doing that need to be stopped. We're never shown their origin, their journey, or their struggles. We see the bad things they do and then they usually have a small triumph before losing the war.

It's kind of annoying.

I think this is a part of why Avengers: Infinity War is having such massive success at the box office. Beyond teasing viewers with dozens of movies over a decade, Marvel finally gave some context and back story to the big bad guy, Thanos.

We came to understand a small fraction of his story and his journey. But it was enough for me to understand his motives and actions. I think the guy is just misunderstood.

I felt the same way with Breaking Bad. I watched the whole story and that entire series is a villain origin story. We see a good guy dive into the dark to do something noble for his family, but ultimately he is consumed by it and pays the price.

I think Walter White was misunderstood and he was just doing what he though was necessary to protect and care for his family. Most everyone I talk to hates his character by the end, but I still see the same old guy doing whatever it takes to care for his family. Sure, he caused some problems along the way, but no one is perfect.

Here's the lesson I'm learning from all of this:

Most people don't have what it takes to get the job done.

They lack resolve. They're soft. They're weak. They compromise when they should not. They give up easy.

I think I like villains a lot because those characters stick to their guns. They believe in something and see it through, even to the point of death. Their resolve never cracks. They do what they say they're going to do regardless of what it costs them.

I'm sure there are heroes in some stories that have these qualities, but in most stories they are over-humanized. They have deep emotional struggles that are often nauseating.

Emotional struggle is okay, our culture just dramatizes it a bit too much for my taste.

I strive to have incredibly strong resolve and willpower. To not give up when things are hard. To not compromise what I believe for others. To do what I say. To be strong when others are not.

I think the world needs more of that and less of the narrative that we all need to be soft and vulnerable and kind.

It's okay to not be those things despite what our country might tell you. 

Daniel KosmalaComment