An algorithmic observation: Villains=Ugly. Heroes=Hot!
Somewhere in the dusty recesses of some decrepit parchment, etched in the blood of some unsullied virgin and laced in the pheromones of a crucified swine, heroes are epitomised as virtuous, self-sacrificing, boisterous and attractive. Conversely the more villainous elements need to be emphatically malignant, greedy, duplicitous and disfigured. Though many of these enduring tropes have diminished as narratives have progressed, the notion that heroes must be portrayed with features that are more refined without the afflicting infarctions of pores and blemishes remains concordant with those schemes, with villains exerting curious scars that visually symbolises their sinful deeds are as prevalent as ever. And I get that, it makes sense. Antagonists possess visual abnormalities to accommodate the physiological enmity that we can’t see. It’s these exaggerated depictions that help to elevate these human caricatures beyond the restraints of reality. And lets face it, a perceived protagonist should retain fragility and fallibility, with a distinguished charm and inherent valour, but would lose all validity as a hero if he was slouched in a chair scratching his balls! Being visually attractive is simply a continuance of this theme, one that helps the viewer identify with and I believe that these stereotypical depictions are indelible intricacies that clasped even the most convoluted of narratives.
Your granted valour is measured by the proportionate vanity and hubris of your character. Strength is governed by the groomed follicles and your agility is exhibited through the smouldering glances to the camera, like some 90’s sitcom intro. And there’s an endearing familiarity about these rehashed contrivances. “Ooh look, you can tell she’s good; she has humble yet robust constitutions and huge visible cleavage”. They are the perceived depictions of gallantry and cosmetic perfection melded into one organic parable. Because we all know these are parallel representations right? But because they are sexual provocative their heroic actions, as well as their amiable personalities imbues us with reverence. You don’t want some acerbic, isolated goof with a belly bigger than a rhinoceros ass saving you! It shouldn’t be a realistic portrayal, it should be sexed up! Though its great to have moral abstinence accredited to a traditional villain, with an air of ambiguity to its antithetical hero, with a tragic precursor that has contributed to their chosen directives. There is always a potential to convolute what only needed to be a simple format. Just because you’ve established a sound, if dubious derivation to their characters shouldn’t necessitate that contradictions aren’t going to arise as events progress. “Well if he came from there why do that? She could have just killed the hero like she did with that unknown guy earlier on?! Why bother talking to him, just shoot him already!” If you present a villain who is just evil for the sake of it, then you’re not going to be surprised when he/she simply wants to acquire money and power!
Heroes are good, villains are bad and sometimes trying to weave in motivations for their respective proclivities isn’t always a salubrious recourse. A good “fun” antagonist shouldn’t be inherently evil, misguided certainly but more like a potentially ethical person that has strayed into more enigmatic disposition, enamoured by some afflicting slight that is the catalyst for their cerebral declination. They should be vigorously assertive in their provocations no matter how diffusive their inevitable plots for world domination are. Their execrable notoriety should be instantly discernible as they clasp their fingers together in entwining solidarity as though each digit has its own singular accord. These belligerent zealots require cunning, deceitful manipulation, be robed in exotic vestments and speak with deep British intonation that effusively suggests their incriminating heritage. You want a chin stroking contriver, typically educated (Professors, teachers, physicians) committed to the consolidation of power whose subordinates comply to their every gestural whim so they can focus on spouting bible excerpts, or reciting Shakespearean philosophy while detailing their extensive proposal for world domination to the one person best suited to prevent it; the fortified bravery and emphatic physicality of the hero/heroine.
Whether via sculpted abdomens or accented busts, you know these voluptuous delineations of riveting nobility will save us. No one wants to be saved by ugly people after all!
Would you prefer less contemporary depictions of heroes and villains?