I missed last week’s topic but like it better than this week’s topic on the Tuesday Talks Goodreads group, so that’s what I’m going to talk about today. Who are my favourite antagonists in fiction?
Fiction is a rather broad term. It can cover everything from movies and video games to books. So I’m going to talk about my favourite antagonists from all three since the topic doesn’t specifically say which to refer to. I’m also going to warn you that there will be spoilers as I talk about them; these are all older works though, so hopefully it won’t be a problem for anyone.
When I first saw this topic, the antagonist who immediately sprang to mind was CLU from Tron: Legacy. CLU is one of the most fascinating and tragic antagonists I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the movie, CLU (more accurately CLU 2) is a doppelganger program made from his creator, Kevin Flynn. Flynn wanted CLU to make the perfect system. CLU betrays Flynn and takes over the grid. The really interesting thing about his character though is that he is always just following Flynn’s orders all along. When CLU first stages his coup against Flynn, he first asks if he’s still supposed to make the perfect system; when Flynn answers “yeah,” CLU rebels. Even later in the movie, this comes up again, with an older and wiser Flynn admitting that he was wrong to program CLU to pursue perfection since it is unknowable (and can be messy, not orderly). Every time I watch Tron: Legacy, I’m always struck by how tragic his character is: CLU is always trying to do what he was ordered to do, and keeps asking Flynn if the order still stands. And because Flynn is too naive to realize what is happening, he keeps giving the same order over and over again, dooming them both.
A video game antagonist didn’t spring immediately to mind. But with a bit of thought, I’m going to give this to Sekto from Stranger’s Wrath. If you haven’t played this game, stop reading and GO PLAY IT RIGHT NOW! It’s a lot of fun and has some very surprising twists.
So anyway, Sekto. Sekto has dammed a river, causing a major drought in the area. He’s also caused a species called the Steef to become extinct. He’s offered a bounty on any of the last remaining Steef to be found. He also believes the main protagonist, Stranger, knows where they are hiding. After some crazy twists and turns, Stranger eventually manages to fight his way to Sekto’s lair. After defeating him, it turns out that Sekto himself is a Steef who was controlled by a parasitic octopus-like species. This was such a crazy twist to a very villainous character; it’s managed to stay with me after all these years.
I actually found the book villain the hardest to come up with. I think I’m going to give that honour to King Haggard from The Last Unicorn though. Haggard is a thoroughly miserable man who has just been trying to find something that makes him happy. Almost everything he tries helps for a time, but inevitably fails. The only thing that actually does make him happy is watching the unicorns. So he sent the Red Bull to capture them all so Haggard could have them all to himself.
Well there you have it. My three favourite antagonists: CLU from Tron: Legacy, Sekto from Stranger’s Wrath, and King Haggard from The Last Unicorn. They are all very tragic figures; they’re relate-able, even though they do drastic and often despicable things. That being said, there are many other awesome antagonists who I haven’t named here, like Darth Vader (pre-prequels), the Prophet of Truth (from Halo, only in Halo 3 though) and others who are not coming to mind.
Who are your favourites?