A good crime fighting story needs good villains.
In Masks: The Unmercenaries, our primary antagonists are a bloodlusting, gorilla-faced kingpin and a theatrical nihilistic philosopher turned assassin.
But how do we come up with our villains? What are our antagonists born out of?
For Silverback (the gorilla), it stemmed primarily from a short lived childhood nightmare. I was inside my dark quiet home when I saw outside our bay window a gorilla face staring at me, motionless, expressionless. It’s eyes were green, piercing through the darkness outside into my unlit home. It did nothing but stare, and I knew the power it possessed without it flaunting, knew the danger in its stare.
Gorillas teeter between the wildness of nature and the familiarity of humanity. They look and emote like us, but they’re physically superior and possess a wild temper that can easily flatten us. Gorillas are perhaps the archetype of primal man, of our most base nature that can unravel so quickly into violence and rage.
The gorilla mask matched with the white tuxedo serves to underscore that paradox. Silverback wears the face of a wild beast while dressing like a gentleman. His mask is a testimony to not merely our capacity for monstrosity when we give to our base emotions and instincts, but it perhaps speaks of the weak veil we all put on to hide this barbarism. So many of us do little to tame these wild passions, but we pretend pretty effectively how to seem humane.
Overman, the theatrical assassin, was conceived from a pure philosophical question: what if nihilism was followed to its true and ultimate conclusion?
Overman is paradoxical in that he loves the theater but hates tradition. He seeks to assist others in tearing down the boundaries of their belief and customs, while building up his own philosophy. His nihilism isn’t pure, but perhaps that is because it’s impossible to truly have a void in our grand narrative of existence, of morality, of meaning.
But Overman is also the voice of a critic, of a deconstuctionist who seeks to test the mettle of other heroes chivalry and sense of duty, and even to test the substance and legitimacy of other villains. Overman wields his knives symbolically, as a kind of razor to the ideas that contest his own.
Some villains come from our nightmares. Some come from mythology. Some come from philosophy. But wherever they come from, they should serve to speak something about human nature, of our universal capacity to fall and descend into monstrosity.
Happy Harrowing, and keep writing excellent villains!
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