This week we look at one of my favorite villain archetypes: The Mastermind. This is the villain who has everything planned out. They’re the valedictorians at the school of evil and have everything planned out miles before the hero does. Sometimes they are the main villain and sometimes they work from the shadows, an unseen threat. Either way, they’ve got the world on strings.
One of my favorite traits in a good villain is intelligence. I think it makes for a lot of interesting dynamics, especially when the hero’s main virtue is intelligence. Two masterminds against each other is the stuff that legends are made of. Think Moriarty and Sherlock.
An intelligent villain can also help a more impulsive, brawny hero grow. If the protagonist would rather act before think they often have to change in order to match a villain’s careful planning.
I think I just get great enjoyment when the hero thinks they have everything figured out and the mastermind pulls one over on them. They are very versatile villains. But there are still plenty of bad ways to write a mastermind.
Some of the most enjoyable villains are the ones who enjoy themselves. And in the case of masterminds, this is often the case. They’re smarter than everyone and they know it. Its often most fun to watch a villain when they are enjoying themselves. But they can’t be cartoony in the same way. Bond villains tend to be masterminds, but they’ve become such a stereotype they’re more a joke than anything. Mostly because they do stupid things. Like not kill Bond.
|Because you suck at murdering!!!|
No, masterminds have to have humanity to them as well. They need a method to their evil because everything they do is methodical. They need a goal and sometimes that goal can be perfectly sympathetic. Sometimes not. You have flexibility with masterminds over how evil you want to make them.
The most important thing is have fun. Bask in the genius of your villains. It will push your heroes to the brink and make the plot infinitely more interesting. And let yourself go along with it. Sometimes its fun to slip into your characters, especially when they’re the smartest one in the room.