Right now with the opening of The Force Awakens Star Wars is everywhere. So since I touched on character development last week I figured I would do a two part series about lessons that can be applied to your “good guys” and your “bad guys”.
So if you don’t follow Star Wars, the Force is a god-like presence that exists that can be tapped into for super natural abilities. It is split into the Light Side and the Dark Side, which usually relates to a “good” and an “evil” use of it, although the Force itself is thought of as neutral.
The bad guys, the Sith, are the anti-good guys, the polar opposite of the Jedi. Their Code is the opposite of the Jedi’s code:
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.
As you can tell, they don’t play nice. Especially when they create an imperial fascist government that enslaves every man, woman, child, and creature in the galaxy. They are obsessed with power and they don’t care how they come to it. But they also go a little deeper than that.
- Dark Side users do not think of themselves as evil
“Good is a point of view, Anakin.” The Sith honestly see the Jedi as evil. They don’t necessarily see themselves as good, but they don’t see the Jedi as a source of good in the galaxy. This is a good perspective for your big bad. Maybe he thinks he is a good guy. Maybe he thinks that the good guys are just like him, and thus need to be destroyed so that no one stands in his way. Or maybe they’re just obsessed with more power.
2. The Dark Side is not more powerful, but they believe that it is
“Is the Dark Side stronger?”
“No. No. No. Quicker. Easier. More seductive.”
If your story involves powers, good and evil is going to come up. And honestly, evil powers have always been flashier. Heck, in Star Wars Force Lightning looks way cooler than Force Push. This is a bit of a trope. Even in Harry Potter the more sinister spells look cooler than spells used to levitate feathers or repair glasses or share memories in some weird messed up meta Facebook-like post of pulling them out of your skull and handing them to someone. Seriously, that’s sort of messed up if you think about it. So it’s up to you if you want to continue the trend of “bad” powers looking cooler than “good powers” or if you want to tweak that formula. But if you’re going to continue a trope, you need to have a reason. It can’t look cool just because. Justify it.
But underlying the nature of the Dark Side shows the traits of your villain. They crave power and they want it faster. The Dark Side is not stronger, *but* gaining power through it cuts out the pesky few decades of hard work and dedication to the Light Side for an equal amount of power. They want to fall to the seduction of evil. They want a means that leads to an end faster. In Episode III Anakin falls to the Dark Side to save his wife. But does he really, or is it just a matter of gaining power for selfish reasons, and that is a lie he tells himself? These sorts of questions, these self doubts, help grow your villain past just being bad.
3. The Dark Side corrupts its user
Palpatine states that he looks the way he does after becoming disfigured by an assassination attempt by the Jedi. But it is actually his true corrupted nature of giving his body and mind fully to the Dark Side of the Force. Using the Force for evil corrupts its user. This is seen time and time again in fiction; the one ring left Smeagol looking like a washed up naked mole rat when he himself used to be a Hobbit. Having the body and mind decay from the use of evil helps show just how far someone is willing to fall just to gain power. It also shows how dangerous the power they are using is, and how dangerous they have become.
4. Fear is a major factor
This could be the progression of an protagonist or an antagonist. How did they wind up being the person they are today? What series of events befell them to make them this way? Why are they so hurt and angry? Why are they obsessed with whatever it is that they are chasing after? It does not have to be explicitly stated, but having this backstory will help shape them.
5. They have a vendetta against the “good guys”
The Sith truly believe that the Jedi are the one enslaving the galaxy and they will stop at nothing to kill them all. Even the Younglings. They are driven by a constant fear of being overruled and losing all the power that they have gained. Will your hero be able to match their viciousness? How far are you willing to push your bad guys? What are the consequences of their actions, and do they care? Which brings me to my final point:
6. They do not value life
Usually being evil in Star Wars is a very dangerous job, usually leading to swapping out some, if not all, of your body parts for machinery. Going to the Dark Side ultimately means giving up all humanity. And not to mention how the Dark Side treats other living things. I mean, Vader blew up an entire planet just to call a bluff. If you needed any proof that Vader is Space Hitler, this is it.
The Dark Side provides some great character details and flaws for a villain, fallen hero, or antihero. They are evil with a purpose and have no qualms about corrupting their own body and giving up their humanity just to gain some cool flashy powers. Use these lessons well, but do not fall to the call yourself.
May the Force be with you. And if you enjoy these posts, please like, comment, and share!