Villain vs. Antagonist

Good morning everyone! I truly apologize for being a day late in my post.

I figured today I would go over what defines a villain and an antagonist. It was one of the things I came across while learning more about the craft of telling a story. I constantly heard the words hero, protagonist, villain, and antagonist used and sometimes interchangeably. But is there a difference? And if so, are there good examples? Well through my research I have discovered that there is and are!

So generally your villain is the bad guy. He’s the one you don’t want to mess with. He has a troubled past and wants to watch the world burn for one reason or another. These are easy to identify. If you’ve seen any Disney movie, read any comic book, watched any movie you’ll see them. Ursula, Hades, The Sandman, Bane; all of these are villains.

Then there’s the antagonist. But isn’t he the villain? The short answer? Sometimes. You see an antagonist is someone who opposes the hero/protagonist. Someone who poses a problem in the attaining of the goal. These were originally tricky for me to pick out, and honestly the most obvious ones I could show to you guys come from anime shows.

For example, if you’ve ever watched Dragon Ball you know there are loads of characters. One of which is most notable is Vegeta. Vegeta starts out as a villain. He challenges Goku for his position and is very hard on him. But later we find he is more of the antagonist. He allies with Goku and from time to time he bucks up against Goku’s plans.

Another. In the show Inuyasha we meet Sesshomaru. Now Sesshomaru can be villainous on occasion, but he can also aid, begrudgingly, in wars against the main villain, Naraku. But he has no vile backstory. He’s jealous of his brother, which gives a modicum of motivation but there is no consistent trailing to harm the hero.

Next time I’ll hit on the points of hero/protagonist. The Hubs and myself often discuss the idea of a hero’s own fatal flaws. Does this constitute the hero in all actuality a villain? Can their actions leading to their ultimate demise mean they are their own villain/antagonist? Stay tuned!

Have a good one!