I don’t think that every villain in the world actually thinks they’re being a good guy, but I do think that everybody creates a value system that justifies the actions they’re taking, and and I think there’s a difference between those two things. Not everybody believes that they're on the side of righteousness, but everybody has a way of justifying the actions they’re taking. Not every villain has to be a misunderstood hero, and in fact I think there are a lot of instances throughout history of people who were obviously doing the wrong thing and probably had an understanding of that on some level, but had some rationale or justification for it.
A lot of villains in literature and media have these weird, Thanos-esque philosophies of what it is that they’re trying to do, and I think human motivation tends to come from more primal places than that. So a lot of the villains I write can be brilliant or clever (and, in fact, probably should be), but their motivation tends to be primal. They wanna be rich, they wanna have power, they wanna live forever. There's something deep down that is, when you break it down, not too complex. Right? If you look at the real world, the people that are doing bad stuff don't need complex motivations. They wanna rule the world! They wanna be rich! They wanna be unafraid that other people can ever screw them over, so they screw other people over. Evil is boring. Right? I kinda believe in the banality and mundanes of evil. Evil is just selfish impulses, which at the end of the day are really easy to understand. It's easy to understand why people do bad things. It's like "yeah, ok, you're selfish and scared and cruel, I get it". Being good is complex and beautiful and hard.
Brennan Lee Mulligan, when asked how to create villains for ttrpgs
(I found this quote to be really meaningful in like...life in general which is why I posted it here. When he said “evil is boring”, it felt like something clicked in me that I had known deep down but hadn’t had the words for.)
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