Which characters are MORE INTERESTING, INTRIGUING, FASCINATING......& BEGUILING-heroes or villains?
Villains who have abandoned Judaeo-Christian morality and gone Nietzschean are interesting, both in their view of the strong or superior or X will rule.
Villains who are immoral but shown in some flashback to have been abused, thus explaining and excusing it, lose their appeal. And that kind of excuse is an insult to everyone tortured and abused but didn't become a mass murderer / child molester.
Villains who are simply crazy but geniuses are intriguing, but when writers in a sequel say "oh, it is PTSD" or "he was abused by the system", it again undermines the appeal of the character, the open curiosity of what could make them that way, and is an insult to all who underwent trauma and didn't become violent predators.
Heroes tend to be interesting but follow standard tropes, and the modern anti-hero where he is just better than the bad guys is overdone.
Maybe we shouldn't get so embedded with characters in an entertainment forum that we compare it to real life criminals & victims. Just because people were intrigued with Anthony Hopkins in "Silence of the Lambs" doesn't mean they admire killers.
I believe it comes down to the point of view of the story as well as how each side is presented. The more time that is spent with one over the other determines who the audience empathizes with.
Generally speaking if the villain is given all the "funny lines" and their (back story) is shown as an explanation for how they became who they are especially if it contains some acts of kindness it humanizes them. Sometimes the villain steals the show!
Americans are also fascinated with "gangster movie characters". Maybe it's because deep down a lot of us would love to do as we please without fear of repercussions from the law or others.
Heroes are usually cheered for if they're "ordinary people" tossed into extraordinary circumstances who are forced to overcome obstacles/odds. The first "Die Hard" movie is a great example.
We also love the cool hero with few words who simply kicks ass!
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