The Protagonist And The Antagonist

The hero and the villain are known as the Protagonist (the hero) and the Antagonist (the villain). The protagonist has a goal that he desperately wants to reach and the opposing force that stands in his way is known as the antagonist. In action movies, this conflict is basically the good guys VS the bad guys. Audiences love this type of conflict because it gives them someone to root for and someone to fear.

If this is the type of conflict you want to write in your script, there are some important elements for you to know when using man against man conflict. You must develop clear contrast between your protagonist and antagonist. If you have someone to love, you need someone to hate or at least fear.

However, the protagonist must not be so strong that he overpowers his antagonist. Conversely, your hero must not be so weak that he'll not be a match for his antagonist. Each character must be of equal importance for you to have exciting and emotional conflict. If they are mismatched there is no conflict. One will win hands down, and who cares?

The stakes between your protagonist and antagonist must be high or your conflict will be weak. Therefore, the conflict must be of equal importance between the two characters. The fight between them must be an exciting contest. In either case, hero or opponent, the stakes must be high and the consequences of each not reaching his goal must be life-threatening.

When you watch any type of spectator sport, it is always better when the competition is equal. Certainly a tennis match between two top seated players is more exciting then a match between one of these talented men and a lower-ranked player. The more evenly matched the game the better the conflict and the harder the struggle. Well, the same is true for your protagonist and antagonist. The more evenly matched your hero and villain the more conflict and tension.

Just like human beings, your characters need to be multifaceted. They need at least one skeleton in their closet. If not a skeleton certainly they need to have a fault or two. You want to add layers to your characters as you write them. What internal conflicts do they have? What are the fears, phobias, hopes, dreams, and fantasies that create their inner life?

Characters should be well-balanced. Your opposition can't be all bad and your hero can't be all good. Be sure your hero has vulnerabilities. He must have a flaw or two so he'll be interesting. Perhaps he could possess a character trait he needs to overcome before he's able to reach his goal. Make him human by giving him a bad temper, or having him be fearful or insecure. Your antagonist certainly needs to have a few good qualities about him. He can't be all bad, can he? Maybe he volunteers as a Big Brother or at Meals on Wheels. Give your antagonist a many-sided personality which will intrigue the audience. Just like Hannibal Lecter in Thomas Harris' Silence of the Lambs. He is charming yet dangerous, smiling yet sinister, educated yet evil. What an exciting villain he is as well as an unforgettable one.

Do you recall Marlon Brando in The Godfather? Even though his character was responsible for the murder of many people, we see him at play with his grandson in his garden. We see his kindness towards his wife and children, and his concern for them as a husband and father.

When his son, Michael, who always refused to get involved in the family business, eventually becomes the Godfather, we understand his change because his actions are motivated. When members of another family try to kill his father and that's when Michael agrees to become the new Don.

This complex personality in Michael is strongly apparent during the Baptism scene in the Church. While he is behaving as a loving family man, a montage of scenes shows people being murdered. The irony is he's responsible for the murders occurring and being carried out against the backdrop of the church setting. This is character development at its best. We soon understand how and why he is such a contradiction.

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