Honestly, the villain just needs to be entertaining and quite frankly if he’s moping about WHY he’s killing babies to bring about world domination instead of just getting on with the baby killing business then he’s not entertaining.
Actually sort of tired of seeing villains who we’re supposed to be sympathetic towards by attempting to “humanize” them. I don’t care. Just like I wouldn’t wonder about the deep seated psychological reasons of why the criminal in front of me is holding a gun.
Complex villains over the years have become overrated to me. I’d rather see someone just reveling in their villainy than them giving some long winded reason that they’re on this dark path because they didn’t get enough hugs as a child (or too many hugs).
A good example of a villain who got ruined by adding “complexity” is Darth Vader. Seriously, a perfectly good villain in the original trilogy. There was just enough “back story” that SOMETHING obviously went wrong, but we didn’t know what it was exactly and it was probably better that way.
Cue the prequels and now? Well can’t really look at ol’ Vader as anything more than a whiny emo teen that went to the dark side for pretty stupid reasons in the first place and just later on became a crippled man in mask that was still moping about. (And Kylo Ren is like the delusional fanboy that thinks Vader’s evil edginess is cool and so emulated him. Lol)
Palpatine was a better villain. Why? Because he wasn’t struggling with anything he was doing, he was just getting on with it. And that’s what I want to see with a good villain. One that’s just getting on with it.
This is why I like someone like Ramsay a lot better than say someone like Little Finger. Now granted, I like Little Finger, but his whole base motivation is sort of pathetic since it pretty much all amounts to “Well I liked this girl and I got beat up when I was a kid, so I’m going to be an asshole to everyone now.”
Ramsay didn’t bother with pretenses. The guy was just a dyed in the wool villain and that’s it. I mean yeah they could have gone into a whole backstory that his dad was a bastard and growing up around a house that has more sociopaths than average lead to some of the reasons of why he was the way he was, but why bother? It actually doesn’t add anything, and we can figure it all out on our own anyway.
And I actually thought he was more complex than most give him credit for. Obviously he did care about Miranda in his own twisted way and was desperately seeking his dad’s approval and those were brief moments that you saw and it was enough. It wasn’t beat over your head that “Hey this guy is human just like you!”
Yes, I know he’s human, I don’t need to empathize or sympathize with him. I’m here to see the villain eat babies and enslave nations. If he’s not doing that then he’s wasting my time.
The villain should also be threatening of course. For example I didn’t care for Joffrey since the guy just wasn’t threatening since he was an inept coward at heart. Though I suppose he still did his job on the villain front that I didn’t like him.
Now things change up a bit for a villain if they’re a protagonist since you pretty much have to add the complexity since you’re reading it all from their view point (Or in the case of a game playing it) in this case I don’t mind it.