The villain of any story is just as important as the hero. The villain is the one who tests and tries the hero, who gives purpose to the story. One can’t have a good story without a good villain. A more important trait of a villain is believable motivation for what they do. It doesn’t always have to be logical or moral from a normal person’s standpoint, but it does have to make sense. One if my favorite motivations for an antihero is love. There aren’t many of these antagonists out there, world domination and greed are much more popular, but I still find them every so often and thus far haven’t found one I didn’t like.
An example of a villain who is motivated by love would be Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. He murders, pillages, and plunders Gotham, but (spoiler) in the end we discover that it was all to help someone he cared about get vengeance. (spoiler over)
My favorite demonstration of an antagonist driven by love is probably Khan from Star Trek: Into Darkness. In the beginning, he believes that his people have been murdered and that is what sets off his interplanetary terrorism spree. When he learns that they are still alive, he surrenders to his enemies in order to find a way to save them.
King Gaius of Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes is the main baddie in the story, however I think some of the things Prince Magnus does would certainly makes him a villain from the other characters’ perspectives. While Magnus is largely seeking his father’s approval (because daddy will kill him otherwise), he is far more concerned with the wellbeing of his adoptive sister, Lucia. Hence his father often uses that to coerce Magnus into doing what he wants.
Villains incited by the best interests of someone else are not very common over all. It’s a far more popular for that to be the protagonist’s drive and the antagonist rather be after power, money, or just plain revenge. Personally, I think it’s fascinating when both hero and antihero are motivated by the same force. Albeit, the villain should still have a certain lack of morality that makes him willing to do anything for the one(s) he’s fighting for, but that doesn’t mean his core motives can’t be sympathetic or even admirable.
As I said, I haven’t encountered many villains motivated by love, but they do fascinate me. Despite being antagonists, both Khan and Magnus were my favorite characters in their respective stories and Bane was a close second. That cannot be a coincidence and judging by the opinions of the fandoms, most people share my stance. As far as I can tell, the only downside of an antihero motivated by love is that people might start rooting for him over the hero. I am guilty of doing this with Khan.
While the villains of my Argetallam Saga and Fanged Princess series have pretty straightforward motives—power, greed, racial purity—I am now writing an antagonist driven by his care for someone else. He is a side character, but still a cornerstone to the plot and I do enjoy when I get to write him.
Here’s your homework (yes, I’m giving out homework now): Tell me about a book where the villain is motivated by love