A lesson in making your villain sympathetic

This is partly a review of the movie “The Great and Powerful Oz” which was ten times better than I ever dreamed it would be.  Lots of fun, lots of action, and lots of wonderfully developed characters.

This story stepped up to the plate and took on the daunting job of being a sequel to one of the most beloved films of all time.  And despite some of the reviews I read, I was wildly entertained.  My husband and I loved it just as much as the kids. My oldest son even put down his cell phone and watched… which is saying a lot.

This movie took on two stories of characters that everyone “knows” what will eventually happen to.  This is tough, because you have to ram rod your story in a direction that will lead to a pre-determined outcome.

The film shows how the wizard got to Oz and became the ruler of the Emerald City, and how the Wicked Witch of the West became… well, the Wicked Witch of the West.

What really struck me, is how the movie dealt with the WWW in a way that you really liked her.  I liked her so much, in fact, that the twist “surprise” took me completely off guard.

The premise reminded me very much of the old Batman days, where the villains, even ones as detestable as the Joker, were “made” rather than just “being there”.  They were everyday, nice people who had something bad happen.

In the Original “The Wizard of Oz” the witch was just “there” as if she had always haunted the land of Oz, and we hater her.  Oh, yes, we hated her and hid under our beds at night, didn’t we?

In this movie, though, we get to know her.  We like her.  And then Bam!

Although some reviews say her “journey” happened too fast, I just loved the trope used.  And I felt terrible for her.

I also loved the end, where you thought, just maybe, the character that you’d grown fond of might still be “in there” but of course, since we all know she eventually dies melting in a splash of water… the ending is what it needed to be.

But my point is you can’t get much more wicked than the classic Wicked Witch of the West, and I loved taking the journey with her.  Even if it was to an unfortunate end.

If anything, watch this movie to see the origins of an awesome villain.  Not one you love to hate, but one you can sympathize with… At least until she cries, “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too!”



11 responses to “A lesson in making your villain sympathetic

  1. That witch used to scare the poop out of me when I was a kid. She was so evil! Mind you, today, I can relate to her better. 🙂 Great post. xo

  2. We saw this over the summer, and I, too, was surprised by how much I liked it. We chose it because there was nothing else for my family to see that wasn’t rated R or that we hadn’t seen already. It was a pleasant surprise. I loved the girl made of porcelain.

    • Me too. And it’s funny, we picked it up for the same reason. It is becoming harder and harder to find a movie the whole family can enjoy.

      • That’s so true. My boys are older now, so it’s easier, but there are some PG-13 movies that I would be embarrassed to watch with them. I saw ‘The Internship’ starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. I’m so glad I went alone, because I would have been mortified to watch the extended strip-club scene with either of my boys. It added nothing to the movie–the setting could have been just a regular bar–and it went on forever it seemed.

  3. I haven’t seen the movie, but after reading this, I might just give it a try. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. Oh, I haven’t found anything pro or con to the Book Wicked by Gregory Maguire or it the book had anything to do with the movie. Do you know?

  5. I would have liked the movie more if not for the casting of Franco for the wizard…he’s just such a terrible actor he ruins any character he plays. But yes I was surprised by the transformation of the witch. It played out tragic.