Villains are seductive. They’re much more interesting. They make us wonder about what suffering they must have endured to become the way they are. They give us a chance to be compassionate and to see beyond the absolute dichotomy of right and wrong.
But that isn’t why I like them. No, I like them for the large variance in how they treat people. It excites me to think how special a villian would make me feel, if only I were special to the villain! Compare and contrast for yourself how a normal person (versus someone like Hannibal) would behave towards others, depending on affection.
person she dislikes – ignores, or is unfriendly
person she likes – attempts to interact more, is friendly
person he dislikes – kills, fillets, mauls, eats, and/or feeds own brain to
person he likes – writes letters in flawless copperplate, rescues from certain death, performs life-saving surgery, buys extravagant gifts, kills enemies, sacrafices own limb(s)
If a normal person likes me, I can hardly tell. But with someone like Dr. Lecter, it’s the most obvious thing in the world. Villains — they wear their hearts on their sleeves a little, don’t they?