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What is the Role of the Antagonist in Film?

 The various roles of characters in storytelling and film have key features and representations. For example, the role of the antagonist in film is unique in that it acts as the opposing character to the protagonist and works to deflect the protagonist from reaching his or her goal. You might think of the antagonist in the film as the one that is antagonizing the protagonist and this is true, but despite being the antagonistic character, audiences frequently fall for the antagonist for a number of reasons.

Phantom Camera

Who is the Antagonist in Film?

The antagonist in film is the opposing character to the work that the protagonist is completing or attempting to complete. They typically interrupt or attempt to disrupt the protagonist from achieving his or her goals and may use a variety of techniques or tricks to do so. Despite the antagonist being technically the one antagonizing the protagonist, the audience will still find features about the antagonist that they know and love.

What is the Role of the Antagonist?

The antagonist plays a very important role in the development of a storyline in film. He or she is there to create struggles for the protagonist, and they are really good at what they do. They typically set up conflicts or obstacles for the protagonist creating challenges that could hinder or otherwise prevent the protagonist from achieving his or her goals.

Why is the Antagonist Popular in Film?

Audiences come to love the antagonist in film for a number of reasons. Frequently the antagonist has underlying features that we all can relate with and recognize as similar to our own. In fact, we often connect with the antagonist and, despite their creating resistance for the protagonist, we still accept them because they may not “mean” to be the way they are, or they may just be reaching out for attention. (does this sound familiar?)

Popular Antagonists in Film

The role of the antagonist is certainly popular in films and is definitely important. You might recognize the antagonist as the villain or the dark knight? Many popular characters have had antagonistic roles in films past including:

  • The Joker in The Dark Knight
  • Voldermort in Harry Potter
  • Captain Hook in Peter Pan
  • Agent Smith in The Matrix
  • Saruman in Lord of the Rings

If you look at the antagonists listed above and thought that they were incredibly popular in the films that they were represented in, you’re absolutely correct. In fact, the role of the antagonist in film is not only powerful and popular, it’s one that many audiences members secretly know and love.