Oh goody goody goody! It’s Friday the 13th and today’s master of madness, vicar of villainy is the original Adversary, the only soul dastardly enough to challenge God, start a war, tear down Heaven and still pull a third of the angels with him. Today, we’re talking Lucifer. Today, we’re talking Satan.
The bar against which all villains are measured. The barometer for how truly evil your antagonist is.
You know this story already, right? Lucifer is the angel who was so beautiful, so beloved, but becomes jealous and filled with pride and launches a rebellion that breaks Heaven apart. This angel—this angel—caused such an issue that Hell exists because of him. That thing you fear at night, that thing you see out the corner of your eye but isn’t there when you stare directly at it, that place churches warn you about, all that’s because of him. We actually have villains at all because of this guy.
In every incarnation we’ve seen, Lucifer has accepted his lot in life and has carte blanche to do as he pleases within some unwritten, unspoken set of rules. In Constantine, he came to exact some semblance of justice against Gabriel the Archangel. With the Ghost Rider, he exists simply to bargain for souls that are due to him. He appears as a dog or a raven or an unseen force just to advance Damien’s cause in The Omen. Everyone seems to talk around who he actually is.
I believe there’s more. There has to be more.
I really thought a lot about this cat—so much so I wrote a whole book about him (which happens to be free for about 20 more minutes—I know, I know, shameless plug). Lucifer is the beginning of evil, the dawn of darkness—he challenged God, made Adam and Eve fall, and had the gall to tempt Jesus Christ. No matter how complex, how hateful, how intense you think your villain is, they cannot compare to Lucifer.
Because no one wants what he wants.
Think about it. We write terrestrial villains, maybe galactic ones. We invent characters that fantasize about running a company, building an empire, dominating a planet, ruling a galaxy. This guy wants to be God. And he sincerely believes he can do it. And he thinks he can do it alone. That kind of character deserves introspection, analysis, discovery. I spent a lot of time with Lucifer in my head, whispering in my ear, standing beside my bed (that’s another story all together). I learned a lot about what might make something like him tick. What might crawl beneath his skin.
No matter what we think about our villains, we have to understand them. We have to know why they do what they do, what they are actually after. And, as writers, we have to root for them. No matter how dark, how detestable, how horrid their actions or their worldviews are, we have to champion them.
I could give you more but I wrote a whole book about it. You should check it out.