The purpose of the villain and mentor is to change the hero. The mentor offers positive lessons to help the hero learn a different way of living that’s more effective. The villain offers negative lessons to force the hero to change. Both are necessary.
The mentor teaches the hero the story theme through a lesson that’s initially visually interesting but confusing. Think of “The Karate Kid” where the mentor teaches the hero a unique martial arts move or “Star Wars” where the mentor teaches the hero how to block laser blasts while blindfolded.
This mentor’s lesson appears trivial and harmless at first, but later proves crucial in helping the hero defeat the villain. The mentor changes the hero as follows:
- Act I – An unlikely mentor appears in the hero’s life and saves him or her
- Act IIa – The mentor demonstrates power that shows the hero a new way to live
- Act IIb – The mentor teaches the hero a crucial lesson that seems trivial and unimportant
- Act III – The hero uses the mentor’s lesson to defeat the villain
While the mentor gently guides the hero into changing, the villain forces the hero to change by constantly challenging the hero’s old beliefs. The purpose of this is to force the hero to finally break down and finally admit that his or her flaw that the hero needs to overcome.
The villain forces the hero to change by threatening someone the hero loves. When the hero tries to protect this loved one, the hero has to start changing. So the best way the villain can force the hero to change is by constantly threatening this loved one. The villain changes the hero as follows:
- Act I – The villain sends a Symbol of Hope into the hero’s life, which encourages the hero to take the initiative to leave the old way of life
- Act IIa – In pursuit of the Symbol of Hope, the hero gets closer to the villain and the villain’s power forces the hero to overcome these obstacles and achieve initial success
- Act IIb – The villain directly threatens the hero’s loved one and forces the hero to realize his or her flaws that are holding them back
- Act III – The villain forces the hero to realize his or her old way of life won’t work so the hero must change to defeat the villain
The hero can’t change by him or herself. The hero can only change through the dual influence of the mentor and the villain. The mentor teaches the hero how to change and become a better person. The villain teaches the hero that the old way of life will no longer work.
When the hero changes, that creates an emotionally satisfying ending, and that’s far more interesting than just another glut of special effects, explosions, gunfire, and sex.