Heroes and villains – and more importantly: how to cast the best of both.
Indulge us for a moment as we share that ubiquitous (if dreadful) tagline: It’s a bird …. It’s a plane … It’s ______!
If you’re a fan of comics, superheroes, or had a childhood worth remembering, you’ll know it’s Superman.
And it doesn’t matter which generation you grew up in, most of us have seen Clark Kent on TV. Now, don’t worry, you didn’t get redirected to ComicCon, so we’re not going to get into all the epic battles between heroes and villains. As awesome as that would be.
But we do have a helpful run-through of three things that stand out in a hero and villain’s performance.
So, whether you’re a comic buff or not, you’ll be able to channel these must-haves in your next video game or voice over project.
Breaking down the hype around heroes and villains
Before we get into the how the obvious question is, Why?
Why are heroes and villains idolized, imitated, and turned into Hollywood blockbusters?
Is it the fancy cape? Spiffy tights? The fact that they’re all drop-dead gorgeous? Or is it being able to do what no one else can? Flying, swinging across the Brooklyn Bridge, time-traveling in the quantum universe. It’s all totally unfathomable yet absolutely appealing.
Also, heroes have long conveyed the idea of power, glory, and recognition that humans have been dead set on having since archaic times. So forget having your face on a mug as the ‘employee of the month.’ Heroes have their faces splashed across billboards and are given the keys to the city.
As for villains, though the point is for them to get their comeuppance, you can’t help but root for them. Especially when they’re good at witty banter like Megamind or have Tom Hiddleston’s sought-after accent.
The bottom line? If you want your audience to relate to the concept of your content and be moved to action, you need to utilize awesome hero and villain voice actors. And even if your project isn’t the next DC or MCU blockbuster, here’s what you need to have.
3 things that make awesome heroes and villains
1. A standout quality
Heroes and villains are known for what they stand for. An extraordinary quality that they embody to the point of sacrificing themselves or innocent civilians. Think Ironman’s ego, Loki’s constant power trip, and Wonder Woman’s desperate need to save everyone in danger. In voice overs, this is usually portrayed through the believability of the character. It’s about what they say and how they say it that makes an audience soak it all in and champion their survival.
2. A secret identity
While heroes use this to prevent their loved ones from getting caught in the cross-fire, villains use this to operate undercover. In voice acting, this is done by avoiding big, loud, exaggerated moments of overacting as they tend to be unbelievable. Instead, it’s about showcasing the honesty of the real character. That’s what audiences relate to.
3. A backstory
There’s a reason why villains are evil and why heroes are always trying to save the day. These gems of context humanize the characters without ‘telling’ the audience ‘this is why.’ Think Joker and Cruella; intense backstories that have succeeded with a villain as the protagonist. Not because of their evil laugh or eccentric hair and makeup, although that’s pretty cool. And let’s not forget Aquaman’s emotional attachment to his long-lost mother. Their stories are real and relatable. Now, your project doesn’t have an hour to delve into the past, but a quick narration, soliloquy, or a nostalgic memory can still tug at an audience’s heartstrings.
What to look for when casting a hero and villain
It all starts with a script that portrays the hero or villain’s standout quality. It also has to give the voice actor a certain amount of space to make it their own. That authenticity is crucial for character development. If you’re looking for guidance, check out our 10 tips for writing a great voice over script.
Next, you need to refine the ‘real’ auditions from the copycat ones. For example, Ron Pearlman created amazing heroes and villains, but instead of casting a voice actor to replicate his work, find someone who can add their own edge to it. A deeper timber or charming undertone; something that reminds audiences of Pearlman’s greatness without trying to copy it.
Mark Hamil is another successful hero and villain. His iconic voice acting as The Joker gave new life to a famous villain that’s still talked about today. And his portrayal of Luke Skywalker set the benchmark for heroes; it was even featured in Disney’s The Mandalorian.
But what if your project doesn’t have an apocalyptic event or requires anyone to be saved? The same principle applies. You don’t need a literal hero or villain in a branded costume. But your voice over performance does need a lead character with a key quality that shines through in the script. This helps audiences to believe their words and actions and organically complete their buyer’s decision.
Now that you know what makes an awesome hero and villain, the next step is to find the right one for your project. While casting Henry Cavil or Scarlet Johansen in a cameo appearance would make for an amazing, viral video, it would also cost the earth.
And you can’t use the bat signal, ask Lois Lane to give Clark a call, or wait for Thor to come crashing through the ceiling. But you can head on over to Voice123 and type hero or villain into the search bar. Or post a project and blast out an SOS to voice actors ready to throw on their capes and hit the studio.
So, while you get ready to make the 6 o’clock news, we wish you every success as you cast awesome hero and villain voice actors who have a standout quality, honest character portrayal, and a believable backstory.
Let the story unfold – so all you need to do is find your perfect hero and villain match on Voice123!