TOY STORY 3, Part 4: Choose The Right Antagonist
By Jacob Krueger
As discussed in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this series, Toy Story 3 does a brilliant job of exploring diverse aspects of the theme of loyalty, through an emotional structure built upon the toys’ shared desire to be loved and played with by their owners, and the gigantic obstacles that stand in their path.
In this context, one of the things that makes Toy Story 3 so emotionally powerful is the way the question of loyalty, and the desperate desire to be loved, governs not only the actions of the good guys, but also the base desires of Lotso, the evil strawberry-scented Teddy Bear.
Choose The Right Antagonist
Just like our protagonists, Lotso believes he has been abandoned by his owner. But rather than remaining loyal to his owner or his nature, he has become twisted by his feelings of betrayal, and lost his ability to love and be loved. Even when the good toys risk their own lives to save him, Lotso chooses betrayal over loyalty, and anger over love, abandoning the other toys to death by incineration at the garbage dump.
Mustache Twirling Villains Don’t Scare Us
Whether you’re writing a comedy like Toy Story 3, a drama like The Squid and The Whale or a thriller like Cape Fear, the most dramatic antagonists are usually frighteningly human. They too have needs and desires, and in their map of the universe, they see themselves as the hero or as the suffering victim.
By humanizing Lotso, the writers of Toy Story 3 deepen the emotional journey of their main characters, by exploring yet another variation on the theme of loyalty. Lotso is more than just an external threat to the toys, he’s a physical manifestation of the danger of giving up on loyalty, and the way the desperate desire for love can twist a character into an evil mockery everything he once represented. In this way, Lotso becomes more than just an antagonist. He becomes a walking symbol of toys worst fears, about Andy, about the world and about themselves.
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