Mark Kennedy does some work on fleshing out villains, using a personal example from the recent Disney film 'Tangled', based on Rapunzel. Yes, there are a few spoilers, but c'mon, no analysis without spoilers, right?
I'm not a big fan of movies where the antagonist is just "evil" and wants to "control the world". As much as there are people in the world who crave unlimited power and money, they always have a specific reason why they turned out that way, and they always have a very specific overall goal they're heading for.
Mark goes through the process during development of the movie, and the changes that they made to the character after feedback from test viewers.
It's a good article, and interesting to read even if only to benefit from some of the feedback that earlier versions of the story received:
[...] a lot of people had sympathy for Gothel and the fact that she was the victim of a theft, especially because the first crime - the one that started the whole thing - wasn't committed by her, it was committed against her.
Mark shares how having the villain kidnap a child in revenge for having her property stolen was supposed to be an unsympathethic (and hence villainous) overreaction. I would have agreed, but:
Many viewers sent us notes saying that they had so much sympathy for Gothel and they felt so bad for her having her property stolen that they never had any empathy for the King or Rapunzel.
As a reader, I sure don't want cookiecutter villains, and reading this exploration of the development of a villain's motivation is worth your while.
Read the rest here: http://sevencamels.blogspot.com/2011/07/justify-your-villains.html