Sir Kohran wrote:Possibly. Think of that bit in Gladiator when Commodus (villain)
Well firstly, I don't think many would hold up that portrayal of Commodus in Gladiator as that nuanced or subtle and frankly, he really doesn't fit the archetype I described. He's more more indicative of the corruptive influence of privilege and the misdirected expression of anger and frustration towards a distant father. By the time he ascends to the imperial throne, he's clearly giddy with the absolute power he's obtained as well as the ability he now has to unmake a good deal of what his father's accomplishments. He just doesn't fit the more noble archetype I was describing above.
If you liked Gladiator, I'd encourage you to watch Anthony Mann's Fall of the Roman Empire, of which Gladiator is practically a remake. Christopher Plummer plays Commodus in that version and treats the role much more deftly. Then again, he's given much more to work with the more epic nature (and length!) of Fall.
On the other hand you have characters like Darth Vader and MacBeth who are obviously bad and they know it, but they do it anyway simply because it's what they want. Selfish, really, rather than deluded.
Vader actually does somewhat fit the archetype I described above, at least up until his transformation from Skywalker to Vader. His fall, while certainly assisted by his own sense of pride, is for the most part a result of his single-minded desire to prevent the death of the woman he loves. His actions as Vader, however, at much more the result of his own self-loathing at murdering his wife and his failure as the "chosen one." There's actually a bit of the danger of privilege in his story as well, given the deference other jedi gave him during his training due to his incredible abilities. Certainly, some try to rein in his ego and sense of entitlement, but even those efforts are undercut by his "chosen one" status. Palpatine took advantage of this situation and encouraged the sense of outrage Anakin feels at being denied what he perceives he's owed due to his talents.
Spare the rod and spoil the jedi?
Regarding Macbeth, there a ton of literature out there regarding the motivations and psychology behind darn near every Shakespearean character. However, given the incredible guilt both him and his wife feel about the cost of his rise to power (seeing ghosts of murdered friends and imagined blood-stained hands), I'd say Macbeth and his Lady are hardly as cold to the brutal nature of his actions than you've described.
Makes me wonder how Hitler considered his actions
There's probably more post-hoc psychoanalysis of Hitler than any other figure in history with an incredible number of theories, both physical and psychological, that attempt to explain the reasons for his wordview and behavior. I'd frankly prefer the focus stay on fictional villains as I for one more comfortable musing about the nature and reasons of their crimes since they have no real human cost attached to them.
TLC seems to have decided on a simple black and white 'us vs them' mentality; the trolls are evil and must be defeated by the heroic and clever humans/dwarves.
And that's frankly to be expected with what is first and foremost meant to serve as a child's toy. Toy lines don't tend to dwell on issues of moral ambiguity given the young audience they're targeting. It's certainly understandable, especially given that TLC is quick to point out their product is a learning tool.
Then again, in today's marketplace, I wonder if the "greed = evil" is a sentiment LEGO shareholders would agree with! Here's probably the seminal counter-argument to that claim, not that I agree with it at all. I'd posit that cooperation and ability to sacrifice for a mutual good are one the cornerstones of human civilization right alongside individual accountability.
Sorry all if this is getting heavy for a discussion about if trolls are evil are not. Like I said, like many, I've always found villains to be some of the most fascinating complex characters there are. It just goes to show that even a seemingly simple storyline like that of the recent Castle sets can generate such conversation!