You know what bothers me in movies and books? When the villain slaughters one of his head henchmen for stuffing up in a minor way. It makes no sense. I mean, I know you’re a bad guy but with the cost of recruitment and training new staff – surely this just isn’t practical? What I want to see is a villain who treats his henchmen (and henchwomen!) well and gains their loyalty as a result.
“So, Bob, this is your six monthly performance appraisal and I just want to say I think you’re doing a great job as Chief Henchman. You’ve exceeded all our murdering and torture targets and you know there’s a bonus in that for you.” Two finger guns and they both laugh. “Now you did mess up on that whole Kidnap the Rebel Princess task, and I’m gonna recommend some more training in that area. I’m thinking I mentor you a little bit on kidnapping in general. How does that sound?”
“Sounds great, boss. Thanks!”
Now you have a henchman who is going to stay loyal, not mess up out of fear and not turn tail when the impenetrable fortress has been penetrated. (Yeah, I said penetrated. What of it?)
I want a henchman on a blind date to be proud of what he does for a living.
“So what do you do?”
“I’m a henchman for Captain No-Good.”
“Really? What got you into henchmanning?”
“Well, I always made good grades and was particularly good at evil science. For a while I thought I was going to be a sidekick but there’s just no room for advancement in that game. As a henchman I get great pay, medical, bonuses, we get to take the gadgets home if we have a personal vendetta to deal with, and the boss is really good at letting us try new things and really grow in the role. Plus, if he gets arrested or killed by a hero, I’m in line to take over the business while he’s gone. It’s great!”
“While he’s gone? You make it sound like he’s coming back if he’s killed.”
“Come on. Who stays dead in this business? Really.”