We’ve already seen quite a bit of Chancellor Ardyn Izunia. He is an eccentric character from Final Fantasy XV who remains calm even when threatened and is the right-hand man of the Niflheim everywhere. He had a key role in Kingsglaive and is featured throughout the promotional material of the game. We’ve seen little enough that there’s still a mystery surrounding his character. However, from all the trailers released so far, it’s enough to know he’s going to play a big role. Why should we assume his part is huge? Because he’s going to be the game’s big bad guy.
There are several clues that suggest Ardyn Izunia will be Final Fantasy XV's main villain, and I’m not the first to come to this conclusion. Let's look at a few of the major hints at who Ardyn really is and what his evil motives may be.
This contains minor spoilers for other Final Fantasy games, so be warned.
The Biggest Clues
Chancellor Ardyn is the right-hand man of Emperor Verstael. While the emperor's goals are so far unknown, Verstael wants to conquer the world for the sake of power. He's responsible for the expansion of the Empire’s Magitek Infantry, and in turn, for much of Niflheim’s might.
If you played Final Fantasy VI or IX, this might remind you of two sinister folks: Kefka Palazzo and Kuja. They both mostly sucked up to their power hungry ruler (Emperor Gestahl and Queen Brahne, respectively), and were all too enthusiastic about it. Yet, instead of satisfying their ruler’s lust for power, they backstabbed them, seeking nihilistic, destructive goals of their own. In the case of Kuja, he also provided his ruler an army (the black mages) and was a similarly eccentric and mysterious madman.
Kefka and Kuja are two of the series’ most popular villains. It would make sense to make a nostalgic callback with FFXV's main villain. Take note also of the references Final Fantasy XV trailers have already made to previous games. We have the four elemental crystals, a plot device not used prominently since V (though IX also referenced it). The modern day setting is very similar to VII. And many in the Empire wear armor similar to the Judges from XII. It does seem very probable that they’re using a similar throwback with the villain.
Ardyn’s demeanor in Kingsglaive is interesting, to say the least. He has a very strong presence, with his very unique attire, and his speech and hand gestures give the impression of grandeur. Chancellor Ardyn Izunia also has a sense of mystery surrounding him. In both Kingsglaive and the promotional material, you’re always left guessing as to his motives. Nothing feels quite right.
As King Regis points out, Ardyn is also brash. Despite being an extremely important figure, he enters Regis’ throne room alone, surrounded by his enemies, to offer outrageous demands for peace. Throughout Kingsglaive, he' shown to be very calm and polite, even in the face of danger. This feels inhumanly reckless.
This really does give off a villainous impression. Why's there such a mystery about him? Perhaps he’s a very good chess master. Why's he so reckless? Either everything is going according to his sinister plan or he's already far more powerful than we realize.
What's His Motive?
If this theory is right, he likely falls into one of the series’ tropes for villains in the past. Every villain in the series typically wants to rule or destroy the world, so it's likely Ardyn does too. By using the Empire to gather the four crystals for him, and take the power for himself, he certainly could.
We’ve seen how powerful one of the crystals on its own can be. With the King’s help, it stopped anything from touching Insomnia while it was up. That includes Niflheim’s army of Magitek Infantry, and all their giant robots and massive beasts. That is to say, if Ardyn had this power, he'd have a power greater than that of the armies he has already commanded.
Aside from the crystals, we did see an immense source of power: the Ring of the Lucii. This provides tremendous magical power to those it deems worthy. Noctis is the rightful heir to the Lucian throne, so this power is his. If anyone wields power greater than Ardyn, it's likely the Chancellor would want them dead. Perhaps another motive for Ardyn could be to kill Noctis, to rid the world of those who stand in his way.
Could Ardyn be Final Fantasy's Best Villain Ever?
The director, Hajime Tabata, has stated he wants the villain of this game to be something special. To top the rest of the villains in the series, in fact. If Ardyn is the Final Fantasy XV villain, and he does follow series tropes, that doesn’t mean he can’t surpass the others. Final Fantasy IX followed every trope in the series, and for many, perfected them.
I think it could be extremely interesting to see where this character goes. He has shown plenty of potential already. Given the stakes, if Ardyn is the main villain, whatever role he plays opens up the potential for many dramatic moments. There isn't enough to go on yet, but what we’ve seen so far looks promising.
What do you think? Is Ardyn the main villain? Will he beat out other villains of the series’ past? Share your thoughts with Fandom on the Final Fantasy Wiki Discussions.