Tuesday, September 20, 2011

SSM: Complexing a Character

Complexing a Character

I have a request for DC...

It’s something I keep seeing in narratives and it really. Really. Needs to stop. Most recently, I noticed it in the new Action Comics #1. Apparently, DC got it into there heads that Superman would be more interesting if he was like Batman...

A bratty, annoying, hypocritical version of Batman.

The biggest problem is that they tried to give him Batman’s tactics but kept Superman’s ideals... Actually, strike that, some the the tactics are closer to the punishers, then Batman’s. But for reasons that should be obvious, it doesn’t work. Superman is a hero to all, never kills, never tortures, and never gives up. And no, this is not the cries of an angry fangirl who doesn’t want there hero’s to change. I like new things. But when you change the basics ideas of a character, he’s well, another character entirely.

And Green Lantern #1 seems to be going down the same road too. Our first impression of this new Hal is that of a angsty, selfish, self-centered and depressed moron. And I can’t even pull the fangirl card here is I wanted to, because I sadly don’t know that much about Hal Jordan’s personality, other then he’s a bit of a boy scout with a wild streak. It’s just that, from a story telling point of view, the character is now extremely unlikeable and suddenly, I find myself rooting for Sinestro.

And it’s not the first time. Just about every character goes through this.

There's a stereotype about about how Batman is the only hero DC can market or write properly. Any while i don't believe it's all true...Why is it that every time someone tries to change a character these days is to make them more “complex”, relatable, and realistic, they make them darker, grittier? fill them with angst? or a “bad boy” streak?

Here's the thing, guys, darker doesn’t equal to a more complex character or a more cool character. Complex means that they have SEVERAL sides to them. When you take one of those sides, and focus on it too much, the characters become flat, one dimensional and in most cases, bloody annoying.

Sure, batman is cool, and he’s dark, but he’s also a Zorro fan-boy, (or The Grey Ghost, if you’re looking at the animated series) and he cares about every one of his sidekicks. Superman is a boy scout but he’s parents use to line his x-mas presents with lead, and he can and has been pushed to that line he doesn’t want to cross, but it was a much more natural progression. Even the Joker, who is a dark and insane character has his own little quirks to him when you see him plan out a new scheme, or discovering his backstory of before he was the joker (pick one, there’s a few out there)

Of course, there is that other side: if you add on too much to a character,you’re end up making them too complex and create a character that’s convoluted, confusing, and maybe even contradictive. It takes practice, but I will usually ask myself: Does is make sense for the character?; and does is already build upon what is there?

The reason that the new Action Comics superman doesn’t really work is because these traits just don’t make sense for this character. Maybe they wanted to give Superman a darker beginning and show us how he learns how to be the Superman we know and love but we don’t even get a reason for it. The change is too extreme and too jarring. And considering this was the start of a reboot, I’d consider it a major slip up. A good example? The All new wonder woman.

Stop giving me that look. I’m in the middle of my article about the series so it’s the freshest example in my mind.

Anyway, here we had a much different Wonder Woman. She’s living a different life, a different origin, but, whether you liked the series or not, from the very first issue we get an explanation as to why she’s acting the way she is. And I saw from the first issue that this is still the Diana of Themyscira that I know and love. Her appearances and the way she did things was different, but I could see the story was building upon what was there and anything that was strange or confusing, we got an explanation for.

Lets look at something other then DC, huh? Hit Girl from Kickass. You got a little girl who’s trained as a killer, wants a gun for her birthday, drops f-bombs all over the place, but she still likes to have a cup of hot chocolate with her dad. Glados from Portal is a psychotic test loving robot with a pension for killing humans. But she’s also terrified of birds. Go fig. We get explanations for all of these so they aren’t jarring.

There. Two dark characters with non-dark characteristics. Changing a character isn’t wrong as long as you don’t loose the original character at the same time. If you want to make a character more complex, give them a quirk, a few interesting backstory point. Maybe the demon killer likes strawberry sundaes. Maybe your villain has a pet hamster that is loves. Or you golden boy hero has a secret love of horror movies.

So. DC. Please, stop trying to make everyone into Batman. Please.

 Tegan Dumpleton aka SlugLady28

edit: Added a minor note to the start of the 6th paragraph O_o

1 comment:

  1. I too have notice this trend too. Not just in comics mind you movies and tv are in the same narrative trap. If you make all your characters "dark gritty and complex" all you get is an universe filled with angsty, self-involved, depressed, winy aholes. Then your stories become boring. You want better characters? Become a better write!!! >end rant<
    also a great example of how to change Superman and still make him believable is Millar's Red Son stroy.