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(Daily Dot)   Why do 'good guy' superheroes get a bad rap?   (dailydot.com) divider line 107
    More: Interesting, Captain America, comic books, Batman franchise, psychological thriller, action thrillers, battle scene, popular fiction, Jason Bourne  
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3155 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 26 Apr 2014 at 8:26 AM (12 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-04-26 08:20:22 AM
Because people obey the rules all the time would be such a buzz kill to hang with. Who can emotionally connect with someone who is better than them in every conceivable way?
 
2014-04-26 08:51:05 AM
why do i always get friendzoned? i am such a nice guy!
 
2014-04-26 08:53:00 AM
Because they are boring? Characters with no shades of grey are too predictable to be interesting.
 
2014-04-26 08:59:41 AM
Because flaws are what make a character interesting.
 
2014-04-26 09:00:19 AM

bborchar: Because they are boring? Characters with no shades of grey are too predictable to be interesting.


Or, what you said.
 
2014-04-26 09:00:21 AM
The 'good guys' have always been my preferred superheros.

I understand the arguments against them, but to me those arguments are pure bullshiat.

'Dark and gritty' is no more intrinsically interesting than anything else. If it were, all films would be noir films.

The idea that good guy characters are boring or childish says far more about the people who hold that position than those who enjoy those types of characters.
 
2014-04-26 09:04:54 AM

PIP_the_TROLL: The 'good guys' have always been my preferred superheros.

I understand the arguments against them, but to me those arguments are pure bullshiat.

'Dark and gritty' is no more intrinsically interesting than anything else. If it were, all films would be noir films.

The idea that good guy characters are boring or childish says far more about the people who hold that position than those who enjoy those types of characters.


I like both good guys and dark heroes. The only heroes I can't read are the ones with powers that are so super that they limit the type of rogues they face. I'm looking at you Superman.
 
2014-04-26 09:05:55 AM
My two favorite fictional characters are Doctor Who and Superman.  I like them good.
 
2014-04-26 09:09:34 AM
That was a more thoughtful article than I'd expected.
 
2014-04-26 09:13:48 AM

Mid_mo_mad_man: The only heroes I can't read are the ones with powers that are so super that they limit the type of rogues they face. I'm looking at you Superman.


I think, like many readers, you misunderstand what Superman is. Unlike Batman, Superman is not defined by his enemies.

Batman is defined by what he *does*.

Superman is defined by who he *is*.

If you have a Comixology account, give some of these a read: https://www.comixology.com/Adventures-of-Superman-2013-2014/comics-se r ies/10176

It's 51 love letters to Superman, by writers who understand the character.
 
2014-04-26 09:21:05 AM

PIP_the_TROLL: Mid_mo_mad_man: The only heroes I can't read are the ones with powers that are so super that they limit the type of rogues they face. I'm looking at you Superman.

I think, like many readers, you misunderstand what Superman is. Unlike Batman, Superman is not defined by his enemies.

Batman is defined by what he *does*.

Superman is defined by who he *is*.

If you have a Comixology account, give some of these a read: https://www.comixology.com/Adventures-of-Superman-2013-2014/comics-se r ies/10176

It's 51 love letters to Superman, by writers who understand the character.


Maybe I'm wrong but to me a hero is defined by his rogues gallery. If your villains stink I can't enjoy the hero.
 
2014-04-26 09:28:42 AM

PIP_the_TROLL: The 'good guys' have always been my preferred superheros.

I understand the arguments against them, but to me those arguments are pure bullshiat.

'Dark and gritty' is no more intrinsically interesting than anything else. If it were, all films would be noir films.

The idea that good guy characters are boring or childish says far more about the people who hold that position than those who enjoy those types of characters.


I don't care if a character is 'dark and gritty', but as I said above, characters like Superman are too predictable.  You know what he will always do, no matter what, in every situation.  A character like Batman- not so much.
 
2014-04-26 09:29:56 AM

browneye: My two favorite fictional characters are Doctor Who and Superman.  I like them good.


"Rule Number One: The Doctor lies."

Say what you will, but The Doctor is not exactly a boy scout. Heck, he's done things that would make the most amoral anti-hero pause.
 
2014-04-26 09:34:23 AM

bborchar: PIP_the_TROLL: The 'good guys' have always been my preferred superheros.

I understand the arguments against them, but to me those arguments are pure bullshiat.

'Dark and gritty' is no more intrinsically interesting than anything else. If it were, all films would be noir films.

The idea that good guy characters are boring or childish says far more about the people who hold that position than those who enjoy those types of characters.

I don't care if a character is 'dark and gritty', but as I said above, characters like Superman are too predictable.  You know what he will always do, no matter what, in every situation.  A character like Batman- not so much.


I think it's a writer-side problem. A "good guy" character can be still compelling if you put him in a world with moral complexity. The problem isn't the character itself, but because the writer always says that the character is absolutely right no matter what the character does. A "dark and gritty" character is naturally challenging the reader to evaluate his actions, but a "good guy" character is only used to preach. That is why good guy heroes tend to be hated.
 
2014-04-26 09:42:02 AM

Mid_mo_mad_man: Maybe I'm wrong but to me a hero is defined by his rogues gallery. If your villains stink I can't enjoy the hero.


If that's the metric you're going to used, I'm surprised you're able to read many comics at all. 99% of characters have no real rogues gallery to speak of.

And of the ones that do, Batman, Spiderman and the X-men possess the lion's share of the really good ones. Supes has Lex, Darkseid, Mongol and Metallo.  Then maybe the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. Then maybe Flash. After that it drops precipitously to near zero good rogues.

It's a bad thing for a character to be defined by his rogues.

bborchar: I don't care if a character is 'dark and gritty', but as I said above, characters like Superman are too predictable. You know what he will always do, no matter what, in every situation. A character like Batman- not so much.


It isn't about knowing Superman is going to do the right thing - or even that he's almost certainly going to win. It's about how and why he does it that matters. It's about how his actions impact the people around him. It's about him choosing to put on the cape when he doesn't have to. When no one on Earth can force him to do a single thing, yet he does it just the same. As said above - it isn't what he does, it's who he is that matters.
 
2014-04-26 09:46:58 AM

PIP_the_TROLL: The 'good guys' have always been my preferred superheros.

I understand the arguments against them, but to me those arguments are pure bullshiat.

'Dark and gritty' is no more intrinsically interesting than anything else. If it were, all films would be noir films.


Also, if I want "dark and gritty" I'll read "Batman" or "Sin City".

The idea that good guy characters are boring or childish says far more about the people who hold that position than those who enjoy those types of characters.

This.
 
2014-04-26 09:48:34 AM

LoneWolf343: browneye: My two favorite fictional characters are Doctor Who and Superman.  I like them good.

"Rule Number One: The Doctor lies."

Say what you will, but The Doctor is not exactly a boy scout. Heck, he's done things that would make the most amoral anti-hero pause.


True, by recent history look at The Time War and "Family of Blood" as examples.
 
2014-04-26 09:50:22 AM

PIP_the_TROLL: Mid_mo_mad_man: Maybe I'm wrong but to me a hero is defined by his rogues gallery. If your villains stink I can't enjoy the hero.

If that's the metric you're going to used, I'm surprised you're able to read many comics at all. 99% of characters have no real rogues gallery to speak of.

And of the ones that do, Batman, Spiderman and the X-men possess the lion's share of the really good ones. Supes has Lex, Darkseid, Mongol and Metallo.  Then maybe the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. Then maybe Flash. After that it drops precipitously to near zero good rogues.

It's a bad thing for a character to be defined by his rogues.

bborchar: I don't care if a character is 'dark and gritty', but as I said above, characters like Superman are too predictable. You know what he will always do, no matter what, in every situation. A character like Batman- not so much.

It isn't about knowing Superman is going to do the right thing - or even that he's almost certainly going to win. It's about how and why he does it that matters. It's about how his actions impact the people around him. It's about him choosing to put on the cape when he doesn't have to. When no one on Earth can force him to do a single thing, yet he does it just the same. As said above - it isn't what he does, it's who he is that matters.


I would say Lex is only real good rogue. The fact that almost no one can challenge him is to much. It seems to me half his powers come from writers finding themselves painted into a corner.
 
2014-04-26 09:51:41 AM
Mid_mo_mad_man:

Maybe I'm wrong but to me a hero is defined by his rogues gallery. If your villains stink I can't enjoy the hero.

Hero vs another person or persons (rogues gallery)

Hero vs nature or environment (natural or artificial disasters)

Hero vs self or consequences of previous actions (Batman's Hush,  Iron Man's Armor Wars or Demon in the bottle,  Clark Kent vs Superman,  Captain America's WWII values vs Steve Rogers need to live in the modern world. )

Not saying you are wrong in your preferences, but pointing out that you are limiting your reading choices if that is your definition of a good hero story.   Not to mention titles/characters like Preacher, Hellboy, Sandman and the Lucifer spin-off.
 
2014-04-26 09:51:52 AM
Because almost all 'good guy' superheroes live in the land of inexplicable success. No matter how amazingly impractical doing the right thing is, they win the day and there are almost never consequences for their moral stance. If the good guy drops his weapon when the pretty blonde is taken hostage, the bad guys won't just shoot him in his stupid face immediately. Doctor Who can spend almost the entire episode being a pacifist and defeat the Daleks with a goddamn speech because they will utterly neglect to shoot him in his face (which given the number of times they collectively scream 'exterminate' would seem like their go to solution for all problems). That kind of contrivance makes for boring, unrelatable stories.
 
2014-04-26 09:54:27 AM
PIP_the_TROLL:

It isn't about knowing Superman is going to do the right thing - or even that he's almost certainly going to win. It's about how and why he does it that matters. It's about how his actions impact the people around him. It's about him choosing to put on the cape when he doesn't have to. When no one on Earth can force him to do a single thing, yet he does it just the same. As said above - it isn't what he does, it's who he is that matters.

Too bad the writers of "Man of Steel" ignored this point, IMHO.  ( flying through a gas station during a fight & probably killing a few people = not cool)
 
2014-04-26 10:01:30 AM

Seequinn: Mid_mo_mad_man:

Maybe I'm wrong but to me a hero is defined by his rogues gallery. If your villains stink I can't enjoy the hero.

Hero vs another person or persons (rogues gallery)

Hero vs nature or environment (natural or artificial disasters)

Hero vs self or consequences of previous actions (Batman's Hush,  Iron Man's Armor Wars or Demon in the bottle,  Clark Kent vs Superman,  Captain America's WWII values vs Steve Rogers need to live in the modern world. )

Not saying you are wrong in your preferences, but pointing out that you are limiting your reading choices if that is your definition of a good hero story.   Not to mention titles/characters like Preacher, Hellboy, Sandman and the Lucifer spin-off.


I do enjoy the examples you cited. I do however feel that if your going to have a traditional comic style villain make him a challenge to are hero. Superman is so God like it limits the stories you can tell.
 
2014-04-26 10:04:20 AM
Aquaman would be much more interesting if he were played by Old Gregg.
 
2014-04-26 10:04:37 AM
Holding onto a more innocent, idealistic worldview is much harder than taking the darker, but easier, path. On a subconscious level, at least, most people want to see the hero inflict the same amount of pain on the villain that he inflicted on innocent civilians. They want to see the villain suffer in agony because they know he deserves it. In real life, that doesn't always happen; sometimes, it's not always as easy to spot evil, even if it's right in front of your face, and sometimes the bad guy wins over the good guys. Seeing a superhero (or any main character) in movies, TV, or in comics who isn't afraid to fight evil WITH evil can provide a cathartic release for the viewer.

With that said, those same people, whether they're aware of it or not, also want to be able to trust something or someONE. They may reject Superman as a character, but they still want to believe in the IDEA of him. If you ask people which superhero they think is the most bland or boring, they might say, "Superman." But, if you ask those same people which superhero they wish they could be, even if just for one day, don't be surprised if they said the name of a certain blue spandex and red cape-wearing hero with a giant "S" on his chest.

It's true that some people just want to watch the world burn. But maybe good guys, like Captain America, get a bad rap because they challenge the beliefs of those people that this world, and by extension, themselves, can still be saved. Seeing a movie like Captain America: The Winter Soldier succeed where Man of Steel failed makes those people second-guess the choices they've made in life, or how they responded to a crisis.

Bad guys want to see good guys fail because it proves that they were right all along. Seeing the good guys succeed against the odds, against they way the world is supposed to work, will make those who chose the easy way out doubt themselves and their own life choices.
 
2014-04-26 10:05:52 AM
This is a great article and I've been making the Man of Steel vs. Captain America: Winter Soldier argument since I saw the later movie.

The best decision so far that Marvel has made was not to be all cynical with their heroes, which in the case of Cap, was probably a big gamble because he's so un-ironically straight laced and obviously a good guy.

But, like the article says, that's what we like about these characters and what makes them compelling. I feel really strongly that the primary reason why people like characters like Cap and Supes is because it reinforces our idea of fairness in the world - basically, the good guys can win by just being good guys. You don't have to lower yourself to being a douche-bag to get ahead and that sticking to your principles is a worthy and honourable thing.

I was really pleased with the subtext of the CA: Winter Soldier movie and how relevant it was to todays morally ambiguous society. The message itself, and Cap's actions in that movie amazingly resonated with both the left and the right of our political spectrum, and to me that says a lot about how well thought out it was (and acted/written).
 
2014-04-26 10:08:04 AM
I feel like that article was more describing DC shortcomings vs Marvel...
 
2014-04-26 10:14:49 AM

Forbidden Doughnut: PIP_the_TROLL:

It isn't about knowing Superman is going to do the right thing - or even that he's almost certainly going to win. It's about how and why he does it that matters. It's about how his actions impact the people around him. It's about him choosing to put on the cape when he doesn't have to. When no one on Earth can force him to do a single thing, yet he does it just the same. As said above - it isn't what he does, it's who he is that matters.

Too bad the writers of "Man of Steel" ignored this point, IMHO.  ( flying through a gas station during a fight & probably killing a few people = not cool)


in Clark's defense this was his first fight. He let his emotion get the best of him during that particular scene. he wasn't bred and raised to fight like Zod. He had always been taught to keep all of that bottled up. And finally he had a chance to let all that go against a target that could take it. So he's not perfect. Cut him some slack.
 
2014-04-26 10:38:24 AM
Given the state of our current world, I like having a hero who is good for the sake of being good.  Cap isn't just a decent guy, he's free of the cynicism and irony that defines our age.  He's not interested in taking a selfie or snarking on his villains.  He knows who he is and he does the right thing even if it costs him personally.
 
2014-04-26 11:00:50 AM
All I got out of that is a reiteration of the idea that DC heroes are fascists.

Which they are.
 
2014-04-26 11:01:54 AM
Mid_mo_mad_man:

I do enjoy the examples you cited. I do however feel that if your going to have a traditional comic style villain make him a challenge to are hero. Superman is so God like it limits the stories you can tell.

Supes is only So God Like in the hands of bad writers.  Even Gods in the DC Universe face challenges that are bigger than they can handle.
Want to see a god like Superman get smacked around?  Read Starlin's "Death of the New Gods".
Want to see to see what can be done when a writer gets a chance to reboot the character into the DC Universe with a realistic treatment of his powers and a basic attempt and explaning how they really work in the context of the greater universe?  Read John Byrne treatment of the character from the mid-80s after DC's first universal reset "Crisis on Infinite Earths".
Both examples have interesting villans that are a match for the hero, but it is the larger universe in which those stories are set that provides the real challenge to both the character, and his ability to live by and retain his values in a world that does expose the character to choices that require looking at the world in many shades and levels of gray.
 
2014-04-26 11:09:28 AM

Mentat: Given the state of our current world, I like having a hero who is good for the sake of being good.  Cap isn't just a decent guy, he's free of the cynicism and irony that defines our age.  He's not interested in taking a selfie or snarking on his villains.  He knows who he is and he does the right thing even if it costs him personally.


Cap has been my favorite superhero for almost 30 years (so. very. old.), so my biggest fear when I heard about the plans to make a Cap movie was exactly that sneering cynicism you are talking about. The current spirit of the age allows you to "believe" anything you want, as long as you put quotes around "believe" and do it with an ironic smirk that lets others know that you don't, y'know, REALLY believe. Actual idealists are required to be naive or insane. Cap is none of these. He truly, genuinely believes, without smirking, and he is neither ignorant nor mentally ill. His moral complexity is found in his struggle (including some failures) to be a good person and do the right thing in complex and corrupt world, and all without becoming self-righteous about it.

When I see a Dark And Gritty(TM) antihero bash a villain's brains out, there is some enjoyable wish-fulfilment in it. When I see Cap, my reaction is a desire to live up to his standard by being a better person.

I am very happy that MCU Cap has so far remained an idealist.
 
2014-04-26 11:09:51 AM
i think it's weird how people can say that captain america is a boring character because he's a good guy, but nobody ever says that about john mcclane from the die hard movies.  john mcclane is essentially a good guy with strong morals, he's not "gritty" and he's not an anti-hero at all.  he tries to do the right thing and save lives even when he doesn't have to.  he's scared but he still puts his life on the line to rescue people, even complete strangers, even when he gets nothing but criticism for his actions.  he even gives a little speech about it in die hard 4, he tells the mac kid that being a hero is just being a regular guy put in a dangerous situation and doing what is right.  (for the record, i am ignoring the cinematic abortion that was die hard 5, that movie ruined the entire franchise).

superman is a boring character to me not because he's a good guy, but because he is so ridiculously overpowered that he is never in any real danger.
 
2014-04-26 11:20:09 AM
Because only little boys idolize "good guys".  As you grow into adulthood, you come to realize that life isn't black and white.  There are many shades of grey, much like is stated in Batman, you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the bad guy (break your moral code).
 
2014-04-26 11:27:53 AM

Alphakronik: Because only little boys idolize "good guys".  As you grow into adulthood, you come to realize that life isn't black and white.  There are many shades of grey, much like is stated in Batman, you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the bad guy (break your moral code).


And that's how I know that you haven't read the Captain America comics.
 
2014-04-26 11:41:00 AM
I don't think Man of Steel was as "dark" as everyone believes it is. Compared to Supes' other movies, then yeah, it is much darker.

IMHO, Supes in Man of Steel was learning to be Supes, and it had terrible consequences. City destroyed (well, two), thousands upon thousands dead, etc. It is part of a larger character arc (I hope) that gets Supes to the Big Blue Boy Scout he is meant to be. When you're learning to deal with all of those powers, you don't master them overnight (I'm looking at you, Zod).

Sure, MoS had problems. But it wasn't bad enough to make me unexcited about the reboot of Superman.
 
2014-04-26 11:46:20 AM

Captain Steroid: With that said, those same people, whether they're aware of it or not, also want to be able to trust something or someONE. They may reject Superman as a character, but they still want to believe in the IDEA of him. If you ask people which superhero they think is the most bland or boring, they might say, "Superman." But, if you ask those same people which superhero they wish they could be, even if just for one day, don't be surprised if they said the name of a certain blue spandex and red cape-wearing hero with a giant "S" on his chest.


The Adventures of Superman series I mentioned above addresses this very same topic in one of its stories. Superman creates an alter ego for himself. A grimdark anti-hero willing to put the hurt on the bad guys. Metropolis supports this antihero at first. Even Lois does. He deals decisively with bad guys. The bad guys are terrified of him. Soon enough though, so are the civilians. The problem is, Superman is starting to like it. He's conflicted about the the two roles he's playing. Ultimately though, he sacrifices the alter by turning him into a full villain and then dealing with the persona as Superman.

This is similar territory to what was covered in the "Superman vs The Elite" animated movie.

Ultimately, what it goes to show is that who and what Superman is, is the product of a choice. He chooses to be light rather than dark. He chooses to do the right thing instead of the easy thing. He chooses to hold back when he can dictate by might alone. He chooses to serve a planet he could conquer during a lunch break.

To quote Batman, " It is a remarkable dichotomy. In many ways, Clark is the most human of us all. Then... he shoots fire from the skies and it is difficult not to think of him as a god. And how fortunate we all are that it does not occur to him. "

Superman is the man who can be anything. And what he chooses to be is the best version of humanity.
 
2014-04-26 11:57:47 AM

Forbidden Doughnut: PIP_the_TROLL:

It isn't about knowing Superman is going to do the right thing - or even that he's almost certainly going to win. It's about how and why he does it that matters. It's about how his actions impact the people around him. It's about him choosing to put on the cape when he doesn't have to. When no one on Earth can force him to do a single thing, yet he does it just the same. As said above - it isn't what he does, it's who he is that matters.

Too bad the writers of "Man of Steel" ignored this point, IMHO.  ( flying through a gas station during a fight & probably killing a few people = not cool)


I think "Man of Steel" added a badly-needed splash of realism to Supes. With what we were shown of his past and his upbringing, how could he really know, down in his gut, the sort of horrific damage beings like him could do. Up until then, it was all sort of abstract.
Sure, we saw scenes of how he had to repress himself, and a few instances of him doing things to help people, but there wasn't a defining moment that showed him just how terrible a moment of carelessness, or of giving in to anger, could really be.
The fight against the Kryptonians, and the devastation it wrought, was what turned him into the ultimate good-guy.
 
2014-04-26 12:06:17 PM
What's so funny about Truth, Justice, and The American Way?
 
2014-04-26 12:11:21 PM

HawgWild: I don't think Man of Steel was as "dark" as everyone believes it is. Compared to Supes' other movies, then yeah, it is much darker.

IMHO, Supes in Man of Steel was learning to be Supes, and it had terrible consequences. City destroyed (well, two), thousands upon thousands dead, etc. It is part of a larger character arc (I hope) that gets Supes to the Big Blue Boy Scout he is meant to be. When you're learning to deal with all of those powers, you don't master them overnight (I'm looking at you, Zod).

Sure, MoS had problems. But it wasn't bad enough to make me unexcited about the reboot of Superman.


he had no choice but to either fight them on their terms. (in a populated center) or surrender to them and let them take over the Earth.
they were as powerful as he was. and he was outnumbered. how would you go about stopping them when they dictate were and when?
humans and their buildings are like eggshells to them. there is going to be a lot of collateral damage. I'm sure he would have loved to fight them in the desert or out in space. but that's not where they were. they knew his weakness was his concern for mankind and used it against him.
 
2014-04-26 12:13:27 PM

Alphakronik: Because only little boys idolize "good guys".  As you grow into adulthood, you come to realize that life isn't black and white.  There are many shades of grey, much like is stated in Batman, you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the bad guy (break your moral code).


and those little boys grow into bloodthirsty teens that worship at the altar of Frank Miller. Then they read All Star Batman and Robin and have the same kind of breakdown Superman has at the end of Red Son, only this time the trigger phrase is " this is everything you ever wanted."
 
2014-04-26 12:15:15 PM
Because Superman is unrealistic. People from rural Iowa aren't exactly the sort I'd trust with super powers. These days, they're hardly gonna move to a place with a large population of "librulz." Not to mention start working for a newspaper with at least one owner he suspects of being Jewish. Or rescue a boatload of illegal immigrants fleeing a hellhole on an improvised raft.

/irony: Supes himself is about as alien as illegal aliens get!
//he was designed as a blatant power fantasy and his worldview was dictated by the Comics Code Authority, a group founded by yet another pantywaist parental watch dog group thinking that the more violent content was being marketed to children (it wasn't, but good luck convincing those whose livelihood depends on remaining unconvinced).
 
2014-04-26 12:17:09 PM

Mid_mo_mad_man: PIP_the_TROLL: The 'good guys' have always been my preferred superheros.

I understand the arguments against them, but to me those arguments are pure bullshiat.

'Dark and gritty' is no more intrinsically interesting than anything else. If it were, all films would be noir films.

The idea that good guy characters are boring or childish says far more about the people who hold that position than those who enjoy those types of characters.

I like both good guys and dark heroes. The only heroes I can't read are the ones with powers that are so super that they limit the type of rogues they face. I'm looking at you Superman.


I am with you there. I like Superman better as an icon than as an actual hero of a story because he is too powerful. Clark is actually more interesting than Superman.
 
2014-04-26 12:21:20 PM

PIP_the_TROLL: Mid_mo_mad_man: Maybe I'm wrong but to me a hero is defined by his rogues gallery. If your villains stink I can't enjoy the hero.

If that's the metric you're going to used, I'm surprised you're able to read many comics at all. 99% of characters have no real rogues gallery to speak of.

And of the ones that do, Batman, Spiderman and the X-men possess the lion's share of the really good ones. Supes has Lex, Darkseid, Mongol and Metallo.  Then maybe the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. Then maybe Flash. After that it drops precipitously to near zero good rogues.

It's a bad thing for a character to be defined by his rogues.

bborchar: I don't care if a character is 'dark and gritty', but as I said above, characters like Superman are too predictable. You know what he will always do, no matter what, in every situation. A character like Batman- not so much.

It isn't about knowing Superman is going to do the right thing - or even that he's almost certainly going to win. It's about how and why he does it that matters. It's about how his actions impact the people around him. It's about him choosing to put on the cape when he doesn't have to. When no one on Earth can force him to do a single thing, yet he does it just the same. As said above - it isn't what he does, it's who he is that matters.


But all that is interesting about Superman for the FIRST story. Then it is just repeating it again and again with different villains/plots. That's why he gets old quick.
 
2014-04-26 12:24:35 PM

agent00pi: Because flaws are what make a character interesting.


I don't believe in flawed characters. I believe that every person is making the best decisions they can make, based on the information they have, and the experiences that have lead them to this point. That doesn't mean that they'll make  good decisions, and if you look at it from that perspective, Superman is just as capable of making a bad decision as anybody else.

For example, I'm re-reading  Last Call by Tim Powers. When we first meet him as an adult, the protagonist is a one-eyed alcoholic. Ostensibly, these would be flaws. At the same time, he's made enough money gambling, has married a wife he loves (and who loves him), and has a convivial friendship with his alcoholic neighbor. Drinking makes him happy, and hasn't negatively impacted his life or relationships. I don't consider that a flaw.

Now, he's made mistakes in the past, which allow the plot to move forward- he's essentially sold his soul and the bill is coming due. If he  doesn't change, his mind will be wiped and taken over by an evil occult "king". His happy stasis has been disrupted by choices he's made in the past- choices that made sense, even if they were obviously foolish (despite the advice of his adoptive father, he goes gambling in unsafe conditions, and recklessly and unwittingly sells his soul- but what teenager hasn't said, "I don't care if you think it's dangerous, I'm going to do this!").

So no, characters don't need to be flawed. Characters need to  change. Authors shouldn't be judgemental and declare that "this character has these flaws". Authors should look at a character and see places where the character can be  changed. They should change in response to the world, in response to the people around them, and most important, in response to their own actions.

So the challenge in a character like Superman isn't that he's without flaws. It's that, due to his serial publishing and pulp roots, there are challenges in  changing the character. Look at the Silver Age stuff- Superman didn't change, so the world around him changed. Krypto the Wonder Dog, Supergirl, etc. were largely just attempts at expanding the brand, but they were also one of the only ways to bring narrative depth to a character who was defined by action and pulp roots.

Fridging, by the way, is another example of the same problem. Since you have to be careful about changing a character in the course of a long running serial, you have to make external changes to the character. Killing someone they care about, strangely, is a "safe" choice for a writer- you've changed the character's relationship to the world without deeply impacting the character.
 
2014-04-26 12:27:41 PM

HawgWild: I don't think Man of Steel was as "dark" as everyone believes it is. Compared to Supes' other movies, then yeah, it is much darker.

IMHO, Supes in Man of Steel was learning to be Supes, and it had terrible consequences. City destroyed (well, two), thousands upon thousands dead, etc. It is part of a larger character arc (I hope) that gets Supes to the Big Blue Boy Scout he is meant to be. When you're learning to deal with all of those powers, you don't master them overnight (I'm looking at you, Zod).

Sure, MoS had problems. But it wasn't bad enough to make me unexcited about the reboot of Superman.


Exactly. I wasn't a big fan of MoS (I thought it was just "okay") but that was actually my favorite part of it. He needs to see the consequences of his powers when used irresponsibly to move him towards being superman as we know him.
I still feel that there was a fantastic superman movie buried in MoS and Zack Snyder ruined it. I'm also hoping there are creative differences when filming is about to start so they let Affleck direct the next one as the only thing holding the franchise back from being great is Snyder.
 
2014-04-26 12:28:20 PM

thefatbasturd: Clark is actually more interesting than Superman.


That goes back to the old saw: Superman is the mask that Clark Kent wears. Bruce Wayne is the mask that Batman wears.
 
2014-04-26 12:31:47 PM
You know, I wonder how people would feel about MoS if they had maybe twenty more minutes after the neck scene where they kinda showed the reaction to metropolis.

Aliens among us, this godlike character appearing to save us, maybe if they casted lex sooner a statement, a little more self-reflection by superman, maybe helping rebuild the city.

The movie just abruptly ended, and hopefully all these complaints will be addressed in bvs
 
2014-04-26 12:33:34 PM

t3knomanser: thefatbasturd: Clark is actually more interesting than Superman.

That goes back to the old saw: Superman is the mask that Clark Kent wears. Bruce Wayne is the mask that Batman wears.


I beg to disagree.

Clark Kent is the mask that Kal-El of Krypton wears.

Batman is the mask that Bruce Wayne the Terrified Child wears.
 
2014-04-26 12:36:32 PM

Fano: What's so funny about Truth, Justice, and The American Way?


Because it implies that that The American Way has nothing to do with truth or justice?
 
2014-04-26 12:40:25 PM

agent00pi: Because flaws are what make a character interesting.


No, they really aren't, any more than you seeking out 'flawed' people to be your friends in real life.

The whole "flawed" thing is a cop out - a euphemism for "I don't like to be reminded that I pretend to be a good person but don't actual value goodness and/or attempt to be a good person myself because it's work."
 
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