Friday, August 28, 2015

Hero Spotlight: Batman and Captain America

Welcome to the hero spotlight! Today we’re looking at two of the most popular and enduring super heroes (one from DC and one from Marvel, just to be fair). Batman and Captain America.

Two very different characters with different obstacles to overcome, but both burdened with responsibility and principals that are difficult to keep when faced with certain villains.

Let’s start with Batman. When he was a kid, his parents were shot in front of him. This spurred him on a journey of self-discovery which eventually led to him dressing up as a bat to fight crime. Because… well, he’s not entirely emotionally stable. He fights his battles with state of the art gadgets and has a strict, no-kill policy, no matter how bad the person.

The villains he faces are, consequently, nuts. Split personalities, hallucinogenic happy weirdos and… This…

These are often villains with no principals, and no problem with killing. Some of them go specifically after Batman, trying to get him to fall from grace. Through all of it, Batman must stay strong in his own beliefs and keep these crazies from destroying Gotham.

He’s a memorable character and the definition of a hero whose identity comes from his conflict. Batman is known for facing amazing villains and each villain brings out a new, important side of him as a hero. We like to see him tested and we like even more to see him overcome.

Then there’s Captain America. The precious cinnamon roll, too good for this world, too pure. Steve Rodgers begins as a shrimpy kid with a big heart. He soon receives equally big muscles as he is turned into a super soldier.

A beautiful super soldier

This kind of technology could obviously be used for evil, but Steve Rodgers, chosen for the project because of his huge heart, wants nothing more than to help others. But since he is firmly entrenched in the military his obstacle is often irresponsible governments. And Nazis.

He fights corruption, especially when he is frozen in ice for several decades before being thawed out. He’s the old soul in a world that has started crumbling to pieces. He must stick to his principals no matter who he is faced with, whether new corrupt governments or his own allies, like Tony Stark in the Avengers.

We love Captain America because he stands for an ideal of freedom and helping others. He would usually prefer the diplomatic route, though he is a super soldier. He treats his powers responsibly.
And he’s adorable.

That’s it for today’s spotlight. Next week we’ll be looking at the CHOSEN ONE and their struggle against the weight of the world. Until then!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Heroes and Heroism: The Super Hero vs. Responsibility

We’re seeing a lot of super hero movies lately, aren’t we? 

With the veritable empire of films Marvel keeps putting out every year, and the sweeping popularity of the recent Christopher Nolan Batman movies, its hard to ignore the tight grip super heroes have on the popular conscious. In fact, they’ve always had a pretty tight grip. Comics have been big since the early 1900s. Some super heroes have been around since before World War II. Some became big as a result of it, like Captain America.

But looking at the relationship between Super heroes and history is a post for another time. Today I want to talk about what makes a super hero.

In a lot of ways, super heroes are the easiest to define of all the protagonists. They are individuals with amazing powers, or a lot of money, who decide to use their talents to protect others against crime or, more often, super villains. Super heroes become super because of their abilities and heroes because they accept their responsibility to society.

And there’s the key word: responsibility. No doubt if you’ve seen Spiderman, you’ve heard the immortal line from Uncle Ben: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Cliché as the phrase may be, it does define the super hero.

Super heroes start in a lot of different places, though usually from a low point of some sort. Some are bullied outcasts, like Peter Parker and Steve Rogers. Some are lost, billionaire, playboys like Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark. Some are just aliens like Superman. But what links them all is the moment they decided to take a stand and own their gifts. Peter Parker starts stopping crime. Tony Stark starts designing tech to help him get rid of the dangerous weapons he used to sell. Superman starts just… saving everyone. Unless of course you watch the newest Superman film where thousands died in the collateral damage of the climax.

If you think about it, responsibility also defines the villains super heroes must face. They are individuals with great power, intellect and skill who chose to use their abilities for their own gain. Or just for funsies, in the Joker’s case. However, because the superhero plays by a set of rules, that puts them at a disadvantage when facing the villain. They must take the higher road. Usually this higher road involves a no killing policy. Of course, not that all super heroes are like that.

Hi Deadpool

But the most of the classic super heroes, they must overcome a villain abusing their power and keep to their principals in the process, never backing down from protecting others.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Intro to Heroism: What Makes a Hero?

Well, after about three weeks away from the blog (oh life, you never fail to happen) I’m finally back and ready to kick off our new series on heroes.

This probably goes without saying but a hero is constructed differently from a villain. The hero is usually a force for good and the villain a force for bad, to put it in simple terms. But they’re also different in how they react to conflict. The villain creates conflict and the hero reacts.

While the hero starts off in their story having goals and plans for their life, the plot demands that their world be thrown off kilter. This is the classic hero’s journey. An inciting incident launches the story into motion and the hero must choose to accept the calling.

But there are a variety of different conflicts in every story. It is the personality and type of the hero that determines the obstacle they must overcome. Depending on the type of hero, they need a different obstacle to launch them on a journey of character growth. You only see a person for who they are when the world is crashing down around their ears. A hero is defined by their conflict and how they choose to face it.

So over these next weeks, we’re going to look different types of heroes, the conflicts they usually face, and how they must ultimately face them to complete a satisfying character arc and restore order. Know in advance that I could cover so many types of heroes but I’m choosing to stick with twelve basic archetypes. It should be fun so stick around and enjoy! Next week we’re kicking it off with SUPER HEROES!

Also, don't forget to check out HOUR OF MISCHIEF on goodreads and amazon!