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"What happened to the heroic hero?", 5th Oct 2017, 4:56 PM #1
MK_Wizard

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It is interesting when some heroes are not so good, but the operative word here is "some". A hero does not need to be depressed, angry, angst, brooding, cold or a big bully with no respect for anyone to be a hero. Even Batman had feelings, compassion and was kind to those who needed it. Or... he used to. I do not like this direction that the media is taking that heroes cannot be happy and positive. I understand all have to face loss, but good experiences can bring out character development too especially to characters who really never experienced being unconditionally loved. Think of how Silverbolt's love for Blackarachnia changed her in Beast Wars/Beasties.

Feeling happy and getting joy out of kindness is not weak or corny. It is heartwarming. I say we bring back the happy hero who overcomes their sorrows rather than becoming consumed by them. Let's have heroes who save their marriages rather than always resort to divorce. Let us have heroes who feel no envy when things are good for someone else. Let us have heroes who successfully turn even the worst of their enemies back to the light again.

Let us let good guys be good again.
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5th Oct 2017, 6:35 PM #2
Travis

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Thanks for this.

I think the Anti-hero has had her hay day. While still cool, I think there's a building need for good guys again. Look at all the grief Marvel got over Hydra Captain America. There is value in the Lawfully Good character. I'm not looking for anyone to dump a big bucket of Mighty Mouse into the Mix, But People do enjoy Frodo Baggins and Sturm Brightblade. Even Harry Potter and his crew are pretty straight arrows. Wonder Woman has some popularity although that might be more related to Feminism than character. The first Successful Spiderman in a while was way more "Friendly-neighborhood" than his predecessors.

So I think there is hope on the horizon.
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5th Oct 2017, 6:44 PM #3
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It would be interesting to see more pure heroes come back into mainstream. But really anti heroes have always been a thing, look at Greek Mythology, I'd argue the first "heroes" were complex and jerks. The thing is all kinds of stories are always being created, but the anti-hero/edgy protagonist is just what lots of people are buying into these days and thus the media reflects the consumers interests. Hopefully people get tired of all the overly nihilistic stories and we can see some more lighthearted heroes on the big screen...but that all depends on someone being able to write this hero into a story interesting enough to captivate lots of people, western auidiences are really drawn to darker stories these days (Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones). But I think there's hope, the latest spiderman flick was pretty good and spiderman is a pretty lighthearted and likable hero (my favorite besides batman). I also love how the villain was just some guy trying to get by and he didn't die at the end of the movie.
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5th Oct 2017, 7:06 PM #4
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I wouldn't say that "heroic heroes" are gone in modern media- they've always been there, if you know where to look.

Spiderman's always been a pretty stand-up guy (in the movies that don't suck). Wonder Woman was lawful good (well, stab-ful good, but only against real bad guys) in her movie. So is Thor in his films, for that matter (at least, as "good" as a mythological figure can be).

And, oddly enough, eastern media's been doing a great job at making heroic western-style superheroes (better than some western media, even). My Hero Academia does have quite a few dark characters, but the main character is, for the most part, a Good Pure Boy.

Just because you have to put effort to look for these things doesn't mean they don't exist. Media exists for people of all tastes, now more than ever. You just have to find your niche.
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5th Oct 2017, 7:28 PM #5
Sovember

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snuffysam:


That's a good point too. There's plenty of stuff out there, sometimes it's just where you're looking. Haha I forgot about Thor, the dopest xD.
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5th Oct 2017, 7:32 PM #6
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If American superheroes reflect our national self-esteem, we can map their mood from 1930s to the early 60s as being rather elevated. Then after Nixon and Vietnam, heroes got much darker.

On the other hand, one could argue that dual-identity heroes like Superman were never really that good since they were chronic liars about who they were. What kind of example does that set for a budding Richard Nixon or Donald Trump?
5th Oct 2017, 8:04 PM #7
blub

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Drama is a very popular genre that allows writers to create a LOT of depth for their characters and stories that they might not have been able to do before, at least not to the same degree.

What I see in mainstream media is the humanization of many heroes, as well as taking a realistic approach to the universes they're set in. Humans can be selfish, cruel as well as kind and caring, all in one body.

I was discussing with my friend who didn't like Superman's portrayal in Man of Steel because he didn't feel like Superman, and he's right, in a way. I argued that it's because the character we were looking at wasn't yet Superman. We were looking at Clark Kent, a Kryptonian raised as a human who's at a point in his life where he is most conflicted, where he feels it may be time to reveal himself in face of a great threat but doesn't trust anyone. This superhero is one that has been plagued with uncertainty, one who is afraid of the outcomes of his decisions and how the future will look. He's a very human character in those regards. Clark would come to accept his role as Superman amidst the uncertainty, because "sometimes you have to take a leap of faith first, the trust part comes later", which I believe is the whole overarching theme of the first movie.

To continue using the Superman example, the cinematic universe (which, let's face it, is the most mainstream source of the superhero genre and arguably the most popular these days), is notably dark because there is a level of realism to it. Zod and Superman's fight brought so much destruction to Metropolis and the fear humans had of that destruction made it significantly more intense. It aided in the creation of the Batman we see in Dawn of Justice who was a hero, but felt powerless as these godlike beings destroyed everything. It angered him to feel so powerless while a walking weapon of mass destruction roamed free. I'm going to leave it at that, though, because Dawn of Justice was...well, not the most enjoyable superhero movie, to say the least.

Ultimately, the point I'm trying to convey right now is that the superhero genre is utilizing drama elements that result in the humanization of heroes, dark plots and characters and really intense storytelling, and the reason I believe the genre is going in this direction is because it sells.
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5th Oct 2017, 9:56 PM #8
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blub:To continue using the Superman example, the cinematic universe (which, let's face it, is the most mainstream source of the superhero genre and arguably the most popular these days), is notably dark because there is a level of realism to it.


No, they did not do it this way to make it 'realistic.' They did it this way to make it 'dark.' I find it hilarious that people claim that Superman being 'dark' makes him 'more realistic' but have no problem with a guy who can fly, outrun a bullet, pick up a diesel engine and throw it 100 yards, and shoot laser beams out of his eyes. There's no problem with any of that, but give the guy a code against killing? No, we can't have that, it's not 'realistic.'

There is ONE reason Man of Steel was done that way: Zack Snyder doesn't like cheerful, optimistic superheroes, so he refused to make a movie like that. He likes Watchmen so he mad a Watchmen version of Superman. End of story. And DC let him because Watchmen was a hit in its day (the comic, NOT the movie), and they thought it would work.

Zod and Superman's fight brought so much destruction to Metropolis and the fear humans had of that destruction made it significantly more intense.


You thought it was intense. I thought it was boring.

I have no problem with dark or 'realistic' takes on things but I think Superman is not the place for it. Additionally, I see no need for every story to be dark and grim and hopeless, just because the real world can often feel that way. What about stories that uplift? Stories that make us see the best in ourselves and others?

Dawn of Justice was...well, not the most enjoyable superhero movie, to say the least.


So what did all that "realism" buy you, if not an enjoyable movie?

See here's the thing -- reality is kinda sucky for most of us most of the time. Why would you want to subject yourself to another 2 hours of extra-suckage as part of your entertainment? I guess some people might enjoy it but even you, who are praising the 'realism' of these movies, did not find it so. Lots of others didn't either.

I agree with the OP. I prefer the heroic hero. The Luke Skywalkers and the Christopher Reeve Supermen. The real world is dark enough. I don't need it in my entertainment.

the superhero genre is utilizing drama elements that result in the humanization of heroes, dark plots and characters and really intense storytelling, and the reason I believe the genre is going in this direction is because it sells.


Does it? The top-selling superhero movies were NOT Man of Steel or Dawn of Justice. Wonder Woman, which was a movie about hope and was extremely positive and had a very up-beat and heroic protagonist, kicked both of their asses at the US box office and MoS's worldwide (although BVS did a little better internationally). Avengers, Avengers 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy also kicked the DCU movies' asses all over the box office, and those are all very up-beat and non-dark. Even Civil War, arguably the 'darkest' of the Marvel movies, was way more light-hearted than MoS or BVS. And it made more money. Finally, the 7th Star Wars movie was not dark -- it was typical Star Wars fare. OK Han dies in it but the movie itself was positive and the heroes (Han, Rey, Fin, Po) were definitely heroic. And it also sold way better than the 'dark' DCU films. And what about all those Pixar movies that win at the box office year after year and are beloved by millions and millions of people. None of those are dark.

So... does 'dark' sell? Really? I'm not so sure.

Batman vs. Superman is going to sell some tickets just because it's Batman vs. Superman. But the movie had no legs because having seen it, people didn't enjoy it by and large, so they didn't go back. Wonder Woman, in contrast, made money week after week rather than in one big burst because of good word of mouth plus lots of repeat visits. This suggests to me that dark may sell, but light sells better.

And even DC/WB seems to have gotten that message because one of Whedon's tasks in the upcoming JL movie was to make it 'less dark.'
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5th Oct 2017, 10:58 PM #9
MK_Wizard

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Thanks so much for those who get what I'm saying. Call me a do-gooder, but I love seeing heroes not only be good, but get genuine happiness from being good and kind. I know I do. Happiness is meant to be shared after all and kindness can have a huge impact. And I like what Steven-Vincent said here about how making something 'dark' doesn't make something more realistic. He's right. And even in real life, people have been known to do beautiful things. Think people who win the lottery yet give the winnings to charity without a second thought (yes they do exist). The real world is rough, but it is not a constantly dark and hopeless place.

With that said, you can have uplifting stories that you can relate to.
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5th Oct 2017, 11:12 PM #10
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Does "geeky, easily distracted, and a bit of a horndog (for fellow geeks, at least)" count as "heroic"? Or are the rules totally different for parody?

Oddly, among superhero parodies, I'd say The Tick and Freakazoid are both heroic heroes. Deadpool? Okay, not so much...
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5th Oct 2017, 11:22 PM #11
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I think the rules are different for parody and satire, J.Q.
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5th Oct 2017, 11:36 PM #12
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MK_Wizard:The real world is rough, but it is not a constantly dark and hopeless place.

With that said, you can have uplifting stories that you can relate to.


Different strokes for different folks and all that, but I'll grant my agreement with the above statements.

I'll throw it out there that generally speaking, there are few creators who can do both "tender and caring" and "vile and despicable" with any consistency and skill... and despair without delight is like painting with half a palette.
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5th Oct 2017, 11:52 PM #13
MK_Wizard

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Oh I agree. Suffering is a part of life and even happiest of stories need tragedy. All I'm saying is that it should not break the hero to the point where they go on a path of self destruction. Everyone mourns and has emotional scars, but it's not a good thing for the only outcome in a story to be to push people away, become cold, run away or turn to bad decisions as a way of dealing with it. Especially if people are trying to still connect to you or if you still have something to live for.
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5th Oct 2017, 11:52 PM #14
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I only liked BvS for it's David vs. Goliath factor. It's always satisfying to watch a human beat the crud out of something stronger than him. Different heroes, different approaches to problem solving. Heroic heroes haven't disappeared. They're just showcasing darker ones right now. Hey, at least it's not Moon Knight, Punisher or Spawn.

As for Marvel movies not being dark...They've got some dark humor in them. There were a few, or more, gruesome deaths that were certainly put there for the LOL shock value.
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5th Oct 2017, 11:54 PM #15
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The problem with the Heroic Hero is that he is too perfect. With Superman, he's pretty much an invincible god. They had to add things to make him weak like kryptonite, then variations of kryptonite to affect him differently. Otherwise he'd just win every single time.
Heroes need weaknesses in order to be dynamic and interesting. It isn't what the weaknesses are but how the character reacts to the weaknesses that make the story. And people are not just happy and bubbly all the time. They get mad and have problems.
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5th Oct 2017, 11:59 PM #16
blub

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Steven-Vincent:No, they did not do it this way to make it 'realistic.' They did it this way to make it 'dark.' I find it hilarious that people claim that Superman being 'dark' makes him 'more realistic'


I'm not saying Superman being dark makes him more realistic. Vice versa in fact. Hypothetically if Superman and Zod did exist and they were to duke it out, logically they would create utter destruction and lay waste to the city, killing thousands of people.


Steven-Vincent:You thought it was intense. I thought it was boring.


At this point the argument you're trying to make is a matter of opinion. You might have felt it boring, I might have enjoyed it, but regardless of both our opinions, the situation in the movie was, by definition, intense.

Steven-Vincent:What about stories that uplift? Stories that make us see the best in ourselves and others?


This is also one of the themes of Man of Steel if I recall correctly haha.


Steven-Vincent:So what did all that "realism" buy you, if not an enjoyable movie?


It bought The Dark Knight, an almost universally well received film and one of my favorites. Nolan and Ledger's depiction of the Joker is considered by many to be the best live action depiction of the character and is revered as one of the best depictions of him in general. You can say you didn't like it, but that doesn't change the ratings. Dawn of Justice wasn't that enjoyable of a movie, but not specifically because it had a dark tone.

Steven-Vincent:I guess some people might enjoy it but even you, who are praising the 'realism' of these movies, did not find it so. Lots of others didn't either.

I agree with the OP. I prefer the heroic hero. The Luke Skywalkers and the Christopher Reeve Supermen. The real world is dark enough. I don't need it in my entertainment.


I'm not praising 'realism'. I never made that claim. You appear to have a strong opinion about the subject at hand, and I feel a tone of arrogance in your words.


Steven-Vincent:So... does 'dark' sell? Really? I'm not so sure.


It has and can. Snyder can't sell dark though. I personally believe that initially, he was trying to emulate the tone of The Dark Knight trilogy, which were very successful and acclaimed films. He failed however when Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice didn't perform as well. It is very clear that with Justice League, there is a shift in tone. The tone is more similar to the Avengers. I honestly don't mind the tone shift. I loved the Avengers, although I dislike that DC is very clearly rushing plot-lines to compete with Marvel. That's a topic for another day though.

In contrast, there appears to be a tone shift with the Avengers as well. It's not 'dark', but Infinity War's trailer definitely feels more serious, and I think that's what fans want too because they don't want Marvel to hold back with Thanos.

Steven-Vincent:This suggests to me that dark may sell, but light sells better.


This is accurate. Light has the potential to sell better (assuming the film's quality is high) simply because it has a wider audience. That doesn't mean dark will not sell well, because as I've said, it has and can. It doesn't mean serious/dark movies will be bad because they're serious and dark.

As for my opinion on dark vs. light-hearted movies, I like both. I enjoy light-hearted films greatly and I enjoy darker films greatly. That being said, I have greater appreciation for a story that doesn't have a fairy tail ending.
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6th Oct 2017, 12:28 AM #17
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I'm sorry if I came off as ranty... The Snyderverse is a real sore spot with me, as I detest literally every single thing about Snyder's aesthetic as well as his method of storytelling. I didn't just hate MoS, I hated 300, Watchmen, etc. I've never seen a Snyder story I was even neutral about. I despise them. And I hate what he has done to the DCCU.
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6th Oct 2017, 12:45 AM #18
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I think a lot of it has to do with it being rather difficult to write compelling "good" heroes. The rise of the anti-hero comes from a desire for something more relatable. Yes they want to do good but they are also flawed, like the rest of us. It's why so many people identify with Disney villains instead of Disney princesses.

I love anti-heroes but that doesn't mean I don't care for heroic heroes they just have to be well written. As someone already mentioned Spiderman is a great example of a heroic hero done well. He has a personality, he doesn't always win, but damn it he tries. At the end of the day he is someone I'd want to hang out with because he seems real to me.

It's rare for me to come across things with Superman in them that I actually enjoy. It's not to say that Superman isn't a good character or that he can't be written well it's just that I very rarely come across media were he is written in a way I find compelling. It is difficult to write a character that is supposed to be the embodiment of everything that makes humanity great without causing that character to transcending into the perfection of godhood. That's because even the best of us have flaws it's a huge part of what makes us human and our heroes need to have relatable flaws to make them compelling.

Superman's greatest flaw is he cares too much, he demands perfection of himself because he wants to be that symbol of all that is good and right. While he maybe all but invulnerable himself the people around him, the people he cares about the most, are not. It's not impossible to write a compelling story utilizes those weaknesses but it's not easy. It would have to be a story that shows were his optimism fails him and were it also ultimately successeds and that is not an easy thing to do when you have a character that can literally punch planet killing meteor into space. Cus the latter seductively easy to write. I mean who doesn't want to see that? It's so easy to write him as a very flat character who punches and flies his way through problems with a smile on his face that writers seem to rarely put forth to effort to make him interesting.

I feel that's the problem with a lot of heroic heroes. The effort is not put into to making them believable and compelling and that's why things shifted to anti and flawed heroes because it's easier to make compelling drama with a flawed individual as the main protagonist.
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6th Oct 2017, 1:02 AM #19
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Steven-Vincent:I'm sorry if I came off as ranty... The Snyderverse is a real sore spot with me, as I detest literally every single thing about Snyder's aesthetic as well as his method of storytelling. I didn't just hate MoS, I hated 300, Watchmen, etc. I've never seen a Snyder story I was even neutral about. I despise them. And I hate what he has done to the DCCU.


No worries! While I am not against a more serious tone in the DCCU, I despise blatantly rushed plot lines that result in a mediocre at best narrative. I remember seeing the trailer were Doomsday and Wonder Woman where both revealed to be in Dawn of Justice and I couldn't help but ask "why? Why are you doing this?"

Edit: Actually, I questioned the film immediately when they revealed it to be Batman v Superman. Again, a topic for another day lol.
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6th Oct 2017, 1:51 AM #20
MK_Wizard

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ilayas:I think a lot of it has to do with it being rather difficult to write compelling "good" heroes. The rise of the anti-hero comes from a desire for something more relatable. Yes they want to do good but they are also flawed, like the rest of us. It's why so many people identify with Disney villains instead of Disney princesses.

I love anti-heroes but that doesn't mean I don't care for heroic heroes they just have to be well written. As someone already mentioned Spiderman is a great example of a heroic hero done well. He has a personality, he doesn't always win, but damn it he tries. At the end of the day he is someone I'd want to hang out with because he seems real to me.

It's rare for me to come across things with Superman in them that I actually enjoy. It's not to say that Superman isn't a good character or that he can't be written well it's just that I very rarely come across media were he is written in a way I find compelling. It is difficult to write a character that is supposed to be the embodiment of everything that makes humanity great without causing that character to transcending into the perfection of godhood. That's because even the best of us have flaws it's a huge part of what makes us human and our heroes need to have relatable flaws to make them compelling.

Superman's greatest flaw is he cares too much, he demands perfection of himself because he wants to be that symbol of all that is good and right. While he maybe all but invulnerable himself the people around him, the people he cares about the most, are not. It's not impossible to write a compelling story utilizes those weaknesses but it's not easy. It would have to be a story that shows were his optimism fails him and were it also ultimately successeds and that is not an easy thing to do when you have a character that can literally punch planet killing meteor into space. Cus the latter seductively easy to write. I mean who doesn't want to see that? It's so easy to write him as a very flat character who punches and flies his way through problems with a smile on his face that writers seem to rarely put forth to effort to make him interesting.

I feel that's the problem with a lot of heroic heroes. The effort is not put into to making them believable and compelling and that's why things shifted to anti and flawed heroes because it's easier to make compelling drama with a flawed individual as the main protagonist.


That is a good point, but I think there are heroes that are not anti heroes and we can still relate to them. I guess it's also that different people relate to different characters hence why there are so many different kinds of heroes with different personalities. And that is what I am for most of all. Diversity. With that said, it's dull when everyone is an anti hero. Just as I will admit that it's dull when everyone is a boy/girl scout. I just feel like everyone is making everyone an anti hero these days and it gets depressing. You need that balance of being lifted up but have some anchoring. You know what I mean? Good writing especially in a cast of characters demands everyone has varying shades of good and evil in them.
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