1. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    Hey Superhero Writers Does Your MC Grow?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by EBohio, Mar 17, 2019.

    I don't read nor go to the movies about Superheroes and I don't like fantasy.

    My main criticism is that especially after the MC becomes a superhero he doesn't change or grow. (Harry Potter may be an exception) This is especially true if it becomes a series. Yes, Bruce Wayne changes in the first story but after becoming Batman he never has a shift in values, personal growth, or anything.

    I think all MC's should grow or change for the good or worse, by the end of the story.

    Just my 2 cents. Any examples of where I am wrong? I know there must be some.
     
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  2. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    That doesn't appear to be true, and you probably think that because you don't have any experience with the genre.
     
  3. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    Long-term characters in the comics change all the time, they just get continually reset back to square one when they get too powerful. I've done some pseudo-superhero stuff in the past and absolutely my MC grows. There's no worthwhile story otherwise. Granted, I don't have to go hundreds of books with that character so I don't have to worry about power bloat or anything like that.
     
  4. The Piper

    The Piper Contributor Contributor

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    Every character has to grow or change, otherwise what's the point? And with superheroes it's the same, maybe they're treated differently in some cases but in the good cases they're just the same as any other kind of character.

    I'm assuming your superhero knowledge comes from movies, so to follow the Batman example look at the Christopher Nolan films - rise (Batman Begins), fall (Dark Knight), rise. One example of a pretty typical character arc (and apparently the best-selling, tickets wise). He becomes Batman in the first, slowly becomes hated and ends up on the run in the second, and rises again when he's needed in the third. Up-down-up.

    I'd follow with an example from actual Batman comics, but the continuity's been changed so many times that it's a difficult job to say "this is what happens to Batman" without someone going "no, this is what happens to Batman". He's gone through multiple changes but, as @Cephus says, in the same way that a lot of superheroes are, he's been reset. Usually he 'dies', someone takes over the mask for a while, then *shock* he's not really dead. Here we go again. Or DC decides to change everything and we're introduced to a new, slightly-different-but-principally-identical Batman.

    But needless to say, if Batman had been exactly the same character for 80 years, DC would have crashed a long time ago. People don't read about characters who have grown to their full extent, because where is the story going? Because the character has been around for so long, the only way to have him keep changing is to fall into a rise-fall-rise-fall-rise-fall arc which just loops around forever.
     
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  5. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    Not to detract from you excellent post, but plenty of good fiction exists that doesn't hinge on character growth. It is the current preoccupation, but not a necessity to make a satisfying tale.
     
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  6. The Piper

    The Piper Contributor Contributor

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    @Fallow you're absolutely right - I think I've been swept along with the idea and to be honest I can't think of any fiction that doesn't follow this sort of trend, but that's not to say in any way that it doesn't exist or is any less good - just that it's harder to come up with examples for things that exclude something than include it. But I'd be interested to see how a story without that kind of character change functions and develops!
     
  7. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    Yeah, I'm sure. I'm glad to see that my perception was wrong and writers do care about character growth.
     
  8. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    Superhero growth is becoming more humane.

    Superhero grows by walking the road from super to more normal hero. His/her growth might even be getting flaws and being weak and vulnerable.

    Personal growth in stories is leaving identities and other portable prisons and becoming what you really are deep down, when all the protective (social) armours are away.

    I think that is very common in superhero stories.
     
  9. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    Not all "growth" is positive. Depictions of Batman in his later years have him turning reactionary, taking lives and not fully conscious of his actions.
     
  10. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I love super hero stories, but find the ones with character growth a hard sell.

    The point is to watch an iconic character change the world or do the thing we hope we would do.

    A movie with an unchanging iconic character can hold my attention from moment to moment.

    I mentally check out when say, Superman gets PTSD or becomes a passifist or starts killing people after his 23rd alien invasion.

    Origin stories are cool because the character confronts their flaw as they become a hero. In the sequel, I don’t want to be bothered about all that.
     
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  11. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    There are definitely examples of character growth and change arcs in the genre.

    In Death of the Family, Batman pushes away most of his allies in a vain effort to keep them safe; this allows Joker to isolate, capture, and very nearly kill them one by one. By the time Joker resurfaces in Endgame, Bruce has learned his lesson and wastes no time in calling on his allies (and a few enemies) for help.

    Benjamin Percy's recent run on Green Arrow hinged on Oliver Queen realizing what a jerk he's been, making amends for his past behavior, and learning to form relationships not built on money.

    Alias and Season 1 of its adaptation Jessica Jones see Jessica find a degree of closure and healing by confronting her tormentor the Purple Man/Kilgrave.

    And although it's hard to say for sure how it will end, Tom King's ongoing run on Batman is centered on the question "Can Bruce be Batman and find happiness, or are those mutually exclusive?". It's so heavily focused on character development I'd almost venture to call it literary.

    With all that said, I don't think change is by any means necessary for a good story. Flat/testing arcs--where the character's devotion to a principle changes the world--can be just as good.

    Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy is a good example of this, especially Batman Begins. Although Bruce has a very small positive change arc in each movie, his dedication to the idea that Gotham isn't beyond redemption is central throughout the series.

    Personally, I had both POV characters experience change arcs in my superhero/fantasy novel.

    After seeing the damage done by his family and the criminal alliance (the Committee) they lead, Zeno Citrelli considers them the only threat worth his attention. But the emergence of the ruthless Lost Souls social movements forces him to reevaluate. In the end, he passes up a chance at destroying the Committee in order stop an attempted coup by the Lost Souls.

    Isa Mori's is harder to describe. In a sentence, I'd say it's about learning that forgiving someone doesn't mean you have to give them the opportunity to hurt you again.
     
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  12. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Conspicuously Conventional Contributor

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    I agree. And that phenomenon isn't limited to the superhero genre, or even action adventure. My brother was a big Columbo fan growing up. And he, along with virtually all the other people who enjoyed the show, expected and desired the same iconic Columbo to be present in every episode.

     
  13. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    Here is a question.

    Has there ever been an Oscar or a Hugo for a story with a flat character arc?
     
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  14. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned

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    I remember when those awards meant something positive to me.
    But now it's more like, "It won an Oscar but it might be good anyway."
    Faction politics has ruined them, IMO.
     
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  15. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Conspicuously Conventional Contributor

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    Shane was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director in 1954.
     
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  16. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    Franchise characters don’t grow. It’s not really a comic book thing: the same issues pervade long running religion series, movies like James Bond, and universes like Star Wars Legends where writers don’t have approval to make serious long term changes. Grwoth in these franchise works are usually internal to the individual story.

    These types of heroes are sometimes called Iconic Heroes. They don’t change. They don’t usually lose. The interest is more in how they solve each problem and what happens to other characters.

    Example iconic heroes: James Bond; Indiana Jones; everyone in Star Wars; everyone in Star Trek; everyone in TV shows like The Simpsons, Futurama, and South Park; Jack Reacher; Detectives like Harry Bosch and probably Sherlock Holmes (though I have not read the originals). And yes, pretty much every franchise comic book hero. Though individual comics have great character growth. The Dark Knight Returns is a good example.

    So yes, any writer writing superhero fiction should have character growth. And a side note: you may be mischaractarizing Fantasy. Fantasy isn’t just elves and dwarves. Many of Stephen King’s books are often categorized as fantasy (such as The Green Mile), and he’s no Tolkien.
     
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  17. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    2001 was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director.

    Hugo: Three Body Problem and Fountains of Paradise.
     
  18. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    You don't think there was any character growth or change there? After all they went through.
     
  19. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    My original premise. Good example with James Bond.

    I do take exception with Star Trek, however. Kirk and Spock both have experienced growth and change in some episodes.
     
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  20. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    Which they? The apes, the people on the moon, Dave?
     
  21. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    I was being rhetorical. I wouldn't know, as I have never been able to watch that movie all the way through. It doesn't hold my interest. Surprised it won anything.
     
  22. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Contributor

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    RE: Kirk and Spock, maybe. Did the change really last beyond the scope of an episode though? With TV, characters do reach revelations in individual episodes, but they often do not substantially change the character. It’s easy to watch a random episode of the series and not know which season it is in for example, aside from the characters who come and go like Chekov. In general Spock does get more empathetic, but there isn’t much I can point to that demonstrates him changing substantially over time. His climax in The Wrath of Khan is self sacrifice, but it is wrapped in logic: the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and the one. Maybe there are clearer signs that I don’t see though. And also I didn’t see the later movies, so there could be something in there I guess.
     
  23. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    It strikes me that you have rather strong assumptions about media you haven't read or seen. Is there a purpose behind the inquiry in your OP, or were you more looking for validation of a theory?
     
  24. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    Assumptions from my introductions. Definitely not "strong" enough that I could not entertain examples of where maybe I'm wrong and examples were offered that I considered and got me thinking. And obviously I have read or seen some of it, or I could not participate in a discussion of it. I should have just stuck with saying I don't prefer superheroes or fantasy not that I am not aware of it. I saw your 2001, as much as I could stick with, and maybe the fact that I couldn't stick with it touches on my question for discussion. I was just pointing out that what you didn't think was growth or change someone else could point out that there was as most arcless movies aren't award winners. I just couldn't say because I couldn't stand the movie.
     
  25. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    Yeah, definitely you can see it in the movies. Especially the one where Kirk was so prejudiced against Klingons that he actually called them "klingon trash".
    And the first remake movie where Spock and Uhura are in-love. But if you have nothing to do on a Saturday night and you watch an old episode, you can see some growth and change there if you get into it.
     

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