Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
It's About Characters, Stupid

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 23 Oct 2012 12:00
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As for superhero movies, the news has come down that DC is meeting the Avengers thing head on with the inevitable Justice League movie for 2015. No doubt it will be explosions up the butt, but if you ask me, DC would be well advised to dial it down, play it cool, and don't even try to compete spectacle-wise. Let Marvel have their fluffy-wuffy low-attention-span action pandering while you get deep and insightful with smaller, character-based stories, because I really think that suits the individual style of DC comics a lot more.

Incidentally when I say to make character-based stories, I don't mean with the DC heroes, 'cause there's nothing to work with there. Marvel is the company that lets its superheroes have actual character traits, emotions and limitations that make them interesting to watch, and DC never figured out how to do that. Where Marvel gave Spider-Man personal issues that helped teenagers of the time identify with his character, DC attempted to achieve the same effect by equipping all their superheroes with a smaller teenager version of themselves who all use the word "golly" unironically. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, these characters are all bland, self-righteous twats, more plot device than person, almost always the least interesting part of anything they take part in. They're like a troop of embarrassing uncles and aunties reminding us not to do drugs.

But I'll tell you what DC does do well: villains. Marvel villains are shit: random animal or element gimmicks assigned to misguided scientist A and escaped criminal B. DC villains are often quite complex, darkly reflecting an element of their given arch enemy. Batman's got a whole parade of villains who represent something about him - Two-Face is his duality, Scarecrow is his use of fear - and then there's him and the Joker figureheading the eternal conflict of order versus chaos. The most Spider-man and Green Goblin have is a difference in color scheme. And then there's Lex Luthor, an ordinary man who has worked hard every day of his life to gain power and respect, and who I would say is quite justifiably suspicious of the alien monster with inherited powers who everyone seems to like more than him.

DC, don't be so fucking obvious as to blindly me-too everything Marvel does for fear of slipping behind in your eternal bloody cold war arms race. Work to your strengths. Here's what I propose: fuck Justice League. Don't fight that battle you can't win three years too late. Think Legion of Doom. A rogue's gallery of character-based biopics exploring Joker and Scarecrow and Lex Luthor as the actual protagonists. Get us into their heads, let us understand their internal conflicts and their struggles without any of them having to hold the city to ransom. Then, if you like, have Batman show up at the very end of each one to punch them all in the stomach 'cause he's an empty-headed violent fascist. Give it a think.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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