The Big Picture: Scarlet Unity - What Assassin's Creed and Batman Have in Common

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Scarlet Unity - What Assassin's Creed and Batman Have in Common

After seeing the teaser trailer for Assassin's Creed: Unity, MovieBob takes a broader look at The French Revolution and The Scarlet Pimpernel.

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That was insightful. Thank you

Cool concept. Hope it translates well into the game.

It would be humorous if Ubisoft made every trailer look like the first French revolution, but the actual game is the third French revolution.

Huh, I did not know that. Great video, thanks Bob!

My friend was a huge Scarlet Pimpernel fan that I knew about this character years ago. I even saw a live-action Scarlet Pumpernickel where the running gag was everyone he saved was replaced with a roll of Pumpernickel bread, leading to a climactic scene where the bad guy opens up a dungeon full of prisoners only to be buried in pumpernickel, Trouble with Tribble-style.

I always thought the French Revolution would be a better setting for the AC series then half the ones we already have in the games. Looks like they finally got to it. Would be interesting if Scarlet Pimpernel was actually mentioned in the game, or showed up. Hell, it's Ubi, he may very well be the one you play as knowing them.

The Scarlet Pimpernel's probably my friend's favourite character of all time. In various tabletop RPGs and LARPs he's played a character based on the Pimpernel, and loves to use "Blakeney" as a code word or cover identity.

That was really interesting. I've never heard of the Scarlet Pimpernel until now. I think I'll the novel and some of those movies a look since the idea of a superhero who predates even The Phantom and Zorro interests me.

I always thought AC (in particular 2) share a lot more of its DNA with Monte Cristo, but no doubt the Scarlet Pimpernel is has a deep influence as well...

Huh, how very interesting, thanks for that one Bob. Anyone ever hear of the TV show Jack of All Trades (starring Bruce Campbell)? I wonder if the Scarlet Pimpernel helped inspire that show...?

MONARCHIST TRIPE!

Nah but seriously, great episode, as a devotee of the swashbuckling genre I'm well acquainted with The Pimpernel, The Blakeneys and the influence on a much more well known character, Zorro.

Hopefully Unity is good since they're doing what I figured they were going to do with Assassins Creed 3 before they set it in the American revolution.

Captcha: public good, interesting given the subject of this big picture...

When I read the Scarlet Pimpernel as a teenager, I was sort of blown away by it, for all the reasons Bob mentioned (I was and am a huge comic geek, so I twigged to the similarities immediately). More importantly, though, it was probably my first exposure to a strong female "feminist" protagonist (I put it in quotations because I'm not sure I know exactly whether Marguerite would really qualify under all of the various definitions of the term). It has always left me baffled at the lack of female POV primary characters in this sort of fiction. I hadn't realized it before just now, but the book really did leave a pretty strong mark on my formative years.

Thanks for the nostalgia. :)

Pretty interesting, thanks Bob.

My introduction to The Scarlet Pimpernel was through the 1997 Broadway musical, and it was actually a well done musical though I bet it's probably mostly forgotten. I liked that Percy was adept as using disguises and pranks to befuddle and outwit the French Revolutionaries. In the musical, Percy just drove his enemies crazy with his usually irritating by hysterical sense of humor. There was even a song when he declared that he was The Scarlet Pimpernel, but no one believed him. According to one rumor in that particular song, The Scarlet Pimpernel was thought to "flatulent and crass," and that he was also "a horse's ass."

The whole distrust between Percy and his wife was also a big interesting part of that story. Because of that distrust, Marguerite ended up working again for Chauvelin, her ex-boyfriend and supervillain (probably based off of Robespierre). I liked the parts best when Percy just couldn't resist pissing off Chauvelin with his foppish jokes.

I'm glad that Bob used scenes from the 1982 film version, because I saw that version sometime right after I saw the musical. I saw little of the 30s version, but that was also impressive.

I would like to see Bob explain what it is about Spawn that drives him crazy, that he occasionally uses him as an example for approaches to superheroes he just doesn't like. Granted, I wasn't really impressed by the writing of the collection of the first issues of the comics when I first read them, and it had that irritating style that reminded me of some of Frank Miller's one-dimensional rant about the state of the world comics (and Miller did write the stories for some of the comics). Still, I liked the mythology McFarlane (and Neil Gaiman) created with Spawn, and the villains were varied and inventive. The animated series certainly improved upon the faults of comics, even though it was short-lived. I'd still like to see Bob do a video about his thoughts about Spawn someday.

I don't look forward to the inevitable Connor cameo.

As for the influence, well yeah I see it. It's probably the case.

Very interesting stuff.

I wonder what yathzee thinks of unity since he liked the idea of a assassins creed game set during the French revolution, Personally I really like the idea since it's a great setting with lots of potential for interesting game mechanics.

Also I'm curious if bob actually played assassins creed.

I had totally forgotten about Spring-heeled Jack.

Thanks for a trip back in time this episode. It was a good one.

I don't think I would call the Scarlet Pimpernel, "the first super hero". As Mythology is absolutely packed to the brim with super heroes. Every myth has some super human feat be it Thor, Hercules, or who ever. Gods and heroes are constantly changing shape and putting on disguises. Almost all of comics draws from ancient mythological characters in some fashion or another. I mean there is an Avenger who IS Thor. I'm sure if dug deep enough you would find Batman like Vigilantes all through out fictions vast history.

My favourite was always the purple pimple, from the chuckle brothers. Those two were goddamn hilarious, and being an inherently British thing the chances of anyone having heard of them are very slim.
I always thought it was relatively faithful though, even if it was focused mostly on his two manservants played by the chuckle brothers. Learnt a lot about revolutionary France that way.

Huh... as Bob was describing the Assassin/Pimpernel I kept thinking of Rorschach (Watchmen). I guess there are influences all around

I gotta disagree with Bob here, AC has the assassin's a group of mary-sues who are always right, and the templars are always dumb evil, every hint of moral ambiguity is pretty much thrown aside the second it's mentioned.

Rabidkitten:
I don't think I would call the Scarlet Pimpernel, "the first super hero". As Mythology is absolutely packed to the brim with super heroes. Every myth has some super human feat be it Thor, Hercules, or who ever. Gods and heroes are constantly changing shape and putting on disguises. Almost all of comics draws from ancient mythological characters in some fashion or another. I mean there is an Avenger who IS Thor. I'm sure if dug deep enough you would find Batman like Vigilantes all through out fictions vast history.

Indeed, I fear this might have been a bit of an over-reach by Bob to play the, "See, a woman invented stuff you like!", card. That's not to take any credit from Orczy or The Scarlet Pimpernel, it is undoubtedly one of history's most influential work when it comes to hero tropes of that particular stripe, but way over playing it to suggest that Orczy totally invented super heroes is a disservice to all those who wrote those types of stories and came before her.

Not only is Blakeney not the first super hero, he's not even the first with a secret identity.

Okay, bonus points for the Looney Toons reference this week.

Never knew who wrote the original story though. That was interesting....TO THE INTERNETS!

Rabidkitten:
I don't think I would call the Scarlet Pimpernel, "the first super hero". As Mythology is absolutely packed to the brim with super heroes. Every myth has some super human feat be it Thor, Hercules, or who ever. Gods and heroes are constantly changing shape and putting on disguises. Almost all of comics draws from ancient mythological characters in some fashion or another. I mean there is an Avenger who IS Thor. I'm sure if dug deep enough you would find Batman like Vigilantes all through out fictions vast history.

While Bob might not have done a great job of explaining the kind of hero he meant, mythological entities are of a different stripe all together. Yeah, comics have co-opted mythology, often treating it poorly, but a myth about a god is not the same as a member of society who steps out of his persona to counter wrongs and save people. I'm pretty sure Blakeney didn't create the concept of hero, but she was the first I'm aware of to build up a "normal person" creates an alternate identity to do heroic deeds.

So yeah, not all heroes trace their parentage back to the Scarlet Pimpernel, but within our genre of geeky heroism he is the earliest I can find that fits the mold.

Rabidkitten:
I don't think I would call the Scarlet Pimpernel, "the first super hero". As Mythology is absolutely packed to the brim with super heroes. Every myth has some super human feat be it Thor, Hercules, or who ever. Gods and heroes are constantly changing shape and putting on disguises. Almost all of comics draws from ancient mythological characters in some fashion or another. I mean there is an Avenger who IS Thor. I'm sure if dug deep enough you would find Batman like Vigilantes all through out fictions vast history.

Fantastic points. I agree.

I did like Bob's mention of John Carter of Mars, so ripped off so many times that by the time they actually did a movie about him, it didn't resonate! I blame marketing and a couple of problems with the movie itself, though it was good.

Reminds me of a 1 picture funny: Superman standing outside Julius Schwartze's office saying, "what do you mean `be original' Julius? I am the original!"

walsfeo:

While Bob might not have done a great job of explaining the kind of hero he meant, mythological entities are of a different stripe all together. Yeah, comics have co-opted mythology, often treating it poorly, but a myth about a god is not the same as a member of society who steps out of his persona to counter wrongs and save people. I'm pretty sure Blakeney didn't create the concept of hero, but she was the first I'm aware of to build up a "normal person" creates an alternate identity to do heroic deeds.

So yeah, not all heroes trace their parentage back to the Scarlet Pimpernel, but within our genre of geeky heroism he is the earliest I can find that fits the mold.

I don't know. Before I could afford comic books, I'd spend my time reading stories of the G-ds. Mostly Hercules. I liked the idea of a super powered do-gooder killing monsters and cleaning giant stables. One of my favorite early films was "Jason and the Argonauts".

I absolutely adore the Scarlet Pimpernel, particularly the 1982 film. He's been around long enough to be in the public domain, so I'm really hoping that one of the Assassins in the game is Sir Percival Blakeney (Baronnet).

I like how Bob says "THE French Revolution", like there's just one. Yeah, I know he's referring to the more well-known one, but France had a LOT of revolutions back in it's day, most of them very bloody and not amounting to a whole lot...

Also, how could this guy be "the first superhero" when Greek mythology is pretty much the basis for a lot of superheroes?

It's always a fun little game to try to guess what the Big Picture episodes are going to be about from the name -- I got no where on that one.

Hutzpah Chicken:
It would be humorous if Ubisoft made every trailer look like the first French revolution, but the actual game is the third French revolution.

That would be so cool... 1848 saw revolution all over Europe. You wouldn't be confined to Paris because there was shit going down from Paris to Prague, from Italy to Prussia. You think climbing Notre Dame would be fun? The High Dome Church of St. Peter to Cologne (also just called "The Dome") is twice that. Prague would be awesome, too. Historicistic Berlin.

Hell, you could even throw some conspiracy theories in there because that was the time when major events in German history started to pile up on November 9th.

On-Topic: I have never heard of this. What a shame. There isn't even a German Wikipedia entry on it. I have the feeling it came under the wheels because of German/French animosity around the turn of the century. Still a shame.

Edit: I forgot to mention: The Dome is a construction site to this day which would only add to the fun of climbing around on it.

Gorfias:

I don't know. Before I could afford comic books, I'd spend my time reading stories of the G-ds. Mostly Hercules. I liked the idea of a super powered do-gooder killing monsters and cleaning giant stables. One of my favorite early films was "Jason and the Argonauts".

Yup, I can see that 100%, but there are significant differences. Old Heroes were about fighting monsters sent by the gods, or brainless forces of evil and nature. I'm not saying they weren't heroic, but they were different tropes altogether.

Seems more like True Lies than Mr. & Mrs. Smith. At least the dynamic between the married protagonists.

Hutzpah Chicken:
It would be humorous if Ubisoft made every trailer look like the first French revolution, but the actual game is the third French revolution.

Or that short, sucky one from Les Mis.

1832, was it?

I thought the scarlet pimpernale was a joke in Blackadder, I guess we learn something new everyday.

Abyss:
I would like to see Bob explain what it is about Spawn that drives him crazy, that he occasionally uses him as an example for approaches to superheroes he just doesn't like. Granted, I wasn't really impressed by the writing of the collection of the first issues of the comics when I first read them, and it had that irritating style that reminded me of some of Frank Miller's one-dimensional rant about the state of the world comics (and Miller did write the stories for some of the comics). Still, I liked the mythology McFarlane (and Neil Gaiman) created with Spawn, and the villains were varied and inventive. The animated series certainly improved upon the faults of comics, even though it was short-lived. I'd still like to see Bob do a video about his thoughts about Spawn someday.

I think he went over some of that in his Big Picture on comic books in the '90's, but I'd like a little more depth to it as well.

themilo504:
Very interesting stuff.

I wonder what yathzee thinks of unity since he liked the idea of a assassins creed game set during the French revolution, Personally I really like the idea since it's a great setting with lots of potential for interesting game mechanics.

Also I'm curious if bob actually played assassins creed.

My guess is if he did, he didn't enjoy it, judging by how snide he sounded describing the series in the first two minutes of this video.

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