BLOGBUSTERS Unloved Heroes
Maybe it’s the cut of their jib, or their precise heroic jaw. Maybe it’s the fact they’re not actually SUPERheroes or they’re strangely self-righteous and a bit irritating. Maybe they accidentally dismembered a funfair full of people in the middle of a fight or maybe you’re actually a supervillain and they’re your nemesis! Twist! Sooner or later, though, we all find a hero we don’t like. Join the Blogbusters this week as we look under the domino mask and ask:
Which hero or heroine really gets on your tits? And why?
Steven Ellis: There are several heroes I don’t like. There have been quite a few recent shows and films in which the lead character is nowhere near as interesting or engaging as the supporting cast around them. Examples that come to mind are Sookie Stackhouse from True Blood, Bo from Lost Girl and Bella Swan from the Twilight films. They just don’t seem to be very charismatic or proactive. They are central to the plot of their respective franchises and yet I find it hard to believe that everyone around them finds them so interesting and attractive or why they seem to be the most important thing in the universes they inhabit.
I only saw the first two Twilight films and am not interested in seeing any more; Lost Girl I gave up on about ten episodes in. True Blood is different; it has such a large ensemble cast and every one of them is far more interesting than Sookie, so it’s easy to keep watching because every lame Sookie moment is eclipsed by every moment when she’s off-screen and we get to spend time with characters who actually do stuff…
And Neelix. I hated Neelix. And Jar Jar. But everyone hates Jar Jar, don’t they?
Is that Man-Bat? Maybe he'll be in the next film...
Laura McConnell: Batman. Yes, I said Batman. No, not every iteration of Batman. Just the Nolan one. I couldn’t care less about him. I saw Batman Begins and thought it was pretty good, but only pretty good. Then The Dark Knight was just okay for me. I didn’t buy either one on DVD, and I have only seen them once. I couldn’t quote a single line from either of them, though I can still do a good chunk of Tim Burton’s Batman from memory. I still haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises, and I’m not much inclined to. I didn’t care when it came out, and though I’ll likely watch it on DVD at some point, I’m not exactly shuddering in anticipation for it.
As to why, I think it’s the “edgy” nature of him. The “dark realism” and “gritty” aspect of the films. I do remember they were very grey. Literally. I know comic book Bats can get pretty damned dark, but I guess I like my superhero movies a bit super. I like fun (and yes, somewhat campy, I suppose) romps through brightly-coloured pages brought to life on the big screen. So, there you have it. My unpopular opinion on the Dark Knight. Let the flames soar. It’s a bit chilly here today anyway.
Stacey Whittle: The only one I can think of which actually makes me cross is Anita Blake. I loved those early books where Anita was a kick-ass vampire hunter, working in a male-orientated world and holding her own as a really strong female character.
I didn’t mind the initial move into sexy town so very much either. But I lost all respect and sympathy and – indeed – interest in the series when choice was taken away.
Then author Laurell K Hamilton brought in a clause that said Anita has to have sex every 20 minutes or so or she will die/kill people. The “has to” bothered me more than the embarrassing sex scenes (Mills and Boon do them better – fact!). I don’t care that she has 27 boyfriends or the emotional fall-out from said complicated lifestyle; but what happened to that zombie-raising, police-helping, vampire-staking woman? It’s just sad, in more ways than one.
Matt Risley: While there are countless C-List goodies and baddies from across genre fiction, the most immediate A-List one that stands out for me is The Hulk.
Admittedly, he absolutely stole the show in Avengers Assemble, but to be honest I reckon Joss Whedon could put a bunny rabbit in a Loki costume for the sequel and still make it work.
Whether it’s in his solo comic or movie adventures, it just feels like there’s nowhere left for the character to go. The Banner/Hulk dynamic has been analysed from every conceivable level – psychologically, emotionally and physically. All that’s left is for writers to come up with an ever-escalating and ever-ludicrous array of people/aliens/things to hit.
That, for me, isn’t engaging or interesting enough.
PigMonkey: I think the hero I like the least is Wolverine. Well no, pretty the whole Wolverine clan, X-23 and Daken included. Every time I read a story with Wolverine he gets more and more one dimensional:
“Grrrr I’m a bad hero. I kill people. Grrr, SURLY.”
That kind of thing. And Daken – Dark Wolverine – has probably the most useless claw configuration (his bottom claw would prevent people from being injured by his top claw), and he has tattoos. Really? Shouldn’t a healing factor make that nearly impossible? I suppose the rules can be bent to try to squeeze more cash out of the Wolvie teet. Regardless of his popularity, hand knives and unkillableness, Wolverine’s true sole superpower is to keep Marvel from going bankrupt.
Lee Harris: There aren’t any heroes or heroines I dislike, only heroes or heroines that are written badly. I dislike any hero or heroine that is treated poorly by his or her writer. For instance, When Greg Rucka wrote Catwoman it was one of DC’s best titles. When Gail Simone took over the title she kept up the quality, and it once again became a must-read. Ann Nocenti has just taken over the title, and the quality has plummeted. In the space of a single issue it has become a “must drop” title, and it’s difficult to understand how DC could let this happen to one of their better titles. So – no bad heroes, just bad writing.
John Cooper: I’ll go for one of each. My least favourite heroine would have to be Christine Kochanski Mark II from Red Dwarf, who for me was the death knell of the original show. Dwarf was beginning to repeat itself, and while looking for new ways to keep it fresh was totally understandable, if I made a list of what made the show less good than it had been, Kochanski would be pretty high. It’s not Chloe Annett’s fault: she worked with what she had but was badly miscast. It would be interesting to imagine what the show would have been like had Claire Grogan greed to return as the original feisty Scot version of Kochanski in the first series.
As for blokes, I’ll plum for Commander Chakotay from Star Trek: Voyager. To be honest it’s a close call between him, Tom Paris and some of the other work-shy male staff aboard Voyager. They all had much potential in their characters, but it was ultimately squandered. Paris started out as a criminal, then went nice and tinkered with shuttles like an old man on an allotment. As for Chakotay, who was a Marquis rebel, he did a bit of spirit walking and some “mentoring” – basically standing behind someone else commenting on what they were doing like a shop floor middle manager. Frustrating to watch, a bit like ST: Voyager itself.
Dave Golder: Jack Shephard. Not because of may well-documented hissyfit about the final episode of Lost. Up until that finalé I had loved Lost. Except for Jack. To me he was just infinite shades of bland. I could never figure out what drove him, or why he did the things he did, despite him having more flashbacks than any other character in the show. In fact, I always dreaded episodes that concentrated on him, and have a special place in TV Hell for the one about his tattoos. I wish they’d stuck to the original plan and killed him off in the pilot.
Alasdair Stuart: The Jedi Order. Because they should damn well know better. The Jedi occupy a curious position that’s equal parts warrior priest and politician, Federal Marshal and Buddhist monk. Under their protection the Republic has formed, horizons have been broadened and everyone’s life has improved.
It’s a utopia, the Jedi, with their boundless knowledge and ability, lie at the heart of it. And that’s the point, they just lie there. They’re static, the ambered ideal of the Old Republic, even as the Sith move around and past their lines. The tragedy of the Jedi is that a small amount of them; Yoda, Qui Gon, Mace Windu and Obi Wan, sense on some level what’s coming but they just can’t react fast enough. The old world falls because the old world is perfect and doesn’t know how to accept any other state or the old world falls because of bad scriptwriting, your mileage may vary.
Me, I come down on the side of the Jedi being good people with dreadful timing. If they’d had better timing, if they’d been less arrogant, moved faster, then countless worlds would have been spared countess tragedies. For that reason, they make the list.
So there you go, heroes who’ve always been kind of unpleasant, or that we just don’t click with. But speaking of things we do just click with, next week’s question will be:
What geek first time are you fondest of?
Join us for gentle reminders of our geeky pasts., We’ll even bring the Optimus Prime jumper (I had one of these, they ruled) and we’ll see you in seven.