07 May 2012

Loki stole my thunder

When I decided to see The Avengers, I wasn't expecting to walk out with the realization that I'd have to re-evaluate an entire major character I've been developing for 7+ years.

I walked into the theater for The Avengers knowing almost nothing whatsoever about the movie. But I had never seen a superhero film that I actually disliked. Therefore, I was unconcerned that I didn't know anything about the plot, the major obstacle that must be overcome by the team, or practically anything whatsoever about many of the major characters.*
*I later discovered that most of the team has their own series of films, which probably provide individual 
back-stories I could have seriously used. Obviously I am an idiot who should have done her homework.

There seem to have been an abundance of superhero movies in the last decade. Was it an unusual amount of superhero movies, or was I just more aware of it than I was in my childhood? I know there are older versions of Batman films. Maybe they just remake them every ten years or so? How many Batman or Spiderman or X-Men movies can you make?

I suppose as long as they continue to draw people to the theater, they'll keep getting made. And perhaps every generation of creatives wants a chance to work with their heroes, whether it's the comic book heroes or science fiction characters such as Star Trek or Doctor Who. Maybe it's more than nostalgia, too. It's often said that there are no new stories, merely the same story told over and over again. 

If so, what is it about superheroes that fascinates us so?

Why are we so entranced by humans with more-than-human powers? These days, their powers are often granted by science rather than by magic, but isn't it the same old story? Are superheroes just modern-day faerie?

Picture by Callie Leuck. OMG LOKI
I've been thinking about superheroes a lot lately. I'm trying to decide if I want to allow superpowers in my WIP or not. I can see pros and cons, and I've been trying to figure out what the obsession is. That's what I was thinking about before the film started.

Enter the villain: Horned helmet, creepy staff with disturbing powers, obsession with enslaving the human race. I think I would probably do whatever a powerful alien super-villain claiming godhood said to do, and that's not a very nice thought. I'd hope I'd stand up to him, but I think I'd do what he said and hope to live long enough to escape or be rescued. I don't think I'd try to be noble or honorable about it, but if he turned his back I am pretty sure I'd try to drive a knife into it. Or knock him out with his helmet or something. Because he is seriously bad news for humanity. Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad news. I can't even explain it very well, but I found a great explanation in a review on FTG: FTG-Nerd Review: Marvel's The Avengers 3d (Movie) 
"The main bad guy is Loki played by Tom Hiddleston. He is more evil and cunning than he was portrayed in Thor. So evil that it takes his master manipulation of the good guys for the team to realize that they must push their egos to the side and work together. As for his Alien Army, the speculation was that it was going to be the Skrulls. In fact it is a different race of aliens called the Chitauri which reminded me of the Locust from Gears of War, but with the collective being of the Borg of Star Trek. Individually they aren’t powerful, but collectively have the strength of hundreds of hordes of zombies."
But it's frustrating. Because I was looking at this screen and thinking, this character is cunning but also incredibly shallow and arrogant and damn it all that's my villain on the screen. Damn it all to hell. I am so glad to see that all the time I've spent writing with my character and trying to understand his background and trying to figure out how he would behave only to discover that he's already been created in comic book lore which is based on an even older ancient god.

So that's annoying.

But also, I guess it could be useful. There's probably a reason I came up with something that's been created before, even if I wasn't aware that it had been created before. My villain emerged from my frustration with the seemingly-vast stupidity of villains I encountered in many books -- how easy they ultimately were for the hero to vanquish simply because they were pure of heart or some such. I was very tired of stupid villains, of villains with glaringly-obvious fatal flaws, whose defeat was ultimately a giant let-down.

So maybe it would behoove me to read up more on Norse mythology because clearly there's something there that goes along the lines I'm already thinking. And once I calmed down a bit, I identified a few key differences between my villain and Loki. A biggie is that mine doesn't think he's a god... but he does have a bit of a god complex. Damn it!

Welp. Time for research and character overhaul.

On the bright side, thinking about how I'd likely handle Loki -- do what he says but knife him at the first chance (Yes, I'd probably end up dead, but let's assume I just think he's some kind of arrogant psycho with a lot of stage tricks and not actually a god-like alien.) -- actually helped me think about my main character in a new way. She has ideas about honor that are dramatically different from mine, and I need to develop that more. 

In the meantime, can I put a hold on Tom Hiddleston to play my villain in the surely-inevitable film based on my soon-to-be-bestselling groundbreaking fantasy novel? Tom, I can't promise it'll be a comic role, but I can promise a low-key* outfit that doesn't involve a horned helmet.
*low-key, as in not Loki. That pun was unintentional, but I thought it was hilarious. I am so funny. I am so sorry.

Please email your world domination plans to me at callieleuck(at)callieleuck(dot)com. This is purely for character research. All submitted world domination plans will remain your intellectual property and will not be used for any taking-over-the-world activities.    
Now You!
Is there any hope for writing something that hasn't already been written? What have you read that seemed fresh?