- As we saw, several heroes were members of several groups, but nobody was a member of all of them. Simply because these are all admirable types doesn’t mean that a hero can be a shapeless agglomeration of traits. Likeable heroes come in many different shapes. You have to give heroes a certain set of heroic traits and stick to those, even if it means that they’re distinctly lacking in others. That way, when a producer says, “A hero wouldn’t do that”, you can respond, “This type of hero would”.
- Even though I initially found it cynical and depressing, I now see why it’s important to surround heroes with characters that lack their qualities. The point, I think, is that nobody gets any credit for doing what everybody else is doing. This ties into another recent idea: movies aren’t about morals, they’re about ethics, and ethics are entirely relative. In the same way that actions are only heroic if they’re hard to do, personality traits are only admirable if it you have to go against the grain when you act that way.
- Another reason why context is important: A hero who is likeable in one situation might be entirely unlikable if you put them in a different movie. Each situation has something lacking: a vacuum that needs to be filled, and just begging for a certain personality type to come in and fill it. Sometimes the situation calls out for a hero who will speak truth to power, but other times they just need someone to come in and start a keg party. Find the right vacuum for every hero, and the right hero for every vacuum.
- Indeed, even in real life, every hero is determined solely by his context: Compared to most people, Churchill was a white supremacist genocidal maniac, but compared to Hitler, he wasn’t so bad, and in fact he turned out to be just the right hero at just the right time. (Of course, as soon as the war ended, he had to be whisked back out to the curb post haste)
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Hero Personality Profiles, Conclusion: Match The Hero to the Vacuum
So what can we conclude from this breakdown? Is it useful to know the personality types of your heroes before you write them? I think a list like this is useful for a few reasons: