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Everyday Joes and the Best of the Best

Banes at 12:00AM, Jan. 21, 2021
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Everyday Joes and the Best of the Best

Star Wars and Star Trek are long-running siblings in science fiction pop culture. I don't know if there's really a “rivalry” between the two; SW has always been more popular I think, and the two are very different.

One big difference is the type of heroes that drive the two franchises. And those two types show up all over the place in fiction and culture.

Star Trek has what I would call the “Best of the Best” type. This doesn't mean that they're infallible, or even that there's never anyone better that shows up to give them a very difficult challenge.

But the heroes of the Star Trek universe are usually Starfleet officers, highly trained, highly capable, and highly strong (strong may mean physically, but mostly mentally, emotionally and ethically). In the best of Trek, the characters' fortitude, strength of character, and ethics/decision making are challenged. They go above and beyond, but they are STARTING OFF as ‘above and beyond’.

Star Wars, at least in the original conception, are ‘Everyday Joes’. Robert Meyer Burnett on YouTube provided me this insight, one of his constant insights, on the first Star Wars movie: the heroes are blue-collar heroes. It's a story about a farmer, a trucker, and a veteran going off to rescue a Princess.

Luke, Han and Ben have great qualities, and huge potential/powers within them, but in their overall being and presentation in the beginning of the franchise, are everyday joes. This makes them very easy to relate to.

I can embrace both types when they're well-drawn, as can we all!

Everyday Joe heroes can still be admirable, or become admirable, but i think their great strength is their characters is relatability.

And the Best of the Best types, while they can be relatable too, are strong in that they're aspirational. They're the kinds of people we want to be, or wish we were, or dream we might be.

I love a Jack Burton (“Big Trouble in Little China” - everyday Joe) AND a Jack Bauer (“24” - best of the best).

Of course, a classic heroic arc can take a character from everyday Joe to Best of the Best (Men in Black, The Kingsmen, etc).

The heroes in my comic, Typical Strange, are of course Everyday Joes.

What are yours?


Have a good one!

-Banes

Inspiration courtesy of Robert Meyer Burnett -
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4YIKjJU7wT9wnunmz3dWAw

comment

anonymous?

Banes at 9:47PM, Jan. 21, 2021

@hushicho - It's all good: different folks are gonna appeal to different folks. Being he's one of the most beloved and imitated fictional characters ever, I reckon you're in the minority with that Han Solo take. Which is great; I'm all for unusual opinions!

Banes at 9:45PM, Jan. 21, 2021

@hushicho - It's not in the article, but my comment below - it's a spectrum. It would be the extremes on each side where you'd find the "average shmuck" and the "mary sue". I didn't place Superman on the extreme end, or champion an 'average' Protagonist. Great characters will fall somewhere between the two extremes, but closer to one end or the other.

hushicho at 3:11PM, Jan. 21, 2021

And just to weigh in on the Star Wars thing, since I'm a fan: I don't really agree. Han Solo is a notorious criminal and a real douchebag, and I've never found him remotely relatable...or likeable. Luke Skywalker is a well-intentioned person who only really factors into the first story because of his special powers that aren't really cultivated yet. Obi-Wan Kenobi is a highly-trained veteran, mentor figure, and a mystic of sorts. These are not average people, though their circumstances are, in a general way, identifiable and relatable. If you want a real, exceptional hero in Star Wars, look to R2-D2. His binary language, additionally, and the relationships with the other characters make him extremely, universally relatable. But especially if you're a sassy queen.

hushicho at 3:08PM, Jan. 21, 2021

And just a point -- being powerful doesn't make a character a mary sue. A mary sue is a character who is created to be perfect, without any investment by the writer. Even their faults are calculated to be perfect and to manipulate the audience into thinking something that is usually not true. A mary sue never develops, because they never need to develop. They are perfect from the start and have no developmental arc, because they don't need one. Captain America and Superman are extremely relatable when written by a decent writer, because while they are aspirational goals, they are also people who have personalities, wants, needs, and even shortcomings and weaknesses. And Spider-Man, for all his down-to-earth qualities, I have never found particularly relatable. Depends on the writing!

hushicho at 3:04PM, Jan. 21, 2021

Making a character what a writer thinks is relatable by sacrificing other characters that other people identify with is not usually a very good move. And being relatable isn't necessarily good, either, since the "average joe" is usually an ignorant ass who solves problems with violence or "common sense"...which is to say, any idiot who happened to be there could probably have solved it. Most characters we follow in any story will be exceptional, but another thing to consider is that in Star Trek, originally it is a utopia in which they live, addressing threats that are from outside that utopian civilization. Most Starfleet personnel are fairly average, for their society.

Banes at 10:38AM, Jan. 21, 2021

I think of it as a spectrum, with one side being totally relatable everyperson types, and the other extreme being the godlike/mary sue type i guess. So heroes would be somewhere on that spectrum, but leaning one way or the other to whatever degree. So Spider Man is more toward the relatable side (even though he's an admirable guy) and Captain America leaning more to the aspirational.

Banes at 10:36AM, Jan. 21, 2021

@IronHorseComics - Yeah, that's what Marvel brought to the table originally I guess - the more relatable humanity thing. Ha - I've never read One More Day but I've read about how hated it is.

IronHorseComics at 7:33AM, Jan. 21, 2021

This thinking is exactly what makes DC and Marvel superheroes different from one another, with some exceptions on both sides. DC heroes are heroes you aspire to be like, as much as edgelords bash him, we want to be like Superman, we want to be the ultimate boy scout. Marvel are heroes we can relate to, everyone can relate to Spiderman losing a family member and being an awkward teenager with teenage problems (even if he hasn't been a teenager in decades and I wish Marvel would let him be an adult and finally undo One More Day).


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