What is it that makes characters so interesting or movies so boring? Imagination Connoisseurs write in to The Burnettwork to share their thoughts, ideas and concerns about the stories they love the most.
The six, essential characteristics that make a character interesting.
The other day on The John Campea show someone asked if a movie got better when the characters were more active. You guys answered it and I thought that I’d put my thoughts on the matter.
If characters have high proactivity, as in being more active, the movie is not the issue. You can have a good movie where the protagonist isn’t all that proactive. Proactivity is an important part of what makes a character interesting though. We like to see our heroes do stuff to solve the situation. The same goes for our villains, we like when they are very ruthless and active in achieving their goals.However, proactivity isn’t the only thing that makes a character interesting. I’ve tried to break it down into different categories. There are literally dozens of categories, but let’s stick to six categories of what makes a character interesting in terms of personal qualities. As I said there are more and these six can be broken down further.
So, here goes.
The first one I’d thought I’d mention is basically how likeable a character is. How “nice” the person is. You score high in this category if you walk up to a puppy and bend down to pet it and scratch its ears. If you on the other hand walk up to a puppy and kick it down into a ditch you get a very low score on the likeability/niceness factor.
The second one is Competence also referred to as the Superhuman category. This is the category of how powerful someone is. That could be in raw strength, special abilities or even big sums of money and tech which makes you more effective in your endeavours.
The third one is often in opposition to the Superhuman category and that is the Everyman category, which describes how much the average person directly can relate to the character. Sometimes you can have high value in both these categories, examples would be Superman where he also is Clark Kent for a good portion of the movies or Luke Skywalker where we’ve seen him going from a very relatable young boy who has very little power to a powerful individual who scores high on the Competence category.
Now we come to the Proactivity category. We like to see people try to get out of a sticky situation even if they fail (example Han Solo in more or less every SW movie). Or if it’s a villain, we like to see Darth Vader or Boba Fett be extra ruthless and efficient in their efforts to capture our heroes. Harrison Ford has made a career of a playing characters that are somewhat competent with a high level of relatability and proactivity.
Psychological complexity is the fifth category I’ve selected. Batman and his Rogue’s gallery all score high on psychological complexity. Batman also score high on Superhuman & Competence because of his analytical capability, his wealth and his advanced technology.
Finally, there’s Loyalty and Friendship. The one that shoots up to the top in this category is Samwise Gamgee. He’s a Superhuman when it comes to being a loyal, good, friend who does everything because of his love and friendship to his master. This category also covers the Loyalty of evil henchmen to their masters but to a lesser degree. This category could certainly be broken down further, but I’ve given Darth Vader a point or two in it for his Loyalty to the Emperor.
You can use these scores to analyze why you like a certain character or maybe what you need to do to make a character more interesting and fascinating for the consumer of the book or movie.
So Rob, what do you think of this and is there something you think I’ve missed?
I’ve attached a file with the scores for the characters I’ve mentioned. I made it in 15 minutes so there may be some mistakes along the way.
Can you think of any other characters from pop culture and what scores would you give them? Maybe do one of the Star Trek Captains or something like that.
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Hollywood’s tendency to do the same superhero origin stories over and over again takes the fun out of comic book movies
Hello RMB,I hear that that another Batman animated show is in the works. As with the new film soon to be upon us I’m a bit sigh about it. Like many comic book fans I love Batman but I’m just kind of over him. I heat the show runners say, in arrogant voice, we want to take a deep dive into what makes Batman, Batman.
I will say that if the film goes into the detective route that will be cool. But how about this, take a deep dive into a character like hawk man, who has had a notorious history in the comics with consistency of origin. Can you imagine all the cool Egyptian mythology they could go into. Or how about an ultimate sci fi story with Adam Strange. I know the Black Knight is showing up in the Eternals but a cool fantasy story like G of T that involves him and the other method of the time. Just a thought. I like obscure characters and their backgrounds.
It seems like Hollywood just keeps going down the same road instead of taking a bit of a chance. I get a lot of money is at stake but if you keep things fresh you’ll be surprised how much people would dig it. Those films or shows don’t have to be so comical either. One last one I thought about is a war drama featuring the Howling Commandoes in the same form as Saving Private Ryan or Tour of Duty.
I think the post geek singularity community would appreciate different. But are there enough of us out there? Let’s hope.
Long live individual thought and beautiful creativity by all.
Thanks again RMB and you sir have
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How the Fast & the Furious is becoming Furiously Frustrating
Spillover fan from John Campea’s show sending in my first time letter, so be prepared for possible rambling.
Reading your thoughts after seeing F9 was certainly disheartening, though I still intend to see it as a ride or die Fast & Furious fan. A Fast & Furious 10 is more or less inevitable, but I hope, in addition to bringing back both Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, that a new film addresses, for starters, the collateral damage done by the characters throughout the recent batch of films.
I want to take this opportunity to address my feelings on Hobbs & Shaw. It was a film that I found fun at first, but it has not held up for me on repeat viewings. There are elements that grow tiresome after a while, particularly the non-stop self-indulgent dick measuring between its eponymous characters.Like the recent Fast & Furious films, the film features a great deal of over-the-top action, which was certainly a far cry from David Leitch’s much more humble beginnings directing Atomic Blonde and co-directing the first John Wick. Yet something I found particularly jarring was the difference in response to previous Fast & Furious films and this Fast & Furious spinoff. The over-the-top elements of Hobbs & Shaw seemed to be getting more of a pass from critics who claimed to grow tired of such elements from recent films in the franchise. And from most of what I’ve read, the reason for that is a shift in tone.
Despite moments of levity from certain supporting characters, the core Fast saga has been considered to take itself too seriously, while it was clear that Hobbs & Shaw was aiming for a goofy fun tone.
It was jarring that elements and logical fallacies that would have gotten chewed out if it were a core Fast movie got a pass in Hobbs & Shaw simply because of its tone. “It’s ridiculous that the technology has reached a point that they can create cyber-genetically engineered super soldiers, but it doesn’t matter here because this movie was fun.”
“Dwayne Johnson has become such a superhuman in this franchise that he can fall from such massive heights without splattering his body or snapping bones out through his skin, or he can hold onto a truck and a chained helicopter without letting go of either or having his limbs ripped off, but it doesn’t matter here because this movie was fun.”
“The amount of distance traveled in this movie can’t be achieved within the timetable established through its ticking clock plotline, but it doesn’t matter here because this movie was fun.” These kind of sentiments were jarring because there was this growing feeling that it wasn’t being treated as part of the Fast & Furious franchise, despite the fact that the official title is “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” and that you’d have to be living under a rock to not know that Hobbs & Shaw are Fast & Furious characters.
That, in turn, created a feeling that people wanted to take sides in the Vin Diesel/Dwayne Johnson feud, which was disheartening to me because I personally didn’t want there to be a feud in the first place. I can understand the desire to expand the Fast universe and provide the audience with an entry in the franchise that embraced a goofy fun tone, but my biggest problem with Hobbs & Shaw, particularly upon repeat viewings, is that every decision felt like it was in service of a goofy fun tone and not character and universe expansion.
I had discussed this with another Fast & Furious fan who preferred most of the core saga entries, save for Tokyo Drift (sorry), over Hobbs & Shaw and he made what I think is the best point: Hobbs & Shaw was more a Dwayne Johnson movie than a Fast & Furious movie despite having a Fast & Furious label on it. And I personally have developed a growing disinterest in Dwayne Johnson movies going back to his supposed attempt at a 21 Jump Street franchise with the Baywatch flop.
The biggest problem with the Baywatch movie wasn’t that it was a Baywatch movie, it was a Dwayne Johnson movie. Dwayne Johnson has stated numerous times on social media that he wants to make goofy fun movies that play to worldwide four-quadrant audiences. The problem, of course, with the Baywatch movie is that it was an R-rated comedy, which doesn’t fit into the Dwayne Johnson brand of movies, thus trying to force one to fit into that brand proved fatal.
In a general sense, though, it’s always about prioritizing fitting his movies to a certain tone, which as I’ve said Hobbs & Shaw tries to do. And frankly, there’s a growing feeling of self-indulgence towards this mindset of making movies.
Between Dwayne Johnson playing Hobbs like the prototypical alpha male to smaller elements like the annoyingly unfunny Kevin Hart cameo that was put in for no reason other than his real life connection to Dwayne Johnson, it’s too self-satisfied in a way that disconnects me from the movie, not dissimilar to how the action sequences of the core Fast saga are so over-the-top now they are causing a growing disconnect among fans like yourself.
I admit that I haven’t seen F9 yet, so I could very well share your sentiments upon seeing it, but in my personal opinion, I’m not looking forward to Hobbs & Shaw as the future of the franchise, either. And I know film is subjective, but I’m not a fan of Hobbs & Shaw getting a pass for its antics due to its tone over the antics of the core Fast saga, when there’s no real consideration as to how Hobbs & Shaw fits into the universe it is so clearly a part of.
When you voiced your disappointment in F9 and the progression of the Fast franchise, you didn’t make mention of Hobbs & Shaw.
So I’m curious as to your feelings post-F9 on Hobbs & Shaw as the future of the Fast franchise once the core saga reaches the finish line.
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What’s the proper role for history in historical dramas?
Hi Rob, moderators, and Post Geek Singularity,Since you always talk about verisimilitude, that has me interested in wondering how much of a part that plays when it comes to historical accuracy. Even if the movie is good, we will always hear people say it’s historically inaccurate.
I thought about this when I was reading an interview with Charles Edward Pogue, the co-writer of David Cronenberg’s The Fly. He mentioned how he once wrote a script for a Viking movie, which never got made, called The Last Viking, and he mentioned when writing it, he made sure it was historically accurate as he diligently researched the subject matter.
My feeling is mixed on this. One one hand, I understand how historical accuracy matters since it might give people the wrong impression on how something really happened. On the other, sometimes for creating the best story, creators have to alter what really happened.
That’s what I always think about when I see Braveheart and Disney’s Pocahontas. I’m not completely familiar with the actual history of the events in those movies, but I only know a little bit. In the case of Pocahontas, I know John Smith and Pocahontas did not have romantic feelings for each other, and there was a big age gap between them. In Braveheart, I know the timeline is off since Isabella Of France is much older, in the movie, than she would be when the real events were happening, and Robert The Bruce was portrayed a bit differently in the movie than in real life.
I don’t know about you, but that’s just me.
Thanks, live long and prosper.
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UFO’s hiding under water? That’s so STAR TREK ’09!Hey!
You often criticize JJ Abrams for depicting spaceships flying in the stratosphere or floating on water. But now that your government confirmed UFOs are ‘real’ and there’s evidence of one object disappearing into the ocean, does that mean his movies have more verisimilitude?
Take care, man.
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What will become of Berserk now that Kentaro Miura has passed away?
Dear Rob,I am wrecked.
After over 30 years of writing the epic dark fantasy manga, Berserk, the creator, Kentaro Miura, has passed away at age 54 leaving the story unfinished.
From inspiring games like Dark Souls to giving us some of the most amazing statues out there with those awesome PRIME 1 statues heavily featured on Gem Mint’s channel, Berserk has been a giant. Are you a fan of the series or have you experienced losing the creator of something you love before it is finished?
Rest in peace, I am devastated.
V1deo Hunter D
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