A well written protagonist will generally have some flaws, starting out as an underdog of some kind, with lessons to learn and improvements to make over the course of the story.
Granted, some heroes are, well, just heroes, who are pretty much who they need to be from the beginning. Last time I mentioned Indiana Jones and James Bond. Superman is the ultimate paragon of hope, inspiration and humanity.
…er…or he was at one time, at least.
I have to admit, though, that I have a great interest in damaged protagonists. And not the regular types who are just naive, or lazy or misguided. But heroes with big problems.
Obviously I'm not alone; in the past few years damaged heroes have appeared more and more in media, and with great success. Walter White had serious, serious issues. In the comedic world, the sociopaths of Arrested Development and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia have cranked the Seinfeld-type selfishness up to eleven!
In the world of comics, of course, these sorts of characters are legion. Batman is a big one, especially starting with the classic “Dark Knight Returns” graphic novel, and the “Watchmen” series by Alan Moore, which examined the twisted psyches of costumed heroes.
It's not for everyone, but a Woody Allen movie called “Deconstructing Harry” might have been the first instance where I felt emotionally invested in a pretty scuzzy protagonist.
Harry Block is a writer who is hated by just about everyone he knows, after writing stories based on many of them. The movie contains a little road trip story, but takes many side trips into Harry's mind and dramatizes his short stories.
He's ends up quite despised by most and quite alone, but (spoiler alert!) finds a really unique kind of redemption in the end. It surprised me by how moving it was. I found myself a bit surprised to care so much about this misanthropic dude.
What do you think? Are the criminals, scumbags and sociopaths more interesting? More realistic? Or is this a trend you don't care for? Do characters need to be mostly good, or just have a little slice of relatability for you to care about them?
have a good one!
Banes at 12:00AM, March 31, 2016
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