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To Test a Character

April 6, 2018

 

This series is a hodgepodge of ideas. 

 

A love letter to noir, to New York, to monsters, and to Asian culture....

 

Our intended goal was to invent a whole world where things operated with familiarity that was inviting but enough difference for it to be exciting, new, and compelling. We attempted this with a combination of creating our own monsters and characters and taking some from already existing works of art. Herbert West, Fu Manchu, and characters from Asian mythology are the obvious examples. 

 

"A horror version of Ready Player One," someone said recently. And that's a totally accurate description in ways that extend beyond cameos. 

 

The thing about Ready Player One that is awesome is the nostalgia. The thing that is exciting, is that the characters are re-envisioned with new context. In a slight but irrelevant spoiler moment, while describing the digital world of the Oasis, one of the selling points in Spielberg's film that the main character spits off is that you can learn to climb Mount Everest with Batman. Who wouldn't want to do that? It sounds awesome!

 

But as awesome as it sounds, it's a not part of the Batman canon that defines the character. It's a new element that redefines the way we think about this figure. Batman, the sentinel of brooding and justice, becomes the equivalent of the Wii fit lady. But within that ability to transcend understandings...society and cultures test the merit of a character. 

 

Batman is a prime example. 

 

When Batman first premiered in the early part of the 20th century, he had purple gloves and carried guns. That's the way he was envisioned by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. A few years later he was surfing and imparting words of fatherly wisdom. Soon after, he was in all black and a symbol of romantic gothicism for the 1980's. Then he was redefined yet again as a brutal brawler and realistic figure in a Hot Topic like world. And that's just a few of the countless re-imaginings that Batman has undergone as a character. Yet they've all been successful and worked to an extent. Because the character, at his core...is that strong.

 

Think of Romeo and Juliet. It's been adapted into many stylings and settings, and theoretically could be adapted to ANY styling or setting. Actors have long known that there are thousands of interpretations for the most simple of lines...all of which just examples of different ways to look at the same concept. An emphasis on one syllable much less word can change an entire meaning. 

 

A strong character should be able to stand up to the same scrutiny. 

 

Most people know the word Mogwai from the Joe Dante comedy Gremlins. BUT did you know that they are actually ancient Chinese demons? They're much more akin to their green scaly depiction than the furry one. But that doesn't make them any less accurate of a depiction. The brilliance of creativity is that it can outlive all of us. People create something and sort of give it to the world to do with it as they will. 

 

That's what we're doing. 

 

Taking ideas that have already existed and coloring them with a different shade. Granted, we're mixing them with our own, but this is what everyone does. Whether it be archetypes, tropes, or just concepts...

 

So our Mogwai might not be Gizmo. Our Sun Wukong might not be Goku. But you don't have to forget everything you know about these differing versions of the character. Still enjoy them. But give ours a chance too. The world is big enough for all of us to play in, and the characters are strong enough to be played with. 

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