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02 May 2012 @ 03:18 pm
Why I wish Mufasa and Scar could be friends.  

Evil-looking characters being the protagonist of a show isn't exactly new or unheard of. Said evil-looking characters being "good" isn't unheard of either (The Addams Family, A Nightmare Before Christmas, etc.). It's also not that uncommon for the antagonist of such media to be "good-looking" (Beauty and the Beast, etc) to teach kids Aesops about beauty on the inside and such things.

Now, I like such settings, I really do. However, there's one similar setting I haven't seen too many examples of that I dearly miss. Actually, I can't think of any examples of that setting. What might it be? This:

The "good-looking/acting" and the "evil-looking/acting" characters being on the same side and both being the protagonists, together, without it being a big deal.

For that sentence to make sense, I think I should first explain the "good-looking/acting" vs the "evil-looking/acting" categories I just made up. I'll illustrate this with The Lion King, because of reasons.

First, we have Mufasa. He's the good-looking/acting one, not based on how "attractive" he looks (he's a lion, I don't really swing that way), but because he's so obviously the good guy. The way they designed him shouts "I AM A REGAL AND JUST KING WHO IS ALSO A KIND AND LOVING FATHER! LOOK AT MY LUSHIOS MANE!" and he has a personality to match that; he's brave, he's fair and plays with his son whenever he has the time.

Then there is Scar, who equally obviously is the evil brother. He's got the design and the attitude of a typical villain, right down to his name. Him murdering his brother was a surprise to no one – well, except for Mufasa and Simba, but that's genre blindness for you. And it's not just that Scar looks like a typical villain, he acts like one too. He's sarcastic and sneaky, calculating and prideful.

Then Mufasa makes the mistake of trusting his own brother. Yeah, said brother is so "obviously" evil it's almost ridiculous and it's not exactly news to anyone that family can kill each other in horrible ways, but that's a somewhat depressing message to send.

What do I mean by that? I'll go on with more examples, because I love writing long rants. In Thor (a fun superhero movie with a surprisingly complex villain, for those who haven't seen it), there's Thor and Loki, a pair of brothers with some quite clear parallels to Mufasa and Scar:

  1. They're clearly made out to look quite different, with Thor as the bigger, lighter character and Loki as the thinner, darker one.

  2. Their personalities are very opposite; Thor is loud and straightforward, Loki is cunning and full of tricks.

  3. Thor is to be king, Loki is second in line for the throne after him and doesn't think Thor should rule.

While Loki isn't as clearly the bad guy from the get go – I love his descent into madness, good to see more meat on the villain story's bones – it still ends the same way: the evil-looking/acting brother betrays the good-looking/acting one.

Disney and friends have gotten better at the whole "villain always look like this, heroes look like this" thing, but most of the mix-ups I've seen have simply switched the roles. Beauty and the Beast being one example of that; we've got Gaston vs the Beast, basically. One looks like a fairytale prince, sort of, but doesn't act it, and the other looks like a monster that should be guarding some dungeon somewhere, but who, in the end, is the good-acting one. Here goes also all high school movies where the popular/good-looking kids are evil and the misunderstood "freaks" are good.

No matter which version you go with, you always end up with two teams, good vs evil, where good looks like this and evil like this. Sometimes good-looking characters will fight other good-looking characters, and sometimes evil-looking characters will fight evil-looking characters, but I haven't seen much of "team evil/good-looking/acting fights other team evil/good-looking/acting". I'm not saying it never happens, I just can't think of any examples.

The thing is, half of my real life family is Scar/Loki. They're sarcastic, they're prideful, they're cunning and they can look quite evil. Hell, I'm Scar! The other half of my family, on the other hand, is more of the good-looking/acting type; my sister is an excellent example of that. There's of course also some mixture of the two, a lá Beauty and the Beast.

But you know what? We're so damn loyal to each other and we really love one another, it's almost ridiculous. I know that, no matter what happens, my family will always stand by me, no matter what, even if they don't act like Mufasa 100% of the time. And this goes for the good-acting and the sarcastic-acting ones, all.

So while diversity is great and I love The Lion King and Thor, the color coding of "our heroes look and act like this, our villains like this" is quite boring. I'd love to see a movie where both the "evil-looking/acting" and the "good-looking/acting" 'sides' working side-by-side seamlessly, without it having to be a big thing.

By "big thing" I mean that I'm not talking about the "two very different siblings must learn to get along, despite everything"-kinda flicks. There's a ton of those. No, what I'd love to see are movies where such siblings/friends/coworkers/etc just get along since always and their differences help the other, or where one simply is a supporting character to the other and there's nothing strange about them being friends. Also, movies where their loyalty to one another has nothing to do with romantic love or lust – because there's a lot of those around too.

So yeah, those are my 2 dollars (because my rants are never short, no matter how hard I try to cut them down). I might have missed a million movies/comics/etc where the relationship I've described above is represented. If so, I'm glad to be informed of those, so comment with all your tips! I'll just be grateful :)

(End note: I confess that I've watched The Lion King ones or twice, playing only the part where Scar comes running for Mufasa and tells him Simba is trapped in the pass with a gazillion wildebeests and I've pretended Scar was actually worried and wanted to save Simba. The expressions on Scar's and Mufasa's faces when they're looking out over the stampeding herd, desperate to catch a glimpse of Simba is just...no words.)

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Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
Listening to: Intro to Game of Thrones
 
 
 
Sarahnaoki_hime on May 17th, 2012 02:25 am (UTC)
I think they're planning to play with that a little in Thor 2 - I remember reading that Loki's not the villain in it, finally, but obviously he's going to be in it. I'm hoping (and I know Hiddles has mentioned wanting to see Loki make it through the dark back into the light) that we'll get to see Loki be less of a black and white villain and more of a greyscale not-team member as things progress. From being outright against Thor and co to occasionally helping them out.
Nonesane: Black Lantern Spoony!nonesane on May 17th, 2012 10:51 am (UTC)
We can always hope. The thing is, in this "trope dynamic" (or whatever I should call it) the "evil" relative (or friend) always has that moment of utter insanity. Even if Loki turns "good" now, he's still killed a lot of innocent people.

But I still hope they'll work on getting him some redemption! I guess I'll just have to write the whole evil-and-good-looking/acting-people thing myself.

Speaking of writing, are you joining CampNano this June? I am, but so far I've only got one other author in my cabin.
Sarahnaoki_hime on May 17th, 2012 11:03 am (UTC)
I'm actually working on a meta over on Tumblr about what makes Loki tick - something aside from the Villains are Bad! simplicity, with a lot more to do with personal identity. I'm hoping it turns out well; it'll probably be posted either tomorrow night or the next one.

I hope so too. I have a lot of Loki feels (see above).

What's Camp Nano? I know vaguely of something Nano related in the summer, but that's literally all I know.
Nonesane: Black Lantern Spoony!nonesane on May 17th, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
Loki feels are awesome feels! Looking forward to your meta :)

Camp Nano is basically like regular Nano, except it's in June (or August, you can pick either or both). You write 50 000 words in a month and you can be put in "cabins" with up to five other writers, who cheer each other on. It's like a virtual summer camp, basically.

More info here; you log in with the same log in as you have on the regular Nano site.