Monday, July 23, 2012

Darth Vader is Your Daddy

Hello Reader!  As many of you have also done, I watched The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) this past Friday.  No, it isn't better than The Dark Knight (TDK).  And that has nothing to do with the merits of the stories themselves.  It has everything to do with the fact that Bane wasn't as good as the Joker.

Get it?  He's a dog that's chasing cars, so he sticks his head out of the window.

Now it's impossible to resurrect Heath Ledger's performance, and not because his acting prowess is untouchable.  It's just too hard to change everyone's minds about the caliber of his acting.  We've developed this sort of mythic idea about his performance, and Tom Hardy as Bane is just not capable of tearing down four years worth of mythmaking.  That being said, Bane is well-acted and Tom Hardy can emote with his eyes better than a lot of actors can with their whole face.

But Bane is still a one-note villain.  It's a really, really good note.  But he doesn't develop at all.  He starts off as this legend, and ends up as...well, that would be spoiling it.  Suffice to say, that his motivations never change throughout the movie.  All that changes are his origins.  Which isn't really developing a character, so much as fleshing him out.  And no, that doesn't count as a character arc.

The Joker had a character arc.  He began as a mad-man who was filling the mob's power vacuum, and transformed into a very literal agent of chaos.  Goals at the beginning of the film like robbing the mob, getting rid of Batman, morphed into a singular vendetta against everything that Batman personified.  He began with a yearning to kill the Bat, and instead ended up with a yearning to spiritually break him.  That's a wonderful antagonist, and a powerful character arc.  It speaks to the themes of the movie as a whole, and to a wider message.

Basically, the lesson from TDK is that your movie, your story is only as good as your villain.  That's why people remember Star Wars for Darth Vader and not just Luke Skywalker.  People remember the Godfather, because the hero became the villain.  When the villains themselves have an arc, when they change and grow, that's what really draws people in.  Gollum from LOTR is a riveting character because he changes and grows and learns.  His personality doesn't so much progress as regress, but that's still an arc.

What were all those buttons for anyways?

I'm not saying that one-note villains automatically make a movie bad.  The Lion King had Scar, and is considered a modern classic.  A lot of Disney movies are classics and they have one-note villains.  The Dark Knight Rises is an incredible film, a true achievement, and Bane is very one-note.  But for a film to be transcendant - of its genre, of Hollywood rules, of pop culture - then you have to have a villain who grows.  I truly believe that Star Wars, the Godfather, The Dark Knight, LOTR occupy their respective roles in our collective culture only because their villains grew and changed.

What does this have to do with my novel?  I think it's kind of obvious.  I want to create a villain that grows and changes.  If I talked about it, that would be spoiling the whole effect though, wouldn't it?  So how about a tease?  Check out this short segment and let me know what you think.  Yes, the character Tory Cross is the villain of the novel.  And yes, both of the characters here are Howlas, those bi-pedal wolves I talked about in my last post.
“I know someone from Howard’s family came here last night,” Tory sat down on a barstool, his huge frame crushing its cushion.
            “Who?” Jack asked innocently, as he turned on a spigot from the wall nearest him.  Steaming hot coffee poured out as Jack held a pot underneath.  He walked back to Tory, took one of the largest mugs and poured coffee for him. 
            “Crim.  Howard Crim, Jack.  My mentor?  My rabbi?  The one who brought me up from the streets, and is now deciding to stab me in the back.”  Tory reached to his hip and unclipped his gun. 
            Jack backed away immediately, his hands up in the air.  “Tory!  What are you doing?  Put your gun away, I won’t tolerate this in my shop!”
            Tory’s eyes flashed upwards, writhing flames of anger licking at his temples.  “Today is not the day to lie to me, Jack.”  He lazily brought out his gun from its holster.  “I’m a little groggy.  I might not kill you quickly.”
Now I want to watch the movie again.

It's not much, but then again why would you want to read an entire chapter here on a blog?  Hit up the comments section with any critiques.  Until next time then.

No comments:

Post a Comment