SunlightEdge a month ago

"The best heroic journey is not the story of an incredible person doing incredible things. It is the story of a flawed, ordinary person who—when called upon—rises to an incredible challenge and finds within themselves something truly extraordinary."

This is the main reason I don't like superhero films. There is no sense of danger or vulnerability. It's just people in fancy jumpsuits doing acrobats around explosions till they win the day. I prefer main characters dying / at severe risk of dying. Give me tragedy. Show me vulnerable people who grow and become stronger.

  • setr a month ago

    I don’t think we need tragedy, or really most personal drama arcs. They’re usually so basic as to just be filler. I want more Jackie Chan — always on the back foot, always struggling against unfair odds (and usually a bit confused), usually the reluctant/accidental hero — and somehow succeeding anyways, usually through a combination of grit, talent and ingenuity.

    And that struggle and growth is often best encapsulated in the fight sequences themselves.

    Honestly I’m beginning to despise character drama. Superhero movies have tons of drama — the whole storyline typically lives solely to create character growth and personal shifts, and otherwise is largely irrelevant (if the characters don’t learn some lesson, they’ll never succeed). I want it to favor the other way; the story/fights exist, and the characters happen to grow through that experience.

    • WastingMyTime89 a month ago

      > I want more Jackie Chan

      I too want more Jackie Chan: long take highlighting the actions, extremely skilled performer, large budgets spent on retakes until the shot is perfect. But that’s Hong Kong Jackie Chan. Apart from a brief stint in the 70s, Hollywood has never been keen on making interesting movies. They are first and foremost a money making machine. With Disney having consolidated so much of the production market, I fully expect formulaic movies to be released ad nauseam and to be honest as much as it pains me that’s what the general public wants.

      Thankfully things get better as soon as you leave the American market.

    • gigaflop a month ago

      My favorite sources of drama and tension come form horror and thriller movies. Something that gets me to pay attention, and get that feeling of *what happens next?

      When I was watching the final episode of Stranger Things, there was a minutes-long sequence flashing between almost all of the characters, showing their struggles. I didn't feel engaged, because I didn't feel like the characters were actually at risk.

    • jeltz a month ago

      As someone who loves character drama I have to agree with you about the drama in super hero movies. My issue is that I feel like there are no stakes or consequences. The drama is just manufactured filler on an inevitable road. The characters do not actually grow, they will be reset to the same state once they have cleared the obstacle the growth was necessary for.

  • magic_hamster a month ago

    This resonates strongly! The predictability and cookie cutter stories of today's superhero movies made them into an unengaging, boring waste of time.

    I assume they work for younger viewers but I really can't understand how any adult who respects their own time can enjoy these. There is never anything on stake, there's no danger, there's never a chance for the bad guys to ever win. You know even if some superheroes die, they will either come back or another way to win the day will emerge. So what's the point?

    Martin Scorsese expressed a very similar thought(1) for which he had to answer later on. He then explained exactly this: nothing is at risk.

    I think that's why shows like The Boys do so well, because besides the bloody visuals they offer the chance that some characters might just not make it, anyone can meet their end at any point.

    You can't kill US superheroes because then how will you continue monetizing them? In that regard you can really appreciate the approach they have in the UK where they just end a franchise when they feel they told its story even if it became very popular.

    I am just sitting here for an entire decade waiting for great, engaging movies to make a comeback.


    • gilleain a month ago

      Most hilariously (to me) is the vast difference in 'powers' between superheroes. There are the 'Gods' - some literal, like Thor, or godlike otherwise - and the 'normals'. Gods can fly, shoot lasers from their eyes, or call down lightning. Normals can, well, shoot bows or kick really well.

      So in the ensemble movies (like Avengers) you get teams where some of the members are in no danger at all - the Gods - while the others are very much in danger! Except of course, the viewer knows that none of the good guys are really at risk of serious injury.

      I'm sure directors try to avoid or work around this, but fundamentally if the big bad guy can knock out the strongest god (eg Thanos vs Hulk) then if they so much as strike one of the normals, they should really be dead.

      Finally, it's very funny to me that Scorsese got criticised for expressing an opinion on movies. I mean, I've watched a lot of these crappy superheor movies, and they are enjoyable enough at times, but it's not great cinema ...

      • magic_hamster a month ago

        Scorsese eh? What does he know about cinema, right? Okay, enough sarcasm. I think a lot of people share his opinion but they won't publicly criticize the enormous money printing studios that eventually give them jobs. Disney is a beast of many tentacles and if you speak out against one aspect you might find yourself turned down in other departments which might actually matter to you.

        I think though that it's a huge compromise and sometimes as far as giving up your artistic integrity when you make a superhero blockbuster. You're making entertainment for kids, you're being pinned by focus groups, ad men and franchising demands, not to mention the strict age requirements, and as of late, olbigatory cultural stances. How can you even make a movie like that?

        Don't even get me started on the ensemble movies. Those are atrocious. Good luck jamming 40 lead heroes in your movie and having anything substantial happen to their characters. Not that having them together makes any sense. Even if you own both Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, thay don't mix! They have a completely different vibe!

        It would be a fun experiment to create a Marvel Movie Script Generator and see if you can get something resembling (or even better?) than their usual shtick.

        Of course, money is to blame. When your movie is a corporate product designed to earn for shareholders, you get pictures like MCU and the Transformers movies. These movies are doing their job. Too bad for us for being interested in an engaging, original experience. Thank goodness off beat studios exist that produce some actually interesting movies.

      • vintermann a month ago

        Apropos role-playing games: superhero universes are a great example of how you don't want to end up in your storytelling. Mashing everything together (I believe the term is "jamming") just so everyone can have what they want, with no regard to consistency. Here's a Norse god with a mallet, here's a guy who got bitten by a radioactive spider.

        Official RPG campaign did it a lot, because of course they wanted to sell the X supplements to the Y players too.

        • gilleain a month ago

          Yes, indeed. I understand that some editions of D&D are considered class-unbalanced because high level mages are so powerful.

          When one member of the party can stop time, call down meteors or kill with a word then just being able to swing a sword really well seems less impressive.

    • oneoff786 a month ago

      I haven’t seen the boys. I tend not to enjoy the edgy deconstruction genres. I think they’re over shoot their pessimism. But I would ask, do characters really have a sense of danger associated with them? Game of Thrones was a series that supposedly did this, but I think that was very much a lie. Ned’s death and the red wedding were unexpected events. But they were largely setup for the story. After that many characters wore their shiniest plot armor. There was 0 chance Arya was going to die having left to some random murder cult and never actually impacting the story. Similarly for bran, and Jon, and most characters. Even most of the lesser characters had a fair chunk of plot armor. It’s largely unavoidable as plot threads spread out. I’d guess it’s fairly similar for the boys.

      • magic_hamster a month ago

        The Boys shows a realistic version of superhero reality where powers actually create huge problems in the physical sense. It is combined with very juicy gore to increase the effect. A lot of it happens ny mistake.

        That alone is an interesting take, but it gets better when dealing with the actual heroes. It's a great parody of Marvel and plenty of cultural queues. They explore a reality where the superheroes are marketable products and everything they do is for the optics. In reality, they are horrible, horrible people with a God complex that often do horrifying things.

        It's the best superhero story I enjoyed in a long, long time.

        • oneoff786 a month ago

          Eh. I don’t buy it. So many people think it’s smarter to be cynical. I don’t. Anime does this all the time ever since evangelion. So many mangakas crawling over each other to show how much more depraved humanity really is than the last.

          I haven’t seen the boys so I can’t comment on it specifically but I would ask, is it really “realistic” or is it just cynical?

          • erybodyknows a month ago

            It explores both. Some characters are cynical. Others, like (one of) the main characters Huey, is a hopeless romantic who believes in the basic goodness of people and doing the right thing. He also listens to a lot of Billy Joel.

            • erybodyknows a month ago

              If fact, I would argue that the juxtaposition of the main characters being essentially polar opposite’s is what gives the show most of its effective (dark) comedic moments.

          • lelanthran a month ago

            > I haven’t seen the boys so I can’t comment on it specifically but I would ask, is it really “realistic” or is it just cynical?

            It's a different take. In a world where some people have absolute power, would they get absolutely corrupted?

            The answer (from The Boys) is not so clear cut.

            • oneoff786 a month ago

              See that’s where I have a problem.

              Spider-Man isn’t a series that says what would happen if a dude got spider powers and fought crime. It’s a story about a specific person, built around specific themes. Stories aren’t simulations.

              Some people think that if a deconstruction work has characters die, because normally some people would die if they fight all the time, that it must be a realistic portrayal of what would happen. That’s false! It’s still a story and glossing over the boys it certainly doesn’t seem very different. It’s not a story about what would happen if superheroes were real and had too much power. It’s a story about some specific assholes mostly who have superpowers.

              The real answer is that if people gained super powers, they would not start being superheroes to begin with.

              • magic_hamster a month ago

                We can discuss that, but first let me recommend the movie Chronicle (2012) which really is as realistic as I imagine it would get.

                Conerecing The Boys, it's not about humanity as much as it's about American stuff. It's being very very specific with its criticism. Homelander is not just a psychopath, he's a product, literally, of American culture (represented by conglomerate Vaught).

                Also, while The Boys has criticism and some characters might not survive, it's also very tongue in cheek and tries to entertain rather than lecture. Personally I have fun watching it. If nothing else, it manages to surprise me, which is not something I could say about superhero movies in the last ten years.

              • lelanthran a month ago

                > It’s not a story about what would happen if superheroes were real and had too much power. It’s a story about some specific assholes mostly who have superpowers.

                No, the absolute power/absolute corruption in The Boys is not in the superheros.

          • imchillyb a month ago

            The Boys is the closest a studio can come to producing realistic reactions, effects, and backstory for superheroes.

            The cynicism is portrayed, and expounded upon, by several of the show's characters.

            It's not cynicism for cynicism's sake, or just to be edgy. The dystopian feel that the series imparts isn't corny or overdone. I imagine this is how a world with superheroes would act/react.

          • spookybones a month ago

            What other anime do you have in mind? You're ignoring a lot of series to get that impression. Most anime are based on manga out of Shonen Jump, which follow Jump's guidelines of friendship, adventure, and overcoming obstacles through teamwork.

      • coryrc a month ago

        > After that many characters wore their shiniest plot armor.

        Season 4 was when things started going downhill with the "writing" team, and that plot armor is one of the major reasons. But it most definitely wasn't a lie before that or in the books.

        Some of the zombie shows have killed off nearly all of their starting cast (some... haven't).

    • saalweachter a month ago

      I mean, we'll see. In comic books, no one has managed to stay dead for long. In the MCU, they're still playing around with it.

      Iron Man? Dead. Black Widow? Dead, returned for a prequel. Captain America? Dead, Captain Britain showed up for a cameo. Vision? Dead, returned in a magic dream for a span, still probably dead? Hawkeye? Retired, body battered beyond further use. Scarlet witch? Probably dead.

      Only Loki is really playing into to the trope of "Dead, but not really, over and over again."

      • crooked-v a month ago

        The big difference from the comics, of course, is that actors actually get older.

        • saalweachter a month ago

          There's still the possibility of a reboot of the MCU (I've made peace with the idea of "the story of Spiderman" being retold periodically the way we keep remaking Romeo and Juliet, but rebooting the entire MCU seems different) or "I'm Tony B Stark from another reality, I'm technically not a reboot and look slightly different but I'm basically the same character."

          There's also the question of where imitators fall; is Kate Bishop just a reboot of Hawkeye?

    • librish a month ago

      If you judge any movie where the protagonist will most likely win to be bad you will probably dislike most movies.

      • magic_hamster a month ago

        If you abstract any long comment into a vaguely related single sentence, you can make anyone sound silly. Lucky for me you're trying to associate something completely different to my comment which is clearly not what I meant to say.

        • librish a month ago

          But what did you say beyond other than what I commented on? The main thrust of your comment is that super hero movies are boring because you know they won't die and will probably win. Does that make detective book bad because the protagonist usually solves the case? Does it make rom-coms bad because the main couple usually end up together?

    • BugsJustFindMe a month ago

      > The predictability and cookie cutter stories of today's superhero movies made them into an unengaging, boring waste of time. I assume they work for younger viewers but I really can't understand how any adult who respects their own time can enjoy these.

      Humans have enjoyed staring into dancing firelight for millenia. No plot even, and you know exactly what will happen to the flames in the end. What if not being able to just hang out and marvel pleasantly at visual spectacle is bad and the films are actually fine?

    • CleverLikeAnOx a month ago

      Superhero movies are certainly not high cinema, but I challenge the "no risk" assertion. In the first 22 MCU films, the heroes take major losses in 5 films (e.g., a city is destroyed with impact affecting the rest of the series). The heroes suffer more personal losses in many other movies beyond those 5 (e.g., losing a loved one).

      So you usually know what you will get, but the villain winning or partially winning is a credible threat.

      • magic_hamster a month ago

        I haven't watched all the movies (or even the majority?) but cities getting trashed while fighting has definitely become a meme. It never feels like there are any ramifications, you never see people actually get hurt even when huge skyscrapers collapse in the middle of the street. If there was an impact for the rest of the series, I haven't noticed, but the destruction scenes just feel like none of it has any weight or meaning besides the cool CGI. Passing mentions about an attack on NYC is not showing the actual consequences of these events.

        The "major losses" always felt like they are manifactured in a shallow and meaningless way. You know your heroes aren't going to lose, or die, or get too badly injured. They will always bounce back and the damage will be reversed.

        And this is all fine given you accept that superhero movies are primarily entertainment for kids. Which by the way explains why we get the same reboots and origin stories every 10-15 years for a fresh batch of kids.

        Of course it's a matter of taste but I just don't see any substance in these movies. Honestly even when I was a kid myself I never really saw the appeal in something like "Batman vs Superman" or "Godzilla vs King Kong". It always seemed pointless to me. As an adult I am just puzzled trying to understand how these movies can hold anyone's attention. But to each their own I guess.

        I have no choice but to wholly agree with Scorsese. Unengaging, predictable, day care in a theater.

        • corrral a month ago

          One frustrating thing about Marvel properties is they frequently almost have a point or address their own messes or even something important in the real world—but then pull back before actually saying anything. A couple of the Spider Man movies have done this, Falcon and Winter Soldier had a bad case of this, a few of the other films (Black Panther comes to mind—a riskier version of that film with a somewhat shifted perspective and a bit more bite could have been amazing). Most just don't even try to take a stance on anything whatsoever, but sometimes they start to and it's like "oh man is this going to be actually good instead of just good-for-a-Marvel-movie good?" but... no, never.

        • fractallyte a month ago

          On the other hand, the TV series are spectacularly good. Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage...

    • corrral a month ago

      > I am just sitting here for an entire decade waiting for great, engaging movies to make a comeback.

      Tons exist, lots and lots of movies are made every year.

    • chasd00 a month ago

      My 12 year old calls the invincibility of superheros “plot armor”.

  • BrandoElFollito a month ago

    This is exactly the reason why I like superhero movies. I go to the cinema to relax, switch off the rationale part of my brain and have fun.

    I liked very much the Marvel movies that were fun (Guardians of the Galaxy for instance) and did not rewatch the sad and heavy ones.

    It is of course a matter of personal taste. My wife terrorized me a few times into going with her to movies where I either had to take notes to follow the narrative, wonder about the mental sanity of the script writer and the director, wonder whether the movie froze when people were looking at each other for 5 minutes without saying anything, or simply trying to find a comfortable position to sleep.

    Some of these movies left a trace, though, but maybe not a very good one (usually Almodóvar movies)

    • anonymous_sorry a month ago

      I have enjoyed Marvel movies in the way you describe. I've also been bored by Marvel movies that felt formulaic (partly as I've become more familiar with the formula).

      My gripe is that Marvel's dominance seems to have massively reduced the variety of movies in the cinema. I'm not talking arthouse, I mean blockbusters.

      About half of all big-budget movies seem to be about a guy (usually) with special powers. I know derivative sequels were a thing before Marvel, but it would be nice to have a little more variety.

    • andrepd a month ago

      Definitely different strokes for different folks, but I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone can watch and rewatch 30+ movies which are completely interchangeable. Generic villain wants to do generic bad thing and generic hero saves the day in generic action sequences while making generic quips. Yawn. They are bad even as "low-effort movies" to relax.

      • librish a month ago

        Couldn't you describe a lot of movies as "antagonist does bad thing and protagonist stops them". What makes it generic? Why are they extra interchangeable in the super hero genre?

      • macintux a month ago

        I cannot for the life of me understand why people feel compelled to jump on the Internet to denigrate others’ taste in movies.

        • andrepd a month ago

          I am not denigrating, that's why I explicitly started with "different strokes for different folks".

        • gilleain a month ago

          But they are not? They are expressing their opinion on a type of movie. Why is that 'denigration'?

          • macintux a month ago

            “You can watch what you want, but they’re obviously pablum and my taste is superior to yours.”

            • gilleain a month ago

              Yes, that would be obnoxious ... if that's what they said :)

              To be clear, I don't like it either if others consider their taste to be 'superior', but simply stating what you prefer is not - I think - implying anything.

              I feel like there's a trap people fall into where they tie some of their self-worth to their entertainment choices. If you don't like the music (say) that I do, then that seems like no big deal to me.

              More generally, there is the opposite situation to being a 'superfan' where people delight in putting stuff down. Ultimately if you don't like (say) Marvel movies, then just don't watch them, of course. However it's reasonable to be critical of any entertainment or art form if you can articulate why and how they could be better.

              Just my two cents.

              • BrandoElFollito a month ago

                I think one should try and watch some of the movies they are by default against. I did this with movies that end sadly and despite the overall greatness of the movie, I regret having watched them. But I did and now I know that this i snot for me. Same for horrors, thrillers and whatnot.

                When looking for some new styles, I found it interesting to see some of them on youtube "recap" channels. This opened me to some new styles (to a point at least).

                Same for music. I listen to more or less everything except a few styles which I do not like. Take rap for instance - most of the current rap music is unbearable to me and I can qualify why I feel that way (either from a music perspective, the lyrics or the overall message). This said, I like very much some of them, usually a bit older ones, or from people who has a message to send. It just takes an awful amount of time to track them down.

      • random42_ a month ago

        Aren’t most stories written over the same template? I mean, look at The Hero’s Journey, Save the Cat, etc.

  • oneoff786 a month ago

    Many superhero films, especially marvel films, are not heroic journeys. They’re entirely different concepts entirely. To pick the most recent one, Dr strange and the multiverse of madness, his (imo awkwardly executed) character arc is trying to figure out if he’s happy with his life and what superhero’ing has gained and lost him. The latest Spider-Man certainly had a great deal of personal loss if that’s what you must have.

    Risk of personal death is tough to pull off convincingly. Risk of death to those they’re trying to protect is much better. And happens pretty frequently.

  • buscoquadnary a month ago

    Great book by Orson Scott Card, called "Characters and Viewpoints" its a book all about writing, and he points out that it seems to be a regular cycle where stories are created and become popular that are about normal people doing amazing things, and then the power level gets amped up, and moves to super powers and super threats, and things keep growing until everyone starts to suffer from fatigue at seeing super powered people do super things, and then normal stories about normal people came back into vogue and then things repeat.

  • GuB-42 a month ago

    I think there is a cycle. We are now in the "happy" cycle. Entertaining movies, small problems, jokes, flashy effects just because it is cool, and the good guys win. I don't think it make inferior movies. Making a good joke is hard, and so is making the right jumpsuit, the right acrobatics and the right explosions at the right time.

    Then, there is the "drama" cycle. No more jokes, this is serious business. People die, heroes are not so heroic, expect Pyrrhic victories if they win, actors get Oscars.

    Personally, I like both, though I have my phases too.

  • Poppys a month ago

    I had a discussion about epic stories and a friend said that there are only two good stories:

    * A ordinary person has to cope with an extraordinary situation, or

    * An extraordinary person has to cope with an ordinary situation.

    While we didn't feel it was a great fit for some stories, it definitely applied to a few of the greats.

  • tpoacher a month ago

    The reverse strategy also works, and is particularly common in anime. Namely an insanely overpowered character who otherwise leads an ordinary, mundane life (to them, at least), until the right circumstances arise to accidentally and effortlessly showcase their abilities to others.

    A good example is one punch man. While everybody around him obsesses about the secret to his power, the main character is mostly concerned about not missing the 50% off mushrooms sale at the supermarket.

    There's something about this plot that appeals to people. Perhaps the whole "how i feel inside but keep quiet" introvert personality pitted against "loud incompetents". Dunno. But it works great.

  • lelanthran a month ago

    > This is the main reason I don't like superhero films. There is no sense of danger or vulnerability. It's just people in fancy jumpsuits doing acrobats around explosions till they win the day. I prefer main characters dying / at severe risk of dying. Give me tragedy. Show me vulnerable people who grow and become stronger.

    It's hard to pull off: you kill off the main character in a series, and the show can go on. You kill off the protagonist in a movie and it's the end of the movie, and the entire franchise.

    Watchmen followed the graphic novel very closely, so maybe you might enjoy those super heroes.

  • michaelcampbell a month ago

    This is a ... theory in why some of the earlier MMORPG's (OSRS, Everquest, ...) have nostalgia, yes, but something more than that. Newer versions play the "You're the chosen one, seek your destiny..." game. Guild Wars 2 is exactly this, but the older ones were way more, "You're a character, like every other character in the world. Prove yourself."

  • hutzlibu a month ago

    I thought this was funny to read, because lately there was here a post by someone complaining about, why superheros are not fun and easy anymore. Too much tragedy. Too many doubts and dark moments. Simple black and white setting missing, now all is grey.

    So you maybe could give it a try again, as they try to reach more depth.

    (but those I have seen, were mostly still pathetic)

  • corrral a month ago

    > This is the main reason I don't like superhero films. There is no sense of danger or vulnerability. It's just people in fancy jumpsuits doing acrobats around explosions till they win the day. I prefer main characters dying / at severe risk of dying. Give me tragedy. Show me vulnerable people who grow and become stronger.

    I watched a YouTube video recently (forget which one, or I'd link it) that claimed this is the reason all the Marvel superheroes are so quippy—it's a cheap way to get us to like them when the usual tool of making them relatable through vulnerability isn't available.

    That's also easier (so, cheaper). It's easier to write that kind of thing than to write real characters. Less chance of a dud, quicker writing process, lower risk.

  • jpmoral a month ago

    This is why I'm moving to different systems. Rules-as-written D&D is essentially a power fantasy.

    • dsr_ a month ago

      All RPGs, to a first approximation, are fantasies of agency. That is: your character can make a difference.

      (If your character can't make a difference, it really isn't much fun.)

      The strangest thing I see in today's young roleplayers is how they stick to a single system -- D&D 5e -- obsessively. Different systems are good at different aspects of storytelling, and the occasional attempts at universally-applicable rules (GURPS, I'm looking at you) tend to be mediocre at everything. A really good GM can overcome this, but you shouldn't need to depend on having a really good GM in order to have a successful game.

      On the other hand, every lesson learned from this article is applicable across games and genres and media types.

      • jpmoral a month ago

        For sure! System definitely matters, running tactical combat in PbtA won't work, just like trying to shoehorn relationships and inner turmoil into 5e.

    • ticviking a month ago

      The rules of the game have evolved to push things that direction. If you buy the reprints of 1st edition and play them you’ll find that for the first several levels characters are basically normal people, or a bit stronger fighting against overwhelming odds to seek glory and treasure.

      The power fantasy comes as a reward for those early phases of the game where characters build their careers up in those editions.

      • jpmoral a month ago

        Sure, that's fine if you want to tell a (nearly)zero-to-(overpowered)hero story. Which I did for some time (played a bit of 1e, 2e, and DMed a lot of 5e). But, genre aside, for any other kind of story you're better off finding something else.

        e.g. trying to do in any edition of D&D won't work well.

    • thisjustintime a month ago

      Which system are you moving to? I've been enjoying Savage Worlds and Call of Cthulhu.

      • jpmoral a month ago

        I've GMed one-shots of Spire: The City Must Fall, Night's Black Agents, and Lady Blackbird, and Honey Heist (Lasers and Feelings hack). Running one-shots of Trophy Dark and Night Witches soon.

        Haven't decided on a system for the next campaign, maybe Spire, Night's Black Agents (or other Gumshoe system), or one of the many excellent PbtA games.

      • Multicomp a month ago

        Not OP but Genesys helps me emphasize narrative play over just battles fwiw

    • buscoquadnary a month ago

      I'm struggling with 5e being that way right now any suggestion for alternative systems that aren't as heavy as GRUPs, that still don't break once the characters get to level 10?

      • jpmoral a month ago

        I've heard good things about Savage Worlds but have no experience with it.

  • moritonal a month ago

    Trying to think of examples: A Quiet Place, Day after Tomorrow, Lord of the Rings.

    • ascar a month ago

      Even Harry Potter matches his description. Harry's vulnerability, courage and personal growth even though the odds are stacked against him is a big part of what made it so good.

      It's actually a very common pattern. Might even be Shonen manga 101.

      • oneoff786 a month ago

        Though it’s odd that one of the first things to happen is to establish that he was rich, famous, and popular. Not that this mattered too much along the way.

        • krapp a month ago

          The "chosen one" archetype in a nutshell. Luke Skywalker learns he's part of a royal bloodline, a child of prophecy and a super-powerful space wizard. One of the (few) things I respect the sequel trilogy for was trying to deconstruct this, showing how disillusioned Luke then became with his legendary in-universe celebrity status.

      • krapp a month ago

        And as far as Marvel movies go: Iron Man, Spider Man, Doctor Strange. Even Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Thor:Ragnarok.

  • rcurry a month ago

    There’s a really fun movie out there called Special. It’s about an everyday Joe who participates in a clinical drug trial and starts to think he has super powers. He crafts a super hero outfit but he puts the drug company’s logo on his back and so the big drug company sends hitmen out to assassinate the poor guy because he’s bringing them all sorts of bad publicity. I guess I’d characterize it as Limitless meets Kickass. I love movies like that where the whole genre is turned completely upside down.

  • kbenson a month ago

    For many superhero characters, a flawed ordinary person rising to the challenge is exactly their origin story. It's compelling, so of course it's used.

    Whether they pull it off convincingly or if it's just given lip service is another thing, but ostensibly just because it's a super hero movie doesn't mean it doesn't apply (at least for the first movie for a character).

  • langsoul-com a month ago

    I think modern hero movies don't follow the Hero's journey any more.

    Most times heroes in the heroes journey always loses something, a part of them dies off. Or when going back, it's never the same any more. See Lord of the Rings for the best example. Not sure if there's another modern one?

  • poulpy123 a month ago

    I have 3 problems with comics books super heroes: - their flashy costumes - their boringness - the inconsistency in their powers that one day is godlike and the next morning is mundane

kayodelycaon a month ago

I absolutely love D&D, but it's important to consider who your players are.

This is dangerous advice:

> Stories can become a way of learning how to face situations we can't control, grapple with loss, and become resilient.

This is true of books, but you can put a book down and walk away. D&D has the potential for social and emotion investment that is far more difficult to walk away from.

Your players need to know what kind of game you are running and aware of what bad things are possible. And you need to be open to ret-conning mistakes that ruined the game for someone because of mis-matched expectations in this regard.

An example from my experiences:

I ended up joining late in an online game that had vampires. I was completely unaware they could take over player characters using mind control. As a result, I got blindsided in the middle of a very emotional point in combat. My character's agency was completely removed by a failed saving throw. There was no recourse, no way out.

The rest of the party knew vampires were dangerous, but no one explicitly told me why. The DM forgot I didn't know what everyone else did.

This was more than just a dick move for me because I had some past traumatic events where the same thing happened to me. Most of the DMs I've encountered were hardliners when it came to rules and events. They'd rather kick a player than ret-con anything. Since I was new to the group, I was worried I'd never be invited to play with them again if I dropped out or said anything.

Fortunately in the next session, the DM realized something had happened and privately asked why I wasn't engaged as much as I was. Ret-conned who got mind-controlled to a player who would have fun with it.

  • octokatt a month ago

    Posting this here: Monte Cook's Consent in Gaming is really helpful [0] as a useful guide for creating the kind of game your players want, and is a free resource.

    As an aside... I usually house rule that Mind Control and Time Travel _do not exist_ because it removes player agency, so removing those options from the story seems like a Good Idea.


  • Taylor_OD a month ago

    But... isnt this the exact point of that line? You went into a situation you couldnt control and grappled with the issue.

    It sounds like you wanted pre warning that x could happen in the game which is fair but baring some NSFW stuff it's it assumed that anything can happen in a typical dnd game? You failed a roll. It impacted the story. That is the game.

    I feel like I'm missing something. The become resilient part feels like it didnt happen because the DM ret conned the moment. I'm not saying you would have been stronger if not for the ret conning but you would have likely been less impacted by the same event happening in a future dnd game. Even with the ret con you're likely to be less impacted by the same event.

    • dragonwriter a month ago

      > It sounds like you wanted pre warning that x could happen in the game which is fair but baring some NSFW stuff it's it assumed that anything can happen in a typical dnd game?

      Very common advice for TTRPGs, especially with a group that isn't established with implicit boundaries, is, and has been for w couple of decades, to have a pre-session in which this stuff is discussed openly, with both the GM raising anything they expect to be an issue and players putting forward anything else that is an issue for them, to mitigate this. You can't anticipate everything this way, but “everything goes” is recognized as potentially problematic.

      It's a bit more challenging to handle mid-campaign additions non-disruptively, and I expect that even at tables that are otherwise good at this that is somewhat more often a problem, though.

    • kayodelycaon a month ago

      Okay. Let me be more specific.

      I didn’t “grapple with the issue”. I had a panic attack and flashbacks. I dreaded the next session for two weeks.

      Vampires are unique in having a single failed throw causing a character to permanently lose their agency and be under the direct mental control of a NPC. In this case, I was told to attack the rest of the party.

      I had a psychotic break where this exact thing happened to me. I got to watch myself hurt people I cared about. There are very close relationships that were destroyed. Some I will never be able to repair.

      Should I have said something? Yes. But I didn’t want to kicked out of the game.

      As far as being more resilient, I’m not. If I had known vampires could do that, I would have been fine. Now? If this happens to a character in another game, I will have to leave the game. Retconning wouldn’t help.

      I’ll heal in time. Might take a few months, but it may take years before I handle the situation again.

      • ammanley a month ago

        I'm really glad you are taking care of yourself and found a way to navigate this (game) situation amicably. I've had this happen in both gaming and career context (didn't know what it was at the time) and boy did that set me off skelter for a few months. I hope you have a supportive non-judgmental network of people you trust to lean on.

        More resilience is common advice, but agree that its not a panacea for actual trauma. Love that it strikes in interviews for me...

        Be well friend!

      • Taylor_OD a month ago

        That seems like a really terrible situation. I'm sorry you went through that.

        • kayodelycaon a month ago

          Yeah. It can be hard to explain.

          Most of the time, building resilience is the correct way to look at it. Life is filled with challenges and we don't grow if we don't face them.

          Trauma (psychological definition) does not work this way. It's like tearing a muscle. Immediately going back to lifting the same weight you did before just causes more damage. You have to work on healing the muscle, but you need to do it carefully.

    • BolexNOLA a month ago

      >I feel like I’m missing something

      It’s just one of those things where a little more explanation is needed, but rest assured they’re very right.

      It’s one thing to surprise your player(s), it’s another to let one player seduce the wife of another player without any consideration for how they’d feel about it just because someone rolled a nat 20 (actual situation I read about from another player. Also related PSA: a nat 20 does not mean automatic success, let alone that a player gets to do whatever they want).

      • Taylor_OD a month ago

        > but baring some NSFW stuff

        Covered that right? That is the most common issue with dnd that I've seen. Some people want to include nsfw stuff, to varying degrees, and others dont.

        • BolexNOLA a month ago

          Sure but I can see why “NSFW” doesn’t necessarily mean “things that can upset people” or “everything undesirable.”

          For instance, it’s a perfectly reasonable thing for a table to go “we don’t want romance in this campaign.” I’m not saying that’s a game I want to play, I for one enjoy a good love story and I’m always rooting for my character to fall in love, but if that’s the story the group wants to tell…well, they don’t have to! It’s all about communicating that at the top and everybody agreeing, or identifying something during the game and having an open discussion. Odds are unless you’re truly with a group of random people that you’ll find a game that works for everyone.

    • YeGoblynQueenne a month ago

      >> That is the game.

      Where does it say that? "The game" is whatever the people at the table agree they want to play.

      This is one way to see "rule 0" or sometimes "the most important rule" in other games, that the players are not slaves to the rulebook and that the point of the game is to enjoy the time playing it, not to slavishly follow a set of rules and who cares if some players hate it.

      • Taylor_OD a month ago

        Sure. The game is whatever the group decides it is. But the core mechanics of the game are make a roll and pass/fail causes something to happen.

        • YeGoblynQueenne a month ago

          That is what rule 0 is about. It allows the GM to overrule everything, including a clear, boolean die roll.

          I really don't think there is any excuse to allow something to pass in the game that will make the game a miserable experience for any of the players, and that the rules say so is the weakest excuse I can think of, given that the rules are executed by humans, not machines, and most of the rules are violated or forgotten, or hacked, or simply left unused, anyway.

  • YeGoblynQueenne a month ago

    Hey, I'm sorry this happened.

    This is an issue that can crop up often in games. For future reference you might want to check out safety tools like the X card:

    Although to be honest, I've never played with something like that and I tend to think of such tools as unnecessary, provided that there is good communication between playes (including the GM).

    • kayodelycaon a month ago

      I do something similar. I ask my players to privately inform me of topics or phobias to avoid. It goes on a list I keep handy.

      • YeGoblynQueenne a month ago

        Still to be honest, I never do, but that's mainly because I have a tightly knit group of players and I know what they want.

        Although in the past I have one a few occasions, maximised "bleed", for the purpose of emotionally engaging my players. I believe this is probably a no-no nowadays.

  • ycombinete a month ago

    Is the onus not also on the player with past trauma, to inform the DM about it? That way they can work around it, to avoid triggering any PTSD?

    • BolexNOLA a month ago

      A DM should always host a “session 0” to communicate the tone, intent, and play style of the campaign.

      In addition, it is the DM’s responsibility to know who is at their table. Every single DM I have ever played with has sent out a questionnaire that makes people flesh out their character a bit, as well as communicate anything they feel is necessary. I have never started a table without doing it as well.

      While it does behoove a player to tell their DM if they have PTSD or something, the DM also is expected to make basic overtures requesting that kind of information. Especially if there any new players at the table. Ultimately the energy and comfort level at the table is set by them.

      Of course you can’t always predict everything, and not every player always knows what is going to upset them or bother them at a table. But that is why constant communication and respect is important. If your table can’t do that then it is not a table you want to play at.

      At the end of the day, D&D is about telling a story together and respecting consent. Also, shoot/loot/scoot lol

    • kayodelycaon a month ago

      In my opinion, the onus is on everyone playing the game.

      Not every person with PTSD knows what will trigger them. If a game goes long enough, someone will not recognize they have stepped on a trigger they have been warned about.

      If everyone assumes good faith and treats accidents as accidents, there isn't really a need for anything dramatic.

      The DM's responsibility is to foster an environment where this can happen.

  • BolexNOLA a month ago

    Very well said. I always tell people that D&D is one giant lesson in consent.

    • ycombinete a month ago

      I hope that’s not your whole pitch

      • BolexNOLA a month ago

        Not sure how what I said made it sound like that’s my whole pitch, that would be absurd. It’s just an important aspect of D&D I tell people to be mindful of. It’s a cooperative experience, it doesn’t work if you play at other people’s expense.

boberoni a month ago

> #6: Intimacy creates villainy.

This is something that comes up again and again in marketing and persuasion, although I still do not fully understand the psychology behind it.

It is often more effective to tell the intimate story of an individual suffering with X, compared to providing accurate data on the impact of X. Replace X with disease, climate change, and so on.

If you have the choice between presenting quantitative data or telling an emotional story, the emotional story appeals more effectively with a majority of people. There are only a few cases where people try to be strictly rational and are only convinced by data and statistics.

  • herodoturtle a month ago

    Interesting point.

    I suspect it’s because intimacy speaks to fear, whereas data speaks to reason.

    And in terms of our historic evolution as living beings, fear came long before reason - so it’s more deeply rooted in our psyche.

    That said, this is just my hunch. I hope some biologists / neuroscientists here can shed more light on this.

    • darkerside a month ago

      I think it's because, while we've gotten much better over time, we humans are still not as effective at dealing with abstractions as the tangible. 100 people dying is a tragedy, but 1 person close to be dying is something else altogether.

      We can't possibly comprehend the multiple permutations of that "something else" playing out x100, multiplied by all the people who are close to them. It's simply incalculable.

  • atoav a month ago

    If I had to guess about why this works it is that we as human beings learn a great deal by observing others. This does not only work when others succeed, but also when they suffer. More than an abstract numbers (which only some of us can translate into concrete imaginations) the observation about someone elses fate allows is to simulate what this would mean if it happened to us.

    This is of course an unpleasant thought. What if my kid got cancer? Or any other of the horrible things that one reads about happening to kids? The reaction to this these thoughts can go one of many ways, with the two extremes being an emphatic "we need to stop this from ever happening again, even if we need to change our way of life" and —on the other side— a "this is never going to happen to me, it only happens to people who deserve it somehow".

    So we (at least most of us) are capable of telling when someone's suffering comes from the outside, from something that could hit us too. After all most societies developed at least some way to collectively fight fires or deal with other catastrophes often by institutionalizing and financing the people who do it. This is deeply what being a society is a about: aknowledging that some things that happen are better to be dealt with collectively than individually, either because of their scale, or because of their stochastic nature (it only hits few, but it hits them hard).

    I think however when it comes to storytelling it is key to do both: Tell the individual story, and show that stories like these are not rare (this takes away the "it will never happen to me"-defense). The indivdiual fate influences society and society influences the individual fate.

tcbawo a month ago

I highly recommend this book by writer and academic Joseph Campbell: (1949). It’s a fascinating study of comparative mythology from cultures around the world. Joseph Campbell died in 1987, but some of his recorded lectures are available online, which I also recommend.

  • fractallyte a month ago

    And these books cover the other half of humanity that Joseph Campbell somehow missed:

    The Heroine with 1001 Faces, by Maria Tatar

    Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

    If Women Rose Rooted: A Life-Changing Journey to Authenticity and Belonging, by Sharon Blackie

stakkur a month ago

I’ve been playing DnD/RPGs off and on since 1980. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the most important part of gaming has always been camaraderie and shared experiences; ‘storytelling’ hasn’t even been in the top three, as nice to have as stories are.

DnD does nothing novel with storytelling; in fact, it just borrows ideas and tropes from fiction and history.