The Desire for a Complex Hero
What makes a hero?
I ask this question because I’m interested in how heroes become, well, heroic. How does background affect character? How does character affect plot?
Now, not all heroes are the same. Some heroes are the ultimate boy scout (Superman). Some heroes are tortured by the death of loved ones (Batman and Spiderman). Some heroes want recognition (Naruto). Some heroes fight for a dream (X-Men). Some heroes fight for greed (Conan).
There is the traditional hero. There is the antihero. There is the modern hero.
I’ve written about about heroism in fiction before. I’ve criticized Harry Potter for how the titular hero shrugs off the abuse he’s suffered. I’ve ranted (several times) about Naruto’s unsatisfactory handling of Naruto’s repressed resentment.
Thinking about my criticisms (mostly aimed at Naruto), I wonder if in some cases interesting heroes are shoehorned into a traditional (or would stereotypical be a better word?) mold. I’m not sure if contorting heroes into expectations is really all that wise.
I want to see a resentful hero struggle with saving the community that scorned him. I want to see a hero who troubles the world, not restores it to a status quo. I want to see a hero fight with himself to overcome his faults. I want to see a hero fall to his flaws. I want to see a hero who dances on the edge of light and dark. I want to see a hero plunge into the abyss. Etc.
But more than reading or watching stories that feature the above scenarios (which I, personally, intend to explore), I want to explore and (eventually) understand why these heroes act the way they do. What motivates them? What drives them?
In the end, what I want to see is more complexity in the hero.