Epic Heroes and Cliches

I really could not think what to post about today… So you get some random notes I made on epic heroes! Congratulations… 🙂

Heroes and Epic Fantasy Clichés

  • A lot of times, heroes (almost always male) will start in one of four ways:
    • Already powerful/unique (Sherlock, Superman, X-Men)
    • Goes after power (Batman, Ironman)
    • Stumbles upon power but develops it themselves (Spiderman)
    • Epic hero (see below)
  • The epic hero cliché is:
    • “Average/ordinary” hero (Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins)
    • Discovers specialness about themselves
    • Directed and driven by mentor (Gandalf, Obi-Wan, Dumbledore)
    • Arc covers them rising to the challenge (given by mentor) to be “the one”
  • Epic (“Rising”) hero is almost ubiquitous with heroines, as opposed to male heroes who can sometimes already be powerful or drive their own agency (without a mentor)
    • Perhaps a fear/intimidation/dislike of powerful women, so they need to start ordinary?
    • As opposed to an admiration/attraction to powerful men
  • Occasionally, an ordinary hero(ine) will rise through randomness or their own actions, and not through predetermined but unknown specialty
    • Katniss wins Hunger Games through some (relatively ordinary) skills and luck, but then is forced to be a symbol of revolution through the actions of others (not her own agency)
    • Frodo randomly has the Ring and decides to take it, not because of some unique ability to do so—but is directed, at least initially, by a mentor (Gandalf)
    • Jake Sully has to take his twin brother’s place (random coincidence/opportunity) and has some ‘natural ability’ to direct the avatar but not beyond the realm of randomness; drives his own actions, with help, from then on (?)
  • Then there are some combos:
    • Elric brothers go after power, then are made even more “powerful” (unique) through ritual gone wrong, and then use that power through own agency for specific purpose
    • Paige Mahoney already knows she has power, even a somewhat unique power, but doesn’t know the full meaning or usage of that power until she’s taken in by Sheol/Warden
  • Ways to make epic hero special/unique:
    • Backstory specialness, unknown history—parents, reincarnation, prophecy, etc.
    • Current specialness as a result of story/plot—found item, survival, gift from ally, etc.
    • Unique perspective/knowledge/discovery (in current story)—investigation, research, ability, etc. (relies more on coincidence and unusual actions of protagonist—requires them to already be somewhat unique, the only one to think to look there, etc.)

About J. Sevick

Just write.
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