By Nick “Novel” Gabanski
Who doesn’t love a bad*ss character? A strong man or woman who can shoot/cut/slice/brawl their way through countless enemies with no sign of slowing or tiring. It makes for great fighting scenes, whether it’s movies, books, games, or comics. Great combat is always enjoyable and can always satisfy our inner-cravings for violence, bloodshed, and guts. So how could such a concept as a bad*ss hero/heroine ever lose its flair to the audience?
Well, hate to say it, but if you do the same thing over and over again, something cool and awesome will lose its flair. Then it becomes boring. Right now, the bad*ss character we all root for, the one-man/woman walking army that can slaughter enemies by the hundreds, is boring. Oh no, say it isn’t so! How could action and violence become boring?
Two reasons: overexposure and poor writing.
The more you’re exposed to something, the less and less you find interest in it. Back in the day, certain things like dropping a swear word or showing some blood in a movie was enough to completely shock audiences in theaters. Today, the f-bomb is dropped thirty times in a movie and no one bats an eye. Show a man getting his guts torn from his stomach and you might get a gasp or a scream of terror, but for the most part, people these days just shrug it off and say, “Seen it before.” The more you see something (like extreme violence), it becomes less shocking. So doing the same thing over and over is one reason why this characteristic has become tiring, boring, and cliché.
Now, the other reason: poor writing. What do I mean by this? If you don’t set up the story and plot correctly, or you overpower the main character, you’ve already set yourself up for failure. Your bad*ss character will be boring and stale from the get-go. One of the keys to making a believable and well-written character is to make him/her relatable to the audience. If said character can fight through a horde of enemies and come out with not a scratch upon them, then you cannot relate to them. Further, if the character is overpowered and immune to wounds or injury, then there is no danger when they are confronted by obstacles or fights. How can we relate to a character like that?
There’s no fun in the setting of danger if there’s no sense of peril. Take The Lord of the Rings for example. In the Battle of Helms Deep in The Two Towers, Aragorn throws himself into the teeth of the enemy three times and comes out with not a single wound on him. Gimli too, for that matter. In fact, throughout all three stories, leaving aside Boromir, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli survive countless battles with no wounds or injuries of any kind. Another example, and possibly the ultimate bad*ss character of all, is Wolverine. Sure, he gets injured, but he’s basically immortal because he heals instantly no matter how severe the wound. Watching him claw his way through the guts of enemies is entertaining, but only so much.
So, when thinking of a character who possesses the power to fight through a swarm of enemies, take note and see if they come out unscathed. Notice if they have any personality traits beyond, “I can fight through anything.” Otherwise, they’re not so much bad*ss as they are boring.
Edited By: Rebecca Fox