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#Killing characters

Is it just me, or is it kinda capitalist that in order to get new superheroes, people kill off or age up the old ones and then put the new heroes in the same role/identity? Like, they killed Peter Parker to have Miles Morales. Bucky Barnes and Falcon/Sam Wilson both became Captain America after the death or age & retirement of Steve Rogers, depending on whether you’re looking at the comics or the MCU. Batman goes through Robins and Batgirls like it’s going out of style (and seriously, why does Dick Grayson let other people be Robin? That was a personal nickname from his birth family, right? Why would he give something so intimate away?). Replacing someone else and living up to their legacy rather than making your own path was a whole plot point/theme in Spider-man: Far From Home!

There are exceptions to this, like X-23 and Wolverine, who have managed to have some form of a father-daughter relationship in the comics (although, if memory serves, I believe he’s been killed in recent comics and she replaced him as Wolverine - though I haven’t read anything recent, so I might be wrong, and in the film Logan they killed him off). And things like Conner/Superboy from Young Justice being created with the idea to replace Superman doesn’t count in the same way because it was a villainous plot and Con didn’t end up following through. And there’s a new Ms. Marvel now that Carol Danvers is Captain Marvel, which is a much better alternative considering that Carol wasn’t using that identity anymore.

The idea I’m trying to get at, if it isn’t clear, is that the costume identity, AKA Spider-man, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. seems to me the thing that’s given value while the person behind the mask is more recently being treated as expendable/dispensable. Which doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, because the person created the mask, and so much of themselves and who they are and what their goals are drove the reasons behind the creation of the identity and the way they behave in that identity. It’s like being a kid and trying on your parents’ clothes or getting hand-me-downs, even if it fits, you didn’t exactly choose it, and you look different wearing it. And I’m calling this capitalist because it feels like capitalism. If we equate being a superhero to a job, which in many ways it really is, especially if you are employed by an organization to do it like SHIELD, then the value is being placed on the role/job, and not with the labor. Capitalism doesn’t give a shit who’s doing the job and how they’re being treated as long as it’s getting done. Employees in the service/retail industry get treated like shit and don’t get paid enough but that will never change unless people have other options and aren’t desperate enough to accept those conditions and get something better. Recently, with the deaths and/or replacements of superheroes in order to have someone else fill the identity in comics and films, the individuals behind the mask, who are the real source of emotional connection and relatability, not the mask, seem to have become dispensable in the eyes of the creators.

And I do get that it’s a shortcut and an attempt to bring in new audiences by putting more modern characters into recognizable roles. But why does the original character have to *die*?

Yeah, superhero-ism is a dangerous occupation, sure, but doesn’t death seem like the most extreme option? It’s not as if there aren’t other possibilities:

1.Having characters be located somewhere else other than New York City or its fictional equivalent (Metropolis, Gotham, etc). There are other major cities in the US where crime happens, let alone other cities in the world. Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta, Seattle, Philadelphia. Who doesn’t want to imagine a Spider-man or a Batman with a Boston accent? Wouldn’t it be a cool storyline if other Kryptonians not related to Superman escaped Krypton and eventually made it to Earth and moved to different cities and took up mantles and eventually the Kryptonian race could start rebuilding on Earth? Talk about a really interesting and positive way to show a diasporic community. And also, it doesn’t make any sense statistically that the majority of the world’s superheroes are in the US. Put some in Toronto, Paris, London, Cairo, Sydney, Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow, Rome, Athens, Rio, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Seoul, Istanbul, etc. If the Olympics happen there, then there’s probably a lot of people that need saving and crime happening. It’s especially dumb with the alien invasion stories where they show the audience aliens popping up in places other than NYC and suddenly the heroes have to get other there, like unless you got super-speed or teleportation, it’s going to take a while, and how are you even going to communicate with the civilians if there’s a language barrier?

2.Having characters be from other dimensions. Marvel and DC have a history of playing with alternate timelines and multi-verse theory. Into The Spiderverse was a super-popular movie that inspired tons of people to make their own Spidersonas, and the lesson that can be taken from it is that you can take a character and make it still feel unique or individualistic even if you’re using similar themes. Maybe instead of the dimensions having evil versions they have to fight or being fucked up in some other way, make the new version of Wonder Woman or Iron Man or whatever be from an alternate dimension and end up in the main because of science/magic, or a dimension-hopping villain they’re fighting, or an accident, or to get help from other versions of themselves, or even escaping from an apocalypse/doomsday from their own universe. It’s so easy to either send them back to their own universe when you decide you’re done playing with them or keep them around if you want them permanently. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if the Captain America we’re familiar with met a Captain America from an alternate universe where he fought in the American Revolution or for the Union in the Civil War or even in WW1 or Vietnam?

3.Having female characters take on feminine versions of the identity, or vice versa, or non-binary characters find a way to have a gender-neutral version. This has been done with Hulk and She-Hulk, Superman and Supergirl, Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel back when Captain Marvel was a dude, Spider-man’s daughter May was Spider-girl at one point, Batman’s cousin or something is Batwoman. There’s also been some adjacents, such as AntMan and Wasp or Wolverine and X-23. There are definitely ways that you can use a familiar identity to put more female and non-binary superheroes out there. I mean, military titles (the Captains) or even names like Black Panther, Green Lantern, and Flash aren’t even gendered. You can feminize names if you want to, but I’m pretty sure the female Hawkeye is just straight-up Hawkeye. People like Thor I feel differently about because Thor’s an actual mythological character, not something Marvel came up with, but you could just use a different Norse god/goddess? And yeah, Dr. Strange is the man’s actual name so that’s also a little different, but if he had a daughter or a non-binary child who also got their doctorate, they are in fact entitled to call themselves Dr. Strange rather than something lesser. Not to mention, that whole alternate universe versions point I just made? Yeah, these can be characters from gender-bent alternate universes or a universe where humans are androgynous or something.

4.Have multiple characters use the same secret identity. This would be the perfect concept for twins or friends with the same build. The bank’s been robbed but A is on a date? B can totally show up at the scene! B got really hurt in their last fight? A’s got them covered. There’s a bit of risk to it, like if people recognize they have different voices or someone notices them at two different crises happening at the same time, but that’s just what makes the challenge of pretending to be the same person interesting. And it could get even more complex if you had triplets doing it, or four college roommates, or whatever. It’s also a great excuse to be able to write deep interpersonal relationships and identity struggles. Hell, can you imagine how much scarier multiple Batmans would be? They could play even more on the “you never know where he’s going to be next or what shadow he could be hiding in” thing, like, just when the crook thinks he’s lost Batman, another comes out out of nowhere.

And if superhero writers don’t want to do any of this, there’s also the C-List and D-List heroes that maybe got introduced in like the 70′s or 80′s or whatever but didn’t take or ended up being a blip in another character’s backstory. If you want more modern superheros connected to the major ones so you can use them in the same stories, it is totally valid IMO to try revitalizing these obscure concepts. I have a vested interest in seeing if Monica Rambeau shows up as her hero identity Photon in the Captain Marvel sequel. This idea is still using what you have, but it doesn’t capitalize the lives of the characters you have or make them expendable in any way. In fact, it’s also kind of like recycling, or the opposite of capitalism, because you’re trying to use alternative resources or all of your resources instead of very specific ones to the point of over-saturation.

Look, I’m just very tired of superheroes getting killed off to be replaced by someone else using the same identity or because it’s edgy or dark or whatever. Even a debilitating injury that leaves them in a wheelchair or blind or deaf is a hell of a lot more interesting. Once a character’s dead, they’re dead, there’s nowhere else you can take them unless you bring them back to life  (which admittedly happens a lot in superhero universe) or have them hang around as a ghost or something. It’s boring, it doesn’t give the audience any closure and just messes with their emotions for shock value, and it promotes toxic capitalism.

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My story is about two humans accidentally stranded on an alient planet. The end needs them both to die. I'm stuck with a problem. There is a sizeable alien LGBT community, a few will die, most won't. But my problem is 1) If I make one or both humans LGBT, then ALL human LGBT characters will die albeit a non LGBT human dies too. 2) If I make neither human LGBT, then ONLY the aliens are LGBT.

If all your humans die anyway, regardless of orientation, you’re fine. I’d just make one of them allocishet just to make it clear to the reader that it’s not a thing of just burying the gays.

- mod nat

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Will we be able to kill Iro and/or Lilith?

I’ve gotten a few of these asks about killing off certain characters, and I’ll give the more generic answer as it’s a little tiring to answer repeatedly (especially when it’s about ROs. No, I don’t expect everyone to like them but if you do like a character, it can be quite grating to read about people wishing specifically for their death.) 

Pretty much all the major characters are capable of dying and/or being killed depending on what you do. Factions are formed in the second book and sides are chosen. Sometimes that means you will cross blades with someone. I’m honestly not sure why Lilith is being included. Yes, she is a character in the game, but her role is not a major one for most routes, and she gets very little direct screentime either way.

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Is it "Bury Your Gays" to kill a queer antagonist? She's not the only queer character, the only antagonist, or the only character who dies; and her being queer has nothing to do with her being an antagonist or with why/how she dies. She's a cis pansexual woman, and so is the protagonist who kills her.

As a general rule we don’t answer “is this/isn’t this” for BYG as mods don’t all agree on what counts as that. Personally, I think killing any queer character counts because you are technically burying a gay, but that doesn’t mean it’s always off limits, or that you can’t do it in a way that does justice to readers who relate in terms of their own queerness. I really don’t think that all gay representation Needs To Be Immortal Characters to be done right.

In this context I think you should be fine as the protagonist has the same identity as the antagonist and is doing the killing. If an allocishet character killed her that would have some really bad connotations.

- mod nat

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Are we really killing off our faves because we can’t come up with any better methods for making an impact on viewers/readers? Really?

What happened to putting characters in a coma? What happened to having characters kidnapped? Getting temporary amnesia? Being quarantined because of a killer virus? Being injured so badly they need to deal with healing for the foreseeable future?

If you need to get characters out of the picture for plot reasons, there’s more than the one (1) option of murdering them in the most gratuitous way possible.

All I’m saying is–

image
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G. R. R. Martin
I’ve been killing characters my entire career, maybe I’m just a bloody minded bastard, I don’t know, [but] when my characters are in danger, I want you to be afraid to turn the page (and to do that) you need to show right from the beginning that you’re playing for keeps.
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So you have a character that you absolutely need to kill, but your hero is nearby? Here is a handy trick on how to kill off characters whilst your nigh unstoppable hero nearby.

Several writer’s have come across this problem, including myself. How do I kill off this character without killing off this other character? Simple: Inconvenience the other character. 

By inconveniencing the other character, you can kill of your side character with ease. 

Here’s a few ways to do this: 

  1. Have main character go somewhere else in the building, moments before where your side character is.
  2. Have your main character be a little late getting back to your side character.
  3. Have your main character be knocked unconscious.

Now this is just a few ideas. If you feel like adding more, go right ahead.

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It just leads to thoughts like

  • Who’s to say they won’t come back alive later? I mean, other characters have survived crazy stuff like this before, so why not this time?
  • They always get saved at the last minute, of course this mission won’t be any different.
  • This situation looks very bad, but they always make it at the last minute anyways. They’re gonna win, they’ll be fine, what’s even the point of watching such a predictable fight?

And if you notice, none of these are fear, worry, or sadness. Just frustration and boredom.

Tl;dr I gotta stop watching kids’ shows, even the most dramatic of them just end up super predictable and boring.

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Authors that kill our favourite characters;
Autor: *deciding which character has to die next*
Me: *picks up characters*
Author: Uhh...
Me: *puts a blanket around characters*
Author: Excuse me...
Me: *puts characters far away from author*
Me: You can have them back if you can play nicely
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