Nope, I’m not talking about Chucky. I’m talking about the protagonists, the heroes, the virtuous, the righteous, and often times even the squares. If you’re like me, born in the 80’s but grew up in the 90’s, you thought that the good guys of your childhood were a little corny, a little dry, and the term goodie good also comes to mind. However, the majority of the time you were on their side because of course you didn’t want Rita Repulsa destroying Angel Grove with a crayfish monster. There wasn’t much nuance back then, it was very clear who was a good guy and who was bad. The bad guy always wore dark colors and had an elementary reason as to why they wanted to destroy everything. It usually summed up to be because they got caught doing something evil once and now they want revenge, revenge that was going last few seasons. The issue was that you couldn’t completely relate to the good guys and it didn’t represent what you saw unfolding in everyday life. From what you saw good guys didn’t always prosper in reality and on occasion you wondered what it would be like to see the bad guys win.
As you get a little older and stumble upon X-Men: The Animated Series and things get interesting. Wolverine becomes your favorite character, you’re not quite sure why, and you don’t completely see Magneto as a villain. You found the nuance that was missing. Magneto wanted the same thing as Professor X, for mutants to be able to live in a world without fear because they were different. The contrast being that Magneto wasn’t going to wait for acceptance. He was going to get the respect of the humans through force. This resonated with you because you got bullied some for being different and sometimes fighting back instead of telling the authorities was the only way the bullies would respect you. This made you realize that this whole good versus bad construct wasn’t as simple as they had once made it seem. If Magneto was considered bad maybe you were bad too. Maybe it was time for the bad guys to win. What would happen if they did?
At this point your wondering do I really want evil to win? Am I that anti of a person? Of course not, but you didn’t embody the traditional good guys. You were rowdy, you cursed a lot, you wore black… a lot. You did bad things for fun like playing ding dong ditch, stealing bikes (I brought them back), and staying up late to watch HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax (if you know you know). Enter the antihero. Antihero wasn’t a term often used at the time nor were you aware of its existence as you moved through your adolescence. You noticed that you are drawn to the dark aesthetic and the characters that were attached to it. You knew these characters ultimately wanted to do good, but they were damaged souls that even through all their plight made a decision to protect others, even if it took some convincing. They were complex, they were loners. Yeah, that works. You can wear black, drop some f-bombs, yet still help the old lady with her groceries. You still want good to triumph, you’re just okay with a little carnage on the way to make it happen. However, the traditional good guys are needed. Someone has to keep us in check, right. They’re a shining reminder of what the majority should strive to be, because there’s only room for one Deadpool at a time.
As I’ve aged I now realize, especially in recent years, that we need the good guys in our art to win more than ever. The good guys represent hope, integrity, and valor. Reminding us that even when things become dark and desolate there’s a way and a will to win. They fight back to show us that no matter the foe or situation, we must not give up. Our everyday lives are filled with a constant feed of horrific imagery, news, and videos to the point that negativity is the new norm. What we consume through media usually influences how we grow and move through life, whether directly or indirectly, for better or for worse. Comic books and film in the geek world have always been about triumph and overcoming. Overcoming your personal demons, overcoming what life throws at you, and overcoming that which is out of your control. Currently, we have Thanos who with the snap of his fingers made half of the MCU and all that inhabit it disappear. Thanos can represent many things presently going on in our lives, but just remember that the reign of evil is always temporary and the good guys always win.
Observing the human race since 1988.