This is part 2 of a series about why I favor the batman saga and avatar saga above all others. In the last article, I introduced you to what I thought about them and their plots. Here, I say what I think about the worlds and characters of Batman and Avatar.
Batman lives in the gothic, if not dystopian city of Gotham. This is his world. While Superman might have to deal with megalomaniacs hellbent on taking over the Earth, or the Green Lanterns have to fend off alien invasions, Batman struggles with normal people turned insane by their very city. People like himself. Because — Gotham turned Bruce Wayne into Batman, just like it turned Edward Nygma into the Riddler and Harvey Dent into Two-Face.
Worlds make their characters, and vice-versa. And of all the characters driven mad by that city/world, it was only inevitable that one of them would become its guardian. Of course, some guardians don’t choose their role.
In the world of Avatar, Aang didn’t, but the Air Nomads were next in the Avatar Cycle, and he just happened to be born just as Roku, the current Avatar, was dying.
Throughout his arc, Aang just tries to have the life of a kid and avoid being the Avatar, yet he lives in a world torn apart by a war that only the Avatar can stop. Eventually, he does end the war, but only after 3 books of struggling with this internal dilemma. As someone who prefers a laid-back lifestyle, I can definitely empathize.
That’s what makes you care, though — empathy. It doesn’t matter how filled-out the world is or how well-written the plots; if you don’t empathize with the characters, you won’t care what happens to them. That brings me to my next point.
“I’ve always had to struggle and fight, and that’s made me strong. It made me who I am.”
Characters are the doorway into a story. What happens to a character’s irrelevant compared to how much the audience cares about them. Audiences would care more about something mildly bad happening to a sympathetic character, than about something terrible happening to an unsympathetic character.
In Avatar, the character I connect with the most is Zuko. Iroh, Asami, and Toph might be the favorites of others, but just as with Batman, I can’t help but see so much of myself in Zuko.
If Zuko had a motto, that quote at the top of this section would be it because it so sums up who he is. Zuko gets banished from his home and his only hope of returning lies in accomplishing an impossible task: finding the Avatar, who hasn’t been seen in 100 years. Yet, he resolves to accomplish this task anyway.
But this reminds me of the journey another favorite character of mine often finds himself on.
“…I have one superpower…I never give up.”
This quote comes from Batman in an episode of “Justice League,” and I chose it because it shows the sort of determination he has. It also makes me think: can determination be a superpower if nothing can break your will? If you’re willing to sacrifice anything and everything in order to accomplish the mission?
Or maybe it’s a weakness, a personality trait that gives one tunnel-vision, to the point where you’re willing to sacrifice even yourself. It makes me question if I could ever show that determination, and if I could, should I?
I’m still not sure, and I don’t think I’d ever want to be in a place where I could get the answer. But Batman goes there every time he dawns the cape and cowl. As a I said before, Batman embraces the darkness. He is the light side of it because he uses his darkness for good.
Characters make the story, and I love these sagas, because I love the stories of their characters.
I look back on my life before I saw Avatar or DKT as a sort of dark age, a time when I was lost. I liked plenty of things, sure, but I didn’t know what it was like for a show or film to truly influence me. As a writer, I don’t know what I’d do without Avatar or DKT, because I now base so much of my style off of them.
This is the first 2 parts in a series where I’m going to talk more about both sagas in depth, after I publish a series about a fellow wordbender, Andrew Akler. But since I’m launching a blog, I thought it’d be best to start out with my 2 most favorite sagas. Plus, well, I just love to talk about them.
If you want to read what I think about some of my fellow wordbenders, click here. You can also subscribe by clicking the button on the right. You can comment at the bottom, right above where you’ll find my social media links (facebook, twitter, digg, pocket, path, etc.), places that allow you to follow me as well as share/like this article. If you want, you can even see articles a week before everyone else by following the first link on the bottom to my Patreon account.
Until next time, never stop wordbending, my fellow story-tellers.
PS: I’m going to be spending the next week working on an article series about a fellow wordbender of mine, Andrew Akler, titled “Andrew Akler: Patient Zero.” A little ways back, he wrote, directed, and scored a 17 minute short titled “Batman: Patient Zero.” Check it out, especially if you plan on reading the article series about it and don’t want spoilers. Anyway, you probably won’t see the next part of this series till next Thursday.