#TypesTuesday – Bugs Bunny & Chaos

Types Tuesday

What’s up, Doc? A Power of Excitement character, that’s what! This week I’m talking about everyone’s favorite wascally wabbit, Bugs Bunny of Warner Bros. Looney Tunes fame.

I had the great good fortune to work with the remaining animators of “Termite Terrace” fame, including Chuck Jones.  I interviewed these amazing artists (somewhere I still have those tapes) and looked at their original drawings. in one of my first jobs as a consultant.

The object was to standardize the characterization of the Warner Bros. cartoon pantheon for legacy purposes.  These characters are now all over the world in television, merchandizing, and spin offs (Baby Bugs Bunny).  And Bugs needs to look like Bugs and act like Bugs wherever he appears. I helped create the official style and character guide.

But back to Bug Bunny’s Character Type:

Power of Excitement characters play the role of the merry prankster. They keep things lively, entertaining, interesting and off-balance for all the other characters  At heart, these characters are anarchists.  They love to cause chaos to keep things amusing or to shake up the existing (dull, boring, or pedantic) order of things.

Bugs Bunny is smart, sassy and adept at getting into and out of traps.  He is an anarchist, who refuses to obey rules (including the law of gravity).  “Ahh, Doc– I never went to law school.”  Bugs is a charming agent of chaos in every one of his cartoon roles. Bart Simpson is another example of this smart mouth “bad boy” character.

If we look to the Dark Side of Power of Excitement, we need to look no further than The Joker in the Batman franchise to find an example.  The clip below is the definition of an Agent of Chaos gone bad:

#TypesTuesday – The Hurt Locker & Power of Idealism

TYPE TUESDAY

Kathryn Bigelow has a new film, Detroit, being released now.  The biggest criticism of the film so far is the lack of a strong central protagonist. Full disclosure: I haven’t seen the film yet myself but will write about it soon.

In her previous film, The Hurt Locker, Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner) is a memorable Power of Idealism protagonist.  He has a cocky, shoot-from-the-hip, iconoclastic style in defusing roadside explosives.  These deadly bombs are hidden in the sand, in cars, and in the occasional corpse.  He has techniques that are all his own as he travels through the gutted terrain of Iraq ravaged by war, poor planning policies, and the smash-and-burn fury of local insurgents.

Characters driven by the Power of Idealism want to stand out from the crowd, to be extraordinary, unique and special.  They are rebels, iconoclasts, mavericks, and artists of all kinds.

Power of Idealism characters are intense, passionate and rebellious. Everyone in the story immediately recognizes and acknowledges that their role is somehow heroic or “larger than than life.”  They don’t play by anyone else’s rules.

Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner) in The Hurt Locker is a quintessential Power of Idealism character.  He is intense, cavalier and is moving swiftly toward becoming a legend.  In this exchange, his reputation grows:

Colonel Reed: You the guy in the flaming car, Sergeant James?

Staff Sergeant William James: Afternoon, sir. Uh, yes, sir.

Colonel Reed: Well, that’s just hot shit. You’re a wild man, you know that?

Staff Sergeant William James: Uh, yes, sir.

Colonel Reed: He’s a wild man. You know that? I want to shake your hand.

Staff Sergeant William James: Thank you, sir.

Colonel Reed: Yeah. How many bombs have you disarmed?

Staff Sergeant William James: Uh, I’m not quite sure.

Colonel Reed: Segeant?

Staff Sergeant William James: Yes, sir.

Colonel Reed: I asked you a question.

Staff Sergeant William James: Eight hundred seventy-three, sir.

Colonel Reed: Eight hundred! And seventy-three. Eight hundred! And seventy-three. That’s just hot shit. Eight hundred and seventy-three.

Staff Sergeant William James: Counting today, sir, yes.

Colonel Reed: That’s gotta be a record. What’s the best way to… go about disarming one of these things?

Staff Sergeant William James: The way you don’t die, sir.

Colonel Reed: That’s a good one. That’s spoken like a wild man. That’s good.

A. O. Scott, writing for the New York Times describes James like this:  “Staff Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner) is something else, someone we recognize instantly even if we have never seen anyone quite like him before. He is a connoisseur, a genius, an artist.”

The artistic temperament— and the yearning to be “something more extraordinary” creates a white hot intensity of feeling in these characters.  In contrast, long-term relationships and the comfortable companionship that committed loving couples (and families) share seem suffocatingly pedestrian.

Power of Idealism characters, operating in their Dark Side, are unprepared to make the ordinary, small, everyday sacrifices real long-term every-day love requires, especially when there are children involved.

In this exchange James explains to his infant son:

Staff Sergeant William James: You love playing with that. You love playing with all your stuffed animals. You love your Mommy, your Daddy. You love your pajamas. You love everything, don’t ya? Yea. But you know what, buddy? As you get older… some of the things you love might not seem so special anymore. Like your Jack-in-a-Box. Maybe you’ll realize it’s just a piece of tin and a stuffed animal. And then you forget the few things you really love. And by the time you get to my age, maybe it’s only one or two things. With me, I think it’s one.

Staff Sgt. William James wants to live fast, die young, and leave a legend behind. He simply cannot find the extraordinary in ordinary family life. He must follow the adrenaline rush, upping the level of risk, and taking ever more dangerous chances.

For more information on how to create a powerful, dynamic Power of Idealism character, click HERE.

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#TypesTuesday – Tywin Lannister and Power of Will

TYPES TUESDAY

Game of Thrones is back on HBO. In between waiting for the next episode to air, I continue to explore the offerings on Amazon Prime and Netfilix. I just watched The Great London Fire, a series on Amazon. It’s great fun to imagine that Tywin Lannister had a bastard son whose progeny eventually made it to London by 1666. And in the year of the great fire, one these progeny, Lord Denton, finds himself elevated to the head of security and spy master for King Charles II.

Both characters are played by the wonderful actor, Charles Dance. Both are Power of Will characters. Tywin Lannister is a King and Lord Denton is a henchman, but they share the same philosophy.

Power of Will characters believe that expanding their power base, extending their territory, protecting and defending what is rightfully theirs (according to them) and swiftly avenging any wrong (or perceived wrong) is how one gets along, gets ahead and stays ahead in the world.

Power of Will characters take what they want, fight for every inch of turf, refuse to show any weakness themselves and pounce decisively on the weakness of others. They have a kill or be killed framework for everything. They believe absolutely in the Law of the Jungle.

For more information on Power Will of Characters click HERE

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#TypesTuesday – Tracy Flick and Hillary Clinton : Power of Conscience

Tracy-Flick-Hillary-Clinton-EtbScreenwritingHillary Clinton and Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) in the movie Election are a great examples of hard-driving intense Power of Conscience characters.

I found a fantastic clip of Tracy and Hillary intercut in a scene from Election.  It is a wonderful sketch of everything that is most important to this Character Type.  The clip refers back to Clinton’s run against Barack Obama (a Power of Imagination character) in 2008.

Power of Conscience characters believe that leadership must be earned by dedication, hard work, thorough preparation, and devotion to duty.  Leadership must be deserved. One must be worthy in order to lead. At their worst, these characters can become rigid, accusatory, sanctimonious, judgmental, and hypocritical.

 

#TypesTuesday – What do Olivia Pope, Nicholas Brody, and Birgitte Nyborg have in common?

Power of Conscience characters know instinctively if something is wrong, unjust, unfair, improper, corrupt or out of line. Their judgment and response is swift and immutable. They are propelled forward by personal outrage and moral indignation, usually on another’s behalf.

Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) on Scandal “saves people.”  She says she and her colleagues “wear the white hat.”  She is a “fixer” and her private practice is propelled forward by injustice and exonerating the wrongly accused.

U.S. Marine Sergeant, Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) in Homeland violently turns against his country, initially, because of the grave injustice of a U.S. military drone strike on an Afgan school.  He adopts Islam and becomes a terrorist to expose and expiate what he sees as a morally corrupt war.

Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) in Borgen withdraws her party’s support for Labour when opposition leader Michael Laugesen cynically reverses his position on asylum seekers in a pre-election ploy for votes.  The injustice of this propels her to denounce Laugesen’s morally repellent stand and, in a surprise twist, she is elected  Prime Minister.

Power of Conscience characters really do believe they are their brother’s keeper. They feel responsible for the greater good and for doing good. They wrestle with how far they should go in promoting what is right, seeking justice and fairness for others, in exposing corruption or  injustice, or in standing up against evil or wrong-doing. They worry about what is the higher duty and what exactly is required of them in response.  The question of what is the higher duty particularly plagues all these characters and is at the center of all their personal conflict.

In Scandal, Olivia Pope believes that  President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) is what the United States needs.  The question is how much wrong is she willing to do for a cause that is right?  She is one of Grant’s top campaign advisors and is willing to fix an election, lie about her illegal conduct, cover up his past wrong-doing in order to serve what she sees as a higher duty, getting an essentially good man elected.

In Homeland, Nicholas Brody is torn between his love for his family and the cause for which he is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, to be a suicide bomber targeting the President and his top administration.  What is the higher duty?

In Borgen, Birgitte Nyborg is continually torn between her duties as Prime Minister and her family.  While doing what is right for the country she must neglect important personal obligations and disappoint those she loves. Her need to do right by her countrymen costs her her marriage.

Other sides of this issue tear the characters apart in terms of what is the moral imperative and what is politically expedient.  All these characters struggle between what is right and what is possible (and the attendant compromises needed to get anything done). How much compromise is too much?  Law vs. justice is also an issue.  What is legal isn’t always just.  What is just isn’t always legal.  Again, it all goes back to what is the higher duty?

Without laws there is no civilization.  Without mercy and being just there is no humanity.  This is the quandary for Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) on The Walking Dead. He is a Power of Conscience character who leads a band of survivors during a Zombie Apocalypse.  Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal), his one time police partner, argues the group needs to do everything and anything necessary to survive.  No matter how unjust, no matter what moral or civil laws are broken, survival is the highest value.  Rick believes that to survive in such a way makes them all less human.  And yet, Rick is driven to do terrible things, always struggling with what is the higher duty.

Power of Conscience characters fear not living up to their own internal standards or sense of propriety, honesty, and decency.  They are afraid of being or becoming unworthy.  These characters don’t fear failure in the eyes of the world; they fear not living up to their own (often impossibly high) standards. They are some of the most conflicted characters on television.

 

#TypesTuesday – Archetype or Character Type? Wizards in Harry Potter

dumbledore-etbscreenwritingI was having a conversation with a friend the other day about archetypes. I must admit, I am not a fan. To me an archetype is a job description: a wizard, trickster, mother, hero, outlaw, seductress, judge, or mystic simply do different kinds of work in a story.

Let’s take the first job on the list, wizard. The Harry Potter book and film series features many different wizards. Each has his or her own individual kind of wizardry and distinctive personality.

That’s the problem with archetypes. There is no one way to be a wizard. There are lots of different ways to play that role in a story. Different wizards view their role or job differently, believe different things about the world, and frame their responsibilities very differently. In a story, a character’s job or role is much less important than how the person sees the world, understands that role, and fulfills his or her duties.

That’s where Character Type comes in. Character Type determines how a person views the world, sees his or her place in it, and develops a philosophy of life and love, Character Type creates innate strengths and weaknesses and determines the lessons to be learn over the arc of the story. Different Character Types are concerned about very different aspects of their role or job. For example:

A Power of Will wizard is most concerned with using his or her abilities for vengeance or to expand and defend a personal domain or to bend others or the elements into submission.  Lord Voldemort is a great example.  “There is no good and evil, there is only power…and those too weak to seek it.”

A Power of Conscience wizard is most concerned with the justice and ethics of magic and how it is most rightly or properly used.  They do not break rules or tolerate misbehavior.  Minerva McGonagall is a great example:    ‘Now, I must warn you that the most stringent anti-cheating charms have been applied to your examination papers. Auto-Answer Quills are banned from the examination hall, as are Remembralls, Detachable Cribbing Cuffs and Self-Correcting Ink. Every year, I am afraid to say, seems to harbour at least one student who thinks that he or she can get around the Wizarding Examinations Authority’s rules. I can only hope that it is nobody in Gryffindor.”

A Power of Ambition wizard is most concerned with the flash, dazzle and showy presentation required to be impressive, gain prestige, status, being popular, or acquiring a grand reputation.  Draco Malfoy is a great example:  “My father told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford… You’ll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don’t want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there.”

A Power of Truth wizard is most concerned with divining oracles and prophesies or delving into deep dark hidden secrets.  They are secret keepers and it’s hard to know where their real loyalties lie.  Severus Snape is a great example:  “What made you think he’d really stopped supporting Voldemort, Professor?”  Dumbledore held Harry’s gaze for a few seconds, and then said, “That, Harry, is a matter between Professor Snape and myself.” Snape has the most surprising reveal in the story, which changes our whole view of him at the end.

A Power of Reason wizard is most concerned with the magical formulas or precise processes that lead to specific knowledge or expertise.  Hermione Granger is a great example:  “That’s what Hermione does. When in doubt, go to the library.” She is a little off-putting and can be very condescending but she is one of the smartest and best informed young wizards in the group.

A Power of Excitement wizard is most concerned with adventurous exploring, wild experimenting or creating the chaos that makes magic fun and surprising.  They hate being bored or trapped. Sirius Black is a great exmple:  “Personally, I’d have welcomed a dementor attack. A deadly struggle for my soul would have broken the monotony nicely. You think you’ve had it bad, at least you’ve been able to get out and about, stretch your legs, get into a few fights…. I’ve been stuck inside for a month.”

A Power of Love wizard is most concerned with relationship magic, bonding spells, and creating mutual alliances.  These Character Types are stalwart friends and are self -sacrificing for others.  Harry’s best friend Ron is a good example:  “We’re nearly there,” Ron muttered suddenly. “Let me think — let me think…” The white queen turned her blank face toward him. “Yes…” said Ron softly, “it’s the only way … I’ve got to be taken.” “NO!” Harry and Hermione shouted.”That’s chess!” snapped Ron. “You’ve got to make some sacrifices! I take one step forward and she’ll take me — that leaves you free to checkmate the king, Harry!”

A Power of Idealism wizard is most concerned with creating magic that is completely unique, entirely special, and is a reflection of his or her deepest passions.  These are the truly exceptional wizards, those who are the legends.  Dumbledore is a good example:  “Professor Dumbledore, though very old, always gave an impression of great energy. He had several feet of long silver hair and beard, half-moon spectacles, and an extremely crooked nose. He was often described as the greatest wizard of the age.”  Harry Potter is also such a legendary wizard, specially marked, and charged with a unique and extraordinary destiny.

A Power of Imagination wizard is eccentric, slightly dreamy and live in a world of their own.  Although unassuming, these Character Types have enormous heart and bravery.  These kinds of wizards can see and hear things others don’t or simply miss.  Luna Lovegood is a great example:  “Oh, yes,” said Luna, “I’ve been able to see them (winged horses) ever since my first day here. They’ve always pulled the carriages. Don’t worry. You’re just as sane as I am.”

Each type of wizard looks at the role of magic through very different personal lens of Character Type. Resorting to an archetypal “wizard” too often leads to stereotypical behavior that is cliched. There is no one way to be a wizard just as there is no one way to be a cop, a nurse, a priest, a mother, or a fool. Each Character Type makes the role, the job, the archetype entirely his or her own.

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#TypesTuesday – Power of Conscience at the Oscars

There were several compelling Power of Conscience character who figured prominently in the 2013 crop of Oscar films. Power of Conscience characters typically wrestle with a specific set of key issues in a story. These include:

How much bad am I willing to do in the cause of good?

In Lincoln, written by Tony Kushner and directed by Steven Spielberg, President Lincoln so firmly believes in the necessity of Emancipation that he is willing to authorize all manner of arm-twising, dirty deals, and political bribery to get the bill passed.  At the time, Thaddeus Stevens, played in the movie by Tommy Lee Jones, said, “”The greatest measure in the nineteenth century was passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America.”

 

In Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal and directed by Katherine Bigelow, a young CIA operative called Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, is obsessed with finding and killing Osama Bin Ladin. She is involved in morally reprehensible torture in order to help track down her quarry.  She is driven and relentless, so much so that when she is successful she has no idea what to do next.

Bigelow explains in an interview, “I think what’s so interesting and so poignant for Jessica, myself, for all of us, is this idea that this woman (Maya) has spent the last ten years exclusively in the pursuit of one man and yes, at the end of the day, she triumphed, but it’s not a victory because finally, at the end of the day, you’re left with much larger questions like, where does she go from here? Where do we go from here? Now what?” Chastain adds, “I find that to end the film on that question is far more interesting than providing an answer.”

Can I find the flexibility, the forgiveness, or the mercy to make reasonable compromises?

In Lincoln, the person that has a real protagonist’s journey is Tommy Lee Jones in the role of Thaddeus Stevens. Stevens spent his political life advocating for total Negro emancipation, including the right to vote and own property. He was adamant and uncompromising. In the final, down-to-the-wire vote-taking, Stevens must turn his back on everything he has always stood for in order to assure that Lincoln’s lesser bill passes. Steven’s struggles mightily with his conscience but finally allows practicality to win.

At the time Stevens said: “Believing then, that this is the best proposition that can be made effectual, I accept it. I shall not be driven by clamor or denunciation to throw away a great good because it is not perfect. I will take all I can get in the cause of humanity and leave it to be perfected by better men in better times.”

Steven’s leap of faith was being flexible enough to allow an imperfect bill to pass because that served the greater good.

In the film, Les Miserables, written by William Nicholson and directed by Tom Hopper, prison guard Javert, played by Russell Crowe, cannot compromise his strict moral standards.  He finds it impossible to have mercy and not enforce the strict letter of the law.  What is legal is not always just.  And what is just is not always legal.  This is a great dilemma for Power of Conscience characters.  Javert is in such conflict that he would rather kill himself rather than compromise his precise and rigid sense of duty in favor of what is just and merciful.

 

In the animated film, Brave, written by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, and Irene Mecchi, and directed by Andrews and Chapman and co-directed by Purcell, Queen Elinor is a Power of Conscience character. She is a strict and demanding taskmaster, a perfectionist, and is driven by a strong sense of tradition and royal responsibility. Over the course of the story she finds the flexibility to recognize her daughter’s uniqueness and she learns to fully appreciate Merida for who she is.

What is the higher duty?

Power of Conscience character universally wrestle with the question of what their inherent morality and sense of duty asks of them.  These  characters fear not living up to their own internal standards or sense of propriety and decency.  They are afraid of being or becoming unworthy and must continually prove their own “goodness”  or “righteousness”. These characters don’t fear failure in the eyes of the world; they fear not living up to their own (often impossibly high) moral or ethical standards.

As I said before: What is just is not always legal or proper. And what is legal or proper is not always just.  What is more important?  Is the spirit of the law or the letter of the law more important?  When is it right to be pragmatic and flexible rather than unbending and unyielding in your standards? When is being flexible and pragmatic being lax and immoral? Power of Conscience characters provide a fascinating glimpse into one set of humanity’s great dilemmas.

 

#TypesTuesday – The Dark Knight Rises

the_dark_knight_rises-wallpaper-1152x864Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, is a powerful portrayal of a Power of Truth character. I liked the film a lot.

Nolan’s whole Batman trilogy is remarkably consistent in its emotional and psychological characterizations. In the Emotional Toolbox method, rather than looking at genre, the essential emotional force driving the movie is analyzed. Nolan’s trilogy is a series of complex multi-layered Power of Truth stories.

These kinds of stories are driven by secrets, lies, conspiracies, or concealment. In the opening of The Dark Knight Rises a huge lie is rotting at the heart of Gotham City.

Bruce Wayne/Batman languishes in disgrace, broken and hiding in his cavernous mansion. Harvey Dent, who had become the criminally insane Two Face in the previous film, The Dark Knight, has been put on a pedestal and is revered as a hero. His crimes are concealed and even blamed on Batman.

When the terrorist villian Bane takes over Gotham he exposes the lie. Bane says: “Behind you stands a symbol of oppression; Blackgate Prison, where a thousand men have languished under the name of this man.”

Harvey-Dent-the-dark-knight-9471370-543-359Bane holds up a picture of Harvey Dent and continues, “Harvey Dent, has been held up to you as the shining example of justice …You have been supplied with a false idol to stop you from tearing down this corrupt city. Let me tell you the truth about Harvey Dent from the words of Gotham’s police commissioner, James Gordon.”

Bane quotes Gordon’s letter, “‘The Batman didn’t murder Harvey Dent, he saved my boy then took the blame for Harvey’s appalling crimes so that I could, to my shame, build a lie around this fallen idol. I praised the mad man who tried to murder my own child but I can no longer live with my lie. It is time to trust the people of Gotham with the truth and it is time for me to resign.'”

Bane asks the crowd, “And do you accept this man’s resignation? Do you accept the resignation of all these liars? Of all the corrupt?”

Police Officer John Blake watches the speech on television says to Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, “Those men were locked up for eight years in Blackgate and denied parole under the Dent Act, based on a lie?”

Gordon explains, “Gotham needed a hero …”

Blake is disgusted, “You betrayed everything you stood for.”

The Dark Knight Rises and all Power of Truth stories chronicle the most profound and personal betrayals. These stories also ask: when does betrayal look like loyalty and when does loyalty looks like betrayal? These stories’ twists, turns, treachery, and reversals, changes everything the character believes is true. All the character holds dear is destroyed.

One of the major betrayals at the heart of the film is Alfred Pennyworth’s omission in telling Bruce Wayne what happened just before Bruce’s great love, Rachel Dawes, died. Alfred argues against Bruce re-emerging as Batman, revealing the truth.

2517-27939Alfred says, “I’ll get this (package) to Mr. Fox, but no more. I’ve sewn you up, I’ve set your bones, but I won’t bury you. I’ve buried enough members of the Wayne family.”

Bruce Wayne can’t believe Alfred would leave him.

Alfred explains, “You see only one end to your journey. Leaving is all I have to make you understand, you’re not Batman anymore. You have to find another way. You used to talk about finishing a life beyond that awful cape.”

Bruce argues that Rachel died believing that the two of them would be together; that was his life beyond the cape. He can’t just move on. She didn’t, she couldn’t.

Alfred reluctantly tells the truth, “What if she had? What if, before she died, she wrote a letter saying she chose Harvey Dent over you? And what if, to spare your pain, I burnt that letter?”

Bruce accuses Alfred of just using Rachel to try to stop him.

Alfred is adamant. “I am using the truth, Master Wayne. Maybe it’s time we all stop trying to outsmart the truth and let it have its day. I’m sorry.”

Bruce can’t believe his ears. “You’re sorry? You expect to destroy my world and then think we’re going to shake hands?”

Alfred sadly admits that he knows what exposing this truth means. “It means your hatred… and it also means losing someone that I have cared for since I first heard his cries echo through this house. But it might also mean saving your life. And that is more important.”

Bruce Wayne turns on Alfred and bids him an angry good-bye.

Alfred’s action precisely echoes what Batman himself does at the end of the previous film, The Dark Knight. At the end of that film, Batman takes on the burden of Two Face’s crimes to give Gotham a “hero.” Batman turns himself into someone he’s not in the eyes of the public. Like Alfred tries to “save” Bruce Wayne/Batman from the truth, Batman tries to “save” Gotham from the truth.

movie-review-the-dark-knight-rises-620x413In Power of Truth stories, like Nolan’s Batman triology, things are never what they seem.  The tangled undergrowth of human duplicity catches and pulls at every character in the film.

In The Dark Knight Rises, deep below Gotham, a secret city seethes in rebellion. The terrorist Bane rises from underground to take over Gotham.  His complex subterranean lair tunnels under Gotham and undermines its very foundations. The hidden  criminal enclave is a visual symbol that under the assumptions of the slick shiny city surface dark deceit and a world of pain wait– For Batman and for anyone else in Gotham City.

#TypesTuesday – The Avengers

The Avengers is a continuing box office smash hit.  The clarity of the characters, their witty on-point interactions, and their specific personal conflicts with each other contribute just as much to the movie’s success as the smash-em-up-whiz-bang action.

The character moments were my favorite parts of the movie because, I confess, the 3-D gave me a splitting headache and the action scenes go on a tad long for my personal taste.

The movie begins with the premise that humanity will be annihilated if Loki, the bitter banished demigod, opens a hole in space to let in an invading mechanized army. Loki is adopted, hates his brother, Thor, and wants to destroy the earth Thor loves and protects.

This crisis brings together the reluctant Avengers teammates.  Each portrays his or her Character Type with nearly pitch perfect attitude and dialogue.

The-Avengers-2012-upcoming-movies-29945637-1280-1024Loki is a Power of Idealism demi-god villain:  Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and these Character Types believe they are meant for some kind of heroic destiny.

He says: I am Loki, of Asgard. And I am burdened with glorious purpose.

These characters are “divas” and want to be seen as special, unique, and extraordinary– something out of reach for Loki, who is always in the shadow of his more perfect “brother” Thor.  It was Thor who got all the glory and Loki is furious about that. A bit of dialogue says it all–

Tony Stark: Loki wants everyone to see what he’s doing.
Steve Rogers: Yeah, I caught his act at Stuttengard.
Tony Stark: That was a preview, this will be opening night. Loki’s a full-fledged diva, everything’s got to be about him. He wants a parade, flowers, anything that’ll bring in an audience. He needs someplace where everyone can see it’s him and he’s doing it, somewhere where his name is up in lights!
[pause]
Tony Stark: Sonofabitch!
[heads to Stark Tower]

Tony Stark: Loki wants everyone to see what he’s doing.

Steve Rogers: Yeah, I caught his act at Stuttengard.

Tony Stark: That was a preview, this will be opening night. Loki’s a full-fledged diva, everything’s got to be about him. He wants a parade, flowers, anything that’ll bring in an audience. He needs someplace where everyone can see it’s him and he’s doing it, somewhere where his name is up in lights!

chris-hemsworth-thor-movie-costume-mjolnir-hammer-488x341Thor is a  Power of Love demigod:  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) uses his strength and power to care for and protect the earth.  Despite everything, he still is attached to his adoptive brother, Loki, as evidenced in the following exchange:

Bruce Banner: I don’t think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.

Thor: Have a care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard. And he is my brother.

Natasha Romanoff: He killed eighty people in two days.

Thor: He’s adopted.

Thor is the son of Gaea, the nurturing mother earth herself. In his comic book backstory Thor is a caring doctor, Donald Black, who is willing to defy the might of Asgard for the woman he loves.  Power of Love characters are incredibly strong characters and are ferociously unstoppable when something they love and care for is in threatened.

iron_man_the_avengers_2012_movie-t2Iron Man is a Power of Excitement man-made superhero in his mechanized suit:  In his own words he is Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. In addition, he’s a jokester and an agent of chaos, who loves to stir things up. He’d especially like to see the Hulk get unleashed.

He says: “Dr. Banner, your work is unparalleled. And I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.”

Stark speaks frequently in the movie about escape or wanting to escape. Steve Rogers, Captain America, chides him for that saying Stark doesn’t have it in him to make the “sacrifice play” that puts others first. Tony Stark’s rakish push-the-envelop devil-may-care attitude continually presses everyone’s buttons in the story, but his charm, ready wit, and natural talent as an improvisor helps save the day.

Chris-Evans-in-The-Avengers-2012-Movie-ImageCaptain American is a Power of Conscience government laboratory experiment turned superhero: Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a super-soldier who believes in following rules, following orders, and the importance of the chain of command.  He can seem a little stiff and humorless at times but he is 100%  reliable, trustworthy, and always puts the good of the team first. The difference between Rogers and Stark is summed up in this exchange:

Steve Rogers: We have orders, we should follow them.

Tony Stark: Following’s not really my style.

Steve Rogers: And you’re all about style, aren’t you?

Tony Stark: Of the people in this room, which one is A – wearing a spangly outfit and B – not of much use?

Stark surprises Rogers at the climax. And Rogers learns to improvise more, following Stark’s example.

imagesThe Hulk is a Power of Will gamma ray experiment gone-wrong superhero:  Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), in his Hulk state, is all angry impulse. He is primitive. He’s strong. He is a mass of instinctual drives and impulses that only finds satisfaction in “Hulk smash!”  In his normal human state Banner controls his anger enough to be a protector (as a doctor in remote India) rather than a destroyer. But his raw uncontrollable instinctual side is never far away.

Steve Rogers: Doc… I think now is the perfect time for you to get angry.

Bruce Banner: That’s my secret Cap, I’m always angry.

The-Avengers-Black-Widow-Headshot-360x273The Black Widow is a Power of Truth super-spy: Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) doesn’t have super powers per se but she is as skilled a warrior as any of her other Avengers teammates. She lives in a spy vs. spy world that is filled with hidden dangers, secretive enemies, and concealed pitfalls. With the Black Widow– “Things are never what they seem.” “Trust no one.” “Question everything.” “Watch out for secret agendas and hidden pitfalls.” Just when an adversary thinks she is most vulnerable she is actually conducting a brilliant and treacherous interrogation.

hawkeye-the-avengers-01-610x458Hawkeye is a Power of Reason ultra-expert archer:  Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is a loner and a bit alienated, the perfect combination for his backstory and continuing role as sniper. He is a cold and calculating and spends the first half of the movie under the mind control of Loki.

There isn’t time for very much character development in The Avengers, but what there is is spot on.  Each hero is absolutely true to his or her Character Types in both word and deed. When every bit of dialogue and action has to count as character development, the Character Types will help you be as economical and on target as the characters here.

#TypesTuesday Bugs Bunny – Power of Excitement

hareextraordinaireI saw this in the LA Times today about the release of the new Bugs Bunny DVD collection:

Now, two new DVD collections of Bugs’ best work, “Bugs Bunny: Hare Extraordinaire” and “The Essential Bugs Bunny,” have been issued by Warner Home Video to remind viewers — who might have forgotten about his charms or carelessly classified him as a mere childish pleasure — of what the wascally wabbit could accomplish. “Hare Extraordinaire” features 15 previously unreleased-on-DVD Bugs shorts, and “The Essential Bugs Bunny” is a capacious two-disc set, with 12 original shorts joined by television specials such as “How Bugs Bunny Won the West” and a tribute documentary, “Ain’t He a Stinker.”

Bugs Bunny is a quintessential Power of Excitement character.  He is smart, sassy and adept at getting into and out of traps.  He is a an anarchist, refusing to obey rules (including the law of gravity).  “I never went to law school.”  Bugs is a charming agent of chaos in every one of his cartoon roles.

Power of Excitement characters play the role of the innovator, the explorer and the merry prankster. They keep things lively, entertaining, interesting and off-balance for all the other characters  At heart, these characters are anarchists.  They love to cause chaos to keep things amusing or to shake up the existing (dull, boring or pedantic) order of things.

You could do much worse than to model your next Power of Excitement hero on Bugs Bunny!

Power of Excitement characters play the role of the innovator, the explorer, the merry pranksters or the perennial “forever young” person in a story.
In whatever role these characters play, they are good humored, endlessly optimistic and great fun.  They keep things lively, entertaining, interesting and off-balance for all the other characters.
At heart, these characters are anarchists.  They love to cause chaos to keep things amusing or to shake up the existing (dull, boring or pedantic) order of things.

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