Superheroes

This past week I’ve been binge watching The Boys, an Amazon Prime series with an interesting premise. The twist to the series is representing superheroes as extremely flawed beings. The revelation on why they are so flawed comes about later in the series. However, I was stuck on how villainous the series made most of the core of superheroes.

So far, the least repulsive of the group are the two females, who are later joined by a third. One happens to be a closeted lesbian, who is flawed, but I believe represented in a way that makes the audience root for her. The other is almost a true superhero but definitely lacks the requisite backbone to fit the bill. And then there is the third female who joins the seven and at first, I was thinking oh yeah, finally a badass to really root for, only to have my hopes dashed in an epic fashion. She ends up being right up there with the lead psychopath in utter repulsiveness. What fascinated me most was how the superheroes were so human in their various flaws. Ultimately everything ends up making sense, but at first we are shocked that superheroes can be so human. Sometimes we are also shocked when beloved characters in a book are so human as well. We want them to be superheroes without special abilities.

This got to me thinking about books and how authors choose to represent their main characters. Most readers want the characters to be flawed so growth is shown by the end of the novel. However, the character can’t be too flawed or they run the risk of being unlikable. I’ve seen critiques on both sides. Either the character is too perfect, or they’re too flawed, even if those flaws are pretty standard in the “real” world. People don’t stand up to their shitty girlfriends, or they let pride get in the way and let “the one” go without a fight. Sometimes the character says something mean out of anger or frustration and that is a step too far when the other main character is more likable.

Lesfic or WLW books have their list of acceptable flaws. The heart-broken woman who sleeps around without a care because they are too afraid to trust is a popular one. The shy, nerdy girl who has zero self esteem and lets everyone run over her until the “right” one comes along to help her see her value is another one. The ice queen who is a total bitch because of various scenarios growing up and then finds the perfect woman to thaw her bitchy core is probably one of the most acceptable flawed characters.

Recently, I wrote a book where I made the mistake of making the characters a little unbalanced. One is so lovable that it was hard to bring the other character up to her level. I made some edits to try to breach the gap, but I probably didn’t do enough. As I thought long and hard on this, I decided I wanted her to be more human, less perfect. Because that is life. We are all flawed, yet that does not mean we are not deserving of love. I decided that despite her flaws, she deserved the love of the other character. Or maybe I was just too lazy to do any major edits! Yup, I am very flawed.

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Often there is an imbalance in relationships because it is hard to achieve a perfect balance. If a couple stays together long enough, the balance will shift. That is the true nature of relationships. I sure feel that imbalance sometimes because my wife spoils me. I’d like to think I make up for it on occasion. Maybe I did that when I spent three hours cooking to prepare for an upcoming RV trip so we have food to take with us. <Shrugs>

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