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Innocence and superpowers

19 Aug 2016 18:23 #49714 by shadar
Innocence and superpowers was created by shadar
I thought further about something I posted in another thread this morning, basically the concept I have that by far the most interesting superpowered females are young. In my case, perhaps mid-teens through early twenties.

I see it a matter of innocence, preserved or fading, and of learning about themselves and the world by looking through the eyes of a young, female superhero. Growing up super, if you will. There is something incredibly appealing about a cute girl growing up with superstrength, flight, etc.

Perhaps this is a limitation of imagination that afflicts me (and far more notable people like Josh Whedon), or perhaps it's more of a genre theme.

Super girls or super women? Or doesn't it matter?

So I thought I'd open up discussion of the topic here and see what other people think. While most of us can enjoy a range of characters, what age/experience range is most appealing to you to read (or even more importantly, write!) a story involving a superpowered female?

Tied to that, are we as authors underserving our audience? Do people want to see more stories about hyper-confident, experienced and well-traveled superwomen, maybe Supergirl in her late 30's, or stories about someone who has yet to learn and experience all the things the world can throw at her?

Strangely, I like Kal El best when he is experienced and mature. When his confidence comes from a decades of experience in facing every imaginable kind of threat. Yet I like Kara Zor-El best when she's new at the game. Or am I just being inappropriately sexist in my own peculiar way?

Shadar
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19 Aug 2016 18:39 #49715 by lfan
Replied by lfan on topic Innocence and superpowers
I personally like my supergirls to be a cross somewhere between child-like wonderment and "man-this-is-freakin-cool" when they have their powers. Even after the initial discovery, I think the old "this never gets old" excitement of using their powers is what pushes my buttons, personally. I like confidence but not at the expense of it being "routine" when they exercise their powers.

My $.02
ElF


shadar wrote: I thought further about something I posted in another thread this morning, basically the concept I have that by far the most interesting superpowered females are young. In my case, perhaps mid-teens through early twenties.

I see it a matter of innocence, preserved or fading, and of learning about themselves and the world by looking through the eyes of a young, female superhero. Growing up super, if you will. There is something incredibly appealing about a cute girl growing up with superstrength, flight, etc.

Perhaps this is a limitation of imagination that afflicts me (and far more notable people like Josh Whedon), or perhaps it's more of a genre theme.

Super girls or super women? Or doesn't it matter?

So I thought I'd open up discussion of the topic here and see what other people think. While most of us can enjoy a range of characters, what age/experience range is most appealing to you to read (or even more importantly, write!) a story involving a superpowered female?

Tied to that, are we as authors underserving our audience? Do people want to see more stories about hyper-confident, experienced and well-traveled superwomen, maybe Supergirl in her late 30's, or stories about someone who has yet to learn and experience all the things the world can throw at her?

Strangely, I like Kal El best when he is experienced and mature. When his confidence comes from a decades of experience in facing every imaginable kind of threat. Yet I like Kara Zor-El best when she's new at the game. Or am I just being inappropriately sexist in my own peculiar way?

Shadar

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19 Aug 2016 18:43 #49716 by AuGoose
Replied by AuGoose on topic Innocence and superpowers
It's not just female characters. In general protagonists are the bearers of potential, and their opposite number in the plot is an adult: complete and in the fullness of their power.

As I've gotten older, not surprisingly I find most of those youngsters tediously vapid and simply adore the rare tale of a hero who is well past their origin story and can put on a BIGGER show because they already have their footing. Potential is everywhere and the reality is most of it will always go unrealized. So while I see the appeal of that 'oh, this is the one that will do it' I'm far more entertained by 'heh, this is the one who has done it... and keeps on doing it. Well.'

The recent Tarzan movie was a spectacular example of this. There is no point at which anyone is unclear that this is TARZAN, a fully operation battle station entirely capable of wrecking your world. Warcraft was also a fine example of this - Lothar is not a hero in the making. He's THE PRINCIPLE BADASS of his entire nation and when he show up shit. gets. done. Both also demonstrate that the economics of the hero fully formed are not great with the escapist entertainment audience. More people want to be reassured that underdogs always win than to be reminded that no, heroes are few and far between and you've probably missed your shot at being one.

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19 Aug 2016 18:52 - 19 Aug 2016 18:54 #49717 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Innocence and superpowers
I like that you can separate the mental state of the character from their age. I agree with you that its the innocence and wonder that makes it work. It technically doesn't require a young person if you presume that super-powers appear later. Some people are forever open and childlike in their outlook. Wonder Woman was ancient when she arrived on Earth, but she had a childlike innocence the way Lynda Carter portrayed her, which was a big part of her appeal.

But I think this range (from "child-like wonderment and "man-this-is-freakin-cool") is most convincing in someone who actually is young. I mean, does it really play at age 50? Not for me. The norm is for people to gain experience as they grow older, so innocence and inexperience (as well as wonder) are more common traits in the young.

Shadar

lfan wrote: I personally like my supergirls to be a cross somewhere between when they have their powers. Even after the initial discovery, I think the old "this never gets old" excitement of using their powers is what pushes my buttons, personally. I like confidence but not at the expense of it being "routine" when they exercise their powers.

My $.02
ElF


shadar wrote: I thought further about something I posted in another thread this morning, basically the concept I have that by far the most interesting superpowered females are young. In my case, perhaps mid-teens through early twenties.

I see it a matter of innocence, preserved or fading, and of learning about themselves and the world by looking through the eyes of a young, female superhero. Growing up super, if you will. There is something incredibly appealing about a cute girl growing up with superstrength, flight, etc.

Perhaps this is a limitation of imagination that afflicts me (and far more notable people like Josh Whedon), or perhaps it's more of a genre theme.

Super girls or super women? Or doesn't it matter?

So I thought I'd open up discussion of the topic here and see what other people think. While most of us can enjoy a range of characters, what age/experience range is most appealing to you to read (or even more importantly, write!) a story involving a superpowered female?

Tied to that, are we as authors underserving our audience? Do people want to see more stories about hyper-confident, experienced and well-traveled superwomen, maybe Supergirl in her late 30's, or stories about someone who has yet to learn and experience all the things the world can throw at her?

Strangely, I like Kal El best when he is experienced and mature. When his confidence comes from a decades of experience in facing every imaginable kind of threat. Yet I like Kara Zor-El best when she's new at the game. Or am I just being inappropriately sexist in my own peculiar way?

Shadar

Last edit: 19 Aug 2016 18:54 by shadar.

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19 Aug 2016 19:04 #49719 by lfan
Replied by lfan on topic Innocence and superpowers

AuGoose wrote: The recent Tarzan movie was a spectacular example of this....


So YOU were the person that went to see it! ::P:

ElF

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19 Aug 2016 19:09 #49720 by lfan
Replied by lfan on topic Innocence and superpowers
While the "child-like wonderment and "man-this-is-freakin-cool" (skewing towards the latter) mostly would apply to mostly younger supergirls, I think it also serves for older supergirls during the initial "honeymoon" period with their powers. For clarification, I typically like (and write) stories rooted either close to origins or some other sense of self-discovery.

I think your notion of supergirls becoming more confident and gaining experience as they mature is completely valid -- and natural. I just prefer my stories to skew towards the left side of the "growing up super" spectrum.

ElF

shadar wrote: I like that you can separate the mental state of the character from their age. I agree with you that its the innocence and wonder that makes it work. It technically doesn't require a young person if you presume that super-powers appear later. Some people are forever open and childlike in their outlook. Wonder Woman was ancient when she arrived on Earth, but she had a childlike innocence the way Lynda Carter portrayed her, which was a big part of her appeal.

But I think this range (from "child-like wonderment and "man-this-is-freakin-cool") is most convincing in someone who actually is young. I mean, does it really play at age 50? Not for me. The norm is for people to gain experience as they grow older, so innocence and inexperience (as well as wonder) are more common traits in the young.

Shadar

lfan wrote: I personally like my supergirls to be a cross somewhere between when they have their powers. Even after the initial discovery, I think the old "this never gets old" excitement of using their powers is what pushes my buttons, personally. I like confidence but not at the expense of it being "routine" when they exercise their powers.

My $.02
ElF


shadar wrote: I thought further about something I posted in another thread this morning, basically the concept I have that by far the most interesting superpowered females are young. In my case, perhaps mid-teens through early twenties.

I see it a matter of innocence, preserved or fading, and of learning about themselves and the world by looking through the eyes of a young, female superhero. Growing up super, if you will. There is something incredibly appealing about a cute girl growing up with superstrength, flight, etc.

Perhaps this is a limitation of imagination that afflicts me (and far more notable people like Josh Whedon), or perhaps it's more of a genre theme.

Super girls or super women? Or doesn't it matter?

So I thought I'd open up discussion of the topic here and see what other people think. While most of us can enjoy a range of characters, what age/experience range is most appealing to you to read (or even more importantly, write!) a story involving a superpowered female?

Tied to that, are we as authors underserving our audience? Do people want to see more stories about hyper-confident, experienced and well-traveled superwomen, maybe Supergirl in her late 30's, or stories about someone who has yet to learn and experience all the things the world can throw at her?

Strangely, I like Kal El best when he is experienced and mature. When his confidence comes from a decades of experience in facing every imaginable kind of threat. Yet I like Kara Zor-El best when she's new at the game. Or am I just being inappropriately sexist in my own peculiar way?

Shadar

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19 Aug 2016 19:11 #49721 by AuGoose
Replied by AuGoose on topic Innocence and superpowers
If FLYING by your will alone doesn't give you a sense of wonder at any age, your soul is dead.

Flipping cars one handed is also gonna be a thrill too, I should think. And in fact probably MORE of a thrill to a person whose experiences include a lifetime of physicality and who has some perspective on just how strong or not people really are. A 60-year old longshoreman suddenly able to lift tons will have a lot more to say about how awesome it is that I want to hear than a high-schooler whose most physical experience ever was helping push-start a friend's car.

Now, a more mature sense of wonder might not demand you drool all over yourself with glee, but wonder is something we (hopefully) experience all our lives. From the most miraculous sunset in a decade to discovering the beauty in a piece of art or architecture that steals your breath away to the joy found in the long awaited achievement of some dream that's been tantalizingly just out of reach for longer than some of these youngsters the genre focuses on have been alive.
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19 Aug 2016 19:16 #49723 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Innocence and superpowers

AuGoose wrote: More people want to be reassured that underdogs always win than to be reminded that no, heroes are few and far between and you've probably missed your shot at being one.


I hadn't thought of it that way, but I can see the appeal of the hyper-experienced older bad guy and the underdog (inexperienced, young) hero.

Part of that could be that in current western culture, we generally attribute less honorable and idealistic intentions on older people. As opposed to traditional cultures who revered the elderly, many (most) people today see older more powerful people as the reason why things are screwed up.

Given that, our entertainment fiction would likely follow the same pattern. There is always hope a young person becomes a hero. We see it as less likely that the grizzled, hardened and powerful old guy does.

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19 Aug 2016 19:29 #49725 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Innocence and superpowers
A litmus test... assuming you only knew what you see in these pictures, would you rather watch the older or the younger blonde going through the process of learning to use newly granted superpowers?

Older:



Younger:

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19 Aug 2016 19:32 #49726 by jay_manus
Replied by jay_manus on topic Innocence and superpowers
You know, I thought this topic started out naive, but it's actually quite intriguing. I agree that innocence and isn't-this-cool are at or near the root of the appeal, but after reading your comments, I wonder whether those qualities always have to be tied to youth. It would be an interesting challenge to write a story which captures them in an older character. I don't know, maybe a housewife?

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19 Aug 2016 19:52 #49729 by AuGoose
Replied by AuGoose on topic Innocence and superpowers
I know which of those two women I'd expect to exercise their powers to play the occasional prank that I'd find actually funny and likely well deserved by the victim.

There's a lot to be said for the more subtle and sophisticated application of those powers once you've grasped their scope.

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20 Aug 2016 03:04 #49735 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic Innocence and superpowers
This is actually quite the pivotal question, not just for our genre, but for narrative in general.
Fir a strictly functional point of view the questio should be: what kind of story do I want to tell? And, who is the better protagonist for it?
If course our cultural background color each age with some specific ideas and emotions and superpowers are an easy metaphor for the coming of age, making younger characters more easily suited for some origin stories.
Still I think that our genre is about possibilities and we shouldn't be afraid to break the mold and ground the bits to dust if needed. Superpowers can represent something else, maybe emancipation or self-discovery, more suited for a more adult character.
At the same time, as others observed, it's not right to restrict some ideas exclusively to a particular age or way of life; thinking outside the box is a great skill that needs to be used whenever possible, but to exercise it we need to know the box very well at first.

All things considered, this might be ghe readon I'm so obsessed with family stories: they allow to showcase many different character and reactions to the same situation in a compact way.

(formerly Anon, still Librarian)

"What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?" ("Gentleman" John Marcone)
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20 Aug 2016 18:53 #49745 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic Innocence and superpowers
I agree with Woodclaw on the appeal of family stories. They are some of the most satisfying to write, especially when we can portray the dynamics of family life with one member who is an adoptive daughter from the stars.

In one of my unfinished family-oriented stories, I used this image in a character bio for a visiting Velorian who was living in an ordinary family in present day Earth. A step-sister/daughter who was supposed to stay hidden, but was having trouble with that given she couldn't bear to see anyone getting hurt. She has a very good heart -- so good that it's getting harder and harder to keep her hidden. Enough that her town is getting a reputation for strange events.

The rest of her adoptive family is trying valiantly to preserve her cover, often in humorous ways.

At least that the intent of the story, which remains largely incomplete at this time.

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21 Aug 2016 08:26 #49752 by castor
Replied by castor on topic Innocence and superpowers
You know one of the stories of mine i keep going back to:

Wrote A short screenplay of it, wrote a feature screenplay of it,I have thought about expanding it into novel: is SP: A Blip in Time.

And i think beyond its kind of intresting premise(which is women discovers she has superspeed-but not imedieate control of it)...is the her response

At First Shes doubting that it happens. Then Shes Crazy. then kinda of daze. Then she tries to figure it out. Then Panic, the impatience. Then the realization of joy that she has super powers. Then she realizes the kinda limitations of it, which start to make her think about her life and her privlages in it Then questioning the morality of it. then to straight out doubting it. Then kinda of wonder how she can face normal life agian. Then it kinda caps off with joy.

I may have skipped a few steps.

In short its kinda of all over the map, it constantly changes-it not the six stages of grief, but its the complexity of emotion in significant event-and that to me at least is kinda of neat as a writer. I could imagine a supergirl feeing 20 things at once the first time she has her powers. and that can be kinda cool.

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21 Aug 2016 09:31 #49753 by Monty
Replied by Monty on topic Innocence and superpowers
I thought this classic work of Lingster would sit nice right here...

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