#WritingTips Understanding Character Archetypes

What do we mean when we say, CHARACTER ARCHETYPES?

The simple explanation:
An archetype is the typical and traditional characters, plots, settings, themes, and symbols found in 99% of all stories. Character Archetypes are the “blueprints” for characters that we draw on to fill necessary roles within a story.

Who is the story’s Protagonist?
The Hero

Who helps the Protagonist get what they want?
The Sidekick

Who is trying to keep the Protagonist from their goal?
The Villain

Who is connected to the Protagonist’s emotional/physical growth?
The Mentor

Let's Look at the Most Common Types


Lawful Good
Strength of character is tested at each point of their journey.
Thrive on challenges even when reluctant to tackle them.
Sensitive to injustice.
Protective of weaker characters.
WEAKNESS = Hubris.

Examples: Harry Potter, Wonder Woman, Robin Hood


Chaotic Good
Past trauma shapes their personality
Selfish or self-serving motivations.
Good and/or Evil is treated like a business transaction.
WEAKNESS = Narcissism.

Examples: Wolverine, Maleficent, Deadpool


Neutral Good
True Loyalty - There at all times, even when things are tough.
Voice of Reason (often ignored).
Unsung Hero / Similar qualities to their leader but do not rise to the same level.
WEAKNESS = Unwavering Devotion.

Examples: Tinker Bell, Samwise Gamgee, Little John


Lawful Evil - Chaotic Evil
Often motivated by fear.
Traumatic past shapes their personality, but do not develop sense of morality to allow them to become an anti-hero.
Moral foil of the hero. Their vice parallels the protagonists’ virtue. They create the need for a hero.
WEAKNESS = Lust for Power/Control.

Examples: Voldemort, Cruella DeVil, Skeletor


Neutral Good / Lawful Good
Provide: motivation, inspiration, guidance, training, and gifts for the journey
Was once in the Hero’s position. Speaks from experience.
Assists when needed, but does not take the hero’s journey to completion.
Moral Compass

Examples: Yoda, Dumbledore, Aslan

The Innocent
The Caregiver
The Lover
The Comic Relief
The Messenger
The Betrayer
The Trickster
The Ordinary Person

Examples: Merry and Pippin, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood

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Can You Trust a Djinn?

Sage's first run-in with a Djinn.
Agents of ASSET #2

A dark figure lurked under the stairs leading to a second-story apartment. His face half concealed all Sage could make out were a pair of silver eyes, glowing like a beacon. Enchanting, as if possessing their own light, his eyes instantly gave away his magical nature.
“I’ve never seen such a pout before. Someone run over your favorite pet or something?” The man flicked at the cigarette in his hand, emitting a miniature explosion of hot ash that faded before it hit the ground.
“Long night. I’m fine.” Her oh-shit-there’s-a-dude-lurking-in-the-shadows-in-the-middle-of-the-night senses were tingling. She casually reached her hand down to the knife she kept folded in her pocket. Just in case.
“Didn’t mean to surprise you.” He stepped out from under the stairs into the porch-light of the lower level apartment. Holding his hands out in plain sight, as if to show her he wasn’t a creeper, he made all the right motions to appear non-threatening. “We’re having a party upstairs. Kind of a housewarming. Haven’t met too many of my new neighbors.”
His gesture wasn’t lost on her, though she kept her hand firmly grasping the knife. Under the path lighting, he appeared to be about her age. If she had to guess, maybe early twenties, but the shaggy beginnings of a beard masked his features enough to make accuracy impossible.
“How do you know I’m a neighbor?” Sage asked, with a little more attitude than she’d intended. Definitely not a local. New to the apartment complex. She held on to the Cliff’s Notes of the conversation so far to recall later.
“Lucky guess. I mean, most people here have to have a key after hours, right?”
His smile didn’t look forced. No twitching muscles or clenched jaw.
“Right. Smart.” Sage hated small talk; her mind was too busy with the mystery of his magical type to move the conversation forward. She inspected him slowly, starting at his face. His teeth were normal, though not well taken care of. After her first failed encounter with vampire Zack, Sage remembered to always check for the teeth. This guy checked out – definitely not a vampire. But the silver eyes clearly placed him in the magical creature category. “You can never be too sure about people you meet after hours.”
“Sorry. That was a bit forward of me. Let’s start over.” He flicked away his cigarette and extended his hand as he walked over. “My name’s Luke.”
She couldn’t detect a specific accent to give him away, but his attitude had the casual easygoing feel of someone from the south, though the chin patch of a beard attached to a thin mustache gave him a distinctly Hollywood trendiness that suggested otherwise.
No ring on the finger. Not married, but he did say “we’re having a party.” Probably not single. So there could be more people like him in the apartment.
Dark as night, his hair fell around his head in long layers, creating a stunning contrast with his silver eyes. She’d seen that color before. It took her brain a few moments to run through all the faces she’d seen recently. Then it struck her – Devon had a similar color.
But this Luke… his eyes reflected the light like a demonic cat. Definitely magical.
Ogre? No. Devon’s muscles had muscles, and this guy looked more like a skinny hipster in comparison. Troll? No. She’d see through their glamour. Though both of his ears were pierced and enlarged with hoops big enough to see through, they were still normal ears. And even in the light, she could see his skin wasn’t green.
Sage realized she’d been standing silent too long to avoid awkwardness. “Sage.” She finally man-aged to coordinate her voice and thoughts.
Being a teensy bit more knowledgeable of the magical world would have come in handy at that point. Should she take the hand or not? So far, most of the creatures she’d met had been okay, but there were few that she wouldn’t want to touch any part of her, magical immunity or not. But short of being rude, Sage decided to reach out and meet Luke’s outstretched hand.
His eyes instantly sank below her neckline. Knowing where they were headed, Sage held her breath for the reaction. Her mark was proudly on display, like a neon sign for those with magic. Everyone knew what a Terra was.
And as expected, the recognition was there in his eyes as his hand met hers. She let her eyes drop as well, taking a peek at his arms for marking that might clue her into his type.
He had an impressive sleeve of tribal flame tattoos reaching from his wrist all the way to his elbow. But where her birthmark was static, his tattoos were alive. In constant motion, they burned silently, the flames gently licking at his elbows. She fought the urge to pull back in shock and reveal her ignorance. Marks like his had to be as notorious in the magical community as her own.
He gave her hand a quick business-like pump and let go. “Nice to know ASSET is in the neighborhood. Always makes you feel safe.”
She took the opportunity to play off his admitted newness to the area. “When did you move in?”
“Today, actually.” Luke had the type of smile that appeared without effort, like resting bitch face in reverse. She wondered if he had to work at pouting or looking angry.
Shadowrunner? Couldn’t be. He’d remained fully formed the entire time she’d watched him. She’d figure him out eventually, without asking.
His tattoos demanded admiration. Sage could hardly stop herself from looking at them. Gorgeous! She searched for something else to say to move the conversation along and came up short. “Just popped right in, I imagine.”
“More like commanded to move here by my ma…er…mate.” He chuckled nervously. “But I couldn’t have wished for an easier move.” His words sounded as if they carried a double meaning, but the joke flew right over her head.
She was right about one thing: he wasn’t single. Damn. He was cute, whatever he was. Sage grinned stupidly, not sure if she should laugh at his attempted joke. Silence never failed to create awkwardness.
Luke waggled his fingers like a magician. “You know, because I’m a djinn.”
“Right.” She nodded casually, hoping to hide her ignorance. He might as well as called himself a Martian. Djinn conjured up about the same image in her mind. She’d make damn sure to look him up when she made it back to her apartment, though. “Well, welcome to the neighborhood.”
“You sure you don’t want to come in and have a beer or something? We’ve got pizza too.”
The offer sounded sincere enough, no denying that, but embarrassment trumped spending more time with the guy who caused it.
“Raincheck?” Sage masked her unease with a neutral tone. “Got an early day at the office tomorrow.”
“Right. You guys are always busy.” His expression faded. “Keep protecting and serving.”
“You know it.” Sage snapped her fingers and pointed at Luke as if firing a pair of six-shooters at him. Instantly, she regretted the move. Embarrassment, party of one, your table is ready. All she needed were the pew pew sounds to really drive home her social awkwardness. Might as well put a bag over her face to complete the look.
Luke laughed, but she couldn’t tell if it had been directed at her or with her. Gods, she needed to get home and quick before she fell too far down the rabbit hole of awkwardness.
“See you around.”
“Yes you will,” Luke replied.

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Why did Captain Marvel punch Grandma?

Why did Captain Marvel punch Grandma?

Tuesday morning the internet was abuzz, #CaptainMarvel , #CarolDanvers, #BrieLarson, and #MarvelStudios were all trending as the long awaited trailer finally dropped.

Since Avengers 3, the world has had a big question on their mind. Who is Captain Marvel?

It’s a fair question too as her (and sometimes his) name has belonged to a multitude of characters. But for this article we’re just going to focus on the MCU version. The post credit scene at the end of Avengers 3 had Nick Fury sending out a distress call.

The response: a gold Hala Star outlined in red and blue. Captain Marvel.

Now that the trailer has dropped, the world has been given a new big question.

Why is Captain Marvel punching Grandma?

Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel
Typical first trailers in the MCU offer the most action packed or dramatic scenes in the upcoming movie. This trailer however felt as if it were explaining the character. Which makes perfect sense as the character of Captain Marvel is such an unknown to people. Smart move on Marvel Studios, if you ask me.

So how did they do it?

We open with Captain Marvel falling through the sky toward a Blockbuster video. Right off the bat you know three things.

1.      She’s already got her powers. Obvious by the Kree uniform she is wearing. (Carol Danvers is or was human until she was infused with DNA changing energy that gave her powers. After that she served with Kree warriors in StarForce.)

2.      This is not a typical origin story. Since they are showing her in both the Kree and Captain Marvel costumes during this movie it cannot be an origin story. There wouldn’t be enough time to tell it and cover all her time spent in the Kree special ops unit as well as becoming what we know as Captain Marvel. So we have to assume it is going to show some of this in flashback rather than start from the ground up.
3.      This movie is set in the 90’s because when was the last time you were in a Blockbuster video Store? 

While this isn’t going to be an origin story, Carol Danvers does drop a clue that she has “memory gaps” which emphasizes the point of this not being told in chronological order but does tell us that we will be shown the important parts of how she became Captain Marvel.

This is important for us to know because, as I said earlier, many people are wondering who this character is. She’s not as well-known as Iron Man or Captain America, and her comic book history has a lot of variations to wade through. Not to mention, another character getting a movie in the DC universe, Shazam, also holds the title Marvel. The Kree responsible for Carol getting her powers also went by Mar-Vel. And, yet another character we will hopefully meet in this movie, Monica Rambeau has also held the title in the comics (though she’s better known as Photon). Try googling Captain Marvel sometime, but you had better plan for an all-nighter because there is a lot of information to wade through.  

But we’re getting off track. Back to the trailer.

Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) begins a voice over talking about war, soldiers, aliens, and the like as we see Carol Danvers looking very confused with the world she’s landed in. It is here we get our first look at a young (de-aged) Nick Fury. He admits he was about ready to give up until her appearance renewed his interest (in S.H.I.E.L.D. we assume).

We also get the admission from Danvers, that she is having memory gaps, and her history is complicated. Visually this is explained by quick transitions between her time as an Airforce pilot as well as her time on the Kree world, working with StarForce.

Samuel L Jackson comes back to voice “We have no idea what threats are out there.” Just as they quickly flash between Fury watching an alien autopsy while holding an ice pack over his (possibly missing eye) and Skrull warriors emerging from the water. This visual clue for the viewer sets up the “enemy.” Then amongst the quick visual flashes, we see the seemingly sweet old lady that Danvers punches.

I found it odd that they flashed those sequences so quickly as they are of extreme importance. You miss the first and the second doesn’t make sense. If you only saw Carol punching the lady, you’d assume she was a villain.

I’m sure Marvel had their reasons for such quick cuts. And I have no doubt that “Why did Captain Marvel punch an old lady,” was topping the search engine requests shortly after it was broadcast. But really, if Marvel studios was doing what I assumed they were doing with this trailer– helping people understand who Captain Marvel is – they would have spent just a teensy bit more time showing us that the Skrull are shape shifters. That sweet looking old grandma was anything but. Sadly, those who do not know might have been put off by it.
Not everyone is going to spend hours researching a new unknown hero without good reason and painting her as a granny puncher might have been something for trailer #2. Just my two cents.

Back to the breakdown.
The quick cuts did not end with the granny punch. Following Danver’s wicked right cross, Samuel L. Jackson (Fury) talks about needing her help. There is a smooth transition between the words Her and A Hero that are well timed with Fury’s words about needing a warrior. This further solidifies the position Danvers is in during the movie. She’s got potential but has not reached it yet, despite her powers. (Classic, Hero’s Journey)

They continue to flash eye candy like Ronan the Accuser (you might remember him from Guardians of the Galaxy), Agent Coulson (Who doesn’t love him?), and an explosion enveloping Danvers in blue light (There’s your origin story flashback).

All of this culminates in Danvers saying “I’m not what you think I am.” While they quick cut to various shots of her character standing up to fight.

Very typical of the Hero’s Journey arc: refusing the call to action, but ultimately doing it for the greater good.

Based on the information gleaned from the two-minute trailer, and knowing that after Avengers 3, she is the last call Nick Fury makes, we know she will fight. She will win. And that sets her up to be the Super Hero who can help them defeat Thanos in Avengers 4.

So, to summarize.
The movie drops March 2019.
This is only the first trailer – Character arc heavy. Watch for future trailers to learn more.
The trailer sets us up with three major plots: Time in StarForce, Kree-Skrull war (Secret Invasion), and Taking the mantle Captain Marvel.
This is a further MCU defining story. Not only are you going to see how Captain Marvel is set up to be the helper of the Avengers in their 4th movie, but you’re going to learn more about characters you’ve already met : Nick Fury, Agent Phil Coulson, Ronan the Accuser.

Easter Eggs:
Blockbuster Video
Nick Fury’s pager.
Nick Fury’s eye injury.
Maria Rambeau. (Mother of Monica Rambeau aka Photon)
Ronan the Accuser. (GOTG)
Korath the Pursuer. (GOTG)
Kree Starforce
Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. (Potential Energy Group/Alternate Sources/United States) S.H.I.E.L.D. joint taskforce scientific base. – This is the base they blew up in Avengers 1.