Animated Movies, Character Development, Character Structure, Characteristics, Comic Book Movies, Concepts and Ideas, Creative Writing, J's Writing Corners, JRPG, Main Characters, Narrative, Narrative Structure, Plot Structure, Sequels, Square-Enix, Uncategorized, Video Games

J’s Writing Corner: Main Characters

Allow me to introduce you to the first of many articles focused on the scope of writing and development within storytelling. These Writing Corners will act as my personal interpretation into distinct elements for storytelling and other topics that align with the main focus of the centered article. While most of the examples that I will use will be related to video games, I will outline the most important parts, aligning them in reference to written literature structures, and using them as a base to universally connect the two forms of art together. In this week’s WC, I’ll start us off with a concept that is essential to creating a story, a fundamental that is necessary for direction and establishing forms of narrative: Main Characters.

What makes the Main Character the main interest of a story?

In many stories, if not all, there’s a directive notice to the plot in which the MC is either apart of or has a hand in playing which leads to the events that create the story. Their appearance is used in a way to narrate the story, illustrating points and/or details that would’ve had otherwise been overlooked through the eyes of multiple characters. The main character could be considered the “missing puzzle piece” within the story that prevents further conflict from arising within the world or could be the very thing that is causing conflict and is unaware of it.

When introducing the main character within your story, it’s important to remember simple concepts and structures that are to be used with every character:

  • Story and Character Development: A character within a story deserves every bit of detail and attention to their appearance within their works. This application doubles in priority for the main character as they are our eyes and ears to the situation within their titled works. A knight that is tasked with saving a princess and slaying a dragon would be informed about the dragon, how powerful it is, whether it’s safe to fight it now or later, and if it can be defeated. As much detail can be given about the dragon that hasn’t been seen on the screen/page, the same amount of detail can be given to the titular character that isn’t aware they are the main focus for us, the readers/players, as the tale unfolds.dragon-quest-viii-journey-of-the-cursed-king-444835.2 A good example of story and character development for the main character that I found to be one of the better standards was in Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King. The synopsis of the tale accounts to a cursed king, cursed into a toad-like monster, and his equally cursed daughter, who’s been turned into a horse, roaming the land alongside a single guard who was unaffected by the curse that had been cast by a vengeful jester wielding an ancient and powerful staff. While the title of the game states that the cursed king might have some importance within the game (Which holds true in some degrees) it’s treated as a red herring but, in a twist, it’s subverted in the direction of our silent main character. With the king and princess in their altered states, one more hostile to civilians than others, the guard acts as their liaison, representing the kingdom, fighting their battles, sharing in part their troubles as a soldier, and continues to follow the king and princess, instilling hope in their advances to defeat the man that caused this conflict, lifting the curse and bringing peace back to the kingdom.

    Now, without saying a word, the main character has already shown a distinct sign of loyalty to his king and princess in helping them regain their kingdom. The game follows up with the player in revealing more about the main character as a knight that has served the king faithfully and has suffered from amnesia since appearing at the castle as a young child; showing proof in further testimonies to his development as a character – un-wavered by these memories throughout the entirety of the story. Along the way, he’s met with other characters that join in his quest to help the cursed king. He’s shown immeasurable trust amongst these characters, which furthers develop his ability to lead as the game progresses, and is even recognized through the efforts of the cursed king who deems him worthy as a candidate for marriage with his daughter; something which is exclusively forbidden since commoners are unable to marry royalty without their own royal backgrounds within this setting.


    Despite his silent disposition, he’s established his character as a righteous knight that travels with the remains of royalty from a cursed kingdom and sees the journey to an end in the hopes of making things right once more. His story has a definition to the role he plays within the game, he’s developed from that of a guard into that of a leader while engaging in liaison affairs on behalf of his cursed king, and these developments are made prominent from the involvement of other characters as they progress to the endgame. Not bad for a silent protagonist, huh?


  • Involvement within the story: Plot twists and secret developments aside, the involvement of a character, main or not, is credited as having some sort of part to play within the story. Whether they were a simple cattle boy that tended to a farm before being visited by an intergalactic samurai of the distant past (Star Wars) or a primate that travels across lush jungles while fighting off anthropomorphic reptiles that have stolen his bananas (Donkey Kong Country), the prologue of their beginnings are made clear.job-classes-skills-stat-bonuses-chart-octopath-traveler



    Octopath Traveler
    is a game that uses this concept as its main form of storytelling and focus, giving you control over eight characters whose individual tales play an important narrative in revealing the world to which they inhabit. Unlike that of the pride and true method of some stories, the main character for this game is split amongst the eight party members that you can choose from when starting the game. Each is given their own specific narrative which provides them with a background to their story, a goal they are in pursuit towards, and a climax of events which leads to their stories conclusion.


    While playing a character, the involvement of other characters is virtually unseen within that character’s story. While this could be seen as inefficient to the establishment of character it actually does the opposite. Their narrative is uninterrupted by outside sources, creating a raw and tangible continuation in their tales. For example, Cyrus, an astute scholar, begins his adventure in search of a missing book from his kingdom’s library that’s known for its dark magic; he’s blissfully unaware of this little fact, mind you. Each chapter, in his narrative, showcases that the individuals who had possessed the book had been wrought with great power but with the price of their humanity as the cost. By the end of his journey, he learns that the book was being used to convert humans into a red crystalized substance and that those who knew of this power, which is revealed to be a nice handful of individuals amongst the eight storylines, could lead to the very resurrection of a demonic monster that nearly brought ruin to the world from a millennia ago.

    These events mark an endgame that never occurs within the main story. Yes, I’m not joking, an awesome setup that could lead to our eight heroes fighting against an apocalyptic monster is an optional quest that never interferes with the character’s main narrative. Cyrus’s goal in finding the book, meeting old acquaintances that promote his character along the way, revealing his intuitive detective skills that could even impress Sherlock Holmes, his persona of a high-educated scholar whose goal in life is to teach others in hopes that they will one day become teachers in some way, and his obliviousness to social situations is the life’s essence within his narrative and that of his traveling companions; individually different, narratively sound.


  • The Characters are Extensions of the World: Whether it’s one or two main characters, a character is supposed to represent something new and different; Different parts of the world, different cultures, different groups, etc. The diversity of establishing characters as something unique, distinctly different than the cliche of making them the main focus of a story because of A, B, and C, is an on and off again occurrence within acts of fiction and written literature.ID - MCs

    One example from a film that was executed well in using two protagonists was Independence Day (1996). This particular film as a summer blockbuster used the dynamic star power of Will Smith as Captain Steven Hiller and Jeff Goldblum as David Levinson, to tell a story from two different perspectives in a story about aliens invading from space. Steven Hiller’s role within the movie was to encapsulate a certain crowd and a distinct measure of authority for his character. He was in the armed forces, a captain, an African American, his girlfriend-turned-wife is a stripper, he had a child, respected as a leader and experienced survivors remorse (In a more angered fashion) all throughout the entire film. On the other hand, David Levinson used to work with the government, now working for the people, an untypical nerd archetype, conflicted scientist, riddled with guilt from his past mistakes (Love and Success), survivors remorse (Incredibly emotional) and an
    evolving mind.


    The two individuals come from entirely different backgrounds, sharing very few similarities in regards to their unknown positions as main characters. They start from the opposite side of the continent, a West Coast-East Coast comparison, which eventually leads them coming together in a place that doesn’t exist, however, is used to center their assault on the alien forces (Area 51) by using the unknown to create a new future (Defeating the aliens). A union of two characters, different personalities, familiar goals and attention to details within their own specifics; he shoots and he will science.


  • Personality: That last thing that any character needs, ESPECIALLY A MC, is the lack, or interest, of having a personality. In my earlier thoughts, I explained how a silent character, whose personality is pretty neutral, can be demonstrated by their actions; this is used to convey an “actions speak louder than words” prerogative. On the other hand, the implication of giving the main character a personality is what sets the tone of their story.Travis Touchdown

    In a game called No More Heroes, the title card protagonist for this game is a man by the name of Travis Touchdown. His personality is a unique blend of social tropes, doused with a bit of realism, subversion of cliches, and a mockery to multiple stereotypes. In other words, he’s the anti-hero to your general perspective of heroes; hence the title. He becomes an assassin just for the hell of it, indulged upon with the idea of getting some “naked tango” lessons from another character if he ends up becoming the number one assassin amongst them all, all while giving very little details about himself including his past and his motivations. He uses this persona to engage the audience that’s clearly playing the game, messing with the meta, yet again, in regards to the 4th Wall Breaking format.


    He uses his personality to subvert expectations to which the story might imply, leading the player along in a world that is, without question, a cliche and stereotyped obstacle that he, our main character, is going to break down. If Travis had no personality, or refused to develop one by the end of the game, his actions to do what he does and his ability to connect with the player, or the audience – as he puts it, would disengage the player and make the game less of a contrived story with flaws that held inner meanings – rather than a game that was just being played because it had an interesting title and story, but with a protagonist that was a dull as loose board.


 

Animated Movies, Character Structure, Concepts and Ideas, Creative Writing, Disney, Disney Worlds, Ducktales, JRPG, Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts 2, Kingdom Hearts 3, Narrative Structure, Plot Structure, PS4, Sequels, Uncategorized, Video Games, Wreck-It Ralph, Xbox One

The Future of Disney Worlds in KH; Predictions and Ideas for KH4

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Outside of the tremendous fun of gameplay that can be found within a Kingdom Hearts game, another thing that most players can agree on is towards the exploration of new worlds; Disney or original to the story. While KH3 gave us a new standard on the term “worldbuilding” it also introduced the players to bigger and more expansive environments to explore, fight within and to test the boundaries of this new development within the franchise. From searching for Lucky Emblems, photographing people, or enemies, for Moogles, to finding every treasure chest in the newly created space for the worlds. As fans, we can only hope that this trend is continued in future KH games, even at the behest of causing it to slow down development, but with KH3’s surprise ending and the secret ending getting the internet into a fuss over what’s the next adventure (Side or main narrative) there’s speculation as to what sort of worlds could be added for KH4. In this article, I’m going to list six worlds that I believe would work in continuing the story of KH and, if I’m guessing correctly, lines up with Tetsuya Nomura’s algorithm of adding old and new worlds to traverse.

Before we start, a few ground rules for this prediction list:
– No repeated worlds (Olympus/Coliseum, Monstro, The Caribbean/Port Royal)
– No Sleeping Worlds (Dream Drop Distance)
– No Obligatory Worlds (Disney Castle, Yen Sid’s Tower)


  1. Wreck-It Ralph (Power Surge)gcc_interior_revised_web
    Partners: Wreck-It Ralph
    Keyblade: IGWI (I’m Gonna Wreck It)


    Starting off with one of my favorite ideas and one that fits in with the criteria of worlds that can be visited in KH4 is the world of Wreck-It Ralph. This idea holds relevance due to a certain fire-breathing summon in the form of Mushu making his appearance in the first Kingdom Hearts game. He was an absolute blast and necessary summon, in my opinion, so the fact that he reappears in KH2 alongside Mulan, assisting in the Team Attacks, was the ripest cherry one could give to this delicious sundae of an idea. Now, granted that summons like Bambi, Dumbo and Chicken Little haven’t been given the limelight since their introduction as summons, being cut instead for Simba, Mushu and Stich from KH2 to BBS, Ralph’s world could be handled in a variety of ways:

    [1] Beginning/Origin: One thing that was improved with exploring Disney worlds in KH3 was the complete synopsis, more or less, of the worlds that were visited. The Kingdom of Corona was a perfect example of inputting Sora and the others without derailing the initial story of Rapunzel’s day out and her eventual arrival to the kingdom. This same scenario would play seemingly close if this was implemented for Ralph’s world. Players would be introduced to an empty Power Surge Station, Ralph could be fighting against Heartless before reuniting with Sora and the gang, he’ll explain his reasons for leaving his world – leading to two different games(Sections) that have to be visited, Vanellope will be introduced, more talk of “Order” within games and “Going Turbo”, Sora and Ralph will fight Turbo and a conclusion will be reached that ends the story/world on a good note; allowing for “The Internet” world to be formed without continuity issues for future games.

    WR Games

    [2] Hero’s Duty, Sugar Rush and Fix-It Felix Jr: As far as expanding the world with multiple sections and parts that would be relevant to the story, Hero’s Duty and Sugar Rush would be the perfect inclusions to this world; with Fix-It Felix Jr. being an additional sector for a minigame and Ralph’s developing storyline. The Ice Labyrinth in the Frozen world from KH3 could easily be the same, if not better, in Ralph’s world with the challenge of climbing a tower in Hero’s Duty wrought with Heartless, secret paths that will help you ascend the level and possibly a giant Heartless bug that’s waiting for you at the end. On the other side, Sugar Rush would be a sweet treat to the eyes with visually attractive landscapes, fun candy mechanics throughout the level, and a racing mini-game that isn’t as questionable as the one from BBS. Lastly, Fix-It Felix Jr. would serve for playing the game, Fix-It Felix Jr., with the assistance of an 8-bit Sora, for some old school Donkey Kong vibes; possibly adding in some 8-bit scenario battles amongst the fluid 3D battle system; something akin to what was done with the Classic Kingdom in KH2 and mixed with its own unique pixel differentiation for each area within the world(s).

    [3] Visual and Game Mechanics ( In game and in-game): Sora’s array of costumes could be taken up a notch by donning the Hero Duty soldiers outfit while in said game and donning a sweet and stylish mix for Sugar Rush. On top of that – with the inclusion of Ralph’s game – 8-bit graphics sections for Sora could be implemented for Fix-It Felix Jr., first-person shooter segments in Hero’s Duty, and racing viewpoints/options for Sugar Rush.

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  2. Treasure Planet (The Alponian Quadrant)
    treasure-planet-23
    Partners: Jim Hawkins
    Keyblade: Solar Sailor (Based on the board used within the movie)


    After seeing Stitch’s world implemented in Birth by Sleep and the recent developments done in KH3 to The Caribbean world, I feel that we’re at a good point in the series to now expand upon another kind of pirate: The intergalactic kind. Treasure Planet is a hidden gem within the vault of Disney’s films and works as a world that could add to the lore of the Gummi Blocks as well as add to the general idea of how other characters, Disney or Square, travel amongst the stars in this unknown universe. In addition to bringing back a pirating world for Sora and the gang, which can include a new outfit for our pirate-loving protagonist, it can also introduce a few ideas which could be implemented for future games:


    [1] Traverse Town Callbacks: Going back in time – back to KH1 – the beginning to Sora’s journey started from that beginning world, acting as a hub world for other Disney characters and introducing us to even more Final Fantasy characters. While the general world itself doesn’t have to be a hub world for others, it’s not impossible to write in some sort of setup that reveals that Final Fantasy characters have appeared at the ports and maybe even some Disney characters. The world, as a whole, could be treated like Monstro was in the first game; it doesn’t show itself on the map initially and it could spawn different characters to visit it for some unknown requests.

    [2] Treasure Quests: A unique thing that could be introduced to the series is the idea of doing certain quests in order to achieve certain ingredients (Synthesis), un-acquired treasures and maybe even fight a couple of optional bosses (Heartless, Disney, or Square Related). A request board can be set up for these specific quests to which Sora and the gang can fulfill, alluding to future bounties in different worlds, making the world feel much larger in comparison to just another world that needs to be visited; crafting another necessity of being a treasure hunter and, once more, being a pirate that’s searching for the booty.

    Solar Surfing

    [3] Alponian Solar Surfing: Arendelle’s Frozen Slider mini-game was a fun attraction that was made relevant to the story when going through the snowy environment, avoiding an avalanche and building tension when confronted by Heartless. This same involvement could be used for the Solar Surfing in this world and could even be used as a way to transition between different sectors within the world, adding to the fast-paced routes that require sky rising acrobatics that can only be pulled off when used by Sora; adding a purposeful initiative in using the mechanic and something which, in my opinion, could even lead to a fantastic looking keyblade design. In addition to this revelation, the solar surfing board could be used by our good ol’ boy Jim Hawkins and Sora (respectively) within battle for interesting combo potentials.

    [4] Treasure Planet and Portals: The destination of Treasure Planet, the involvement of portals used to get on and off of it, could play a unique role in the management of how to divvy up the world for the developers.

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  3. 101 Dalmatians’ ( The Twilight Bark)
    dalmatians
    Partners: Pongo, Perdita
    Keyblade: The Twilight Bark (A Dalmatian inspired Keyblade)


    Here’s another callback from KH1 that also has a sound reason for being one of many world’s to be properly introduced in the KH series. 101 Dalmatians inclusion in the first game, while questioning who would package puppies in a small box across multiple worlds, was a treat for those who knew of the pups and those who were successful in finding all of them before finishing the game. Now given the fact that this isn’t an origin story for them – in the traditional sense – it could still be implemented in a way that reconnects Sora’s heart with those he hasn’t seen in some time; in addition to shoehorning one of Disney’s biggest and oldest films from the classics vault. From the story to the gameplay, there are a few ways this world could be constructed:

    [1] Puppy Sora: Outside of plenty of merch, Puppy Sora would be another interesting and, dare I say, a “doggone” unique take on animal transformations for Sora. At this point in time, Sora has been a merman (Atlantis), a lion cub (Pride Rock), and a furry monster (Monsters Inc.) in regards to more feral transformations. Whether he’s a Dalmatian, Beagle, or a German Shephard, Sora’s transformation will speak to his character.

    [2] The Environment: One thing that I feel can be combined with Ventus’s appearance within Cinderella’s world in BBS and the Toy Box world in KH3 is the scope of perspective for the player. In Toy Box, the feeling of being so small and having to use so many things to get around was implemented really well for Sora and his toy companions. This same ingenuity can be done when traversing old barnyards, quiet hideouts, empty parks, snow-covered roads, etc.

    101_one_hundred_and_one_dalmatians_12

    [3] The Twilight Bark: This form of communication could be used as a way of getting around the environment, a mechanic that could involve dogs that you see helping the player to get around certain obstacles and even helping Sora to learn new things while in his puppy form; granted Sora knows how to wield a keyblade within his mouth but let’s say he learns a trick or two; after all, an old dog can always learn new tricks.

    [4] The Story: As mentioned, this would be a pseudo-origin story for the Dalmatians as it would introduce a few things that were left out of their story. For starters, the incorporation of the one, the only, Gle— Cruella De Vil making her official KH appearance within this universe. While it can be argued that her involvement in the story wouldn’t have been as impactful as the villains that sided and congregated with Maleficent from the first game, it’s to be understood that her role as a villain, especially if it leads into the realm of giving her a Heartless, would be a great induction to Disney Villains and their Heartless taking an active role in getting what they want. Just imagine: Fighting Cruella De Vil as she’s speeding down the road like a madwoman, in pursuit to get the puppies back, all while having a seemingly dangerous Heartless (Possibly the puppet one from the Toy Box possessing the toys) taking over her car and making it into just as much of a nightmarish force as the mad woman that’s driving it.
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  4. The Princess and The Frog (The Bayou)
    the-princess-and-the-frog-desktop-background_090428248_188
    Partners: Tiana (Frog), Naveen (Frog)
    Keyblade: Southern Spin (A frog-themed keyblade with a splash of color from various characters)


    My prediction for the Dalmatians was more of a guilty pleasure that had relevance to past characters and revisiting old films that, in my opinion, are still considered one of the best films that Disney has created. This choice, however, is more of a story narrative decision and one that would actually affect the mythos of KH; if done correctly. The “New Seven Princesses of Hearts” have already been eluded towards in KH3 and with the start of their ranks being that of Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa; excluding Kairi from this scenario for story purposes. Another princess, one in the making for quite some time, could be introduced in that of Tiana. In addition to that, a few specific choices to the world would assist in how the narrative would be told – while introducing some crucial plot points for the game’s own narrative:

    [1] Human to Frog ~ Frog to Human: An interesting mechanic which could make for unique traversing in the world, and for accessing parts of the world, would be the ability to transform between a human and a frog. This could be used for when Sora initially meets Tiana and Prince Naveen, as a frog, traversing the bayou levels, while using the human portions to get through more dynamic portions of the level; this could possibly be hidden from Tiana and the others for “Order” reasons; with the exception of Mama Odie and her omnipotence towards Sora’s visit. In addition, given what’s already happened to Sora, whose to say that he won’t learn High Jump, again, from being a frog in this installment.

    tumblr_mi30zhWyZL1qjj1swo1_500

    [2] Dr. Facilier: The man of mojo, the myth of the bayou, Dr. Facilier, would be an excellent villain to introduce within the series. While there are various kinds of villains and beings that are aware of the worlds outside of their own (Check out my previous article to get a lock on what I mean), I feel that Dr. Facilier would be aware of this knowledge – if only because of his “friends” – which would further push him in the direction to be involved in Sora’s demise; if Maleficent and Pete would get back into the fray of being villains and not crowd watchers. His control over the Heartless would be undeniable and his boss battle could be a reference to his song “Friends On The Other Side” with multiple phantasms, ghouls and ghosts inspired from his dark magic.

    [3] The Story: Tiana’s story would be a wonderful way to introduce, if ever so slightly, the general concerns of being born poor to being born rich and, to an even greater subtlety, the idea of being black and showing indifference to being white. Sora’s obliviousness could probably hide the racial ambiguity of the message, however, it could be a unique factor that helps to tie the characters together; plus this scene could be addressed while their frogs – making the reveal and presence to Sora that she’s human, without racial tension, a more believable life lesson. Being different and born in different circumstances doesn’t mean that one can’t be happy. This idea, if used in the correct sense, could possibly be seen as one of the most impactful stories and differences found within a Disney world and expressed in a better light through the emotional impact that KH can deliver going forward. Tiana’s story would be told with clarity, Dr. Facilier would have more of a chance to show that “he’s ready” to fight and a lesson of individuality could be shown without ill provocations.
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  5. The Incredibles (Syndrome’s Island or World of Supers)
    glenn-kim-syndromes-island-base1
    Partners: Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible
    Keyblade: Positively Super (A keyblade with an Incredibles color theme)


    This entry and prediction on the list is not only due to the popularity in which Incredibles has had between its premiering film and its sequel, but this is also because of the structure and narrative shown between the two films – creating a lore of its own to the ideas and identities of Supers within the film; which can be translated for Sora and the gang in future entries within the series. This would be the first and foremost  its most important entry for the world within the series – possibly it’s best and only interpretation of it – that could hit home with a few inclusions from its two films to create the best experience within the game:


    Monologuing
    [1] Syndrome: I think it goes without saying that the main villain of this world and the one that really holds the record of controlling Heartless with a strong will would be our fallen fanboy turned super villain Syndrome. If the world itself is his base, the possibilities for exploration around the island is nearly limitless and his past victories against other supers, ones that had been defeated off screen, could be shown in the various sections that you’re allowed to roam. Syndrome himself could also play commentator for these events since, much like Randall did in Monsters Inc., except his jargon and threats could be backed up by soldiers, robots, and Heartless; in addition to the meta that he already knows for both Heroes and Villains. Include knowledge to other worlds, a fantastic boss battle and a possible return nearing towards the final battle, possible, and you’ve got the perfect Syndrome implementation. (I know it’s a stretch but, come on, if there’s a man that seriously wanted to defy “Order” it would definitely be Syndrome; it’s practically his Modus Operandi)

    [2] The Island: An active volcano, a rising tower filled with soldiers and heartless, lush jungles with scattered caves, water running segments amongst night and day options (Like San Fransokyo but NOT like San Fransokyo). Wall running, Rail Grinding, and Free-Falling portions all on one map? Need I say more?

    [3] Cosmetics: Much like San Fransokyo, the world doesn’t need to make Sora, a superhero within his own right, into a symbol of justice and peace for this world. Hand him an Incredibles Mask, since Donald and Goofy would already be seen as costume wearing crimefighters, and you’ve got yourself a secret identity.
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  6. Ducktales (Old) and Ducktales (New) ~ (Sides of the Same Coin)
    ducktales-duckburg
    Partners: Scrooge (New)
    Keyblade: Number One Dime (A dime handled keyblade with dual colors from the 1987 show and the 2017 reboot)


    This prediction and last entry for this list are under the clause of a “Classic Representation” to which Nomura seemingly has introduced ever since the very first Kingdom Hearts game. You could say that Winnie the Pooh was the first classic interpretation before being replaced with the Classic Kingdom in Disney Castle, and the two sharing a seat within the same hub world of Twilight Town for their beginning adventures; one with games and one with multiple mini-games. I feel that the next best representative for the classic category should go in the way of Donald’s heritage and a founding member to an extension of Disney lore within Kingdom Hearts: Uncle Scrooge and both of his Ducktale adventures. The 1987 and 2017 adaptions of the show would be a perfect fit for the role of a classic meets present mashup; it also gives Nomura another chance at the idea of merging the old with the new that doesn’t involve time traveling. Here are some suggestions to solidify why this feathered frenzy mashup could be possible:


    [1] Alternate Dimensions and Relics: Relics like the Cornerstone of Light could be one of many relics that can assist, or threaten, the realms of worlds that are, or aren’t, presently aware in the KH verse. Since Scrooge, and possibly Donald, are no strangers to the unknown (Donald with magic and Scrooge with adventuring) it’s highly likely that treasures in Scrooge’s possession could possess the power to venture into alternate realms. Playing off the idea that Scrooge wants to expand his business practices to other worlds and realms, even if it’s an alternate version of his own, would be an interesting and likely plot for the wealthy duck. A magic mirror, a reverse clause in the Cornerstone of Light, or even an experiment gone wrong could lead to this development of having the two realities meet.

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    [2] The Duality of Uncle Scrooge: Scrooge, from the show to the KH verse, is driven but seems to lack a sense of authority. Selling sea salt ice cream, popsicles, opening a restaurant and traveling worlds seems like something that Scrooge would do, however, since Scrooge isn’t pivotal to the plot of Kingdom Hearts, it’s understandable that his greedy pursuits for money and his drive to be an absolute businessman, at the behest of forsaking others at times, could be shown with this alternate look at himself from the 2017 reboot. His life as a secret agent, adventures with Donald and Della Duck, the heart-wrenching backstory between him and his family, would all play an important role in making the old and the new relevant to one another; it could also introduce the cruel Scrooge from Ducktales past but in an entirely different way.

    Magica_De_Spell_DuckTales_2017

     

    [3] Magica De Spell (Old and New): If Maleficent is the thorn of darkness towards King Mickey’s light, Magica De Spell (both of them) is the eclipsing moon to Scrooge’s sun. While both interpretations have had it out for Scrooge – some more than others – it goes without saying that the appearance of the sorceress could play a very big part in the case that the two dimensions connected. By aligning themselves with the Heartless, two different kinds to showcase the old and new varieties, the two have more in common to completely destroy Donald and Scrooge (If written well) that the interface of one Duckburg clashing with another could be the essential start of something new; perhaps a conflict between the now and “what if” worlds that Disney has established in its canonical lore.

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    [4] Backstory for Scrooge and Donald’s KH adventuring: An old hand to Disney’s initial comics starring Donald and Uncle Scrooge showcase the two of them, in addition to the triplets, going on adventures and finding treasure in the process. This content is canon to the comics and lore between the two, however, what does that translate to within the KH verse. Donald is the head wizard, Scrooge is a wealthy businessman making investments across worlds, and the triplets are selling Gummi Ship parts. An explanation of their connection would do good in explaining a bit more about Donald’s backstory within this interpretation of his character; unless their going to hide the fact that Donald was once a black belt martial artist in one game, or a member of the navy, or a used car salesman, and was even a robot in one Epic game.

Animated Movies, Character Structure, Comic Book Movies, Creative Writing, Narrative Structure, Plot Structure, Spiderman, Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, Uncategorized

Spiderman “Into the Spider-Verse” and The Narrative of Relationships. – Part 1

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With the ongoing successful accolades and success of the newest Spiderman film and the praises it has received since its premiere back in December; including a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Motion Picture. The idea of dissecting the film and its characters that created such a wonderful adventure with breathtaking experiences is to be expected, which is why I’ve decided to do a little analysis of the film’s characters. For this article, I will be going over the relationships seen within the movie. These include the relationships between Miles Morales and Peter Parker (The Acknowledging Spidermen), Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy (Building of Friendship), The Alternate Spider-people (A Shared Identity) and various others that some have questioned but have yet to come to a correct conclusion in terms of their relationship for the film.

The system of analysis that I will be overseeing for this article will be based on three structures of relationships: Movie Structure, Comic Structure, and Narrative/Representation Structure. Through the use of these three, a clear and cohesive analysis can be made for the characters that reference both their movie and comic counterparts; alongside their impact in and out of the film.

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  1. Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker (Acknowledging Spidermen)
    peter and miles - spidey
    It should go without saying, or not, that the main relationship within the entire narrative of the story is cast around the building and budding relationship of Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker. What starts as a unique meeting for the two in regards to their shocking introduction, quite literally for Peter, begins the foundation for a teacher-student role that was quite different from its comic book origins for the two. In this adaptation of the story, both Spidermen are considered students to one another and proceed to learn new things throughout the film after their rocky start, which leads into the development of different roles of mentoring and being a mentee.Movie Structure: The dynamic pairing of Miles and Peter makes sense towards the narrative of “Teacher and Student”; alongside the entire premise of the movie as Miles learns how to become Spiderman. With Peter in his 30’s, tired and clearly tired from his superhero antics over the years, it sets up a quintessential choice and image for the budding student: “Do you really want to be Spiderman?” This question builds the foundation to which both Peter and Miles experience; both as a newbie and as an expert to the mantle. Mile’s enthusiasm to the cause of being a superhero, by neglecting his means of success in the real world, is similar to that of Peter’s resolution near the end of the movie with his plan of staying behind and sacrificing himself. After Gwen asks him, “Peter, you don’t have to stay. I’ll do it” and with his response of “It’s okay… I’ve made up my mind” could be paralleled to the same thought that entered Mile’s head the moment Peter’s words of taking ‘a leap of faith’ had questioned his own integrity as Spiderman; as both of their lives would change – for better or worse.

    Comic Structure: Transitioning Peter and Miles from the comic pages for the movie must have been a critical headache for the filmmakers to make sense of in the writers room with Miles debut on the big screen (Invoking the idea of a black Spiderman; much less a bi-racial one) and with a bigger audience, including those of the comic community, waiting to see how it would pan out in animation. Mile’s relationship with Peter in the comics are, for the most part, grounded after his death. With crossover events from the main continuity universe and Mile’s universe (Known as the Ultimate-verse), creating the symbolism of Spiderman teaching another Spiderman, while still being a young superhuman, creates a dynamic that relates from one age gap to the next. So when the transition of characters are older, such as Peter B. Parker within this story, the familiarity of “being the same” is taken differently from the Peter of the comics; in comparison to his and another universes’ Spiderman.

    Narrative/Representation Structure: In the end, Miles and Peter’s representation within the movie is nurtured towards the success that’s gained in life through accomplishments. The sides of this similar coin are displayed through Miles’ recklessness in trying to become something that he wasn’t intended to be, however, it was a challenge as to whether he would succeed in his endeavors to uphold this one truth: Can I be Spiderman? This same question resonates with Peter in his endeavors after having the mantle and when he questions towards the end with “How do I know I’m not going to mess it up?”; which is immediately acknowledged by Miles and is further acknowledged by the acknowledgment of Peter before returning to his own universe; accomplishing his task of a renewed vigor in Spiderman and for Spiderman.

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  2. Peter B. Parker and Gwen Stacy (Spider-Gwen) ~ (Decisions, Decisions)
    peter and gwen - spiderThe second relationship for this article is one that a lot of fans, including myself, were really interested to see in animated detail. Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy are no stranger to one another, both in the comics and in the movies, but for the two to have the mantle of Spiderman (Spiderwoman in Gwen’s case) and to essentially have the same role that comes with being the heroine of their story, it’s to be expected that the chemistry of these two would be uniquely portrayed within this adaptation of the Spider-verse.

    Movie Structure: Despite the age differences between the two heroes, Gwen and Peter’s relationship as heroines for their universes shows them on equal footing as heroes. The banter they share is tied with respect and this respect comes from their unannounced past to the origins of their original tales from the comics. It’s through the dynamic of an older Peter (which seemingly appears to be similar to the Peter Parker of her reality – more or less aging from the serum that transformed them into the Lizardman) that a sense of dependability and renewed faith in her acknowledgement of Peter Parker, in taking the mantle of Spiderman and helping others in much the same way she has been doing in her dimension, which creates the dynamic duo for this film. The theme behind these two is built on second chances and the established trust in changed fates.

    While the chemistry between the two was unannounced on screen, a mutual respect and blossoming relationship as superheroes was being established through covert acknowledgments between the heroes. Peter B. Parker’s notices of Gwen are few and far between due to his past with Gwen Stacy and since this particular version of Parker uses humor as a means of deflecting conflict (amidst physical and emotional confrontations), making his only interactions with the young heroine to be straightforward outside of their introduction. He quips at Mile’s surprise at Gwen’s reveal but showcases a silent and positive approval at the two of them getting along; showcasing a sense of detachment to the loss of love and to the welcoming of new love for Miles and Gwen. He furthers this approval as the movie reaches its climactic finish with Peter’s choice to stay behind and essentially die in Miles’s dimension; all the while Gwen acknowledges Peter’s decision, never rallying with Miles against Peter and furthermore acknowledges his decision to do what’s right; even at the cost of his life and the unfulfilled conflicts that resonate for both himself and Gwen personally.

    On Gwen’s side of this unique relationship, it’s to be assumed that the Peter Parker of her world appeared similar to one another; aligning to the idea that Gwen’s take to the older peter, mocking the appearance of a serumed Peter from her world, is a reminder of her failure and is a consistent reminder in trying to prevent her greatest failure from ever occurring again. She, in furthering her respect and trust in Peter, also acts as his light in regards to various situations that he, on his own, wouldn’t have faced; mimicking a significant other in addition to Peter’s divorce from Mary Jane, losing his way as a superhero and the death of his Aunt May – something to which she would’ve known in seeing Mile’s Spiderman’s (Before taking the mantle) death in this dimension. In leading him to Aunt May (Supporting him emotionally), rallying him to be a leader (Reminding him of the great responsibility and power that he has; indifference to what Miles doesn’t have yet) and preventing him from being caught up in the past with MJ and his future (His denial coming to bare with his feelings, internally conflicting him, alongside his mind’s decision to “be a hero”). Her self-sacrifice when Peter says “It’s okay….I’ve made up my mind” after suggesting that she could stay behind creates depth for their relationship, allowing both heroes to acknowledge their mistakes as a past and present dynamic that keeps them strong and keeps them as Spiderman/Spiderwoman.

    Comic Structure: The basis of trust between the two Spider-people are established through the origins of their comics. When introduced to one another, the two found that their relationship, as comrades, was based upon their faults in their alternates deaths. They share a mutual and founded respect for one another, knowing one another in some tangents, which creates the dynamic duo through their chronicles of both “Spider-Verse” and “Spider-Geddon

    Narrative/Representation Structure: Peter and Gwen’s relationship for this movie is arguably needed as a base for the light and darkness within both characters. The two of them play off of one another but with founded respect, newly found by the discovery that they are in fact Spider heroes, which creates the unique connection that makes them the main leads for the film. Peter showcases the gruff and gritty perspective in growing up, while being a hero to others for over 30 years and Gwen showcases the beginning aspects of taking up the mantle to be a superhero; something to which is necessary for Miles to learn in his ongoing quest to do what’s right for Spiderman; both the name and the person.

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  3.  Peni Parker, Spiderman Noir (Peter Parker) and Peter Porker (Spiderham) ~ (United We Stand)Spider-Verse CastNow, who could forget the colorful cast of characters in addition to the big three Spider-figures of this film? The highly animated styles of Peni Parker, Spiderman Noir, and Spiderham were probably one of the most festive looking characters throughout the film as they borrowed respective coloring and highlighting from their comic universes.

    Movie Structure: In addition to being supportive characters and heroes on the screen, the trio of Spider-people represent something that is essentially linked with the film’s animation – their own. In their first appearance on screen, re-telling their backstories, as humorously as it is to the audience, the animation of their backstories are highlighted in the shading that theirs premised behind, with Noir’s being that of a black and white setting, Peni’s contrast of colors with shading imitating the style that you’ll see in eastern animated cartoons and with Porker’s being the classic representation of early animation that’s similar to that of Looney Tunes. When stripped from their original dimensions, unlike that of Peter and Gwen, their style is consistent with their animation and this representation speaks volumes in regards to their origins; in addition to their representation within the film. From Peni’s ever shaking eyes, or expressive changes, to Porker’s cartoon antics with his punches and hammer/anvil tactics, resonates to the adaptation of different animations styles in today’s society.

    Comic Structure: Linking back to the previous statement, representation in animation was the main focus for these heroes on screen, however, their interpretation in comics was just as pivotal to their on-screen appearances. Characters like Peni Parker might, at least for movie-goers, seem like the first Asian Spider-Woman, however, her appearance in comics is seemingly different from that of her big screen appearance; going for more of a “Kawaii” (Cute) appearance than that of her older and more reserved look; this is seemingly the case for her mech, Sp//dr in terms of its interpretation from the comics to the movies.

    Peni Parker Differences

    Noir’s interpretation from page to screen was respectively transitioned with his initial look, with the famous detective raincoat and hat, included in his outfit. On the other hand, Porker’s transition was more than likely the most appropriate from his origins in various media. While in the comics he is a spider, bitten by a radioactive Aunt May pig (Yep, you read that correctly), his appearance within the comics presented him in the most cartoon-ish fashion of a pig that seemingly had the powers of a spider; including the idea of giving him incredibly long ears, a large extended snout and a body that was lengthy in some degrees to a spider’s form. This transition into a more Porky Pig, or Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon adaptation, gives the character another realistic touch to their pig appearance rather than the artistic take of how pigs looked in one dimension; which in itself is another question.

    Narrative/Representation Structure: The narrative for these three was established pretty early as other Spider-People, establishing roles within their own universes, but the general dissection of their appearance in relevance to the plot, and its representation, is a fundamentally sound lesson. Whether you are young, older or just a little bit different, you’re capable of showcasing so much more of yourself. Peni’s intelligence and the will her father gave to her with manning the Sp//dr is her own responsibility, as is the same that goes for Noir Peter Parker and Peter Porker in regards to their Uncle Ben/Benjamin. With great power, comes great responsibility, no matter where you’re from – something to which these three illustrate with pride.

This concludes the first part of this ongoing article. If you enjoyed this, comment, like and support me by following me at my Facebook at J.Arthur’s Roundabout for updates, new stories and so much more!

Animated Movies, Comic Book Movies, Spiderman, Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, Uncategorized

Spiderman: “Into the Spider-Verse” Review: A Step in the Right Direction

Representation in media and comics for minorities has always been a topic of interest. Where one idea represents a race or ethnicity, such as the impacts of Black Panther and Black Lightning has had during the year of 2018 with its meaningful and relatable matters on racial issues and circumstances in the African American community, the continued trend of representation is upheld by another figure: Miles Morales. In Sony’s newest film “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse” it’s starring protagonist is of African American and Dominican descent. This combination of hero shows a different representation and the mixing of cultures is presented well with Miles’ story as he learns how to become a better person; in and out of the costume.

The Story:

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For anyone that hasn’t heard of Spiderman, a brief synopsis of the hero is introduced for the moviegoer with his exploits in being a superhero, how he received his powers and a convincing explanation of his accolades as the masked hero for over two decades. Flashbacks of his efforts, including some memorable moments from the past Spiderman films and actual real world memorabilia that has existed, are artfully directed to the narrative of this Spidermans’ tale. After concluding his tale of heroic efforts, the scene is immediately shifted to our main character, Miles Morales (Voiced by Shameik Moore), as he’s jamming out to Post Malone and Swae Lee’s song “Sunflower” while showing an enthusiastic youth to which the audience can relate towards. Miles is further introduced as a student at a highly qualified charter school in Brooklyn, New York and is shown to have a rather stressful life with being from two different bureaus of life; socially and ethnically.

The story’s pacing is worked from the perspective of Miles perspective from being at school, hanging out with his Uncle Aaron (Voiced by Mahershala Ali) after his first day to discuss about how it feels at a new school and one which he is unfamiliar with, alongside the issues that paint Miles life with conflict. This is further enhanced after Miles comes into contact with a mysterious spider with the number “42” on its abdomen, biting the young youth and mutating the cells within his body and making him into something different from within. While I could dive into the story and explain all of the moments that make the film and its story incredible, I’ll leave my take on the story as a cliffhanger for those that haven’t seen, however, to those that have seen the film – the story and how it was managed from beginning to end was orchestrated well and was tactfully directed in regards to race, a branching storyline and the accompaniment of different elements towards the storytelling for its characters.

The Characters:

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A powerful movie should also have a cast of powerful characters, and the voices gifted to the cast of ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ is no exception.  Backtracking back to the story, Miles’s adventure begins when he encounters Spiderman and is thrust into an array of dangerous complications that give weight to the main narrative of the story for most of its characters. This leads to the arrival of different “Spider People”, as Miles politely points out in one scene, that originate from different universes; hence the name. This is the meat and potatoes of the movie, as are the same ingredients for the comics; minus a table full of bloodthirsty vampires trying to hunt them down, however, that’s an analogy for a future post. In his quest to make things right with Mile’s Spiderman (voiced by Chris Pine), he’s assisted and taught by an entirely different Spiderman from a different dimension who, unlike the comics, is a more a seasoned and older hero that’s experienced conflict. This Spiderman is voiced by Jake Johnson and really gives attention his performance by using his broad sense of comedy (a staple of the hero) and his detachment to serious motives as a setting to Spiderman that Miles and moviegoers are unfamiliar towards. In addition to his role is the additional hero to which actress Hailee Steinfeld portrays in that of Spider-Gwen. Her addition to the cast is both intuitive to the perspective of female superheroes and can be seen as a fan favorite to the comics with a different take on the Spiderman mantle; replacing the antics of Peter Parker with the distinct differences of his female interest, Gwen Stacy; creating a narrative that was reciprocated in kind by the community and was an added investment of female representation within the film.

Alongside the two are other spider entities that included Spiderman Noir (voiced by Nicolas Cage) a Peter Parker from the 1930’s and Noir Universe (A universe that is…well…noir), Peni Parker (Voiced by xxx) who comes from the future of 2099 and fights in her father’s created mech known as the “SP//dr SUIT” (Equipped with a living spider on the inside of its system) and one of the most hilarious interpretations of the character in Peter Porker – otherwise known as Spider-Ham (Voiced by John Mulaney) – adding a distinct cartoon flair to an already animated cast; a play on a words to the different animation styles showcased from Noir, Peni and Porker when compared to the rest of the cast.

In contrast to the batch of heroes that the movie showcases there are also a few recognizable villains which make an appearance within the film. The main antagonist of the film belongs to Wilson Fisk (Voiced by Liev Schrieber) who’s entire narrative, as a villain, is represented in making his plans work and eliminating those in his way – sets the tone and the plot to which he follows. Additions to this include ‘The Prowler’, whose role is both dynamic and exquisitely showcased throughout the film, Tombstone, a forlorn villain of comics past that’s given a distinct style, The Green Goblin, whose appearance is more of a representation to the Ultimate Spiderman’s version of the character, Scorpion, whose surprisingly a Hispanic variation to his New Yorker counterpart in the comics, and Doctor Octopus’ surprising appearance are all unexpected and yet their presence is never without merit; symbolizing the ins and outs of villains from the rogues gallery for this version of Spiderman’s Sinister Six.

The Representation:

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It’s easy to miss the signals that are scattered within the film amongst all of the action and storytelling that the cast does a wonderful job of acting and portraying with their characters, however, Spider-Verse also gets another thing right within the movie: Representation. With popular debates and news over the importance of representation among races, a popular superhero that has always been debated in regards to representing others is Spiderman. Under the mask, Spiderman is generally a white male that lives in New York City, going through school, hiding his identity and saving the lives of citizens within the city; even when slandered with hate by media and other officials that are against his vigilante ways. In some ways, the mantle of Spiderman is a representation of those that wish to do good but are against playing to the rules of the law, which is why Miles’ culture and ethnicity play a big role within this film.

Directors Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman and Robert Persichetti Jr. orchestrated a beautiful story and interpretation for the Ultimate Spiderman and the mantle of it being passed down to not only just Miles but that “anyone can wear the mask” which was a deep and inspiring moment for the filmmakers to showcase in times of strife and separation. I felt that the same narrative of storytelling, where it was showed rather than said, was similar to another animated film that came out earlier in the year – Incredibles 2. The story was dedicated to the material that it was based on – Superheroes that were seen as a liability to the foundation of human society – and built upon the future of the source material by including women’s rights and feminism representation with just a splash of realism. ‘Into the Spider-Verse” doesn’t shy away from the premise of storytelling as it showcases Mile’s discomfort in going to a new school, leaving his old one behind, discussing his lack of importance and ability to perform well; undermining his own abilities and trying to fail.

The mantle of Spiderman and the name “Miles Morales” represent something more within this film. By using the mantle of Spiderman to cover his shortcomings or the fact that he doesn’t believe he can be better as Miles Morales, it’s through the guidance of other Spider-people and the impending threat to the city, much less the dimension, that plays with the moral and social ambiguity that the film’s direction can take and that moviegoers can speculate over after watching it.

Overall Score: 11/10

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A film that should not be missed whether you are a Spiderman fan or not. The narrative is easily understood by kids and the action pieces, combined with the visual effects that make it feel like a live-action story straight from the pages of its comics, is a welcomed breath of fresh air after a year of CGI mashups. The characters are relatable, the plot isn’t convoluted, the representation for Miles and the mantle for Spiderman are explored with detailed examples, and it’s overall a great film to see with friends, family or even by yourself; don’t let the absence of others be the reason you miss out on 2018’s Best Animated Film.

And also – A Happy New Year to everyone in 2019! Expect more content in the future for this year!