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- Let's start at the beginning.
Desperate parents send their child away
from a dying world, raised by humble American farmers,
the boy grows up to be a symbol of truth and justice.
A mugger shoots and kills two wealthy
industrialists in a dark alley, in front of their son.
He dedicates his life to stopping the criminals
who prey on the innocent.
A bullied teen gets bitten by a radioactive spider
and learns the hard way that with great power,
comes great responsibility.
Why are we so fascinated with origin stories?
(rock guitar music)
Welcome to comic misconceptions,
the show that takes you into detail about the things
you think you know about comics, I'm the host,
Scott Niswander.
That was the very first episode of
the show you're watching right now.
This is the very first logo I made for the channel.
Atrocious, and this is a screen shot
of the very first time I ever wrote the word, NerdSync.
These are all little fragments
from the origin of this channel,
and as next week will be our 100th episode,
I thought it would be kind of interesting
to take a quick look at how this all started.
But why, why do origins even matter?
Comic books are littered with origin stories.
They're constantly telling, and retelling origins,
Tweaking little details, showing it
from another perspective.
Rebooting it altogether or simply
refreshing the reader's mind.
The origin of a superhero is important, to say the least.
But what is an origin story?
Clinical psychologist, Dr. Robin S. Rosenberg,
who literally wrote the book on superhero origins,
says quote,
"Origin stories are often tales about transformation,
"stories in which a pivotal event
"or set of events
"sets us on a particular path in life."
They explain who someone is
and what makes them the way they are.
And a superhero origin features
two types of transformation.
There's the super part, which centers around
how a character receives, discovers,
or develops special powers or abilities,
and the hero part, which, as you can probably guess,
focuses on the transformation of the character
into a hero, where they decide
how to use their new powers and abilities.
And for the sake of this video,
we're going to address all comic book heroes
as superheroes, even though
you might personally argue that
someone like Batman, for example,
isn't a superhero, but just a hero.
We'll discuss this topic in a future video, I promise.
Just hang in there.
Another distinguishing feature of an origin story
is that it's followed by subsequent stories.
Take Jurassic Park, you could argue that
the first movie in the franchise is the origin story.
It shows how the dinosaurs were grown
and the beginning of the proposed theme park.
It showcases the transformation
from an exotic island resort and amusement park
to a terrifying landscape of certain death
and a very scary place to use the bathroom.
But, if there were never any sequels,
then we might not consider it to be an origin story.
It would simply be
a story, the existence of accounts that take place
after the first movie, in effect, turn it into
an origin story.
Okay, that sounds simple enough,
but a great comic book origin is deceptively complex.
In reality, it has to cover a lot of ground
in a very short amount of time.
Comic book writer and editor, Tom DeFalco,
laid out a blueprint for crafting the
perfect superhero origin stories.
First, and most obviously,
we need to be introduced to the protagonist,
but it can't just be anybody.
The main character has to already be interesting
before they become a hero.
Whether that's Barry Allen being a forensic scientist
obsessed with solving his mom's murder
and proving his father's innocence,
or Scott Lang, being an ex-convict
who would do anything for his daughter.
These are people you can get invested in immediately.
Then, something happens.
There's some kind of accident or inciting event
that changes the character.
A radioactive spider bite,
the death of a loved one,
getting bitten by a snake and then injected
with mongoose blood until you have super-speed.
Then the death of a loved one.
And it doesn't even have to give them powers or abilities
right then and there.
It can simply inspire them to become a hero
through their own needs.
Bruce Wayne didn't become Batman and start beating
up thugs as soon as the trigger was pulled.
Instead, he used that moment as motivation
to train, and learn, and become the Dark Knight
years down the line.
But remember, that's just the super part of superhero.
A good origin also needs to explain the hero part.
Spiderman used his powers initially
as a means to make money,
but when Uncle Ben died,
Peter did not hesitate for using his special skillset
to catch the murderer.
Imagine, though, if that was the end of the story.
Pete caught his uncle's killer.
Good job.
Now what?
There's no reason for him to continue
fighting crime.
Why not just go back to making money on TV?
Ah, because of that famous twist.
That criminal wasn't some random guy,
it was the same thief Spiderman intentionally
failed to stop earlier that day.
Because of this revelation,
Spidey learned a lesson to use his powers responsibly.
An origin needs to clearly spell out
why someone would choose to be,
and remain, a hero.
The origin should also establish the rules of a character.
Green Lantern has to keep his Power Ring charged.
Deadpool can heal from almost anything.
And Wolverine must refer to everyone as Bub.
Has to, no way around it.
We need to understand how the heroes' powers work
and their limits.
Are their abilities strictly advantageous,
or are there downsides?
It doesn't have to be entirely laid out
like the excruciatingly detailed Bloodshot comic,
but just throw in some hints to the reader
as to establish some ground rules.
Lastly, the origin needs to set up a theme and structure
of the kinds of stories that you'll be
telling with that character.
Batman often fights ruthless, criminally insane adversaries.
Doctor Strange revolves around the mystical and magical.
The X-Men regularly struggle against
oppression in the eyes of the public.
It's fun to see Batman fight aliens occasionally
when he's with the Justice League,
but it'd feel really weird
if that's how his stories were all the time.
That's not the theme of his origin.
Batman's origin is about the loss of his parents
at the hands of an average street thug.
It's about the trauma he suffered as a child
and how he found meaning in it.
And trauma, as Rosenberg points out,
is one of three kinds of superhero origins.
She explains that all superheros are made in some way.
They can be born super, i.e. with powers,
but they're never born super heroes.
This leads back into the idea that
an origin story is a kind of transformation
that the character undergoes.
And the events that lead into these transformations
can fit in to one of three general categories.
The first one, as we mentioned,
is trauma, this one is super common in comic books
where the number of protagonists
with one or more dead parents
rivals that of Disney.
Batman seeing his parents gunned down
in front of him, Daredevil losing his sight
and his father, Wolverine enduring unimaginable
amounts of pain to become a living weapon.
These are characters who suffer
through physical and psychological pain,
which serves as the catalyst for their transformation.
The second type of origin is about destiny.
These are your quote unquote chosen ones.
Though I do feel like a clarification should be made here.
Being chosen for something isn't the same as
being a chosen one.
Steve Rogers, for example, was chosen for
the Super Soldier program, but he wasn't destined
from birth to become Captain America, at least
that wasn't explicitly stated that way in the comics.
You do whatever you want with your own head cannon.
A more accurate representation of the destiny origin
might be Hawkman and Hawkgirl
on Legends of Tomorrow, they keep dying
at the hands of Vandal Savage,
only to be reborn perpetually.
In each of their new lives, they are preordained
from birth to once again, become
Bird people.
As much as Kendra wants to, she can't fight it.
She can only embrace her destiny as Hawkgirl.
The 3rd and last category of origins
is chance, or luck, like the Fantastic Four
accidentally flying a spacecraft through a
storm of cosmic rays.
Or Barry Allen being randomly struck by lightening
and doused in a chemical bath to gain his super-speed
in the initial telling of his origin, at least.
We all know Flash's true origin
was at the hands of a magical imp.
If you're new here, you're not really going to get that one.
I understand that some of these might be
hard to distinguish.
Chance can sometimes feel like destiny
and sometimes traumatic events seem preordained,
especially as we view origin stories of one character
across many alternate universes.
The distinction is subtle, sure,
and we could have a really long, inslightful conversation
about it in the comments,
but the important thing here is that
these types of origins aren't mutually exclusive.
Superman's origin is traumatic, how he's one of the last
surviving members of his species,
but it's also pure chance
that he would end up being raised by two
small town farmers.
Spiderman's origin is also a blending of chance
with a radioactive spider bite and trauma
with Uncle Ben dying.
You could also argue that it was destiny,
with the whole spider totem thing,
but you shouldn't, you should just ignore that.
But none of this explains why we care,
why we invest so much into a character's origin story.
Rosenberg explains that it's because origins
satisfy your curiosity
and make a character more predictable.
Humans love predictability, our brains
are pattern recognition machines,
so learning why a character acts a certain way,
how they came to be, where they are now,
why they have a particular belief system,
it all helps fill in the gaps that we've
previously had to fill in ourselves
using our best guesses.
Origin stories help us make sense of other people
and see them as a little more predictable.
It's no surprise that many comic book movies
dedicate a large chunk of the film on the origin of the hero
to the point where some viewers have complained
about origin story fatigue.
Thanks to some very helpful NerdSync fans on Twitter,
you guys are the best,
we gathered some very rough data on this
in a non-scientific way, measuring how long
until a protagonist in a comic book movie
becomes the hero.
In other words, at what point of the movie
did the origin story stop?
What we found was that the average percentage
that superhero movies spend on origins
is around 33%, or almost exactly one-third of the movie.
Most superhero movies tend to tell
a linear tale, starting with a character
and following them on their journey to become a hero,
which is fine, but it doesn't really reflect reality.
When you meet someone new, you don't often
start by telling each other your life stories
from the very beginning.
You get to know them as a person they are right now.
And as you interact more and more,
they reveal details of their past
in a very nonlinear fashion, that you can
compile into sort of a mental storyboard
of that person's life, to get a better sense
of who they are.
I didn't know you worked at Taco Bell.
Was that before or after you helped
save the world from total destruction?
Watchmen demonstrates this very well.
The story starts of with the characters in present day,
but keeps jumping about in time
to give you a better sense of who everyone is.
There's also Batman, who I'm mentioning a lot in this video.
He debuted in Detective Comics number 27,
but his origin wasn't told to the reader until
many months later, in issue number 33.
To that extreme, you have Wolverine's origin,
which wasn't fully revealed until
years after his first appearance.
It wasn't only kept from us, the readers,
but also from Wolverine himself,
due to his missing memories, leaving both parties
trying to fill in the blanks of his past.
While learning the official origin of a character
can be more satisfying than guessing,
it also runs the risk of being disappointing.
Sometimes what our brains cook up to fill in the gaps
can be more interesting than the real, official origin.
And other times, we just don't want to know
what a character's origin is.
They can be humanizing, and that's great,
but it can also ruin a character.
Joker, for instance,
has had many different origins, but none of them
are the definitive origin.
It's constantly in flux as to not give the audience
any sense of understanding or predictability.
As he himself said, quote,
"If I'm going to have a past,
"I prefer it to be multiple choice."
But Rosenberg argues that the
biggest reason why we care so much
about superhero origins, is because they, quote,
"Provide a model for how to cope with adversity,
"how to find meaning in loss and trauma,
"how to learn what our strengths are
"and to use them for good purpose,
"and how to live a fulfilled life,
"though one filled with risk."
Origin stories don't teach us how to be super.
A large blast of gamma rays is more likely to kill me
than it is to turn me into the Hulk.
I unfortunately was not born Kryptonian,
and I highly doubt I'll ever be able to make or even afford
an Ironman suit.
Origin stories are less about powers
and more about the decision to do good with them.
This is especially true for the heroes born
out of traumatic experiences.
They show us how to make sense
of seemingly senseless violence
and loss, and grow from it.
Dr. Ervin Staub coined the term, altruism born of suffering,
to describe how some victims of abuse and violence
dedicate their lives to helping others
who are also suffering.
One contributing factor to this altruisim
is if the victim is helped or comforted
during their own suffering by a kind friend or a neighbor.
Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring
as putting a coat around a young boy's shoulders
to let him know the world hadn't ended.
And I think that's the difference
between the origin of a hero versus the origin of a villain.
Both can have one bad day where everything changes
but have radically different reactions.
A villain might become cynical and greedy.
They develop a mentality of doing whatever they want
with little to no consideration of others
because the universe didn't cut them any slack.
But a hero
uses adversity as a means of personal growth.
They find meaning in it
by helping others and in that way,
superhero origins inspire us to grow as well
when we're faced with adversity.
As Rosenberg writes, superhero origin stories
are our stories.
What do you guys think, why do we care
so much about origin stories?
Is there a particular hero or villain
whose origin resonates with you?
Let's talk about it all in the comments.
If you are as fascinated with superhero origins as I am,
click right here to binge watch a playlist of videos
that dive into real world origins
behind Venom, Fantastic Four, Kryptonite, and more.
There's some amazing history and trivia to discover
in these videos, so click right here,
or the link in the description, check them out.
Or, perhaps now that we've exhausted origins,
you'd like to discuss the concept of secret identities.
We've got you covered, click right here to see our video
defending the seemingly diminishing use of secret identities
in comic books, and especially comic book movies.
And make sure you hit that big sexy Subscribe button,
so you don't miss out on all of the new videos
we make for you every week
that explore the history, science, arts, and philosophy
behind your favorite comic book superheros.
My name is Scott, reminding you to read between the panels.
See ya.


The 3 Kinds of Superhero ORIGIN STORIES! || Comic Misconceptions || NerdSync

33 タグ追加 保存
Harry Huang 2020 年 2 月 3 日 に公開
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