Deconstructing Great (and Awful) Characters

01.17.2022

Tim Whitney 

Alright. Welcome to the heroes and whiskey podcast. This is episode 1.3. This is the second of two episodes where we're talking about what makes a good story and what doesn't. The drink on the bar is something that I made up, which seems to be a pattern lately. So we're talking about the good and the evil, the light in the dark. And so I made something that is a, I guess it's like a root beer float. It's like, not your father's root beer with a little bit of vodka and then coconut buy on top. So I'm hoping that it tastes like a root beer float. It's gonna take tastes like those three ingredients mix together, but it works out good because the light and the dark are separated. And that's what we're going to talk about today. So I just want to say this is my it's a wildcard weekend when we are recording this. This is my favorite weekend in all of sports, because you have so many games where it's like, win or go home. And this is it like this is this is what your whole season is all about. And so I'd love the storylines. We've already had one game that was kind of decided by rafts. And then we had one game where the Buffalo Bills basically did what nobody has ever done before. Which doesn't happen much in sports where they like they never had to punt or kick a field goal. Like that's, that's insane. So the Buffalo Bills Come on. Um, the other thing that I wanted to mention before we jump into it is so as I often do, I go on to Netflix, and then I click around for about 45 minutes and then I end up watching something that I've seen before. And so I happened to be watching the movie version of Les Miserables, the one with Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, which I know a lot of people get flack because it's it's kind of overdramatic, but they're like I had to stop it at the there's a one scene towards the beginning, where Anne Hathaway is at like the worst of the worst. And she starts singing, I dream the dream. And it's like, lockdown shot on her singing for five minutes. And she just kills it. I mean, I don't have I'm not like a huge Anne Hathaway fan, but it's like, if you want a tour de force of, of acting and like just go I mean, she's, she's singing while acting and like she'll sing a lyric and tear will go. And so it's like one lockdown shot. There's no editing or anything like that. And so it's just a really, really powerful moment. So if you're interested in a good character moment, good acting moment. Go check that out. So today, like I said, is the this is the second second episode where we're talking about what makes a good story and what does not. Today's episode is all about characters and relationships, and specifically a set of relationships called the The Animus and the shadow. So the last episode, we talked about story structure a little bit, we talked about the hero's journey. And the story o'clock, we didn't get as far into that as I wanted to, you know, sometimes you start talking about Star Wars and you talk for longer than you think that you're going to. And you know how the right story structure can set you up for success. And so how you feel when stories go wrong. And so the other thing that can make or break a story is when you've got a character who doesn't change or grow or become who they were born to be, as they say, and turn to the king. And you leave wondering what you just watched Joe? kind of skipped ahead. It's me and Jack in the bar, we've got our root beer floats, tastes like a root beer float.

 

Jack Whitney 

I think it's better than a root beer float

 

Tim Whitney 

better than a root beer floats. Alright, not your father's root beer float. That's what we have just created. Alright, so. So before we get into it, we're gonna do as we usually do, we're gonna kind of chat about things that we like things we don't like. So the prompt for today was a two characters that you really like from either film or TV and then one bad one. So let's start with the two characters. So you can go first Jack, the two that I do, like, yeah, or just want to start with first one.

 

Jack Whitney 

Okay, so I really wanted to pick a villain for this because I think that's super interesting. Yep. Like a lot of people like attached to heroes, but like, I love I think it's way better if you have like, at least I enjoy more if you have like a superhero story, and the villain is the person who's the most interesting. Yep. And so I was swinging between like, Heath Ledger's Joker, and then O's. I think Thanos is a little bit of development more development, though. Yeah. And I think then those would be my pick for that

 

Tim Whitney 

nice, any particular reason?

 

Jack Whitney 

Um, I think it's just like, and maybe that this came with a little bit of time, and people analyzing the movies or whatever, but like, when you break it down, like, he has his own arc, and he's not a villain, but he causes all of the issues in those movies. And so it's just really interesting to see like, you know, these typical heroes who you just expect to fight the villain and win the day and whatever that you've been reading about for 10s of years is like, nope, like no, it's actually has a personality and a goal and dreams. aspirations is like a not a human being but like a being with like feelings and you can tell and that's what it's all CG to. So I just think as a whole thing was incredibly impressive character, and incredibly impressive villain and I wanted to pick a villain for one.

 

Tim Whitney  

Now I think that's totally true. Like, I think the the good, good superhero movies always have compelling villains and I think Janos is great. I mean, he's got a he's got a backstory, he believes that he is right. He occasionally convinces you that he is right. And he really cares about his mission and I think Marvel has been kind of hit or miss with villains. I think Loki is a good one. Thanos is a good one. I've had a couple of ones that I can't even remember like the guy from Iron Man to whiplash whipsaw, or the guy from Ironman one, frankly, like, I don't remember what that guy's name is. But yeah, they've had a couple of good ones.

 

Jack Whitney 

Yeah, it's kind of like they're always not to go too far down this room, but like, Marvel was very hit or miss. I feel like villains. Ellie's villains. Like, maybe that's on purpose. But it's like yeah, like Loki. So good. And thermos is so good. Yeah. And I'd even argue like Mysterio is really good. Yep. But yeah, then there's so many like, who was this guy? Right? I don't even care. Yeah, no, even all John was kind of like all John was like, the villain villain. Right, you know, which was cool to watch and fight, but didn't really have like, a ton of depth. Sorta.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah, I agree. I agree. So the first first character on my list is the one that I like, is Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones. So we're, I, my wife and I, we're still in the process of going through Game of Thrones Game of Thrones. We're like eight years late to the game of thrones party, which is the way it goes. But Tyrion Lannister. So he's Peter Dinklage, his character and just like, he starts out as this smarmy asshole, who's just kind of taken advantage of his, his privilege and his power. He's got all the women, he's got all the money. But he's clearly been traumatized by the fact that, you know, he, he's, he's dwarf. Yeah. And so his family has obviously treated him bad. He's obviously got some issues around that. And just kind of over the course of the seasons, he just is, you know, he changes in he becomes much more mature and much more complex. And like, every scene that he's in, and just like, totally transfixed, seeing what he's going to do. So he's one of my good ones.

 

Jack Whitney 

Yeah, my second good character is Sam. And I talked about Samwise Gamgee. from Lord of the Rings in the last episode. Yeah. But I wanted to mention him again here, because he is one of my like, favorite characters of all time. Yeah, I do think that, like, so much of the like, like, Lord of the Rings has, is one of my favorite movie series. But it has all these big moments that are super awesome and epic. Yeah. But like, all of the little moments that are like really meaningful. I feel like come from him. Yeah, or like the Havas in general. And so, like his character, I think it's really I think, when movies have a good balance of like, incredible action sequences, or like very technologically advanced sequences, and really storage over them, and so that's really exciting. Yep. And I think Sam really drives that like small Dory, by the way, you feel really connected to the character throughout the whole trilogy. Yeah, that's what I really like.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah. Yeah. I agree with that. And I can't remember if we talked about this last time, but in the the books, I think it's a good part of Two Towers and Return of the King Sam as the main character because photos out of it, he's been stabbed by Sheila, but whatever. And so there's like, hundreds of pages where just Sam trying to get him back. And so it's much more about Sam than about Frodo. So I agree with that. So the second on my list was actually, Ian Malcolm, from Jurassic Park, kind of a Rambo choice. And it's not so much his character, he'd probably be my guess is he'd be kind of insufferable if you like, had him as a friend. Yeah, in real life. But the the book of Jurassic Park, every single chapter leads off with this little snippet about chaos theory. And chaos theory is like this mathematical concept, like trying to understand complex systems. And so Ian Malcolm is the cat Titian, who's in this story, who's there to provide to the valuation of Jurassic Park? And it's not so much his character. Like, I think Jeff Goldbloom did a fantastic job with him in the movie. But the whole idea of chaos theory, like I spent probably two years of my life when I was about your age, just studying it, understanding it, reading all the cut, and because of the movie, yeah, yeah. Well, more because of the book than the movie. But but it like, my understanding of Chaos Theory changed the way that I look at the world, to this day, really, like looking at it through the lens of math, and predictability and chaos. And so it's not so much the, the character of Ian Malcolm, but I do have his funko pop. And so like, it's a reminder to me that, like, there's a time in my life where I was totally just like, trying to understand things and, you know, wrestle with, with what everything meant.

 

Jack Whitney 

Oh, yeah. That's funny, because like, you said, you're like my age. Yeah. When that happens. It's funny because I'm having the complete opposite experience. I'm like, screw the math just happens. Right? That's pretty funny. Right? When,

 

Tim Whitney 

like me studying, it doesn't change the fact.

 

Jack Whitney 

Yeah, exactly. I'm like, I'm like, dang, that happened. Shoot. Tomorrow. I guess it's gonna happen. Yep.

 

Tim Whitney 

And I'd be like, well, Chaos Theory, which suggests that this would happen and then it would happen again tomorrow. Yeah, absolutely. All right. So what's your bad care? Okay,

 

Jack Whitney 

I I heavily dislike ray in the new Star Wars movies. And there's a lot of reasons why heavily dislike Ray. And it's not anything to do with Daisy Ridley? Yeah, just Sure. Where the criticism is often placed. Yeah. But yeah, I do not like re at all really? Like,

 

Tim Whitney 

unpack that a little bit. What I was

 

Jack Whitney 

saying before the podcast for the podcast was like, she's really the only character that like, made me mad, and like, pissed me off. Not because of the acting like, I think she's a really great like, I think what she did with the character was great. Yeah, what the script writers and the storytellers and the people behind the scenes did with Ray's character and direction. And this, someone speaks that direction. And so much speaks volumes to the direction they move the second to third movie in Yeah. It's like, totally ridiculous. And it's just like, it's just like, Sure, you can say like, they made the creative choice, whatever. But I just wanted so much more. And I feel like that's where so many people, so many people felt the same way. It's like, you can be happy with the product that came out. But we just wanted so much more from her character, because over time, and I mean, it's not an easy task, but over time, like, Luke Skywalker has become this thing and this legend and to some degree, I think it's cool. They played off that. But honestly, what pissed me off the most was when when Ray in episode eight, when she's nobody, right? And the whole idea is she's finding herself but she's not really because she's not attached to anybody, right? Like her parents were nobody and All of a sudden she's alone. Like, that's cool. Like, like, holy crap, like what's gonna happen in the third movie? Right? Like she's alone? Like, she doesn't know what she needs to find it on her own kind of deal. You know, she's getting tempted by the dark side like in the most legit way possible. So it's like that's kind of cool to like, see her go from like, who's re going to be to? Oh, raise nobody. Right. And maybe that pissed a lot of people off in the moment. But when they swapped in episode nine to will raise a Palpatine Yeah, she's been in the bloodline for a while, or whatever. It's like that totally like that totally breaks down all the all the things that episode eight setup and yeah, and it's not just with Ray but there's many other things about those movies. But yeah, it was like there was so much all of a sudden this door was open to like, you don't need to be a Skywalker. You don't need to be this. You need to be that and, and the scene that tie that all together. I think it's at the end of the last Jedi. Yeah. When that kid Yeah. Has the rebel ring on his hand or whatever. Yeah. And he like uses the Force to grab the broom. Like, sick. Yeah, like where Star Wars gonna go? Anybody? Like yep, there are people out there. It's the it's not this big thing anymore. It's not this big fight. But there still is people out here who like have these powers. So it's gonna come back like eventually downline. Yeah. But it's was just easier to sell toys to be like, Y'all raise a Palpatine. Yeah. Skirt. Like, let's bring all the voices back. Wow, that because the fanservice and I'm like, That's cool in the moment. But like, right now that you digested the Yeah, the product? Do you really want to be like, really? Yeah. So it's like, and it's not about and, you know, movies go in different directions than what you want. But I think it was just frustrating because there's so much more to be had with her character. Yeah. And I think the decision to make her connected to the whole thing was super, super like, one of the things that was cool was that episode eight went in different direction. Episode Seven was that homage to the original trilogy, episode eight, one in the new direction. They had the whole world to play with with episode nine. And they decided to bring in their lens and everybody's connected to the Palpatine and the Skywalker saga. And that's cool. I think you could I think they could have done that. Without without having her be related to Palpatine. Like, it's still gonna come back. And they said a fight or men cool. That doesn't have to be the end all be all though. Movie. Right? So I think Daisy really interacting. Fantastic. Yeah. What the writers did with Ray. Yes, I hated and that's my opinion. But I hated it. Yeah.

 

Tim Whitney 

Well, yeah, I 100% agree that I actually have like, plans for two upcoming podcasts. One is like why the last Jedi is the Star Wars movie that we all need for exactly the reasons that you're talking about. Yeah. And then one is about like, where Star Wars goes wrong when it insists. And this goes back to George Lucas had insist on like, shrinking the universe. Yeah. Where it's not enough to have you know, a character who has the force. And she's like, she's the one now she has to be related to someone. And so I like I have issues with all the things that you have issues with hair. So yeah. Yeah, well, and I feel bad because the bad character on my list is Innokin. And I like it. It's not really fair to pick on. Everybody else has picked on and again, like, what else? Do I need to say

 

Jack Whitney 

women?

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah, no, he just like the, and it wasn't so much like, I mean, I feel bad for Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christiansen, because they were like, written into this thing that like, it just didn't. It didn't feel right. Like the the places where Anna Ken was going emotionally were not consistent with like the human experience. I mean, he's he's totally like crushing on this woman who's like, I don't know, eight 910 years older than he is like, in a way that's kind of creepily obsessive. He's kind of a jackass, frankly. And like, he's not likable, at all, I guess. It's like, I don't want to be an academy. He's just kind of a jerk. And what's unfortunate is like, there were versions of star like the Clone Wars, both cartoon and the CGI series. Were like He was a good character and like him and Obi Wan and Ahsoka. You're like, okay, like I like these guys like that, that whole dynamic that changed Return of the Jedi for me, because I watch it. And all of a sudden, you've got all these cool stories about, like all of the good and noble things that he did. But just the way that it was presented in the movies and I, yeah, I couldn't care less. Yeah,

 

Jack Whitney 

that's interesting. Because like, that's interesting, because, like, the, the movies that you saw, and here we are back talking about Star Wars. But yeah, but the movies that you saw when you had grown up a little bit from the old Star Wars, you just like that character. Those are the movies I grew up with. I love that guy. And now then we said I've seen when I grew up, yeah. And our processing stars in a different way. Yeah. I hate the main character. But to some people, Ray might be the best character they've ever seen on screen. So it's just interesting, like, generationally, what, what we bought, like, I don't, I agree with everything. You say buy anything, but also I think that's just his character. Like he's an asshole, but he's supposed to be trusting you, right? So

 

Tim Whitney 

yeah. Yeah. All right, well, so let's talk about how and why this works. So in his book, anatomy of story, the author John Truby talks about this thing called a character web. And so if you can imagine, like a bunch of tennis balls, and they're all connected by bungee cords, so that tennis balls are all of the different characters in the story. And bungee cords are like this tension between them. And it's like that this tension between characters, which is what ultimately results in the growth of those characters, so like, all of the characters have some relationship to other characters. And in a good story, those characters will be in tension with each other. And that tension is what brings out the best in in all of them. And so that, you know, the tension gets revealed primarily through through dialogue, sometimes through conflict, but it's primarily done through through dialogue. So like, the example that always comes to mind, for me is in episode four of Star Wars, when, you know, Han and Luke and Ben are on their way to Alderaan. And Luke is training with his lightsaber for the first time, and Han is talking about, hey, you know, hokey religions are, you know, they're no, no good with a good blaster at your side. And, you know, Obi Wan is talking about faith and belief and those kinds of things. And so it's like, it's those character moments where there's like, tension to like, two separate, opposing ideas, where us as the audience and the main character has to decide for themselves, you know, which direction are we we go into, are we going to go in. And so it's this tension between characters, that that's what that what they think elevates characters. And, again, you know, we're watching Game of Thrones, and Game of Thrones is really good. Obviously, they have the benefit of being a long term series. But they're really good at pairing different characters together. So these characters can have disband, or they can have this back and forth, where they play off of each other, and they help each other grow. And they're very good about like, mixing and matching these these character, character combos. Yeah, but I was also thinking about, and this is a project that both Jack and I were involved in kind of a freelance commercial setting, but if you're like, if you are someone who is a creator, and you're talking about a person or a product or a company, what's interesting to people is not just all of the great things that that company has done. What's interesting to people is like, the, the contrast between the different personalities that were involved in it, and how they built off of each other, how they grew off of each other, how they challenge each other, and how they made each other into better people. And so, if you are, you know, if you're a creator, again, whether it's like a dungeon master or your video producer, or whatever, but what's interesting to people is not just how great things are, how awesome things are. It's like how they choose challenge us as people to be better people, because that's the thing that people are really drawn to is like, how do I become a better version of myself? And oh, I wish I was in a situation where there was a better version of myself to, to challenge me. Yeah. So one other thing that I've discovered is that carbonated beverages and podcasts don't really mix very well. I'm sitting here talking, Zach, I, man, I have to burp really bad because we put root beer into this.

 

Jack Whitney 

I feel Yeah. See, there

 

Tim Whitney 

you go. There you go. Alright, so. So I want to talk about a couple of examples of kind of big film disappointments, where I really feel like, like this, this idea of the character web is the thing that's missing. And you know, Jack, please jump in. So, you know, we always talk about Star Wars. And it's like, for me going back to return to the Jedi. Like that was the that was the first one where there wasn't like, like, the characters didn't like pull against each other. And so in Empire Strikes Back. I mean, they, they did. So you had this one storyline that was like Luke and Yoda and Ben, and they're going back and forth. And then you had to Nora, another storyline that was Han and Leia. And so they had kind of a love interest relationship. And even like, see, Threepio is pulling against Han Han is pulling back against Threepio. And Chewbacca is a great like, counterpoint to Han. Because even though you don't understand what he's saying, you get the sense that he's saying things. Yeah, that Han is like custom offers. Yeah. Right. And so the first two movies, I thought, were really good at setting up these relationships that had some kind of tension. But then you get to return to the Jedi. And it's like, everybody knows exactly who they were like, there's no like thematic tension there. There's no point in these movies where you get the sense that one character is pulling another character in a direction that they don't want to go. And I mean, until you get to the end, where it's like, Luke, and Darth Vader and the Emperor and those kinds of things. And so there's no like, they're just doing things, and you're watching them do things, and they're interesting things. But there's no like, You should do this this way. Or you should do this this way. And there's only like, no thematic challenges to those relationships.

 

Jack Whitney 

But do you need that though, in a third movie? Like I would, I would think that there are thematic challenges in Return of the Jedi. But that, like, the hero development, at the end of almost a Return of the King, at the end of Empire Strikes Back, yeah. is kinda wrapped up in a way. What hasn't been addressed yet? And what causes all the issues towards the end is Darth Vader's fight with the Emperor? Yeah. Which is like, which is a point of contention. And challenge. Yeah, where the emperor is like, I'm all in on this dark side thing. And I faders like, well, actually, like, because of the character development from Luke for the past two movies. I'm changing my viewpoint, you know? Yeah. So I would actually argue, like, maybe the third movie doesn't need to do that as early now, I don't like I think it only needs to do it. But I think to a certain extent, like to a certain extent, every movie will have that. Yeah, but doesn't movie that wraps up a series need to do it as much as the first one. The second one,

 

Tim Whitney 

that's all point. So I think another example and you hit on this jack is the whole Finn and Poe and re dynamic from the the sequels. Like I thought there was some like really good banter going on there was Force Awakens. That just gets totally lost in in the sequel.

 

Jack Whitney 

They are so good together. Yeah. Especially, especially Finn and Poe. Yeah. And like, I just wanted to see more of that. And like, I get that they're trying to tell another story. And you know, just because I saw what's on the screen doesn't mean that's what needed to be there. Right? Yeah. But like, yeah, one of the things you love about like Han and chewy and the whole gang Yeah, that's why you call them like, quote, like the whole gang. Yeah. Is because they're all bantering Beauvoir. Like one thing and poem rare together, like Yeah, it's fun. Yeah, it's like he had started Again like, right, you know Ray's doing her thing and they're kind of helping her out and bubble bond rises Skywalker does some of that actually the beginning like decently well, yeah. And it's fun to watch like, those are my favorite parts of that rises Skywalker when it was like everybody was just like, in these dire situations, but it was fun. Yeah, like that. That's what I think is so like, great to me about Star Wars and what I enjoy the most and the fun moments I remember. And yeah, it's I think there's such a good opportunity there because they're all like good actors. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And that's such a good opportunity to have great banter. And BB eight is a great joy. Like, look what made our to do too good and made it better. Yeah. And it's just yeah. Last banter.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yes. Yeah, you can write as well. And even like, I remember the Force Awakens when rain Rey and Finn first meet, Finn's trying really hard to be more of a hero. He's decided he's not going to be a stormtrooper anymore. And he wants to be a good guy. And Ray is kind of like, I don't really care about you. So they're like this good. Like, he wants something. And she doesn't want it. And so there's, they're just really good together. And yeah, so I feel like some of that gets lost. So another example of this, to me is the original Jurassic Park had a lot of this good, thematic, back and forth between the characters, you know, should we even be doing this? What does this mean for the world? What does this mean for science, you know, is what we're attempting to do with Jurassic Park? Like, even a good idea. And so a lot of the, you watch a lot of the dialogue and its characters talking about, is this good? Is this bad? Should we be doing this? Should we not be doing this? And so as the audience, you know, were like engaged in these conversations. And so we're thinking along, alright, do I think this is a good idea? Do I think this is a bad idea? And so like, where, because the dialogue is so good, because these interactions are written so well, it draws us into it, compare it with Jurassic World, where, like, again, it just feels like you're watching characters, with their, with their personalities doing something. And there, there are good parts of it. But there's never a part of it, where you feel like, Alright, there's there's a decision here that needs to be made about whether this is even a good idea, or not. But I think this is also one of the big differences between DC and Marvel. Like, I think Marvel is just really good about setting up these interactions between characters to talk about whether what they're doing is the right thing and how they should do them. I mean,

 

Jack Whitney 

there's a whole movie around it. Yeah. Civil War. Yeah, right. Exactly. Right, is about conflicting ideas. Yeah. And it's not just like, like, boom, boom, fight scene, right. It's like, Tony and Captain America, Steve Rogers are sitting in a room together, right? And they're like, No, this is what we should do. And Tony's like, I don't think you're right. Yeah. And it's like, okay, right. That's it. Yeah. Like, we're gonna disagree, and it's gonna affect multiple movies to come. And yeah, I think that's what's so good, like civil wars, like an S to Marvel movie. Yeah, for me. And I think that's what makes it so good is because the antagonist you have like, you have like, barons, Emo whatever, that whole storyline. Yeah. But that's not what attracts you to civil war. And what is so good about Civil War is, and again, they did a good job, like the characters that they built up over years and years and years. All of a sudden, are, you know, breaking each other down? And it was a comic book storyline first, obviously. But like that, where they placed that in the MCU timeline, yeah, it just goes to show like, how important if you're trying to create this world how important that placement is, because it sets up so much. And it says of so much of their character interaction in endgame, right. Like when they see each other for the first time, after Tony comes down at space. Yeah, it's like, man, but there's still tension there. Yeah. Years and years later, or 2019. Or whenever anger came out in 2019. We're in 2019. And like telling cat like, still kind of have these like this hate for each other, but they need to work together. You know what I mean? Yeah. And they got to dig deep and like find that so that's what's so that's what's so good about Marvel. And that like, back and forth, and what's so cool, is it it lasts for such a long time. Yeah. And that's the thing that I think like sequels. Like you were talking about Jurassic World, and the new Star Wars movies, and the DC Universe, which almost always feels like it's like, I don't want to crap on anybody's like, love the DC Universe. I think a lot of those movies are pretty sick. Like I love a lot of those movies like suicide. I thought Suicide Squad was awesome, but it always feels like DC is like a step behind Marvel. Yeah, Marvel's just figured it out. It's the same way the producers and whenever a Jurassic World, you're just like trying to recapture something but you like missed the mark on why it was good. Same thing with Star Wars you like kind of missed the mark on why was good. It's not just about showing them Falcon the glaciers in the lightsabers. There's something about it, that's gonna stand the test of time that you've totally missed the mark on that might get you the box office numbers, but you go anywhere on YouTube. And there's hundreds of 1000s of people who are saying the same thing. And so I think that's what Marvel has done incredibly well, where they built out their character web in a way where Yeah, hey, you don't need to be satisfied with this character. Is that right? Just give us three years, you know? Yeah.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah. Well, and I think they, like they're willing to take the time to have like to character's relationship, build over three or four movies. I think the problem with DC is that they're trying, they tried to cram everything in. Like, they're like, Oh, crap, we're like through three or four years behind, if not, like 10 years behind on this whole universe building thing. Yeah. And so they try to jam all of these relationships into a much shorter timeline. And as don't, I don't think it always works. Yeah. Alright, so let's talk about one kind of character development theory that underlies a lot of this, specifically, as relates to the main character in this call comes from Carl Jung. So his theories underpin a lot of the art of storytelling, a lot of Joseph Campbell, we talked about the hero's journey last time, kind of comes from this. And so he talks about two specific characters. And he calls them the Animus and shadow. And so that's why we had our, our dark and light drinks here. So that the Animus is the character or characters who represent better versions of the main character, or who have traits that the main character aspires to, and, and so it's, it's the kind of You complete me, character. So if the main character, you know, that if there's, if they have kind of gaps in their personality or shortcomings in the, in their personality, the Animus is a character who fills those gaps, so that the Animus, and, you know, a great example is is Samwise Gamgee. So, he, he does have his own character arc, but he's like, very set in who he is, he's very confident in who he is. And his stability, honestly, is one of the things that drives that story forward. So even when Frodo falls by the wayside, Sam's conviction about about Frodo and about their mission is what keeps the story going forward. In So, Animus is it's a male word. And that's probably a relic from the generation where it was first developed. But certainly, there's such a thing as an anima, which is the female word. And so most love stories come from this kind of male and female characters challenging each other. And, you know, this is one reason that to me, and again and pad Mae, that whole relationship is totally unbelievable. And some of it is just the writing, but some of it is like, they just don't, they don't challenge each other. Right? It's like, I'm obsessed with you. I love you. Oh, I love you, too. I just killed a bunch of Tusken raiders. Oh, I love you. And just like there's not like any. There's no none of this tension that we're talking on this character Web. There's no like, you know, do I agree with Padma drag? Do I agree with Innokin? It's like, they're just both being stupid. And so there's a whole separate conversation around how women are handled in this relationship. So one thing that you notice, especially when you're looking at characters like the Disney princesses, is they they tend to be resolute and self sufficient, and they don't always I always get challenged in quite the same way that male characters do. And so that that's kind of fascinating to me as the father of daughters, that like all the most of the kind of prominent media examples of women are like, these plucky women who know what they want. And you know, and they don't change as a result, whereas most male characters are kind of like, fumbling, and they're not sure they've got what it takes. And a Yeah, and so that's a, that's a whole separate podcast, conversation. So again, you know, Sam, I think is probably the, you know, a really good example of the Animus character. And conversely, Gollum is a good example of the shadow. And so he's a the shadow, according to Carl Jung is a version of the character that has made all the wrong decisions. And they reflect what the main character could become if they make those same bad choices. And I think it's really blatant. With with Gollum. Yeah, Frodo, because I mean, Gollum is literally a hobbit who could have had their Oh, he had the ring, he got obsessed by the ring. And he can't get over his obsession.

 

Jack Whitney 

Is there literally a scene where Bilbo essentially turns into Gollum? Yeah. Looking.

 

Tim Whitney 

I remember that. Yeah, so yeah. And so that the shadow, the shadow is not necessarily the main bad guy in the story. You know, he's often like a tear below the main main bad guy. And so I like Darth Vader is, is a good example. He, you know, he's the main main bad guy for the first movie. But he's now he ends up not really being the main bad guy. And there's a powerful moment in Return of the Jedi, where Luke cuts off Darth Vader's arm, and he sees that he got a robotic hand. And Luke is like, I also have a robotic hand, and I'm turning into my father. And so the, you know, Darth Vader is the shadow character, he had all the power all the potential of Luke, but he made the wrong choices. And so he's the, he's the character that's kind of pulling Luke in the direction of going the wrong way. He's not necessarily the bad guy. But he's certainly the one who has the most attention again, I get that this is one of the reasons I'm not a big fan of the prequels because I didn't think that Palpatine was a believable, bad guy, mentor. You know, there, there was no other bad guy in, in the prequels, you know, for an akin to, like, compare himself to, it was like, follow the Emperor don't follow the Emperor. And then he does and you're like, wait, what? Yeah. And so, you know, Gollum is another good example. And I think Heath Ledger's Joker. He's another good example. In he even says, at some point, something to the effect of, you know, I think I think we're gonna do this forever. You know, we're kind of destined to do this forever. They do both believe in, you know, chaos and the way things are set up is not right, and what are we going to do about it? And so the Joker's responses to blow everything up. And

 

Jack Whitney 

so when he says, when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, he's hanging there at the end. Yeah, you're like, dang, he's right. It's totally right. Yeah, it's pretty nice.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yeah. Well, and so I, we are also we're going through Cobra Kai, like everybody else. And that's kind of another good example. There's lots of like, characters who could have made good choices along the way, but made bad choices. And you know, things turned out, things turn out differently. And so this whole idea of the animal in the shadow, like I think that's a really good way to look at main characters, how main characters develop. And so as you're thinking about some of your, your favorite movies, or some movie, maybe you watch a movie, and you're like, I don't really feel like anything happened here. Like we feel with the prequels or the sequels to Star Wars. There, there's a good chance that there's some of this character development is this character tension. Like there's no good example of where the character wants to be where their character doesn't want to be that's pulling at them at the same time.

 

Jack Whitney 

I think that's all like that's all super interesting because like That's kinda like how, like, real life is. Yeah. Right? Where you're like, Okay, here's somebody I want to be. Yeah. How many other people failed? And how can I not? You know what I mean? Like it's kind of blown up. But it's very, like microscopically analyzed in like a Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker relationship where he's like, like, becoming my evil father, who's done this. Going down the same path. Yeah, whatever. Yeah, it's pretty, like, I think that's such a cool. Like, that's such a cool idea of like, like, the characters that are surrounding what you may think is the main character is like, more of a reflection of those personality traits. Yeah. And I'm curious, like, how much of that is like, truly intentional? And how much of it just comes from like, natural, good storytelling? Yeah. Because there's a lot of times when, even on a small scale, when I'm like editing a video or something like that, and the video naturally comes together? Yeah. And I don't really have to do a lot of work, right. So I wonder how many of these stories like were pulled together? With that in mind, and how many of them were pulled together? Without even thinking about that? Yeah, but unknowingly created this ripple effect of like, like 10s, and hundreds of 1000s of YouTube videos, and all these people who take it and analyze it and stuff like that. And without even knowing it, the producers and the creators have done something that is absolutely will stand the test of time. Like there are movies that we continually talk about. And there's a reason we continually talk about them as because they will stand the test of time. And I think that's really interesting when you talk about like, these theories and stuff, because, like, I mean, just like a scientific theory, they can change. Yeah, so who knows? Like, if this this shadow, there's my version of the character is as far as you can take story development? Yeah, I don't think we're there yet. So,

 

Tim Whitney 

yeah, yeah. No, I, I agree. And no, I think. I think most people try. Like, when they're creating some piece of media, they try to create a good story. And some of it I think, comes instinctually. Like, some of it feels right. But then I think some some of it, like we were talking about earlier. You know, it's for two people to work together and accomplish something together like that. That's okay. But it's way more interesting, if those two people have two different personalities, two different approaches. And so like, in this conflict in this tension between their two approaches, they're able to able to accomplish something. And I think, a lot of a lot of the stories, a lot of the characters that we experience who we like, couldn't care less about the moment you leave the theater. I think a lot of that is because there's no there's no tension, like there's, we we as the audience are not forced to decide which approach you know, what our personal philosophy is, and

 

Jack Whitney 

why. It's why reality TV is so popular. Yeah, it's because it's because people, like it's just like, conflict after conflict after conflict, right? Conflict, and all these people have different ideas. And it's like, well, was Kim Right? Or was Cheryl right, or whatever? Their names are? Yeah. Um, but yeah, it's it's I mean, and that that conflict is, and that's just circling back to the beginning when I was talking about that. And I was like, that's why it's there was such an interest. Yeah, I agree. Rock is on such a large scale. And on such a human level, you're able to connect with him. Yeah. If you just take a second think about what he's saying. Yeah, you're like, yeah, like, he's kind of right. Right. Maybe the way he's going about it is wrong. Yeah. But like, he's kind of right. Yeah. It kind of like, kind of like the Jedi. It's yeah, their philosophies, right. Sure. sound great, right. But the way they're going about it, it is totally wrong. Right. And so that conflict, like within, within what you think should be the heroes, or even what you think should be the typical villain, all that kind of stuff that like challenge These these theories, and maybe the people that are presented to you on the surface are not the people that actually fit this category, right? I think just makes movies so much more interesting. And those are the movies. I mean, those movies in really fun movies, but those movies are the ones that like, stick with people. Yeah. And I think and this will definitely be another episode but so much of like I was saying, the Jurassic worlds of the world and the seas of the world and the sequels of the world and the remakes of the world. They just miss they could be great. Yeah, they and fun, right and cool adventure. They just miss. What made that series or that idea so good in the first place. Yep. And those movies won't stand the test of time. But the old ones will. Yep. And so I think that speaks to the writers and the characters and the way people have taken and grown with the stories and stuff like that. And so, yeah, characters have a huge part in that.

 

Tim Whitney 

Yep. Yep. All right. So that is enough. Talk about character development. We will talk to you all in a little bit until then, and as Tim and jack at the basement bar Jack has finished his drink long ago. I have not seen it yet. But until the next time, do what's right to love mercy walk humbly tell great stories and drink superior spirits.