I am so entirely sick of people ragging on characters that want/try to do the right thing. see: Captain America, see: Superman, see: Scott McCall
It’s always so utterly transparent too. Like I get it, these characters make you uncomfortable because you see them in all the most awful, horrible situations, the kind of rock and a hard place that would break anyone, only it doesn’t break them, it doesn’t force them into the darkness, it doesn’t keep them from being good and kind, and that freaks you the fuck out because you know, were you in that same place, if you had to make those same choices, you wouldn’t be good and kind, you would compromise. (and I include myself here, I’m no Captain America, none of us are really, but why should that mean we shouldn’t try to be? where did we all get this idea that it’s wrong to try to be good and can we pls get rid of it)
And for some of you, it just infuriates you, how dare someone challenge you or your beliefs, how dare they make you question your actions. You hear things like “You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun” and your reaction is I don’t want to join you in the sun, I want to drag you down to earth and make you just as twisted and wretched as the rest of us because I can’t stand the idea that I could ever be wrong about things, that I could ever need to grow and change and become better.
And I’m just so sick of it. I’m sick of people being enamored with darkness and amorality. I’m sick of people glorifying characters that are absolutely horrible (yes some of the most interesting characters, and some of my favorites even, are not always good guys, but jfc they are not who we should aspire to be like) and trashing characters just for having the audacity to be good people. I’m sick of people acting like being a giant asshole or even legitimately terrible wrong person is ‘cool’ or ‘edgy’, it’s not, it’s really fucking not. Being good is cool. Doing the right thing is edgy (don’t believe me, try doing it for once and see how much push back you get, it’s not so easy being good). Being better then you were a year ago, a month ago, yesterday, that’s cool. Captain America and Superman and all the other characters that challenge us to do better, be better, they are fucking cool.
And I just want to add a thing addressing another very common complaint, that the good guys are ‘boring’. Wrong. Poorly written good guys are boring.
I’m not a comics geek. I don’t know Deadpool from Daredevil. But I have seen the Superman movie franchise (and Marvel’s new dynasty, of course). No, not the revamp. I’m talking the classic, 1970s, Christopher Reeve Superman with the underwear on the outside and the cheesy dialogue. Let’s be honest, no one over the age of 10 takes this Superman seriously. But then, he wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, he was meant to be the silver screen version of a comics icon that had been around for 50 years and this was when comics weren’t gritty and they certainly weren’t based in any kind of realism. And those movies did a damn good job of what they set out to do, no criticism here.
Superman is a representation of ideals, ideals that have justly been heavily criticized of late, but nonetheless, Superman represents some version of what is ‘good’. But, in those classic movies, there was no struggle to be good. Superman was practically programmed to always make the right decision. As a result, there was no character development, no questioning of the outcome, no believability.
But that doesn’t mean the ideals or even the character are bad. It means the writers didn’t know how to make ‘good’ interesting.
Now take a character like Aang, from Avatar: the Last Airbender. This is a character with a very similar story, messiah-figure, destined to save the world, last of his kind, and he almost has no choice but to do good. Except he does. Aang has lots of choices to make along the way, lots of chances to let personal interest or lust for power corrupt him. There’s lots of obstacles, physical and moral ones. And Aang makes his mistakes, his judgment isn’t perfect. But he tries to do the right thing and he makes up for his mistakes, he retains these ideals as something to work towards, instead of being a vessel for them. That’s what makes a character a character and that’s the trick to making a good guy interesting.
Steve Rogers, despite wrapping himself in the American flag, is not merely a robot that spits out American dogma. He is a character who suffers doubt and dilemmas and guilt and makes mistakes. He may represent the American Dream, but he is also critical of it. Steve is aware of the fucked up world around him and wants to help it, wants to stop what’s making it so fucked up. I imagine Steve Rogers not as a superhero, but as a lawyer who fights for underprivileged youth. Or a local politician who calls out the white collar crimes of his peers. Are these not the same ideals the superhero Steve Rogers fights for? If he was not buffed up in Stark’s hunk-o-matic, would these not have easily been his career paths? Because someone is held up as a hero and holds fast to moral ideals doesn’t make them boring or unrealistic. Strip them away from their powers and you should find a real human being who is trying to do the right thing as much as any one of us.
Many people argue that we should give up on ideals because they are unattainable. Why dream big if you can never grasp it? Because it’s worth it to strive for something, even if you can’t help yourself, you will be helping others. No, ideals are not attainable and it’s unrealistic to think you can have them (see: every dystopia ever written and where they went wrong with Superman), but they do make a difference.
TL;DR The good guys aren’t boring as long as you treat them as people