This show took character development to another level.
It’s not new to heroes to have daddy problems. Anyone who has ever seen an episode of. has seen LOST can tell you that.
But Invincible, the animated superhero series based on the comics by Robert Kirkman, found a new perspective on an ancient trope. (Spoilers for the show will follow.)
In a recent feature for Insert magazine, Kenneth Lowe delves into the bad father trope in Invincible and how stories like this are true for anyone who has ever been disappointed in their own father, and what makes up the dynamic between Mark and Nolan Invincible all the more heartbreaking.
What Lowe highlights is a lesson we can all learn how to create realistic and complex parental relationships in stories, regardless of the size or scope of the story we are trying to tell.
Let’s take a closer look at that.
Before you end the father-son conflict in Invincible Regarding his own childhood, Lowe points out that Nolan’s betrayal is different from other stories with similar twists, that Mark not only knew his father, but also knew that he was a present and caring parent. It’s the proverbial “devil you know” that applies to dad problems.
That’s not the case with Luke Skywalker or Peter Quill, notes Lowe, or other epic and operatic stories like American gods, evil, guardians, His dark materials, and many novels by Charles Dickens. The discovery that someone you didn’t really know was your parent all along carries a different weight.
Having someone you know and love betrays you? It’s a completely different attitude.
Other examples of this dynamic
What’s worth it, the latest in live action from Disney, CruellaWith this trope, too, she plays with mother and daughter. Since the scene in which Dalmatians bumped Cruella’s mother over a cliff went viral on the movie’s opening weekend, you might as well indulge a second time and learn that the dogs were called out by Emma Thompson’s character, who claim to be Cruella’s real mother turns out. This in turn leads Cruella to wonder if her true nature is really as evil and ruthless as her archenemy. But that’s a bad mother too, she Not knows.
It’s easy to get angry with a parent who has been away for most of their life.
Someone who teased you and then let you down is rarer in this kind of heightened storytelling, but it doesn’t have to be, and it’s sadly more realistic. There are a handful of more recent examples of established families in the superhero subgenre, including Jupiter’s legacy, which was just adapted for Netflix, as well as the Hank and Hope dynamic in the Ant man Movies. The unbelievable, of course, it’s all about that.
In these cases, however, the fathers are more difficult than downright vicious. Bad dad stories like the one in Invincible are more common in straight dramas.
The television adaptation of Invincible By revealing Mark’s father as the villain in the first episode of the series, he also makes use of dramatic irony.
This is another storytelling tool that adds layers to the dynamic as we follow all the happy moments between Mark and his father with a sense of fear and confusion.
What we can learn
So how can we apply all of this to our own writing and storytelling?
Since Mark knows and loves his father before he discovers he is a supervillain, and knowing that betrayal is imminent, the storyline is more about how it affects Mark emotionally and what the consequences will be. Will he ever forgive his father? What is his grief process like? Will he attack his family or friends? Can he still be a hero?
Don’t be so focused on fooling the audience with a “gotcha” heel turn in your story. Focus on the insightful character.
Our characters’ backstory isn’t just a bio, it should tell how they react to the dramatic situations you put them in. We return to the problems with dad and mom because it’s something that everyone has experience and can relate to, but it’s also because the people who raised us so often affect how we affect each other in the world and there are unfortunately endless possibilities for parents to betray their children in large and small ways.
Even if you want to tell a story about a child with an absent parent, for whatever reason in the story, think about how you could have filled that void. Do you have a photo? An anecdote, good or bad? A locket? A teacher or relative to look after you? All of these things are ultimately more important than the shock value of “No, I am your father”. war of stars Wait, as iconic as it is, that’s something Invincible comes so right.
Have you seen this show? Let us know your thoughts.