The Team Fortress 2 Method
Presenting trendy groundwork for fictional characters and groups, CBM's included.
Back in 2007, Valve released an FPS game called "Team Fortress 2". This team-oriented multiplayer has no story to speak of, just modes such as "Capture the Flag" and "Deathmatch" to jump around in at your leisure. I normally avoid these types of games like the plague, but this offered 9 unique character classes that opened (or perhaps branded) my mind. These 9 classes are semi-parodies of genre characters, with all kinds of off-the-wall references to popular fiction.
I bring this up because as I really got into it, I started thinking of different mash-ups - characters from all kinds of different fiction who would fit the bill of these 9 classes. It got to be where I saw the 2010 movie "Predators" and in my brain, thought nearly every character was a representation... and I was able to enjoy the experience.
Let me introduce to you the team, or the schematic if you will.
1) The Scout
Here lies the fast-talking trashmouth who is even faster on his feet. He's short and weak, but boy can he run. This baseball player has a Boston accent and loves his energy drinks.
2) The Soldier
This deranged psychopath loves the glory of battle and his country. He's a bit slow on the uptake, enjoys talking to inanimate objects, craves violence and explosions, and has no fear.
3) The Pyro
Shrouded head to toe in mystery and protective covering, this arsonist is quirky and dangerous, and may even be a woman. He (or she) revels in fire and um, air guitar.
4) The Demoman
The mumbling bumbling token "black Scottish Cyclops" suffers from a crisis of identity. He loves drinking, blowing things up, and is just as likely to swing a broadsword as a bottle of scrumpy.
5) The Heavy
This Russian heavy weapons guy has the body of a shaved bear and the brain of a mentally challenged 7 year-old. He also has a big heart and cares for his beloved minigun named Sasha.
6) The Engineer
A soft-spoken guitarist from Texas, this expert builder will save lives as often as he'll end them. He's the man with the plan, with a wrench and a shotgun to boot.
7) The Medic
Lost is the Hippocratic Oath and medical license of this genius German doctor. Nurturing and curious, he enjoys practicing medicine and performing demented experiments.
8) The Sniper
Not a crazed gunman but an assassin, this Australian marksman has everyone's number. He is vulnerable and suffers from agoraphobia, but despite his frustrated demeanor he tries to stay optimistic.
9) The Spy
An international man of mystery, this stealthy French double-agent is an infiltrator of secure operations. He is a cynical and well-travelled ladykiller who buries his self-loathing with the numerous identities he's assumed.
This is nothing new, after all, these attributes and personality quirks have always existed in fiction, but I do see this as a schematic for such fiction as comic books and films. It is an outline that can at times be broadened or shortened, but without fail, all of these personalities are prominent in this celebrated genre. I'm not just referring to the weapons specialization of each classification of character. Scout is a talkative busybody provocateur, Soldier is a proud and established career man, Pyro is a mysterious and chaotic wildcard, Demoman is a token character meant to represent range, Heavy is naive and courageous, Engineer is the idea man and/or genius, the Medic is the nurturer and motivator, the Sniper is insecure and displaced, while the Spy is a cynical non-entity. Often you will see the Engineer and the Medic merged into one, since they share a bit in common. Sometimes they really are just their namesake.
Last Halloween I drew this bit based off of this concept and of course, Bruce Timm's cartoonish art style.
The purpose of this article is to draw awareness to a prominent design in popular fiction; a formula that may leave some people questioning a character or characters' inclusion or purpose in, say, an adaptation such as a Comic Book Movie. I was motivated by a recent editorial (http://www.comicbookmovie.com/avengers/news/?a=54953) calling to question the problem some people have been having with Hawkeye and Black Widow in the Avengers.
Now just in case you've been living under a rock this entire time, the Avengers line-up features Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, with Nick Fury putting the team together.
The Engineer - Iron Man: he is a genius inventor. He and his father developed the technology that gives SHIELD its advantage.
The Medic - Dr Bruce Banner: he helps people with care. When he is not the Hulk, he is applying his own science to help the little guys.
The Heavy - the Hulk: he is a big dumb brute. He is treated as an unstoppable force to be directed (and manipulated) against an enemy.
The Spy - Black Widow: she is duplicitous and cynical. She is well-travelled, assumes numerous identities, and has worked hard to remove her KGB ties.
The Sniper - Hawkeye: he is a marksman among superheroes. As many have pointed out, he wields a bow and arrow beside the Hulk and the god of thunder, forcing him to work overtime to fit in.
The Soldier - Captain America: he is a relic from World War II. He is a living legend and a respected veteran who has an old-fashioned outlook on life.
The Demoman - Thor: he is a god among mortals. He is a prince from another realm and will never truly fit in with the humans of Midgard, which may work in favor or against the Avengers.
The Scout - Nick Fury: he has his nose in everyone's business. He has gathered intelligence on all of the heroes of this film and is hoping against hope that they will be enough to save the world.
The Pyro - Loki: he commands a mysterious force. The god of mischief, he thrives in chaos and disorder, manipulating people as if he were playing a board game.
Some characters are interchangeable, depending on your preference or perspective of course.
I think this could also somewhat explain why Marvel chose not to have Janet and Hank (apart from seven being the magic number). If you view the different classifications of characters as interchangeable, you can also see that there's room for new characters (such as Antman and Wasp) to fill in those roles in a sequel. I'll also point out that these classifications are not only exclusive to one side of a conflict in a story. Star Wars, the Princess Bride, the Usual Suspects, the Godfather, the Lord of the Rings, Blade Runner, Alien, And Then There Were None, It, the Shawshank Redemption, Saving Private Ryan, etc... all share this formula.
Now this may seem like some criticism, throwing out this theory that popular fiction is formulaic (especially one brought on by a video game - ha) but on the other hand, even though Team Fortress 2 has no story and is a first person shooter (which I don't care for), I've enjoyed playing it for years and years to this day. This formula is full of so much potential that it truly doesn't get tiring.
Am I crazy? Sound off below.
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