Sunday, 5 February 2012

Blog - "Secondary Heroes"

Our subject today: Lando Calrissian. Our topic: secondary heroes.

Now, the concept of a secondary hero is one you see everywhere, in almost every piece of work. Even the infamous 'Lone Ranger' had an assistant with his adventures, which isn't exactly lone, is it? Bruce Lee, in the film 'The Big Boss' had a cousin who was a decent fighter, but wasn't quite good enough not to die.

That, there, is the recurring theme. Secondary heroes are generally considered to be good, but not as good as whoever the main hero is. The Companion in Doctor Who serves the purpose of being an every day character, who knows practically nothing, but somehow manages to help out on sheer humanity.

My main example here though, is Lando Calrissian, who shows, pretty much perfectly, how secondary heroes are the least realistic of the hero brand, not because of their own limitations, but because of the lack thereof that is applied to them.

There are clear and obvious heroes and villains in Star Wars (referring at this point to Star Wars as episodes 4, 5 and 6, as 1, 2 and 3 blurs the lines from obvious into confusing), which are Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa and Han Solo.

Your original secondary heroes; Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3P0, R2-D2 and Chewbacca, serve clear purposes. The droids are there for exposition. C-3P0 serves to explain the story when concerned that the viewer might not be able to keep up. R2-D2 is there to take away obstacles that allow for certain situations to occur. For example, the issues with the Millenium Falcon allow a rescue for Luke in the Cloud City, as well as giving Vader a last chance to communicate with him, then R2-D2 takes them away. Obi-Wan is a teacher, and dies in order to display the talents of Darth Vader, thus making him more intimidating, and Chewbacca is a second pilot, showing that Han Solo can't really be that callous and selfish, because he travels the Universe with a friend and companion.

The bad guys, Darth Vader and Emporer Palpatine, can be difficult. Vader is quite clearly the primary antagonist, despite being secondary in the chain of command. This is likely one of the reasons that the films were so successful, being that it is against the run of play for most films, in that time and overall. You tend to have the big antagonist as the big evil, the most capable and scary, while, instead, Vader is the Emporer's henchman.

Then we reach our additional secondary hero. The one who turns up in the middle of the series, is a bit of an arse, then less of an arse, and generally takes on the role of the token black man for a little while, until Return Of The Jedi, where he actually becomes a believable character. The unbelievable issues are a lot to do with reputation. The man was an Adminstrator, doing paperwork for a place he won at a bet, and made a living through cowardly avoiding pissing off the Empire.

Why exactly would the Rebel Alliance decide to make him a General?

Yes, this pisses me off. For a whole attack on a Death Star containing the Emporer and Darth Vader - the two most terrifying of all the Empire's accrued population - they decide to allow their entire fleet to be led by a man who gave up two of their Captains to said Empire. They allow a military captaincy for a man used to crunching numbers.

And this is the problem with secondary heroes. They're not as heroic as you're typical heroes, but they're generally treated like something far in advance of that. The unexplained back story is extremely exaggerated in order to match their abilities up to those that we already know, but the same back story is spoken of so very rarely that most writers no longer seem to bother.

For example, we know how Luke, Leia, Chewbacca and the two droids get into Jabba's Palace, and we know Han Solo is there already; how does Lando sneak in? Not a clue. He's too secondary to have his scenes shown.

This man has a whole book series dedicated to him, but his role in the films is Paperwork Monkey - Guy Attempting To Over A Guy While Jedi Overpowers All Guys - General Of The Rebel Army.


Stupid bloody secondaries.

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