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Lit What makes a Character that Character; Reboots, Reimagines and Recanonization

Discussion in 'Literature' started by AusStig, Apr 18, 2021.

  1. AusStig

    AusStig Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 3, 2010
    With talk about recanonizing characters and some having happened, it prompts a question. What do people think makes that character unique? Eg What makes Thrawn different from a smart admiral?

    If you have to bring characters back into canon what are the key elements of these characters?

    How do people see characters, ones they like, love or hate?

    In short; What makes a Character that Character?
     
  2. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 9, 2016
    An excellent question and I do think that this is a very case by case basis.

    For example Thrawn is a Chiss who loves Art and uses art and his ability to understand cultures to defeat his enemies....In many ways you could techinally pluck Thrawn into really any era and it would still be Thrawn....Just Thrawn in the era of KOTOR or Thrawn in the era of Legacy.....Techinally we have seen Thrawn in every era of the Skywalker Saga minus the ST...Unless you consider Post Endor the ST....But he is still Thrawn.


    Revan on the other hand is a bit difficult, for he isn't defined by "A trait" he is defined by events, such as the Mandalorian Wars, Malik, the Starforge and all that stuff yada yada.

    Same with Bane, who while more a character IS FAMOUS for starting the rule of two, that is whole defined trait.

    Now some characters are more blank slates than others.

    Boba Fett is a character who (In terms of the films before Attack of the Clones) was just a suit of armor who EU books wrote various versions off until TCW and Book of Boba are probably gonna try to make the more definitive take on the character ...Obviosuly Boba is canon in both instances but i thought it make a good example.


    So...what makes a character a character....I guess certain indstinguisble traits that are beyond what Era they belong too.....Although in some cases some character (Like Revan or Bane as my two examples) are more tied to their era than others.

    I'll leave these thoughts here and hope things get exampled.
     
  3. SyndicThrass

    SyndicThrass Jedi Master star 4

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    Sep 25, 2016
    In both Legends and Canon Bane recognised the religion he was following had fallen from the true faith as he would view it and sought to do something about it, even if it went against what the majority thought and even if it went against his own survival. So in that sense his true characteristic is that he’s a progressive and kind of selfless in an order that venerated selfishness.

    In a lot of ways he’s the Martin Luther of Sith Lords.
     
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  4. AusStig

    AusStig Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Feb 3, 2010
    I think the more aspects there are to a character the harder it is to adapt (for lack of a better term).

    For example Thrawn in Rebels is a smart Chiss who likes art. He doesn't use art in the same way he does in TT (to the better I think).

    I view the rule of two as trying to turn the 'bug' of in fighting into a feature. By keeping it small, each Sith is MUCH more invested in keeping each other alive and gaining power. Since each apprentice only has the master to compare too they always feel lesser, until they don't.

    But looking at that we already have twoish different Banes. In jedi v Sith he seems like an old hand a veteran. While in PoD he is a fresh new face with new ideas, but both do the same job in story.
     
  5. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 9, 2016
    @AusStig

    Really I think it would be easier.

    I think characters like Revan are so tied to specific events that it's harder for them to just be plucked out of Legend and in canon without brining everything else with them...Like Malik, the Starforge, Kreia the Mandalorian wars.

    By contrast Thrawn was put into Canon and outside of the Chimera his story and his supporting cast (Though Pellaon was mentioned once) haven' shown up at all.


    BTW I remember @ColeFardreamer making one of his famous long post about recanonizing and while I forget where he put it, I thought i'd bring this thread to your attention...seems like something right up your alley.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
  6. Riv_Shiel

    Riv_Shiel Jedi Master star 3

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    Apr 12, 2014
    I would disagree that all depictions of Bane treat him as having a kind of selflessness. In Path of Destruction he specifically objects to the Brotherhood of Darkness on the grounds that there philosophy rejects selfishness when it is the basis of a Sith's power. The apprentice is really no more than a necessary evil, and a means of preserving a legacy (from a selfish perspective). Of course the sequels walked this back and gave us a version of Bane that was desperate to be murdered. In Jedi vs Sith he is more motivated by getting around the Inverse Ninja Law problem - hardly an act of selflessness.

    In another thread we were discussing what are the essential elements for Mara specifically - so following up on that. I think for me to see a new version of Mara as a new version of Mara (rather than a new character with the same name), I would need the following elements:
    1. Force sensitive and trained by the Emperor (if you wanted to jump eras, I suppose it doesn't have to be THAT Emperor - but I think that is pushing it).
    2. Very strongly associated with the Emperor - his personal tool.
    3. After the scuffle following the Emperor's death, ending up adrift and purposeless.
    4. An arc about finding a renewed purpose and making peace with the heroes (ideally Luke in particular).
    5. Probably more that I won't be able to think about until it isn't there and I miss it.

    ETA:
    I think if you had a Jedi turned Sith turned amnesiac turned Jedi during the Old Republic Era with the right mask, most people would accept the character as Revan without any of the other things you mentioned.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
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  7. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Force Ghost star 6

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    Jul 9, 2016
    @Riv_Shiel

    Would you feel the same way about a Starkiller who is the a new version of Starkiller but not Starkiller in name only with a suggestion like this

     
  8. SyndicThrass

    SyndicThrass Jedi Master star 4

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    Sep 25, 2016
    Well, perhaps selfless isn’t the correct term, but I do think the fundamental core trait of the character is that progressive mindset of his.

    There’s a lot of stuff in the novels that I think is cool, but ultimately it’s his mentality and critique of his own religion that is the vital piece.
     
  9. Riv_Shiel

    Riv_Shiel Jedi Master star 3

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    Apr 12, 2014
    Full disclosure: I was never a fan of Starkiller or any of the story written around him. Yes - this possibility does intrigue me.

    ETA (thread moving too fast):
    He is definitely a reformer, but in a "back to basics" kind of way. He wants to strip down the Sith to their core attributes and rebuild around that. At least in PoD.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
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  10. VexedAtVohai

    VexedAtVohai Jedi Master star 4

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    Jul 4, 2020
    I see no point in revisiting Starkiller unless it were to add to his story. Make a The Force Unleashed III comic if anything. Just throwing him into another era just seems like a "who would win" scenario, and I have no interest in that personally.

    Antagonists like Thrawn and Xizor seem much easier to re-contextualise, because they tend not to have so much of a character arc. Whereas someone like Mara would essentially have to start hers all over again in a new continuity.

    Revan is a massive kettle of fish. Male? Female? Do they look like they did in TOR? Does that mean that we acknowledge what else TOR did with the character? Do they still get mind-controlled and mind-wiped? Just one of those?
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
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  11. AusStig

    AusStig Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Feb 3, 2010
    This makes a lot of sense, since the antagonists tend to drive actions or are something to be over come, we don't follow them.

    Which kinda goes into what I was meaning about aspects, since antagonists tend to have less.

    Stuff is even easier, like the Starforge could be brought back in without issue.

    @Riv_Shiel I mean Revan can be Revan without the Starforge. But can Revan be Revan if they keep their memories? I think plays more of a role, as his betrayal leads to the loss of memories. And his mentor only shows up in the sequel so she isn't needed. But is Bastilia?
     
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  12. Darth Invictus

    Darth Invictus Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Aug 8, 2016
    I think it depends on both physical appearance, and essential character traits.

    Take Plagueis for example-in the movies, his species is not given, and its not even really clear if he even exists. But taking the EU into consideration(and I think he was recanonized but his species wasn't so), he's a Muun, now Plagueis has specific desires, ideological peculiarities, preferences when it comes to combat, and so on. But I'd say essential characteristics of Plagueis as established are-Muun(I think the species really does matter), obsession with eternal life, science focused, pragmatic, wise, but prone to trusting when he ought not have.

    If Plagueis is recanonized and made human(for example), I think that takes away from a lot of the traits of the character, and why those traits are there.

    Mara is another interesting example, I would say physical appearance is absolutely crucial-red hair. Purple lightsaber, witty, spends the first twenty years of her life devoted to Palpatine. If you remove these characteristics, its no longer Mara, its just imperial assassin lady. Mara's appearance and character are very distinctive. Does that include being involved with Luke? (Something canon has precluded)? I would say Luke is an essential aspect of Mara's story, and removing him from it, weakens the case for recanonizing her. At most you have a character with the same name, and perhaps the same backstory, but she doesn't grow into the Mara she was.

    In general, I'd say there are essential qualities that make a character a character. Remove too many, and you just have a generic archetype, or simulacrum. What separates Mara from other female Imperial assassin? What separates Plagueis from mysterious Sith Lord? The latter of these two previous sentences are generic archetypes-they aren't characters, but characters can be them.

    Overall, I'd say I'm an essentialist on this question, there is an essence to a character, that defines that character. That includes appearance, personality, backstory, and general goals, and behavior. All of these factors coalesce into "that" one character. Without them, its either a different character or simply a generic stand in.
     
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  13. Irredeemable Fanboy

    Irredeemable Fanboy Jedi Knight star 3

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    Mar 27, 2020
    This is a really tricky question, because like @Jid123Sheeve said, there are characters who are more shaped by the events surrounding them than just their traits and basic backstories, same with character arcs.

    For an example let's take both of Zahn's favorite OCs: Thrawn and Mara, i think Thrawn can work perfectly in a reboot given what makes him unique is his attitude and approach of military tactics, along with his interesting worldview as to why he thinks totalitarian rule is needed, as long as you keep those elements, Thrawn is still Thrawn in my opinion, meanwhile Mara, even if you give her a similar personality than in Legends, would just not feel like the same character without her character arc and evolution, she wasn't like Thrawn where he had the same motivation forever, she is a more dynamic character that constantly changes due to the events around her.

    It becomes a matter of how much you change about the character on a personal level, how many arcs and important stories you take away from them, and how much that affects their image as a character.

    Still, having some differences between versions of the same character can be interesting, but for me, it can't be so much that it feels like a completely different person.
     
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  14. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Force Ghost star 6

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    Jul 9, 2016
    Also I think some characters were just better fleshed out than others.

    I mean when we look at Mara Jade we people who have the whole EU to look at discuss Mara Jade with her completed arc and her constantly evolving nature....Which was something not planned from the start.

    Her story was told through MULTIPLE books and authors that sorta just built up more and more and more over time.

    Thrawn in a sense had his trilogy ...and then he died, everything else had been retroactively added...but most peoples still say his defining story is The Thrawn Trilogy.

    So that also has to be taken into account as well.

    I think at that point it just sorta depends on how much re-invention is needed if at all, and if you do have to reinvent a lot then honestly just make a new character.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
  15. AusStig

    AusStig Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Feb 3, 2010
    I had a smilar thought (though my example would have been Nemodian), but if he is a human banker (say like Colovis) what would be lost?

    If Darth Tenebrous is brought back, but he is an Anomid rather than a Bith, what is changed?

    @Jid123Sheeve
    I think the more stories that are told the more difficult it can be. I think Soontir Fel would be harder to bring in than Turr Phennir. Even if both are broadly similar and about as old as each other.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
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  16. Riv_Shiel

    Riv_Shiel Jedi Master star 3

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    Apr 12, 2014
    This is an excellent point. A character with a defined arc carries more baggage in crossing over to a new continuity, and is a much bigger commitment to use. I agree that bringing in Mara would require time devoted to playing out her arc (in different but similar ways).

    Stories can always be presented in surprising and unexpected ways, so I'm not sure there is anything I can GUARANTEE is essential - I'm open to being surprised. That said, I don't THINK that Revan can be Revan if he/she (preferably she as far as I'm concerned) keeps his/her memories. Bastila is a tougher question to answer - I would say that Revan can be Revan without her.

    Plagueis is an entirely different can of worms if you ask me. I think Canon would be totally justified to use what the movies present us as a jumping off point and don't have to be restricted at all by what is established in the EU. Or they could let the Legends version heavily influence the Canon version. Or somewhere in between. I do agree with you generally about species being important, and some other key physical traits (red-haired Mara).
     
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  17. Irredeemable Fanboy

    Irredeemable Fanboy Jedi Knight star 3

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    Mar 27, 2020
    True, but even if you take the characters as they were in Zahn's Original three books, Mara is a very dynamic character with many changes in her alliagence and worldview that depend on events happening a certain way (From Emperor's Hand, to independent Smuggler, to Rebel Ally, coupled with how her relationship with the heroes change over time) and Thrawn is mostly a static character (that isn't a bad thing, it's just how he is in relation to the story) this is probably what solidified Thrawn's personality defining him rather than any character arc, not just the fact that he died in The Last Command.
     
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  18. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Force Ghost star 6

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    Jul 9, 2016
    I mean it's probably why they haven't recanozied a lot of characters post TCW

    @Riv_Shiel I mean they are kinda doing that with Darth Bane like with Plagueis...Fun Fact Bane is a LUCAS character first because of the Phantom Menace Novelization that got EU books after the fact.
     
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  19. Darth Invictus

    Darth Invictus Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Aug 8, 2016
    Plagueis pointedly believes in Muun superiority, has a calculating mind, and comes from a place of extraordinary privilege. He also thinks somewhat poorly of humans-not disdain or prejudice as much as "the force really has these beings be in charge...really?"...but he just kind of accepts that's the way it is and works with it.

    Making Plagueis human takes away his backstory, and a lot of his attitudes and ideas as shown in Darth Plagueis.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
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  20. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Force Ghost star 6

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    Jul 9, 2016
    Yeah but I think @Riv_Shiel is saying is Plagueis is a different thing all together because at the end of the day he's a movie character first and a book character second.

    While the book is popular (And people will complain regardless) they really only have to stick with what the movie (Revenge of the Sith) gives us...which is that he is a Sith Lord who seeks immortally.
     
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  21. Irredeemable Fanboy

    Irredeemable Fanboy Jedi Knight star 3

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    Mar 27, 2020
    Well, Tenebrous is a bit obsessed with his AMAZING BITH BRAIN and how he's able to calculate futures based on his prodigious Force Visions, which is something tied to the Bith's natural proficiency with math, if you make him a different species he can still be a math-obsessed Sith wanting to predict and control the future, but you would lose part of the why he was like that and some of his ego boost.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
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  22. AusStig

    AusStig Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Feb 3, 2010
    See I think Bastila plays a key role, in being a Jedi to help Revan back to the light ( I also like male Revans and her romance). To me Revans story is about rediscovering identity. So in that way Basila is important.
     
  23. Irredeemable Fanboy

    Irredeemable Fanboy Jedi Knight star 3

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    Mar 27, 2020
    The problem is that is not how Revan is seen by most of the fandom OR the current writers, they see him as "cool Jedi turned Sith turned Jedi again, he is in both the Light and the Dark, isn't that cool?"

    Given Revan is confirmed as a thing in Canon, i'm sure we will get a very superficial Revan with all the cool factors but none of the deeper implications of identity and betrayal.
     
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  24. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Force Ghost star 6

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    Jul 9, 2016
    I think the question with someone like Plagueis is though....do you stick with his character in the book or do you go with the movie.

    If we go with the movie...Then their is no character...it's a blank slate that can really be defined by anything...now...do i recommend doing something completely different......eeeeeeeeh that'll be hard and you'd have to have something reeeeeeeallly stellar ...but it is possible.

    Now obviously as a actual character...Plagueis was given ....well, a character because of the book...but the book is no longer canon and is legends so...yeah...i mean you can just retake from the book, that is the path of least resistance.
     
  25. AusStig

    AusStig Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Feb 3, 2010
    Most likely. Though interestingly Revan is only mentioned in a SITH context, so there might not be a redemption in canon. Would that change things? Revan once jedi then Sith, then Sith agin.
     
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