Accessible adaptations

I still think when it comes to superhero comics being so practically inaccessible (with comic shops being hard to come by, said shop might not have enough stock of those comics and even those readers have other things to do), that it seems almost any other non-comics adaptation eclipse them by being more accessible to the masses. They even influence the comics in return.

To put it this way, if Caitlin Snow becomes a werewolf on the Flash programme she will become a werewolf in the comics as well. Same with making Stephanie Brown into a bitter Red Lantern after witnessing Tim kill her pets. It’s going to shape people’s preconceptions and perceptions of the character way more than comics do.

Likewise with the Joker, it’s parsimonious to say that the most influential Joker actor in recent memory is Heath Ledger that it practically spawned memes. (Joaquin Phoenix’s take’s increasingly influential in its own right however with protesters dressing up as him.) Better yet Felicity Smoak.

Originally in the comics, she was somebody’s irritable dark-haired mother. However on telly she was reinvented into somebody else that it influences subsequent comics portrayals of her. If comics are so hard to come by that television and cinema become the major points of reference for character portrayals.

Better changes?

Some of it may reflect my preferences. Whilst turning Felicity Smoak into a hyena wouldn’t be any better, the way she was presented on telly felt like a Smallville left over if it weren’t for Chloe Sullivan. It’s similar really with a blond hacker who falls for a superhero and then for Green Arrow.

Again it’s not any better if Felicity became a hyena but since both the Hyena and she were become Firestorm characters, the one featuring a thermonuclear hero, this would be a proper update or reboot of the same concept. Perhaps also really ironic in hindsight given it could’ve been how Felicity would’ve been reintroduced had it not been for Arrow.

Ironically, if Caitlin Snow (also a Firestorm character) were to become a werewolf and that Firestorm actually has animal villains (The Weasel and the Hyena) it’s so oddly relevant to some anti-furries that it fits way too well. The real problem might be that it writes itself way too well that it ought to happen.

Alterations back to the old

I think the real thing about turning Felicity Smoak into an Indian hyena would ironically be a proper update in a way the Arrow version wasn’t and will never be. The fact that both Felicity Smoak and The Hyena both started out as Firestorm characters (as in part of a story featuring a thermonuclear hero) would mean if she ever became an Indian hyena in future DC stories, it would be a proper update.

Whilst DC’s used to reboots and sometimes these involve updating characters (Cheetah went from a woman in a cheetah costume to a half-cheetah but it took time to get it right and have it stick), Felicity Smoak the hyena seems more like what the character could’ve turned into had it not been for the Arrow version. That could be my personal opinion but in a way it seems like a good way of not letting a persona be forgotten.

And perhaps a way to rehabilitate Felicity at this point.

Mary Sue qualifications

I think when it comes to what constitutes as a Mary Sue, it should be something like a flawless audience surrogate in theory and to some extent, in practise too. However it’s also used to deride characters some readers dislike such as Carol Danvers. I actually/honestly don’t think Carol Danvers is really much of a Mary Sue. If she’s going to go bad but the fact that Mary Sues are supposed to be flawless, then technically Carol isn’t.

I don’t think Carol Danvers is ever created as an audience surrogate, which most fanfic Mary Sues tend to be, so she’s disqualified either way. I actually think the characters most in danger of becoming Mary Sues aren’t competent female characters (or even competent male characters or whatever) but rather audience surrogate characters.

(Author surrogates usually don’t much either but because it’s usual to depict stories and literature after authors’ own sentiments and experiences to whatever degree.)

Especially in things most aimed at nerds that there’s a good chance an audience surrogate would easily become a Mary Sue. Barry Allen’s something of a borderline Mary Sue in my definition. Not because he’s flawless but because he’s created to be an idealised audience surrogate even if it robs him of a personality beyond that.

(Not that he lacks a personality but because he lacks any personality beyond that role as I meant.)

There were some attempts to de-Sue him even if it’s met with resistance (I was part of that too). An even more egregious Mary Sue would be Tim Drake. It’s not that he’s flawless but rather almost all the characters around him are sometimes depicted as so flawed as to keep him on a pedestal. (Especially Stephanie Brown but I have a feeling it might not last if she does become a Red Lantern because Tim killed her pet.)

Perhaps a much more blatant one (especially if it’s almost dangerously close to one’s parody and initial identification) would be Kitty Pryde. Although she wasn’t initially conceived as such and some non-comics media do downplay this, but as what one blogger noted, she seems to pander very much to a narrow audience that to outsiders she’s definitely not a girl next door.

For starters, a lot of comics characters own dogs because lots of people own dogs. But the same can’t said of her, she owns a dragon on top of being a mutant hacker-martial artist who’s part of a franchise that’s largely and practically insulated from the rest of the Marvel universe. So much so that it proves her point right. Another one would be Felicity Smoak.

Of all the characters, for the longest period of time (in comics) she wasn’t created as an audience surrogate and was even somebody’s mum! By the time she appeared on Arrow, she was made entirely different from her comics counterpart that she’s barely recognisable. Some fans liked her so much that they demanded writers to increase her presence and make her romance with Oliver canon.

But it also bothered other fans that I think it’s more of a case where fans better be careful of what they wish for. Especially if Felicity Smoak turned out to be a victim of her own popularity. I still think when it comes to Canon Sues, the more they’re made in mind for a specific audience the likelier they are to be identified a lot to the detriment of gaining a proper personality.

Or in Kitty Pryde’s case, go where she’d logically become (something like in Age of Apocalypse). Though Mary Sues can be author surrogates, not all author surrogates are necessarily Mary Sues as it’s not uncommon for writers to base prose and stories after themselves and people they personally know to varying degrees. Of all the characters considered Mary Sue, only four qualify and come dangerously close to the fanfic Mary Sue.

As in they’re fan-surrogate characters stuck in a world that’s in the same setting as the franchise said fan likes. Felicity Smoak being a very damning example as she’s part of a franchise she wasn’t historically part of. (It would be more plausible with Tim Drake, that’s had Black Canary been outed as his biological aunt as she’s part of Birds of Prey and Justice League, which has Batman family members in both.)

Likewise Kitty, Tim and Barry are conceived as audience surrogate heroes in pre-existing franchises. Two of them are fans of pre-existing characters and one gets to be part of a pre-existing group permanently. Likewise Tim got adopted by Batman. These come dangerously close to the fanfiction Mary Sue where they’re adopted and/or tormented by tragedy.

None of these exactly mean a Mary Sue as much as I think these are half-arsed attempts at making them fallible. Not that Mary Sues can’t be flawed and some of them have flaws with consequences. But rather a better marker of Mary Sue to me would be the inability to go where the character would logically become. But that would involve having to let the character do what they need to do or become.

And on a closing note, I suspect if you were to make a character any less of a Mary Sue don’t make them too idealised.

Tempestuous Tim

If Black Canary were to show up as Tim’s biological aunt, the similarities to Donald Duck would be inevitable. (Mother figure who works with soil in some way, rich billionaire uncle and the like.) Personality wise, if Tim does act like Donald Duck it would be the least Mary Sue he’s been without becoming a villain. By being related to Black Canary, Tim becomes much less Mary Sue in the sense that he’s like this from being taught by her and if Janet Drake dies, then Dinah Drake/Dinah Lance would eagerly adopt him.

When you think about it, that does give Tim an advantage over Bart in the sense of having a heavily involved mother figure should Black Canary be his aunt. But that would also mean Black Canary would even be stricter and more overprotective at times. Not that she’s a bad character but when she’s this involved in his life, she’d monitor him from time to time. As for Tim himself, rather than being a reader surrogate, would become his own character.

But in the sense of rather than replacing Batman and even Blue Beetle, he’d have to follow his uncle’s footsteps first and foremost. Who knows if Tim would lose his hacking abilities but I have a feeling if this were to happen at all, Oliver and Dinah would eagerly teach him. Tim by then would be good at judo/jujutsu and archery in addition to bojutsu but also have a really bad temper from being tired from his family at times. (Again like Donald Duck.)

Rather than a whiny Felicity Smoak, we’d get a whiny Tim Drake. Again not any better but given the inevitable comparisons to Donald Duck should BC be his blood aunt that Tim Drake would start acting more like Donald. Maybe not exactly but that his personality would resemble the latter somewhat more.

The ducks shot the hyena

I still think had Black Canary been revealed to be Tim’s blood aunt early on, Arrow would owe more to Disney than it does to Smallville in some manner. I mean with Tim Drake being in Felicity Smoak’s role, should Felicity Smoak proper appear she could be a cameo character as intended. But rather than being a hacker, she’d actually be a hyena.

Both Felicity and the Hyena started out as Firestorm characters, the titular character of that series being a nuclear superhero. Since Disney’s no stranger to using hyena characters since Lion King, this would fit in better in the context of Black Canary being Grandma Duck and Tim being Donald. Logically Oliver is Scoorge.

Another major change’s that Tim Drake would resemble Donald Duck more right down to personality. Maybe rather than a whiny Felicity Smoak, we’d get a whiny Tim Drake. Especially if he gets bossed around by Uncle Oliver. Again not necessarily any better but tonally speaking Arrow would end up as Ducktales for adults.

An alternative Arrow

Should Tim Drake ever be introduced as Green Arrow and Black Canary’s biological nephew, if it did happen before in comics chances are Arrow wouldn’t come off as a Batman clone. In fact it would be more like Ducktales for adults. Especially if Oliver, Tim and Scoorge are also Charles Dickens characters. (Logically Black Canary is Grandma Duck and Stephanie Brown is Daisy Duck.)

Whether if Tim would make Felicity Smoak redundant’s up to anybody’s guess. But realistically it’d play out like Ducktales, that’s if Donald Duck were a slacking hacker. Who knows who could be the equivalents to Huey, Dewey and Louie, but I think with Tim Drake around it would be harder to have a Felicity Smoak in as resident hacker.

Let alone be recognisable to her contemporary telly self that instead of being Chloe Sullivan 2: Electric Boogaloo, she’d actually and necessarily be the Hyena (also a FIrestorm character). DC did have a hyena character before but with Felicity being a hyena that does make her less redundant should Tim be Black Canary’s biological nephew.

Since it does bring out the similarities to the Donald Duck stories where the dogs (Beagle Boys) are villains, logically a canine-looking feliform (Felicity Smoak, The Hyena) would serve a similar role. Again it would be more like Ducktales for adults really.

Not the same

I still think how ironic for some fans to bash Starfire’s live action presentation when Felicity Smoak’s own telly incarnation resembled her comics counterpart the least. At least Starfire not only had curly red hair (and sometimes bright pink or red hair) but also wore a purple dress on one occasion, which probably influenced this version. Felicity Smoak as originally presented was nothing like her telly incarnation at all.

I could go on saying that telly Felicity Smoak feels like a copy of either Abby Sciutto or Willow Rosenberg. The latter who’s a Jewish hacker who had a Goth phase of sorts, much like Felicity. It wouldn’t be any better if Felicity Smoak were to be reintroduced as a werehyena in DC comics. But the odd fact that both Felicity and the Hyena (an actual DC villain) were Firestorm characters makes you wonder how far removed Felicity’s from her roots.

(To give you an idea, it would be as bad as Caitlin Snow becoming an evil werewolf though that necessitates Barry to be her Red Riding Hood*.)

I still think if Felicity Smoak’s any indication, some fans won’t care much about a character who’s made so far removed from her original presentation for as long as she’s presented as a manic pixie dream girl (at least up to now). And how ironic of them to attack Starfire when Felicity scarcely resembles her old self more.

*That actually makes turning Captain Cold into either an actual ice character or good guy a good idea but because at least that’s not much of a stretch as opposed to Caitlin going wolf.

Just saying

For all the criticisms Starfire’s actress got, ironically I feel as if she actually resembled the character as she’s originally presented. There was a time when Starfire not only had curly red hair but also wore a purple dress. This is very much in line with that rare portrayal. As for Raven, she’s already been made younger in recent comics especially now as a teen Goth so her portrayal shouldn’t be that much of a stretch.

At least Starfire and Raven actually resemble their comics selves a lot. The same can’t be said of Felicity Smoak who when she appeared on Arrow, she bore absolutely little to no resemblance to her comics counterpart at all. The fact that she’s even compared to Chloe Sullivan of Smallville fame (also a hacker) makes me think Felicity’s got an even better or worse case of a character in name only.

Starfire was also portrayed as amnesiac and even murderous in the comics, Felicity as originally presented was never shown to be quirky. She was even somebody’s angry mum. (That somebody being Firestorm.) Felicity had dark hair before but she was never presented as a Goth. Let’s not also forget that NCIS already had a quirky Goth named Abby Sciutto or for another matter, Buffy’s very own Willow (who’s also a Jewish hacker).

Starfire and Raven at least are very much themselves, the telly Felicity Smoak was practically a copy of other telly characters before. Not that she’s bad but the odd fact that Felicity Smoak resembles her comics counterpart the least, much worse than what Raven and Stafire got, should be unmistakably more problematic.

Flawed but enduring

I think the real problem with MPDGs is that they’re so one note that it’s going to be hard making them recurring characters especially when it comes to the possibility of character development that either they remain one-note or become increasingly flawed and unrecognisable. That might explain how and why Felicity Smoak on Arrow came to be, she was a nearly idealised woman compared to others and when she got flawed, she seemed unlikable to people.

Treating flawed female characters as MPDGs can be just as bad. I actually have a feeling that if Stephanie Brown were allowed to be a working mother (or at least a working student who cares for her nieces a lot) who nags at Tim for mooching around and actually comes up with her own gym equipment, it would be truly recurring if because these are unexplored territory. Terra incognita if you will. So recurring it lasts longer.

But like with Felicity Smoak becoming whiny super-hacker, Stephanie becoming a nagging angry working mother/student who outdoes Tim in some regards isn’t fun. Even though I think there’s way more gold in depicting her as a working student who deeply cares for her biological family than just making her manically bubbly yet not always good at superheroing.

(Not that there’s anything wrong but not when Barbara Gordon as Batgirl became recurring that’s when Steph might as well need to be differentiated more.)

Like with Felicity Smoak, making her both flawed yet outdoing her male counterparts in some regards (in Steph’s case, being capable of supporting her family all on her own and being better at Tim in making her own gym equipment, weightlifting and soccer/football) would make her way too intimidating and unlikable to some. Even if they last longer this way. (Partly why Felicity overstayed her welcome.)

I guess when it comes to making a female character actually last, they shouldn’t be depicted as so perfect (to men) at some point or another and if they do, when it comes to character development a recurring character might need to outgrow that ‘idealised’ phase and be allowed to be both actually flawed and get better at something. Often at the expense of likability if Felicity’s any indication.