Sep 06 2011
Should superhero teams include a flyer? If you want to, that’s fine. But flyers aren’t necessary. I don’t think superhero teams need any particular kind of superhero (although comic book teams might have more visually interesting fights if they have at least one character that can do melee combat–purely ranged combat can get tedious).
What do superheroes need in their lives? Anything interesting. Here are some possibilities that come to mind:
- Action that is driven by interesting goals and personality traits.
- Interesting conflicts, preferably some with characters that aren’t purely unsympathetic. (For example, in X-Men: First Class, Mystique argues with Beast over Beast’s attempts to cure his mutation, and I don’t think that the writers pushed either position over the other).
- Unusual decisions.
- Relationships that influence the plot.
- Maybe some goals and problems that don’t have much/anything to do with being a superhero—romance is one possibility, but you have a lot of options here. (For example, in The Incredibles, one of the main problems for Dash was fitting in despite being supernaturally gifted).
How many characters can you introduce in a first chapter? However many you can develop effectively. Generally, I wouldn’t recommend introducing more than 10 named characters or more than 5 major characters in the first 30 pages unless you are confident in your ability to develop interesting characters with relatively few lines. Gradually introducing characters will generally give you a better chance to develop characters without overwhelming readers.
What games do sailors play? Danger Nut. In terms of raw peril, it makes Navy football look like a ballet recital.
What makes a good superhero team?
- Interesting character development. Particularly if you’re writing a novel, please develop your characters beyond the one-dimensional personalities that tend to comprise superhero teams on TV. Have you done a better job developing your characters beyond the Power Rangers or at least (God help you) the Smurfs? If not, it would probably help to rethink your character concepts. PS: If you’re a first-time author, I’d recommend limiting the team size to 2-4 (maybe 5) members to give yourself more space to develop each character.
- Interesting relationships and interactions between members. For example, do the characters have differing goals, like Magneto-Xavier or Beast-Mystique in X-Men: First Class? Does working in a team raise interesting problems and challenges for the characters, like in Kickass or Invincible? Are the conversations between teammates memorable, like in Justice League International, Incredible, Captain Freedom or perhaps later seasons of Teen Titans? Do the characters have notably different relationships to the team or to society as a whole, like in the Wild Cards novels (where some superheroes are relatively human and others are really freakish) or Bitter Seeds (where some of the characters are superpowered and others are not)? For a counterexample, I’d recommend watching a Fantastic Four movie or maybe No Ordinary Family—I feel their teams are relentlessly uninteresting because, among other things, the characters don’t get many chances to interact with each other in ways beyond showing off their single personality traits.
- An interesting explanation for how the team came together is a plus. For example, I really liked how The Incredibles incorporated a superhero ban, a suspected divorce and villainous involvement.