[Graphic] - The Whedonian Archetypes


Click to embiggin. Boy howdy, does it embiggen.

Three years ago, (in fact, two years and fifty weeks ago), this site was a pittance. My only site views were from Russian spam sites, and my content consisted mostly of movie trailers and me spouting off at the mouth on things about which I probably shouldn't pretend I'm any sort of authority. Ah, how times have changed. Now, my only site views come from the dozen or so of you hobos desperately trying to hide your Korean pornography at the express-use terminal of the public library, while my content consisted mostly of movie trailers and me spouting off at the mouth on things about which I probably shouldn't pretend I'm any sort of authority.

One of the first films I dedicated any lengthy analysis to was Joss Whedon's Avengers. And one of the first pieces of original content I generated for this site was the above chart, The Whedonian Archetypes, which three years later I have decided to repost, in celebration of today's wide release of Age of Ultron. I have not updated this chart to include Age of Ultron because I haven't seen it yet, and because the characters are mostly the same as in the Avengers and I assume will fulfill the same roles as they did previously. My lack of update also explains why the Director from Cabin in the Woods is unpictured, as three years ago revealing her identity would have still classified as a spoiler.

This chart originated as I began to recognize similar character types between the Avengers and Serenity, which drew natural comparisons to one another, considering that they were at the time Whedon's only directed films, and that they both involve a cast of ten complex characters (if you think of Banner and Hulk as separate characters, which I do, and if, like Whedon, you consider Serenity a character in her own right). These archetypes are the sames ones that Jung pointed out, that appear in Shakespeare, and myth. These are the facets of humanity that any writer must become familiar with, and that Whedon has become very good at representing. The chart highlights his particular flavours of those facets.

The chart is set up like a spectrum, with clusters of similar characteristics nearer to one another, with the greatest amount of migration a character might have within their cluster. On the left are The Heavies, the roles of highest dramatic effect, and on the right, The Funnies, those used more for comedy and info dumps. You'll note that The Relief straddles this line, as does The Muscle. The most natural conflict arises between The Lost Hero and The Father, and The Lost Hero is most likely to one day become The Father. The Weapon, The Warrior, and The Muscle are all very similar, yet distinct enough to warrant their own categories. The Relief, Mr. Exposition and The Geek too share similarities, as do The Higher Being and The Home. Originally, there was a category for The Lampshade which remained until I realized that the character most likely to point out narrative inconsistencies or draw attention to stuff that makes no internal sense is almost always The Relief or Mr. Exposition, and there was a fair amount of overlap between them.

The Bitch, as always, stands alone.

Full disclosure: I only watched the first season of Dollhouse when it was on air, and have never rewatched the series on DVD. My assignments of these characters are based on memory and descriptions of season two I've read online. 
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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