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Old 2011-07-04, 09:13   Link #1
Guernsey
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Are Overpowered characters less interesting?

As Silver Age Superman has shown, there is only so much you can do with such characters before it get ridiculous. From the clasic myths to our current superheroes, these characters are in abundance and seem to be getting more powers.

- Superman (Pre Crisis) He can pull planets with a chain, close black holes, has punched God in the face and can do all sorts of things when required to do so.

- Goku - He can destroy planets, turn into super saiyan and is just super strong.

- Nanoha - She can defeat any foe if she tried.

- Pick a Touhou character, any Touhou character and you will find any of one them has an "I WIN!" button.

- Alucard (Hellsing) - Lets face it, he might as well be Cthulhu in vampire form.

I could go on but then I won't be able to ask my question, are ovepowered characters less interesting than those who don't as much power? Even protagonists like Reed Richards and The Doctor are overpowered in a different way, both possessing an IQ of like a million. While it takes some skill to portray them on a sympathetic level, Do you think overpowered heroes/villains/neutral are less interesting or can they be handled well?
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Old 2011-07-04, 09:20   Link #2
Jan-Poo
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I remember a similar discussion some months ago. My answer is still the same: it really depends on the kind of story the author is trying to depict.

A story where the main hero is invincible can be as interesting as a story where he's not, it all depends on how it is executed, and of course it also depends on the readers/watchers's tastes.

The best example I can make is "The Crow" where in the graphic novel he's simply unstoppable vengeance incarnate and it's awesome. The movie added a weak point, and it's not as great.
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Old 2011-07-04, 09:36   Link #3
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For me,

It will be less interesting if it's the main character.

It's true if it depends on how it's executed.
But most cases happens is irrational power exploitation.
Which in some cases extended to broke the storyline and led the story into an unnecessary plot.

( I'm looking for a good storyline. Not an extended one )

I found it's more fun if the one overpowered is the one who act as a sidekick.
Works well in both POV ( Protagonist or Antagonist ).
We'll always try to decipher the reason why he/she limiting his/her role like that when it's really easy for them to take the title of the strongest one.

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Old 2011-07-04, 09:38   Link #4
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For me, the key is not how powerful a character is, but whether or not there is any chance of him losing a fight.

As powerful as Silver Age Superman is, there is sometimes a sense that Lex Luthor could conceivably defeat him (and Darkseid unquestionably could).

As powerful as Goku is, his greater foes are presented as being just as powerful as him, if not moreso.

Nanoha, I admit, has become a bit overpowered in a relative sense. I would have enjoyed StrikerS a bit more if I felt that its villains were powerful enough to pose a serious combat challenge to Nanoha.


So, for me, it's not how powerful the protagonist is, but how he or she compares to his/her enemies.
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Old 2011-07-04, 09:48   Link #5
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Although in strikers in the end they pulled out a "Kryptonite" on Nanoha.
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Old 2011-07-04, 09:54   Link #6
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It depends on the context, the setting and its pretense.

Touhou presents its fights as nothing more than games thanks to the spellcard system that gives the humans a chance to fight back. But gives them no restrictions and they pratically curbstomp anything thrown at them, that is Yukari "Boundaries control", Sakuya's "Time Control", Keine's "Manipulation of History", Utsuho's "Nuclear Fusion Control" or Flandre Scarlet's "Destroy Anything". One of the interests in Touhouverse, other than the music and rich lore, lies in how world or universe enders can get along.

Nanoha, on the other hand, by introducing the TSAB and its paramilitary organization have tried to introduce a tactical element. Unfortunately, as demonstrated by a saying from a famous shounen "Before absolute force, tricks are meaningless", it all fall flat the instant the titular character start busting the pink beam of befriending. Which can be very frustrating if your expectation for intelligent fights are on the level of Hunter x Hunter or JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. It's even more obvious in Force where the only way the threats could possibly win is to nullify magic. So no, you cannot win against Nanoha unless you strip her of her magic, and either way the fights are not going to be interesting and intellectually engaging like those in Hunter x Hunter, or JoJo are.

Short story is, Touhou have always presented his fights as dueling for fun, and the spellcard system have ensured that nothing gets too serious. Nanoha, the instant they introduced pretense for tactics, have failed to live up to expectations of those who wanted more off the franchise than BEAMSPAM. If I were to reboot it, I'd just nerf the power levels, hard.
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Old 2011-07-04, 10:07   Link #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan-Poo View Post
Although in strikers in the end they pulled out a "Kryptonite" on Nanoha.
Well, StrikerS wasn't too far off.


Spoiler for StrikerS spoilers:
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Old 2011-07-04, 11:00   Link #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jan-Poo View Post
I remember a similar discussion some months ago. My answer is still the same: it really depends on the kind of story the author is trying to depict.

A story where the main hero is invincible can be as interesting as a story where he's not, it all depends on how it is executed, and of course it also depends on the readers/watchers's tastes.

The best example I can make is "The Crow" where in the graphic novel he's simply unstoppable vengeance incarnate and it's awesome. The movie added a weak point, and it's not as great.
+1

It all depends on how the story is, what circumstances occur, or simply just how awesome it makes me feel.
How it is executed is probably the biggest factor.

I'm a open minded and patient person so me seeing a character win every fight by sheer awesome-ness I can live with or if it's good enough will love every moment of it.
I know that it sounds boring when the guy wins all the time but to even my own surprise I'm fine with that.

I don't need to see characters lose in order bring whatever that brings to the table but don't mean I won't welcome it.

On the note about Nanoha I just like how she's so IMBA, theres a degree of faceplam, chuckles and awesomeness behind it all

My favorite overpowered character is ID from ID, god like in his ways yet still interesting to me after 19 vols and still my favorite character from the series.
Sure he has his weaknesses but for the most part you'll see him wipe the floor with whoever he's fighting.
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Old 2011-07-04, 11:01   Link #9
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Generally it is less interesting, but I'll agree that it depends on execution, more specifically it depends on the angle you're going for.

In the case where you're supposed to derive pleasure from the tension of "will they win the fight?" or from "What smart thing will he do to win this" then obviously an overpowered character is going to be dull, because there's no tension, and he can just win by overpowering the enemy. On the other hand, an overpowered enemy that the hero has to use guile and cunning to defeat is fine.

However most stories are not of that type. An overpowered character can be just as interesting if he's not morally perfect as well. So Greek myth frequently deals with characters of overwhelming strength (including the gods, of course), but none of them are morally perfect. The enjoyment does not as much come from the "Will they win?" or "How will they win", but from the moral and ethical decisions of the characters and the spectacle of the feats they achieve. In greek literature the ending is known by the entire audience, as are the plot twists. The entertainment comes from the drama, the clash of emotions, and thinking about the ethics of the characters. No greek hero is perfect. They usually get destroyed by pride and hubris.

This is the problem with Superman, the fact he's overpowered is fine, but he's too morally perfect as well. He's too good. That goodness is insufferable. Superman is not like the rest of us. He may make the occasional tactical mistake, but never the wrong ethical one.
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Old 2011-07-04, 11:24   Link #10
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According to Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, 'overpowered characters' are known as 'Catalyst Heroes'.

Catalyst Heroes are a special exception to the Hero archetype, where instead of having the audience relate to the Hero through his development, it allows audience to relate to other protagonists who develop over their interaction with the Catalyst Hero.

In laymen terms, this means that The Catalyst Hero is a character who goes around saving the day, inspiring everyone else to become better.

This can be seen most prominently in Nanoha Strikers, where Nanoha has become a veteran instructor, serving as mentor and role model for fellow protagonists Subaru and Teana. Nanoha herself did not start with such experience and power, she was a Hero who developed over the previous 2 seasons. Only after becoming a full fledged Hero that she switched over to become a Catalyst Hero and Mentor role.

But even Catalyst Heroes themselves get character development all the time and become stronger when the face even tougher enemies.

Like others said, its all about the context of the story, how its written.
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Old 2011-07-04, 12:04   Link #11
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And then there are characters whoa r eoverpowered in a different way. Aizen has to be the 'smartest' character in Bleach, he planne dthe entire amng aup until he Decide arc.
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Old 2011-07-04, 12:05   Link #12
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Overpowered heroes are ok with overpowered villains. So Superman vs Darkseid, I'd care about. Superman vs Lex Luthor is incredibly boring; I really don't like it when it's lopsided against the villain. Lex Luthor is slightly below Pinky and the Brain.

You have to somehow establish the antagonists as a threat to some degree to create some tension. For example, Nanoha vs Vita was notable because Nanoha jobbed extremely well (made vita look good). Also note that they were holding back in A's....

So even if Nanoha seems overpowered, she does put a lot of effort into making her opponents feel credible. So she's not really that bad.

As opposed to Nanoha StrikerS, where the enemies are just weak and need to be put over by an arbitrary plot device and a desire to showcase the weaker characters. Except at the end, but it created more laughter than tension.

In other words, A's is one of the most spectacular examples in showcasing overpowered vs overpowered and getting even stronger. The final enemy could be considered as far as they could go. This is how you put on a show.

StrikerS was more like forcing the heroes to fight blindfolded, with one hand tied behind their back and then doing something stupid. It doesn't work. Worse yet, it turns out that once the restraints are moved, herp derp they get owned! (well, actually they invented anti-magic fields to continue this, hey if it was so good, why not just use that all the time? Actually...)

Even with the same characters and situations, the effect can be much different.

Kanade from Angel Beats is an example of this making her much less interesting. There's virtually 0 tension in her fights because she refuses to give any of her opponents a chance whatsoever. At least she does it kind of in style and differently sometimes.

Compare this to Yuki Nagato, which is effectively the same thing, but she manages to make it look way more exciting because it appears she has to work through some gambit to do something spectacular, not to mention she puts herself on the line.

Then again, I have some pretty horrific no-sellers in my favorites list, so hey. But they'd be lousy if their series were solely about action.
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Old 2011-07-04, 12:19   Link #13
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I think it's a good time now to point out how Alan Moore brilliantly managed to solve the problem of an allmighty hero by making the villain defeat him by outsmarting him and outpsyching him.
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Old 2011-07-04, 15:41   Link #14
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I still think an overpowered hero works best if he has personality problems, EG an ego to match. When you're that powerful you're going to get an inflated head.
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Old 2011-07-04, 16:08   Link #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
I still think an overpowered hero works best if he has personality problems, EG an ego to match. When you're that powerful you're going to get an inflated head.
Contrary to your earlier arguments on him, Superman can come off as arrogant at times...

It really depends on who is writing him at the time, of course.

I do agree with you, actually, that somebody way more powerful than most of everybody else probably should be a bit egotistical, even if he or she is heroic in general.

I really liked Superman in the Kingdom Come graphic novel. He was somewhat flawed there, I felt, but still had a noble core to him.
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Old 2011-07-04, 16:31   Link #16
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Contrary to your earlier arguments on him, Superman can come off as arrogant at times...

It really depends on who is writing him at the time, of course.

I do agree with you, actually, that somebody way more powerful than most of everybody else probably should be a bit egotistical, even if he or she is heroic in general.

I really liked Superman in the Kingdom Come graphic novel. He was somewhat flawed there, I felt, but still had a noble core to him.
It does depend on the guy writing him, but generally Superman is morally perfect.

The key thing isn't quite egotism (though it's a part of it), but Hubris, that the character feels he is on the level of a god, that he is in complete control of his destiny. It's a very common and easy flaw to give to a hero, and works very well. It's under used in modern Manga and comics.
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Old 2011-07-04, 18:39   Link #17
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Nanoha, I have to agree with everyone else that it sorta made it pointless to even place an opponent in if she's that overpowered. StrikerS merely just felt like a restart, focusing more on the weaker characters instead of Nanoha, and Fate (except towards the ending) while they pull the "Kryptonite" on Nanoha, it's not that effective if it's quickly dismissed and you get blasted by the pink beam of befriending. Otherwise I'm going to agree with Archon_Wing about Nanoha being credible in A's. The opponents in A's were atleast able to beat down Nanoha and actually made it worthwhile to place them as opponents in the first place.

Goku is somewhere around mediocre for me. He goes through rigurous training for (place time here) and yells at the top of his lungs in order to obtain absolete power to beat down his opponents.

I have nothing to say about Superman actually.

I'm going to agree with Archon_Wing once again about overpoweredness vs overpoweredness. When there are two extremely powerful people facing off against eachother, especially when it comes to them being of equal strength that it requires tactical decisions in order to defeat the other is what makes it interesting for me.

Characters that go from overpowered - underpowered - overpowered - underpowered - extremely overpowered (Ichigo Kurosaki). While it may be new from time to time, can be extremely annoying if a character like Ichigo that can defeat Kenpachi without bankai. Then go to the point where he needs to use his mask to defeat a low-ranking Espada, then somehow able to defeat a Vasto Lord with the same thing that happened with his fight against Byakuya (only more overpowered). It just sorta gets tiresome to watch that development occur occasionally (which leads me to agree with Bonta Kun). That it's not all about this powerful character getting beated, and him winning all the time doesn't get boring based on how its played out. Atleast Naruto is able to defeat his opponents from time to time without abusing the hidden power inside him.

Watching an extremely overpowered character like Alucard has never grown tiresome actually. Although he is Cthulu incarnated, it's just how the anime goes that makes it that much exciting to watch him slaughter everything. Same goes with Kenpachi (especially when he takes off the eyepatch), it's merely the fact that they know that they are extremely overpowered and use that to intimidate their opponent is good on my part.

Characters that have this one hidden ability that makes them go off the charts. Only using it when some dynamic plot twist occurs where they look like they are going to lose, makes it sorta cliche for me. Taking for example Crow's (in Deadman Wonderland) Super Sonic blade that can just sweep away all the anti-Branch of Sin weapons without even a scratch on him. Aside from that factor, Crow is defiantly going to be placed along with Kenpachi and Alucard.

DonQuigleone makes a point that it would be interesting to see that development occur on a character.
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Old 2011-07-04, 20:31   Link #18
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In the case of Strongest vs Weakest...

Overpowered heroes can be use to do a lot of things because of the wide range of stunts the creator can get away with, but because they're so powerful- there are very little variety of situations where you can put them through that would give them a real challenge.

Weak heroes are harder to use due to the limitations they have as mortal humans, but because of this you can use a really wide range of creative situations to put them through their paces, focusing on their resourcefulness rather than brute force.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
You have to somehow establish the antagonists as a threat to some degree to create some tension. For example, Nanoha vs Vita was notable because Nanoha jobbed extremely well (made vita look good). Also note that they were holding back in A's....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hooves View Post

I'm going to agree with Archon_Wing once again about overpoweredness vs overpoweredness. When there are two extremely powerful people facing off against eachother, especially when it comes to them being of equal strength that it requires tactical decisions in order to defeat the other is what makes it interesting for me.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but If you're fighting on even ground with your villain, doesn't that mean that your hero isn't overpowered ?

Plus, if there's many villains that can fight on par with that Hero, then it sort of voids his/her overpowered status doesn't it ?
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Old 2011-07-04, 20:46   Link #19
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Originally Posted by Chaos2Frozen View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but If you're fighting on even ground with your villain, doesn't that mean that your hero isn't overpowered ?

Plus, if there's many villains that can fight on par with that Hero, then it sort of voids his/her overpowered status doesn't it ?
Nope. Consider Superman and Darkseid, who basically have gamebreaker powers and can fuck up entire planets and outclass by far most other reasonable opposition. They could both be considered overpowered.

And of course this is coming from a series that makes new powers up for the hero as time goes along...

If two characters are so much stronger than the rest of the cast and have incredible powers, they can be both overpowered.

Or take any group from the later part of DBZ. I think destroying the world at will is pretty damned overpowered. But Goku would still have threats that were stronger than him. It reached a point where many of the other supporting characters are useless.

My point is... if someone has ridiculous and unreal powers, it takes a villain with equally as ridiculous and unreal powers for it to work.
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Old 2011-07-04, 20:56   Link #20
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Nope. Consider Superman and Darkseid, who basically have gamebreaker powers and can fuck up entire planets and outclass by far most other reasonable opposition. They could both be considered overpowered.

And of course this is coming from a series that makes new powers up for the hero as time goes along...

If two characters are so much stronger than the rest of the cast and have incredible powers, they can be both overpowered.

Or take any group from the later part of DBZ. I think destroying the world at will is pretty damned overpowered. But Goku would still have threats that were stronger than him. It reached a point where many of the other supporting characters are useless.
If it's one or two guys like in your Superman comparison then okay; but if every other guy can destroy planets which apparently what DBZ did (I didn't watch it, it was before my time), then it ceases to be overpowered and just... The New Standard Strong

I mean, guns were overpowered once upon a time, now it's the standard. If enough people has that level of strength, then it's not really overpowered anymore.
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