Monday, June 23, 2008

Today's Favorite Dialogue

I love the written word, whether it be in a novel, a piece of a screenplay, or even from my long time joy, comic books. Here's a fun piece from one of my favorite writers, Warren Ellis. Creator of modern classics such as Planetary and Transmetropolitan (a book so good I was able to get my wife reading it!), this is from one of Warren's mainstream books from one of the so called Big 2 (Marvel and DC comics.) It's from a book called Thunderbolts, a team described thusly on the opening into page of each new issue

" Once they were among the worst examples of villiany mankind had to offer! But now, conscripted by the commission on superhuman affairs, they have been transformed into a force for social justice! They are the Thunderbolts - federal marshalls, empowered to track down and bring in unlicensed, unregistered superhuman offenders coast to coast! "

Okay, sorry for the lengthy lead in, but I had to offer some frame of reference for people. In a recent issue, the man appointed to head the Thunderbolts finally strips off his veneer of sanity and returns to his roots. I am referring to one of the all time great villains, The Green Goblin, or more importantly, the man behind the Goblin, Norman Osborn. Osborn has been heading up the T-Bolts, an excellent metaphor for the real world in which villains very often are put in charge of very powerful operations (Darth Cheney) - Osborn is supposedly cured of his insanity, the insanity that causes him to become the Green Goblin, but now, in Thunderbolts 120, with his home base under attack and all hell breaking loose, Norman returns to his roots.

Some of the scenes, and the one that inspired this post, is Osborn lifting up a long stowed away Green Goblin costume and he holds it to his nose, sniffing, and says the following - "Aaaaahhh. I'm so glad I never washed this particular costume. Smells like death, blondes and victory" - for fanboys the world over this evoked giggles, since Norman had sex with Gwen Stacy in the past and also killed her, crushing the spirit of her lover, Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man)

he then speaks in a monologue and has lines like this -

" Are you a self-proclaimed super hero? Why, shucks, sir, I sure am a regular guy in bad underpants who fights crime without understanding one damn thing about how the world works, yes. Yes. Excellent. I send you now to a concentration camp where you will be sterilized, lobotomized, tenderized, and pasteurized."

Finally there is this great line. While walking through the base when the attack has begun, Osborn is moving into an elevator to head down to where his goblin costume is hidden. He has the following monologue. - " There's a space monster and a mad swordsman loose in the base- shall we trust the huge security complement and the team of superhumans to deal with it? Oh, No. Let's make a complete dog's breakfast of the whole operation. So Norman has to clean things us.

"I'm a fricking martyr to my own innate heroism, is what I am. Norman Osborn, America's last hero. That's what I am."

What's truly terrific about that line is that it crystalizes what makes for a good villain in almost any fictional setting, a concept espoused by Stan Lee himself. Great villains view themselves as heroes in their own mind, so their motivations make perfect sense to them, and those against them are the true villains. That allows the writer to create depth of character, and the best villains always have character, however flawed it may be.

Wow, what a long post about a fairly obscure topic, but fuck it, it's my blog!!!

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