This is something that has been irking me for some time now. It’s a recurrent theme in most fantasy fiction, in stories, comics, and in movies. No matter what happens in a fantasy universe, there is always a way to bring a character back. No matter what. If the character is popular, there will always be an incantation, or special portal, or some sort of God creature that can resurrect a dearly departed member of your cast.
This has been done over and over again. In Marvel, Jean Grey aka Phoenix, aka Marvel Girl has died multiple times, and multiple times been brought back by the Phoenix force. Superman’s death has been emulated and repeated many times, and even in other stories, characters die off only to be brought back a few stories later. Probably the most glaring example is Spock being brought back from his intense radiation burns in Star Trek 3.
People… please don’t do this. This is a trend that needs to stop. Why? Honestly because it takes all the weight out of death. In the first Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean Grey sacrifices herself to save her friends. It’s powerful, it causes ripples in the Marvel Universe, and was considered one of the best and most powerful stories in Marvel History…
Yeah… too bad it was completely undone a few years later by retconning the whole incident saying that Jean in fact had not been killed. It was the Phoenix in her form. The result of this was a previously well-liked superhero, Cyclops, having to suffer an extreme character assassination when he leaves his wife and baby to find Jean, it turns said wife who was also a well-liked character into a bad guy… and it left one hell of a mess on Marvel that has never been fully cleaned up. Perhaps the biggest crime here is that it took all the weight out of her original death and has continued to be diluted more and more with each time she’s resurrected.
The same can be said for Superman’s death or any other character in these universes. Any time in fantasy we see someone die, it never effects me anymore… not even in Game of Thrones. I just wait and see because it seems like very few deaths in Fantasy are ever permanent.
I’ve seen this attitude surrounding death in most fantasy worlds from readers and viewers alike. They don’t take it seriously and it has no lasting impact. Good story-writing makes you feel something for a character, it’s supposed to bring out emotions and make you react.
Example (SPOILER ALERT!!!): in Christie Golden’s fantastic novel; Star Wars Dark Disciple, she writes about a character that I truly love; Asajj Ventress. I’ve watched her go from a ruthless killing Sith Apprentice to an honorable loner bounty hunter, and in this story, though she still flirts with the dark side, she’s as close to a Jedi as she ever gets. I can honestly say that when she dies, it’s unexpected… and yes, my eye surrendered a tear.
That is what is supposed to happen and it doesn’t anymore, which is too bad. These deaths are met with indifference.
Why does this happen?
Honestly, often it’s poor story writing where the writer has backed themselves into a corner or fan outcry over the character’s death.
But wait, YOU DID THIS! You brought Lia’na back in your novel, Gravestalker!!
Yes I did… I admit it. However, her death was never intended to be permanent. I killed her off so that one of my other characters would attempt to bring her back using ancient magic that he shouldn’t even be attempting and inadvertently triggers a zombie apocalypse as a result. I want to make this clear, her death was NEVER meant to be permanent. Even so, a part of me has regretted doing this.
So then isn’t it possible that a lot of these are doing the same thing?
In some cases, yes. I will acknowledge that a fake-out death is a good plot device if used properly. That’s not what I have a problem with. My problem is with characters that were clearly meant to remain dead, and even admitted so by their writers (Phoenix, Darth Maul), and those who continuously use the fake-out deaths to keep their stories going… even HISHE touched on this in their Captain America review:
Honestly, it’s just weak story-telling and really needs to stop. But that’s my opinion. Am I way off or dead on? Let me know below!
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