• Tag Archives supervillain
  • The Redsaw Origin and How I Write Supervillains

    Redsaw
    Redsaw – More powerful than Axiom-man.
    Note: This post was originally published on Jeffrey Allen Davis’s blog

    The Redsaw Origin and How I Write Supervillains
    by
    A.P. Fuchs

    Disclaimer: The following article is meant for those who have read some or all of The Axiom-man Saga. If you have not read the series, please stop now and consider checking out the series first (http://bit.ly/1oy9MJU) as this article contains spoilers, namely Redsaw’s secret identity, which is part of the mystery of the first book.

    Like Axiom-man, Redsaw has something of a muddled past. I’m talking about his real life origin, not his story one. However, Redsaw didn’t really come together until writing Axiom-man. Until that point, he was more an idea that never materialized in the mental fantasy I had going which eventually birthed The Axiom-man Saga we know today. All I knew about my overall fantasy was there were two cosmic beings at war. One that represented Good (known as the messenger in the saga), and one that represented Evil (known as the master). How these cosmic beings work is they each have champions on multiple planets throughout the universe, one guy stepping forward for them and duking it out on these planets while these two cosmic beings fight it out elsewhere. Usually, the messenger only puts his man in place once the master strikes an unsuspecting world. On Earth, the messenger’s champion is Axiom-man so, you guessed it, the master’s main man is Redsaw. What’s interesting to note is Axiom-man was put in place shortly before Redsaw’s arrival, a pre-emptive move on the messenger’s part and for reasons revealed in the series.

    Redsaw is the main supervillain of The Axiom-man Saga.

    That should bring you enough up to speed on who’s who in my superhero universe.

    When it came to creating Redsaw, other than knowing he had to be the bad guy, he needed to be more than just the bad guy. The first thing I decided was it was imperative he was more powerful than Axiom-man, first and foremost in his superpowers—which are similar but stronger—and secondly as his human alter ego.

    In costume, Redsaw can fly twice as fast, is twice as strong, and the energy beams he shoots from his hands do twice the damage.

    Out of costume, Oscar Owen is rich, well-known, and utterly confident, whereas Gabriel Garrison (Axiom-man) struggles with money, is a nobody, and has self-esteem issues.

    But that’s just the superficial stuff.

    Even the name “Redsaw” is superficial in that I needed a cool name for a villain and “red” typically represents evil and “saw” was named after a sawblade, a dangerous weapon if used to kill somebody. The jagged lines on Redsaw’s red and black costume represent his own jaggedness and danger—again, the sawblade thing.

    Going deeper, however, I didn’t want a bad guy who was the bad guy simply because he was the bad guy. In other words, I didn’t want a bad guy being bad for bad’s sake. There needed to be a reason, and the best reason for any villain in literature or film is the one that says they’re the bad guy because they don’t have any other choice. They have a strong motive that turned them down a dark path. A classic example is Darth Vader. He joined the dark side to save Padme. The dark side consumed him and we all know the rest of the story.

    Oscar Owen was chosen by the master because Oscar drove himself hard to rise from poverty and become a somebody and tried to be a good guy with his powerful position. Once joined with the black cloud that gave him his superpowers, even then, he strove to be a hero like Axiom-man. He just didn’t know joining with the black cloud came at a cost and the black cloud transformed him into someone he wasn’t: the reluctant villain. The villain you and I can relate to. The one that, if you or I were put in their shoes, would do what they do no matter how dark or despicable because, from their point-of-view, they’re doing the right thing even if the cause is evil.

    That’s the kind of main villain I was after for Axiom-man: someone like him. Someone who strove to do what they perceived was the right thing. Unfortunately, for Redsaw, his “right thing” is the wrong thing, but thankfully we have Axiom-man there to stop him.

    Regarding other supervillains I’ve created—Char, Bleaken, Battle Bruiser, and Lady Fire—they all have something in common and it all goes back to what I did with Redsaw: they’re more powerful than the hero. It might be their powers, it might be their intellect, but either way, my villains always have a leg up on Axiom-man so they’re a challenge to fight. It’s the only way to create true conflict in the novels otherwise, if they were weaker, Axiom-man would stomp them into the ground every time and the story would be over in a few pages. Sure, it’s fun to have a few purely-human bad guys for Axiom-man to quickly dispose of, but when it comes to his superpowered rogues gallery, I needed my bad guys to be stronger than the hero and make him really dig deep whether physically or mentally to put the villains away for good. And even then . . . they might not always stay put, but for what I mean by that, you’ll have to check out the books and see for yourself.

    A supervillain—breaking down the word—sure, the “villain” part is easy. It’s the “super” part that’s hard because that goes beyond their powers. They need to be above average in who they are as a person. They need to be motivated by something beyond what gets us normal people through our day. They need to be motivated by something “super.” It could be a tragedy, a misguidance, even a dark heart birthed out of something beyond their control in years past. There’s no such thing as a person who’s born bad. We all make choices. Some yield Good. Others yield Evil. Others take us down roads filled with both. Throw superpowers into the mix and you have the potential to create a superpowered problem that only a superhero can fight.

    As for Redsaw, well, like Axiom-man, he’s on a journey, too. One that can only lead to one place. As for where or what that is, you’ll just have to read and find out.


  • Canister X Movie Review #65: The Rocketeer (1991)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    The Rocketeer (1991)
    Written by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo
    Directed by Joe Johnston
    Runtime 108 min.
    4 out of 5

    When Cliff Secord stumbles upon a rocket pack stashed away in an airplane, him and his friend Peevy soon find themselves on the run from gangsters with ties to the Nazis.

     

    I saw this back when I was a kid and it’s still one of my favorite superhero flicks, namely because it’s historical, has a very human superhero, and is about flying. I mean, who doesn’t want to fly? Better, who doesn’t want to think they can somehow piece together a rocket pack, strap it on and take to the sky?

    What makes this superhero movie different is it’s not about a guy going around and helping people while trying to juggle a secret identity and, later, ultimately facing off against a supervillain. Instead, it’s about someone who has something the bad guys want and spends all his time running from them, occasionally helping people along the way. So while true the standard superhero “ingredients” are there, they’re presented outside of the standard formula thus setting this flick apart. Couple that with it taking place in the past during a simpler time—a classier time, too—and you’ve got a memorable movie.

    I like how they also blended real life history into this, namely bringing in Howard Hughes as the designer of the rocket pack. Very cool. Throw in a Nazi as a main villain and you’ve got some solid Good vs Evil going on. Speaking of which, Timothy Dalton as Neville Sinclair the Nazi was awesome. He was super evil in this and once you found out who he really was you just hated the guy. You gotta love villains you can hate and feel justified in doing so.

    There was certainly a pulpy feel to this movie, which is good, as the Rocketeer is an old time hero, a pulp hero, in fact. They kept that element alive, even so far as having him go up against a giant goon with a unique visage. Reminded me of the Dick Tracy villains. Sweet.

    If you dig pulp heroes, The Rocketeer is definitely recommended viewing. Go see for yourself.


  • Canister X Movie Review #53: Kick-Ass (2010)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Kick-Ass (2010)
    Written by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman
    Directed by Matthew Vaughn
    Runtime 117 min.
    4.5 out of 5

    Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), comic book geek and nobody-at-large, always wondered why no one stepped up and became a superhero. People aspire to be doctors and firemen and policemen, so why not also want to be someone else who helped his fellow man?

    After ordering a green and yellow wetsuit off the Internet, Dave dons the outfit and hits the streets as Kick-Ass, a superhero without powers, training or even a proper motivation to fight crime other than “what if?” The first few weeks are uneventful, and after his first attempt at stopping a car robbery nearly kills him, Dave returns more determined than ever to rid the streets of crime. Soon, after stopping the beating of a guy from a gang, Kick-Ass is all over the Internet and soon becomes a citywide celebrity.

    Little does he realize he’s not alone. Enter Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz), a father-daughter team of real-deal vigilantes with a thirst for blood and matching guns to boot. Their mission? Take out the D’Amico crime family, their leader, Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong), having been personally involved with Big Daddy long ago and robbing him of the one he loved.

    Soon Kick-Ass, Big Daddy, Hit Girl and newcomer Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) are locked in a war that, hopefully, only the good guys survive.

    It’s guns, action, comic books and bubble gum in this adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s graphic novel.

     

    This movie is crazy. A good crazy. A special kind of crazy. I knew from the previews I was in for a different kind of superhero flick and, man, that was what I got. This was fresh, exciting, fun and new. Most superhero movies stick to a formula (origin of the good guy then the bad guy, a few tussles along the way leading to a big fight in the end, the stuff in between usually dramatic bits starring the hero in his personal life). With Kick-Ass, though there were those basic elements to it, the one thing that was really hammered home over and over again was the idea that, yeah, Kick-Ass was functioning in the real world. One with guns, knives, average fighting skills and no body armor. Some folks might think the violence in this film was overdone. Personally—despite a few exceptions—I didn’t think so. You try doing the superhero thing in real life in a place like New York and see what happens.

    I also really liked how they dragged that fantasy of being a superhero into our reality and proved, really, that it wouldn’t work. Kick-Ass went up against real bad guys. Ones without mercy. Without care. They’d kill their own mothers if they had to.

    The lack of a costumed supervillain also helped this movie and ensured the focus was kept on the good guys. I particularly liked Big Daddy’s and Hit Girl’s origin. It was simple, yet bittersweet and, if anything, really showed that despite being off his rocker, Big Daddy really loved his little girl and only wanted the best for her.

    In terms of the non-costumed scenes, Dave Lizewski’s real life was extremely relatable (especially for this comic book nerd) and his high school years and mine seemed to have a lot in common. Except for the girlfriend part. I wasn’t cool enough to have one of those.

    This movie was fantastic start to finish. The writing, the action, the realism—truly cool.

    My only thing was the profanity. I don’t live in New York, but that was a lot of swearing and if people really talk like that in NYC, man, I feel sorry for them. (But, hey, I’m just a Maple Syrup-guzzling Canadian, so what do I know?) If they don’t, perhaps the writers can pull back a bit on the wagging tongue for the next one.

    Looking forward to the sequel.


  • Canister X Movie Review #49: Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)
    Written by Dwayne McDuffie
    Directed by Lauren Montgomery and Sam Liu
    Runtime 75 min.
    5 out of 5

    The superhero known as Lex Luthor travels from a parallel Earth to ours and summons the help of the Justice League to take on the Crime Syndicate, an evil version of the JLA from his own Earth. Agreeing to help him, the Justice League travels to Luthor’s Earth and takes on the Crime Syndicate, pitting the likes of Superman against Ultraman, Wonder Woman against Superwoman, the Flash against Johnny Quick, Green Lantern against Power Ring, Martian Manhunter against J’edd J’arkus, Hawkgirl against Angelique, and, soon enough, Batman against Owlman.

    In a true case of looking in a mirror darkly, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is a super heroic and super villained thrill ride that gives you two Justice Leagues for the price of one!

     

    Such a simple premise but such a cool story. Why not have the JLA face themselves from an alternate reality? Who would win? If you’re fighting someone every bit as powerful as you are, would someone come out on top? What if they thought like you? Talk about playing with one’s shadow.

    There’s superpowers galore in this movie as each hero gets to take on their counterpart and show what they are fully capable of. More so, you get to see what our beloved JLA would be like had they taken other paths in life as the similarities and differences between them and the Crime Syndicate are explored.

    A bunch of other heroes make an appearance in this flick as well, guys like Aquaman, Black Canary, Red Tornado (a personal favorite), Firestorm (another favorite), and more. Kind of a throwback to Justice League Unlimited in that way.

    Don’t be fooled, though, as this movie is more than just a superhero/supervillain slugfest. It gets into the deeper issues, the big one being about choice. In the context of the movie, if every choice we make spawns an alternate reality where the alternate choice(s) was also made, do any of the choices we make ultimately matter?

    This movie is smart, interesting, and grabs you from the get-go. The action is top notch, the animation is ultra sweet, and if these direct-to-video DC Universe movies have proven anything, it’s that they know how to make a good Justice League flick. I can’t wait until they transfer that same know-how to a live action Justice League movie. Can you imagine how awesome that’ll be?

    Anyway, back to this one. This is such a good movie and is a must-have on any superhero fan’s movie shelf. You not only get DC Universe’s all-stars, but the all-stars of a parallel universe as well. Like I said above, definitely a two-for-one ticket and definitely worth checking out.


  • Canister X Movie Review #39: Hero at Large (1980)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Hero at Large (1980)
    Written by A.J. Carothers
    Directed by Martin Davidson
    Runtime 98 min.
    4.5 out of 5

    When nice guy and tough-on-his-luck actor Steve Nichols steps in and stops a convenience store robbery while dressed as Captain Avenger after promoting the movie of the same name, his life is changed and he suddenly finds himself as a superhero. Now with everyone wanting a piece of him, can he balance playing to the crowd with doing the right thing?

     

    I got this flick on VHS and on DVD and it’s one of my all-time favorites. Such a warm comedy that harkens back to a time when movies had values and superhero action wasn’t full of angst and drama. Instead, this movie is the opposite and I don’t mean it’s a goofball comedy. It’s simply loaded with heart and is about a man who constantly tries to do the right thing in and out of costume simply because that’s who he is, no other reason.

    John Ritter’s amazing in this flick. He was amazing in everything he did and it’s sad he’s no longer with us. His portrayal of nice-guys-finish-last Steve Nichols is inspiring and it’s oh so rare nowadays that you meet someone like that, but when you do, your whole day has been made better, if not your week. Sometimes even your life.

    The story is a simple one, but one that doesn’t follow the standard superhero formula and thus makes the movie the great one that it is. It’s about the guy beneath the costume versus the costume itself and all the explosive action that would normally entail.

    Without giving anything away, but reading between the lines, the supervillain in this movie is someone who made the wrong choice at the best time, and the consequences that play out leave you with a morality tale steeped in how important it is to do the right thing even when it’s not the popular thing to do. We can all take a lesson from that.

    Hero at Large is a heart-warming superhero movie perfect for a rainy day. Or a sunny one.

    I love this movie. It’s that simple.


  • Canister X Movie Review #23: Catwoman (2004)

    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Click Here to Order from Amazon.com
    Catwoman (2004)
    Written by John Brancato, Michael Ferris and John Rogers
    Directed by Pitof Comar
    Runtime 104 min.
    2 out of 5

    Patience Phillips overhears news of the terrible side effects of a skin cream that is being manufactured by the company she works for, Hedare Beauty, and is quickly silenced—fatally—for her eavesdropping. However, she comes back from the dead thanks to an Egyptian Mau cat and discovers she has cat-like abilities. Disguising herself as Catwoman, Patience seeks to learn the truth behind her own death.

     

    Do you have any idea how excited I was when I heard they were making a Catwoman movie? I mean, it could be the greatest cat-burglar movie of all time loaded with super slick espionage, martial arts, sneaking around, Batman mythos references and/or cameos, strong-female-led action, cool costume(s) and more.

    And then they made the movie they did.

    Almost wish I could make this whole review two words—“no comment”—but that’d be cheating you guys.

    This movie was not a Catwoman movie. I just don’t understand what they were trying to do here. Had this been a fan film and some attempted new take on the character, okay, fine, whatever, put it online and let people decide, but this was supposed to be the real deal. She wasn’t even called Selina Kyle in this. Instead, she was “Patience Phillips.” They tried to jazz up what is supposed to be a very down-to-earth origin and give it a mythology of its own. Okay, points for trying something new and superhero or supervillain origins are often tweaked or changed for the big screen. What makes Catwoman as a character awesome is the fact that she’s human, like Batman, and is basically his opposite. Not so in this one. She’s got cat-powers and while it was visually cool to watch her jump around and scale buildings and stuff, it’s just not who she is.

    Halle Berry playing Catwoman is just fine. She’s sleek, sexy and pulls off the part. The problem is the story is not very good, the costume is terrible—how slinky and impractical can you get?—and there’s really nothing in this that ties it into the Batman universe. This is supposed to be a spin-off, but even spin-offs have a connection to the main source. i.e. the Elektra spin-off movie from Daredevil. Regardless of how you feel about that one, it’s still a spin-off and is known as such.

    This was definitely a comic book movie in that they went for “comic booky” as the feel of it. Felt more direct-to-video to me, seemed rushed and just fell flat.

    Catwoman is an awesome character and was resurrected in The Dark Knight Rises in a much more real world way. I hope that someday—hopefully sooner rather than later—another Catwoman flick is made and they really try to get it right. It has huge potential. Sadly, it was missed with this version here.