This will be a super opinion piece. What is a super opinion? Nothing, really. I just mean this will be super filled with just opinions on my view about character competence. I suppose this was brought out by my watching Legends of Tomorrow and me thinking about Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. Note that I do like Legends of Tomorrow despite what I’m about to say. This rant also applies to some other shows. It’s by no means unique to Legends of Tomorrow.
So what am I talking about? The huge number of ways a super-powered team could take down Vandal Savage. I know that means the end of the story, but come on, they missed so many opportunities. I would understand it if they made a plan and it went bad, but often times, their initial plan is already bad! It also makes the villains feel not quite as threatening. The villains doesn’t escape because the good guys are good at what they do. The villain escapes because the good guys give him every opportunity to.
Some examples? Ray, having a shrinking suit not having it on him at all times. The Jax and Stein thing where they aren’t always together is a bit more understandable since sometimes, they can’t stand each other. But how about the times they actually managed to kill Savage and then just left. The body is right there. Pick it up. Or even if you don’t want to pick it up, stay in that timeline and find the magic dagger.
Or take the episode where Vandal Savage is just pretending to be a doctor with no army at his back. Kidnap him or something!
Why am I comparing it to Agents of SHIELD? Well, there are few encounters in there where I thought that with what the characters had, they could have made a better plan. The villains in SHIELD escape or win because you know they are skilled, not that the good guys are ineffectual. And making the good guy effective in no ways cuts down on character drama or growth or anything like that.
Gotham, I feel that’s another good example of characters behaving as competently as they can given their resources and abilities. Gordon is doing the best they can against freeze rays, corrupt politicians and the like.
Supergirl would be a bad example of being competent. Pretty much all the time Supergirl lets the bad guy get away on their first encounter. WIth X-ray vision and super speed, you would think she could track them. Now I get that she’s new and starting out, so I’m not ragging on her that much. Yet. We’ll see how she is next season, though she does succeed in most episodes, so yay.
The DEO could stand to be a bit more competent. Hank, you go spying in some place, shapeshifted as someone else, and then you shift back into your normal form? Why? Alex, you do not have mission specific dining clothes and gear for spying? Well, I’d buy that since the organization isn’t a spy agency.
Basically, for me, it’s a bit frustrating when characters act stupidly with poor justifications for doing so. I do like all the characters in Legends of Tomorrow, it’s just that their planning skills are horrible. Rip needs to draft a strategist for his next team.
Make villains threatening because they are just that good, not because the heroes are bumbling through everything.