MBTI: DC characters are hard to type

DC1

You might have noticed the amount of Marvel characters over DC (or any other company) on this site. There are a few reasons for that. One is that I grew up with Marvel and I’m much more familiar with them. So it’s natural to do more research on top of what I already know to definitively (or at least confidently) type their characters.

But that’s not really it. It has more to do with the style of the way the characters are written, and what sets them apart from other companies in the same industry.

I’ve got posts on Superman, Batman, Joker, and several other Batman-related characters. So I’ve got some of the big ones down. But past that Superman and Batman’s rogues (which offer plenty of interesting content, psychologically), I can’t get a bead on many others. Wonder Woman, the Flash, the Green Lanterns. Why not? They’ve been around long enough, surely they’ve accumulated enough base characteristics to go off of and properly type, right?

A major difference between two companies like Marvel and DC (There are other great ones of course, but sticking with the big two), is that while they both write superheroes and all things pertaining to, their stories still aren’t the same. Yeah, we’ll get crossovers, “coincidences” in storylines/characters, etc; there’s a lot they have in common. But while Marvel has been known for creating characters you “relate” to, DC characters are the ones you aspire to be like.

I’m not the first one to say this, and if you’re a Marvel fan, stop shaking your head and disagreeing. Hear me out.

"I hope you don't mind a bit of helpful criticism, Taylor, but you are a moron. Kaybye." -Average emailer

Marvel’s appeal to readers is not only what anyone could be attracted to- the art, the story, the fights, so on and so forth. And for DC, it’s the same. But where they draw a major line is that Marvel’s characters are great either in spite or despite of their flaws. Wolverine’s got a horrible past. Spider-Man, of course, is an awkward nerd. Professor X, the world’s most powerful telepath, is in a wheelchair, while sharing his race with one much of the world despises.

DC characters seem to fall more in line with the idea of “humanity perfected.” It’s not that the characters never fail or never doubt themselves, but they’re the best of the best for a reason. It’s a challenge for villains to come up with anything that might distract Superman, much less harm him in some way. Batman has got the plot on his side and will always win. He’s Batman, c’mon. But more than that, these characters aren’t really flawed and that’s the point. That is, unless Frank Miller is writing them.

But the overall ideas we have in mind for these DC characters will be one of moral soundness. If you devoted yourself to destroying crime, this is what you could do. If you were nicer to everyone, this could be the way the world is instead of a fantasy in a comic book.

Pretty interesting difference. On one hand you’ve got the superheroes whose flaws are a main aspect of their character, giving the reader a way to feel empowered in some way that this widely known, celebrity of a superhero has qualities similar to their own. At the same time, comics have a tendency to repeat themselves and after a while, we can easily find stories where writers have dismantled all the progress another writer has made with a character by giving them anger issues again (or something).

And with DC, we can understand that if you don’t reach higher, so to speak, than where you are now, you’ll always stay in the place. If you’re not trying to better yourself, you’re not doing anything at all. You have to do more than you thought you could. You won’t be Batman, but closer than you are if you don’t do anything.

"Training begins tomorrow, I swear."

And from DC’s themes (and the fact that they got the superhero thing going), we get iconic characters. Characters that have people who don’t even read the comics getting tattoos of them on their arms. It’s not only an image of what we associate with that character, but an idea. And what works for DC often doesn’t work for Marvel and vice versa. If DC has a character that’s meant to have problems, they end up going off the rails and he’ll end up raping a couple people and peeing on himself before the Justice League finds him. It’s Watchmen repackaged as the Justice League, with a subtle hint of Human Centipede (okay not that stupid).

And Marvel’s strength of flawed characters comes into play when they try and introduce insanely powerful characters. Nobody cares about them and they’re so powerful, the writes don’t know what to do with them so they just get tossed to the side. They don’t even become bad guys, they just stay bland good guys.

But this post is titled “DC characters are hard to type” and I’ve only been talking about the differences between them and Marvel.

Well, with Marvel’s characters and all their problems, they’ve become characters with personalities we, again, relate to. Sometimes they’re written poorly of course, but there’s enough meat there to sink out teeth into.

With DC on the other hand, it’s almost as though we’re reading modern day mythology, where the characters and what they stand for are seared into our brains and no matter what the writer has them do/makes them become, they’ll still always be the same to us. This is somewhat how comics are anyway but with DC, seeing as how their characters are known for being near perfect (Yes, that’s how I’m choosing to word it), this makes for a character of an untouchable status. An icon, an idea, all on canvas in a sense. They’re personalities are meant to be more broad because their personality is “The Hero” who’s also funny. Or really intense. Whatever the case, they always fall back on being a hero.

Marvel’s trek with each character is more “Can I BE the hero this time?”

"I don't know if my ego will be able to make room for that."

This isn’t to say Marvel is better or that DC is weak, but that there’s less definition to DC and that’s really how you would make for a hero we aspire to. But from this is a character whose quirks, deficiencies, and any other thing that makes you a normal ol’ human…are gone. It’s not that the Justice League comes off as a bunch of robots, but they’re just all so…perfect. As I type this, I’m remembering a post I wrote about Wonder Woman being an ENFJ…in the sense that a lot of ENFJs are typed as that because they’re written as the “perfect” woman.

We didn’t really know how to write the wife character- but she’s smart and supportive!” -Writers everywhere.

What I’m saying isn’t that DC characters don’t have much of a personality but rather their personalities are more akin to archetypes which have certain personality traits…that can be attributed to most types, give or take, and this makes it harder to pinpoint a specific personality.

I’ve got more to say but comment and let me know what you think, how wrong I am, whatever. What makes Barry Allen more ENFJ than ESTP? What makes Kyle Rayner ISFP instead of…whatever Kyle Rayner is? I wanna hear it!

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5 Responses to “MBTI: DC characters are hard to type”

  1. Sairor Says:

    “You might have noticed the amount of Marvel characters over DC (or any other company) on this site.”

    Yeah, I always thought that it was because most of ’em are boring.

    No offense to DC fans reading this, but Batman & Superman are to DC what the Wolverine is to the X-men.

    They need to hire better character creators and world-builders, imho.

    Pretty sure there must be another Alan Moore out there. They just need to treat him with respect this time around.

  2. fatalfuryguy Says:

    Saw somewhere: Marvel are regular people trying to be superheroes, DC are superheroes trying to be regular people.

  3. Hi I was just wondering what you were planning on typing next? And also is it possible to type DC characters based of their tv show versions/cartoon versions?

    • Taylor Says:

      Yeah, it’s possible to type them in comic book form, televised counterparts, animated versions, etc. But as far as their core characteristics go, they can just be a bit vague.

  4. JianGeGe Says:

    It’s odd because while I prefer the idea of relatable heroes over iconic ones, the only Marvel franchises I’ve really gotten into are Spider-Man (who is my favourite superhero out of both Marvel and DC), and to a much lesser extent, Daredevil. Meanwhile, I am a lot more engrossed in the mythology of DC; very much in spite of their tendency to reboot, although I suppose we can cast an evil eye on Marvel in regards to that as well now.

    In relation to that, one thing that distinguishes Marvel from DC is how the idea of history is so very different between the two companies. Marvel really is one big story with no major breaks, and it consistently builds on that history. My favourite comparison to make in regards to this is the rivalry between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin and the Batman and the Joker.

    The former obviously had their big story in “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”, but think of how that led to a domino effect that coloured so many other stories. “The Harry Osborn Saga”, “The Clone Saga”, “Death in the Family”; all of these stories were only able to happen because “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” happened in the first place, and indeed Norman’s actions in the latter two were at least partially fuelled by Harry’s death.

    Compare that to say, “The Killing Joke” which was the big story between Batman and Joker which could arguably have taken place at any time in their history. What’s more, it never resulted in a domino effect similar to the likes of “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”.

    That’s not to say DC doesn’t have a sense of history; it absolutely does. But it’s sense of history is based on lineage rather than continuity. What distinguished DC against Marvel for a long time was the presence of sidekicks in the former, and many of them have grown to take new roles for themselves; some even replacing their mentors. Dick Grayson becomes Batman, Wally West becomes The Flash and so on and so forth.

    This isn’t even comparable to the recent slew of legacy characters in Marvel because with Marvel, most of these legacy characters have only had the most tangential of relationships with the main hero in their costumed identities. When Dick becomes Batman and Wally West becomes the Flash, it feels earned because of how long they’ve been in the game, and how so directly related they are to their mentors’ double life.

    In a way, I’d say the real stars of the DC Universe are not the big name heroes but their sidekicks because it is them who have to go through a process of growth where they eventually become worthy of the legacy of their mentors.

    Which really only reinforces your point. With Marvel, the characters who get titles are the ones we’re meant to care about and invest a relationship with. Not so with DC. With DC, the title characters are icons, are the nigh-unattainable dream, to us and to the ones who fight by their side.

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