I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, and with The Last Jedi premiering tonight and the roles Redemptive character arcs played in the original Trilogy, now seems like a good time.
Also, I’m super stoked for The Last Jedi. And I might be obsessing over Rey’s poncho a bit too much.
JUST LOOK AT IT.
The concept of good and evil is used a lot in movies, TV shows, and books, and the messier a character’s past is, the more interesting their journey to the light side can be. With my Myers–Briggs personality type being what it is (INFJ), I like to see and help things get cleaned up. Whether it’s a closet that needs to be gone through and organized or a character who needs to pull themselves together, I find it satisfying.
Consequently, I’m drawn to the messier characters and simultaneously want to hug them and slap them in the face.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s great, Grace (…or violent), but why do these character arcs matter?
I’m getting there.
First and foremost, Redemptive character arcs matter because they’re interesting.
They have a lot of diversity between characters. A villain’s arc will be different and probably longer (though not necessarily) than an antihero’s or a character who is full of themselves. And the things that motivate them to change will also vary.
• Darth Vader turned to the dark side and stayed there for years, but when he did decide to do the right thing, he made the choice quickly (and promptly died.)
• Loki has been sitting on the edge of decency for ages now, and one way or another Infinity War is going to decide his fate.
• And Tony Stark started out arrogant and now is an emotional-wreck of a character. Hopefully he has time to get better before Thanos destroys everything. So insensitive.
These arcs also develop characters in many different ways. Some become sarcastic heroes who lowkey don’t care what happens, and some become the Weird Uncle who has to keep explosives and weapons out of the reach of children. And some end up dead. Like seriously, a lot of characters end up dying.
In the end, Redemptive character arcs can be great influences for us because of their relatability. We might not be trying to rule the world or get revenge for a lifelong sorrow, but sometimes it’s easier to understand where a bad guy’s coming from. Being just and noble is great, but it’s also significantly harder. And yet, when we see these same bad guys change and begin to do the right thing, it can help us to do the same.