Avengers: Endgame: Are overpowered characters a problem for storytelling?


Do Joe and Anthony Russo’s challenges with utilizing Captain Marvel in Avengers: Endgame show why it’s difficult to use overpowered characters?

During an interview with CinemaBlend, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo discussed what makes storytelling for nearly god-like characters such as Captain Marvel so difficult.

Joe Russo told them:

"“It’s always a concern of ours about overpowering characters, because the reason that people relate to these characters is their humanity, and that they’re flawed. And the reason we love working so much with Captain America was that he was limited, and his heart was his superpower, you know? So we’re all acutely aware of the dangers of having an overly powerful character. [But] we like sensitive storytelling, so… we found a thoughtful way through it.”"

Anthony Russo added:

"“That’s what kind of fires us up, I think, on a storytelling level, to be honest with you. Because when you do have powerful characters, you have to work that much harder to find their vulnerabilities and complexities. And Joe was mentioning on a storytelling level… and keep the stakes high! Because that’s where those characters are vulnerable. And actually, that makes for great drama, and you run in that direction. As storytellers, that’s been one of the most fun things we’ve had working with these characters is figuring out ways into them where they are vulnerable and they aren’t all powerful.”"

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This is in line with what they said about another extremely powerful character, Superman, during an interview with Business Insider in December:

"“He’s a very difficult character,” Joe said. “You have to find an emotional flaw or weakness in the character in order to make them vulnerable.”"

Does having powers like Captain Marvel or Superman truly make it difficult to tell a story? And does being so powerful take away from their humanity?

When you’re bulletproof like Superman and nearly indestructible like Captain Marvel, finding foes that have any chance to defeat them may seem difficult ,but it has been done many times in the comics since the 1930s for Superman and the 1960s for this iteration of Captain Marvel.

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But what challenges them is not just enemies that find ways to exploit Superman’s vulnerability to kryptonite or Carol’s vulnerability to magic, but finding ways to use their abilities that allow them to keep their moral compasses. Being powerful isn’t what makes them vulnerable or invulnerable, it’s their hearts.

Captain Marvel cares about saving people just as much as Captain America. She has friends, loved ones, and a strong conviction to protect them and everyone else. The only difference between her and him is that she’s just a bit stronger, more indestructible, and, yeah, can fly and shoot energy beams.

But those powers don’t make Captain Marvel less vulnerable, in fact, it may actually make her more so. She and characters like her have the added challenge of knowing they have these incredible abilities and that they have to be responsible with them. Captain Marvel isn’t more challenging to write for, it’s just a different kind of challenge.

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We’ll find out exactly how the Russo Brothers will handle Captain Marvel when she arrives on the scene for Avengers: Endgame when it’s released on April 26th, 2019.