Why is the Flash so much slower on television than the comics?

The Short Answer: Because on television, he doesn’t need to run at the speed of light for the television series to exist and tell compelling stories. He is only as fast as he needs to be. Right now, that is twice the speed of sound and it is perfect for storytelling with an ensemble cast.

Why didn’t they start him moving as fast as he does in the comics? It sure would be convenient for getting places. At the speed of light, Barry could circle the globe seven times in one second!

As I have explained in other treatments about the Flash, he doesn’t need to be moving at the speed of light for stories to happen. This is a major boon to the how the television show works. In fact, keeping the Flash slower than he is in the comics offers a few major storytelling benefits:

  • Barry always has something to strive for; he wants to get faster. When he deals with his issues during the series, most of them revolve around him being faster than he is. Since many of his enemies are either immune to his still-developing powers (Girder) or he is slower than his foes (Reverse Flash, Zoom), this gives him a constant need to improve his abilities.
  • Why he’s slower isn’t clear, but we know technology, his state of mind, his belief in his ability all affect his ability to be fast. Honestly, I would like the television series to NEVER allow him to reach the speed of light unless they address his powers in a clean and succinct manner. Right now, his power is too vague and they run the risk of making him a highly unbalanced character just like he appears in his comics.
  • I suspect most television shows are happy with the ensemble support team for superheroes because it allows for cast members who are regularly involved, regularly endangered, and constantly creating sub-threads for writers to weave into the story.
  • A Flash who operates at two times the speed of sound is just fast enough to be fast, and yet still slow enough for stories to require support from Team Flash. The Flash is an ensemble show, mixing science, technology, teamwork, and super-speed into a unique formula for interaction.
  • In most cases, I theorize the televised Flash doesn’t even need to reach the speed of sound inside of Central City. Three hundred miles per hour is more than enough to reach from one side of the city to the other in under a minute. See: How fast can the Flash run a mile?

The More Complicated Answer: If you don’t want to know more about the Flash, his powers, how they work and why the Flash is broken, you have everything you need in that first paragraph.

  • If you still think there is something to be learned after that, you have been warned the reason the Flash is a flawed or broken character is because people who write the character have no true understanding of what his speed will allow.
  • As such, different writers and editors have completely different takes on the character making each interpretation unique and likely never to be seen again unless that writer takes over the book once more.

There are two graphics presented whenever a comic Flash fan wants to tell us how great the Flash is. Here is the first.

Because many Flash fans presume the Flash is ALWAYS moving at the speed of light or faster just to get a loaf of bread from the store. He isn’t. From a narrative point of view he shouldn’t be any faster than he needs to be to tell good stories. Right now, twice the speed of sound is FAST ENOUGH.

Here is the second:

It is THIS particular feat which causes most Flash fans to wet their pants about how fast the Flash is. A nuclear weapon is detonated in a city. The Flash empties the city, two people at a time, moving at presumably trillions of times the speed of light.

These crazed fans figure he did this feat once, he should be able to do it ALL the time. Because he’s the Flash, and that’s what we’re paying for.

As a writer, I reject this premise completely. Let’s look at the character from a successful narrative point of view:

  • If the Flash were operating at this level all the time, wouldn’t that make him an incredibly dull character as he zips through town solving problems so fast no one ever saw them.
  • More important he would be completely crazy since for him, the world is motionless unless he slows down enough to let things happen in the first place.
  • Such a story has taken place. In the Kingdom Come universe, the Flash never stops moving, EVER. A silent blur fighting crime in Central City but never stopping, never resting, completely alone, likely insane as well. (See below.)

Here is the most important thing to remember, the Flash can only resolve issues he can see. He does not have supervision, super-senses or other forms of super-awareness, thus he can only interact with the world at the speed of light. So he solves issues IF he can see them, sense them or have the information relayed to him so that he could take action in the first place.

Yes, we have been told this on more than one occasion when a good writer takes over the book. The Flash when moving at light speed has difficulties perceiving the world around him. It is not clear HOW he senses the world (no writer wants the responsibility for being blamed for answering this question) but some stories handle it better than others.

Even as fast as the Flash is in this scene, circling the world in under a second, the villain still manages to get away since the Flash has to be able to react AFTER slowing down. In his slower state, Inertia simply had the jump on him and escapes.

Thus the earlier mentioned nuclear event in Korea required him to run through the city and FIND every single person. People in hospitals, people in showers, people walking from work, people in any number of inconvenient situations. But he would have to scour every building everywhere physically. Most likely he is using his intangibility to move through the city until he has to grab someone and then racing them to the edge of the city.

  • Yes, under duress, under specific circumstances in the comics, the Flash does move fast, really fast, so fast he violates the laws of physics and moves at the speed of light or faster.
  • He is protected (and so are we) from the effects of such relativistic movement in atmosphere. He would be igniting the atmosphere and ripping the crust of the planet apart as he gained mass with ever step. I’m just saying.
  • Despite most of the senior Flashes (Jay Garrick, Barry Allen or Wally West) in the comics do NOT operate at light speed (and the attendant reaction time) if they can help it. Why? Because moving that fast comes with a bump in their reaction time which slows down the appearance of the world around him.

This means when Barry is moving faster, the world is moving slower. But from his perspective, he is still thinking faster than everything around him, except for other people with enhanced reflexes and/or enhanced movement. This makes his subjective interaction with the world take longer, where for him, mentally days could pass in seconds in this subjectively enhanced state.

The comic series never deals with this psychological issue because it would be inconvenient to explain and most of the time when the Flash is moving that fast, he is also interacting with other people at that speed so he is distracted from what would be long periods of mental stress from being alone for a long time.

That’s an issue for another time.

Let’s talk about the Elephant in the room: How can anyone interact with a character who can move and think at superhuman speed?

Most of the writing related to the Flash simply doesn’t consider his powers the way most fans think his powers work. Part of this is bad writing, part of this is the poorly-managed expectations of the readers. The Flash needs to be thought about the same way you might think of any other physical object needing to achieve high speed.

  • Stop assuming any Flash functions at superspeed all the time. Their minds ramp up as their speed ramps up. Their abilities are like any other athlete, they need room and time to reach maximum speed. It may be only a femtosecond, but it is still a delay no matter how small.
  • As the earlier example indicates, the Flash doesn’t need much time to reach top speed but there is a brief delay depending on what he’s doing. Moving in a straight line works best for him to achieve relativistic speeds.
  • If you assume comic Barry exists, when he was functioning at superspeed,  in a world of NO MOTION (because at high speeds, that is exactly what the world looks like to him, almost completely still) it would be impossible for him to have a relationship to the real world that would not drive him insane.
  • Instead, let’s consider him just a normal man doing normal things until he starts needing his speed. Even his speed reflexes have been shown to have to ramp up and depending on the threat, they can ramp up quickly (like when someone pressed a gun to his head and fired).
  • From a psychological point of view, the Flash is depicted as a regular guy whose powers come online in proportion to the speed he is using to solve a problem.
  • When he is moving at lightspeed (which takes a considerable amount of time, energy and effort) at least when most good writers write him, he is otherwise just reflexively using his power in proportion to the speed he is going. The assumption everyone makes is he can go from zero to lightspeed in NO distance. Most writers DON’T depict this.
  • Most of the time he needs to ramp up, get some distance and THEN go full out, amplifying both his reflexes, his cognitive ability and his intangibility because he can’t navigate at light speed, it’s mostly just straight lines.
  • Since many writers don’t know much about physics, light, the ramifications of superspeed, they just write whatever comes into their heads. The good ones intuit what I just described (Carmine Infantimo was great for describing how Barry thought and interacted at high speeds) but many writers failed to do this.
  • New depictions of the Flash show him thinking ahead, watching the results of actions in his mental prediction engine and then using the least amount of effort, resolving issues at super-speed, invisibly.
  • In confrontations with beings who have enhanced reflexes and hand to hand speed but NO running speed, conflicts between the two of them will occur at superspeed from the perspective of normal humans who cannot react at higher levels of reflexive movement as long as they remain in hand to hand range. Thus Deathstroke and the Flash are mixing it up at superspeed and it behooves Deathstroke to reduce the Flash’s speed and distract the Flash in order to bring his speed DOWN.

Read: Why isn’t the Flash Unstoppable – How the Flash’s Rogue’s Gallery keeps the Scarlet Speedster on his toes.

  • This technique is how ALL of the Flash’s rogues keep the Flash off-balance by keeping his speed low and his reaction time closer to being Human. Under these conditions, the Flash is fast, his reflexes are fast, but they are faster as he gets the opportunity to BE faster or fight faster.
  • If you assume Deathstroke has the same kind of mental speed aspects as the Flash does, when the Flash is approaching him in tight corners in close spaces, he isn’t running at light speed. He’s running at his cruising speed of about two hundred miles an hour. More than fast enough to appear invisible to most people who can’t do what he does, but well within Slade’s enhanced reflexes and prediction rates.
  • Slade doesn’t just match Barry’s speeds, he calculates where he’s going to be, Barry doesn’t see a still Slade, he sees a Slade moving as fast as he is and may take his eye off the enemy due to distractions on the battlefield.
  • This makes interactions with normal Humans completely reasonable as he would be driven mad if he had to suppress his mental abilities in order to eat dinner with his family or take a shower.
  • He doesn’t suppress his power, it simply isn’t active. He is just a normal guy until he charges himself with the speedforce and ACTS. Dinner is just dinner until a need for speed is required. This makes him able to be tricked, distracted, mislead and even hit, if his opponent can get the drop on him before his speed is amplified and he starts fighting at higher speeds.

Truth be told, given the feats performed by the Flash over the decades, it is bizarre how often the comic works given the incredible powers the Flash possesses. But those same feats, written by different writers means the character’s powers are always different, sometimes contradictory.

Ultimately, this is just my two bits. I don’t get paid by DC to clean up their sloppy writing.

 

With all the cosmic events that are happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, why are stories like Daredevil’s even significant?

My @Quora answer to With all the cosmic events that are happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, why are stories …

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

#ALL_LIVES_MATTER

Daredevil's stories matter for the same reasons your story matters. President Obama gets more press in a day than most of us will get in a lifetime. Does that mean our lives matter less, to us?

Comic companies are always forced to ask the question: If I have cosmic stories with beings who are like gods, can alter the very fabric of reality, shape matter and energy at will, why should a guy who beats up muggers get the same kind of treatment in the comics?

Because to the guy struggling to pay his bills who experiences a mugging one day and loses a month's pay, that is a world-shaking event. His life is rocked. Screw the cosmos, how will I feed my family, pay my rent, get to work without money? This man needs a hero, too. Someone who relates to life at his scale.

You see, Peter Parker relates to the common man. The average fellow on the street may not know WHO Spider-Man is but he knows he cares. He's relatable. Spider-Man stops to save construction workers from the sides of buildings. Helps women getting mugged in alleys. Protects the common citizen from the most extraordinary of problems, in a way people can relate to.

https://youtu.be/02S6ucfp1sU
When people meet Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Superman, these guys are awesome. Full of awe. Far removed from the common man's experience. They are like gods. You don't relate to gods. You tend to worship them. Their story is one of aspiration, you aspire to be like them but you recognize they are distinct from you, the same way you are distinct from your pets.

The common man is looking for something a bit more down to Earth. Daredevil is his hero. Batman is his hero. Spider-Man is his hero. These guys may play in the Big Leagues, but remember the little guy in all of this. They work first hand with the people, not as a concept, but as a concrete reality.

Yes, they can be scary too. That is part of their mystique. But ask the people whose lives they change with their "small" acts of heroic bravery and they will all tell you about their encounter with one of those "little" heroes.

It's not the scale of the hero, its not the cut of his jib, its not the flash of his cape. It's the moment when he helps someone figure out what matters in their lives. A moment of self discovery. A moment of transformation. A moment of something bigger than they are.

It's a problem heroes have been contending with for a long time. And one not easy to shake. Ask Green Lantern:

It's the story that matters, the same way the ancient tales of Hercules and Odysseus matter. Hercules was a hero whose strength was legendary and though his tales told often of his strength, he was known for his challenges, his drunken rages, his inability to forgive, his moral failings were ultimately his undoing.

Odysseus lacking the brawn of the former was forced to be clever, to learn from his opponents, to out-think his foes. Stories are for the people reading them, seeking to find new ways of thinking, new ways of being. Sometimes we fight against the world from the position of Hercules, confident in our power and ability to protect ourselves.

And sometimes we have to fight like Odysseus using our wits, planning ahead, thinking tactically when our enemies are simply more powerful than we can overcome.

Stories both great and small, of heroes whose power rivals stars and mere men whose feet are made of clay both can teach us how to be. They can help us, define us.

#ALL_STORIES_MATTER

With all the cosmic events that are happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, why are stories like Daredevil's even significant?

Is Thanos able to lift Mjolnir without the Infinity Gauntlet? And with it?

My @Quora answer to Is Thanos able to lift Mjolnir without the Infinity Gauntlet? And with it?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

Thanos is awesome; he's just not Mjolnir-lifting awesome. He's in good company…

Thanos, often called the Mad Titan (rarely to his face, by the way) is a being of incredible capability and prowess. A master of alien technologies from hundreds of worlds, his natural gifts make him a force to be reckoned with in close combat or at range. His prodigious intellect means he is rarely out of his depth even when dealing with the Marvel Universe's most intelligent or inscrutable beings such as the cosmic entities. Despite his enhancements both cybernetic and technological, nothing in his arsenal will lend itself to lifting or breaking the enchantments upon Mjolnir as laid by Odin.

But I bet you're asking: Who is Thanos? For the answer to that question, we need to talk about his family…

Enter: The Eternals

Thanos was a member of a humanoid species called the Eternals. The Eternals were part of a project created by the Celestials designed to bring forth metahuman potential (for a still unknown reason) among Humans and thousands of other species across the galaxy.

The Celestials manipulated the DNA of Humanity to create three separate subspecies. Deviants, Humans and the Eternals. The Eternals were one subset of the Human species altered by the Celestials for their experimentation.

What were the Celestials looking for? They never say. They never admit to why they performed the experimentation that links the human genome and the possibility for mutant capability. We do learn in the seminal Thor #300 if your species doesn't meet their rigorous standards, they will erase their failed experiment from existence. 

The two other subgroups of Humanity were: the Deviants and the Eternals.

  • The Deviants, an evolutionary offshoot of humanity, were their first experiments and are genetically unstable.
  • Their forms varied wildly and it was said that no two Deviants looked alike (which always made me curious how they reproduced…perhaps technology was involved.)
  • They boasted a wide array of superhuman levels of ability, some of their members were easily as powerful and capable as the Eternals, just with more skin, teeth and back hair problems.

Their next experiments, the much better looking Eternals, were more successful in certain respects:

  • The Eternals are capable of absorbing cosmic energy within their cells and releasing it in various ways. At a rest state, all Eternals can lift ten tons without effort.
  • Their bodies are far stronger, faster, more resilient, and heal faster than a human's even without the use of their cosmic energy. Their senses are sharper and more acute than a Human's and their mental capacity is in far excess of the average Human.
  • In addition to their natural resilience, all Eternals may channel cosmic energy for superhuman feats. Each Eternal may have different levels of capability depending on their personal training and preferences.
  • These feats include super-speed, flight, increasing invulnerability, strength enhancement, energy projection at range, mental powers and matter manipulation.
  • The most sophisticated and well trained with these powers may use all of them with equal facility. Being such as Mentor and Zuras, have few equals among the Eternals.
  • While the range of abilities for each Eternal varies widely, they have proven themselves to be a match for most modern metahumans on the Marvel Earth, with speed and strengths as great as Thor, Iron Man and for brief periods, the Hulk. Their technology far outpaces the most advanced on Earth.
  • The versatility of their powers has even secured one or two of them honorary roles among Earth's mightiest heroes, the Avengers. See Avengers: Sersi and Starfox.

  • Primitive Humans were unable to tell the difference between these godlike Eternals and the actual "gods" of the Marvel Universe, often confusing them because of their physical similarities.
  • An unknown schism would eventually split the Eternals into two groups, one led by Zuras and the Other by Mentor.
  • Mentor's group left Earth but were intercepted by the alien Kree and shot down their ship over the moon of Titan.
  • The survivors using their cosmic powers would create a new paradise there and remained hidden.

Titan, homeworld of the Eternals was just once a barren land mass. It is the biggest moon of Saturn. The Eternals first arrived when they had a conflict with the Kree armada. The Kree shot down the Eternals ship, forcing them to crash into Titan. From there on, the surviving Eternals formed a colony underground, then they employed artificial life systems. From then on, the Eternals made Titan a place of knowledge and meditation.

The Mad Titan, Thanos

Of all of the Titanian Eternals, none save Mentor are the equal of the most powerful of them, often called The Mad Titan, Thanos.

  • Thanos is a mutant among the Eternals, born with Deviant Syndrome increasing his physical abilities and his mental instability.
  • Thanos has always had a lust for power and has expanded his abilities far beyond his brethren. His physical strength is unmatched by the Eternals.
  • He can lift one hundred tons or more. He has stood toe to toe with Thor, Iron Man and the Thing simultaneously and easily held his own. This is without using any form of augmentation or manipulation of cosmic energy.
  • He is also believed to have been further enhanced using alien cybernetic technology giving him even greater physical durability and resistance. He has taken blows from Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, and was unfazed.
  • While Thanos rarely uses his energy projection abilities, they are quite formidable. He is able to project energy from his eyes and sheath his hands in an energy field capable of destroying any matter it touches.

Thanos isn't just a jock. Despite his incredible physical capabilities, Thanos' greatest asset is his unmatched intellect.

  • He has scoured the galaxy learning whatever he could from whomever would teach him.
  • He is a master of alien technologies which has allowed him to battle against the Universe's mightiest beings such as the Stranger, the Elders of the Universe and even Galactus.
  • His genius-level intellect has even tapped into mystical powers allowing him to commune with forces such as Eternity and to woo the Conceptual Entity known as Death.
  • Thanos plays the long game. He can manipulate and study multiple enemies simultaneously pitting them against each other usually to his benefit.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe

While the Thanos of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will have different abilities than his comic counterpart he will surely be as competent and as dangerous. His taste in gauntlets is certainly the same.

But could he lift Mjolnir?

As to whether he could move Mjolnir with the Infinity Gauntlet? That is an unqualified yes.

  • With the gauntlet he has the ability alter reality at the fundamental level. Using the completed Infinity Gauntlet he is able to do nearly anything he can conceive of.
  • When Thanos acquired the Gauntlet in the comic universe, for one of the few times all of the Universe's greatest cosmic powers, not known for getting along, gathered together in agreement. Thanos could not be allowed to maintain ownership of the Gauntlet. These were beings who power eclipsed even the powerful Odin Borson.
  • Odin's enchantment is nothing more than a stain on the hammer that the Infinity Gauntlet would allow Thanos to remove it at will.

At the point he would be able to lift Mjolnir, he would no longer have a need or a desire to do so.

Is Thanos able to lift Mjolnir without the Infinity Gauntlet? And with it?

Secret Wars – Big Pimpin’ Marvel Style

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Welcome to Prequelandia: Where nothing really changes, so nothing really matters!

It has taken Marvel quite some time to get around to it. We’ve all wondered and waited for Marvel to take the leap. If you’re a reader of DC Comics you know what I’m talking about. Rebooting the Universe.

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Marvel has teased with it in the past. Age of Apocalypse,  House of M or the recent Brand New Day were stories which looked like they restarted the Marvel Universe by changing some element in the past by using time travel, chaos magic or some other uber-powerful magic or technology.

And each time the event was over, Marvel turned its primary universe, dubbed Earth-616 back to its normal self, warts and all. The offending universe was splintered off (if it was good and well received) and was given a Universal designation. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a designation of Earth-199999, for example. If a universe was not well-received or the event was short-lived, it might be erased from continuity completely. Strangely enough, unlike DC, Marvel embraced its shadow universes, giving designations to hundreds of them.

But they never appeared to seriously embrace the idea of rebooting/erasing Earth-616, the core canon Marvel Universe.

Now, Marvel has taken a page from the DC Handbook on “How to Restructure Your Universe in 3 Easy Reboots.”

The Marvel 616 Continuity is being erased.

Death of Earth-616

Goodbye history, goodbye relationships we have grown to know and love.

Goodbye ideas created by greater writers than the current crop of hacks could ever be. Will there be a chance for those minority heroes who were just starting to take off? Probably not. Who knows, they may reappear when the event is over but no less than 33 books are being shut down for the duration of SECRET WARS II.

But not to fear because Marvel, like DC has too much invested in the characters, but nothing in the readers. Comicbook.com has the entire list of books that are going to “end” for the duration of Secret Wars.

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What does this mean for the readers? We will get: New costumes, loads of new costumes for fanboys to scream and cry over, gnash their teeth at women getting pants, breast reductions and sensible shoes.  Creating new relationships between ideas which might have occurred 10-50 years apart, now they will be fused together in hellish symbiosis which will make absolutely no sense to anyone except the crazed hyper-caffeinated writer and editor who dreamed it up.

Exhibit number one: The daughter of Cyclops and Emma Frost: Ruby Summers

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Characters will be rebooted and will now have entirely new histories which will be aborning again, like a movie reboot where you have seen the origin half a dozen times but now this time we’ll get it right.

Dikto’s classic Spider-Man will be replaced with some super-amazing well-drawn, mega-realistic, soul-less cardboard cut-out. He may be black, he may be white, but we will return to the beginning of his career (or maybe not) it’s all so Secret (Wars). Or perhaps we will have the dimension-crossing Spider-Gwen or the enigmatic Silk to create Spider-Man and his Amazing Spider-Friends!

Asgardians, gods or aliens (or both)? Mutants, 200 or 2 million? Magneto, Omega or not-Omega, Nick Fury, white or Black? Will it be SHIELD or HYDRA or AIM or maybe a fusion of all three: SHYAME?

What about Hercules? Poor bastard always played second fiddle to Thor, then he was erased and replaced with a Chinese young man named Cho whose super-power was hyper-calculation. What a low blow…

Eternals, Deviants, Mutants, Inhumans, Galactus, Watchers, Soul Gems – So many amazing threads over the decades are in the hands of a group of people who have not proven adult enough to handle even one of these themes well…(Franklin Richard’s makes Galactus HIS herald? Need I say more?)

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Celestials turned over in their stasis chambers and Eternity closed the comic shaking his/her/its damn head.

How fitting this reboot should be based around the product that made Marvel the most money, started the horror of extended comic events and created the most loathed character in comics, The Beyonder. Okay, maybe he wasn’t the MOST loathed, but I couldn’t stand him and when he finally disappeared from the Marvel Universe, I gave a hearty cheer. I wonder, does this mean he’s back too? Ugh.

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I can foresee nothing good coming from this event because like DC’s New52 Marvel will not address any of the underlying problems in its universe. There will still be too many white guys, white aliens and white metahumans who will lord their powers over the Marvel Universe reminding minorities of their place. There will be too few women in positions of interest and authority waiting to be rescued from refrigerators.

This is purely a money grab. Since new readers don’t care about continuity, this means Marvel can reboot, restart and throw out stuff that might not make any sense to them any more and cater to an audience who knows nothing, has no history and can maybe try to bring order to its chaotic universe.

Hey Marvel, ask DC how that’s worked for them so far…

Intervention Time: Marvel, you make decent movies. This wasn’t always true, but since you founded the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I blame that on Joss Whedon. Your comic line, which you have admitted is nothing more than a gateway drug to your movie industry has suffered lately. You are not impressing me with going back to the Secret Wars to correct the problem.

You remind me of an old pimp wearing the suits he used to wear in his heyday, thirty years ago, strutting through the neighborhood where he used to be King and having people shaking their head wondering who this crazy person is, shouting “They better have my money.”

Yeah. It’s just like that.

I’m like Thor, I’m outta here.

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Why do Japanese have blue eyes and blond hair in anime?

A Question from

Quora Logo

Answered by Martin Schneider:

Keep in mind that anime follows a complex visual language, where seemingly innocuous elements carry deeper meaning. And hair color is among the first and foremost, especially when dealing with female characters.

Meaning that in most cases, the color of an anime character’s hair does not reflect some natural hair color or a racial stereotype – instead, it is supposed to be a hint towards their personality and their role in the plot.

I guess it’s high time for yet another crash course in anime hair color symbolism… take a seat.


Yellow hair:

The most widespread meaning is simply “someone special”. This holds especially true for shoujo (for girls) manga/anime titles, where you can pretty safely bet that the most important female lead will be blonde. Occasionally, it can also signify “the rude/inconsiderate foreigner”, for example a non-Japanese character with an abrasive or rude personality – but that’s more of an exception than the rule.

Blue hair:

…typically signifies a quiet, softspoken, intellectual, sometimes even introverted character – albeit often one with a surprisingly strong will. In addition, such characters tend to get portrayed as refined, tradition-oriented and feminine, quite often even as examples of the Yamato Nadeshiko ideal.

Red hair:

…strongly suggests a tomboyish, inconsiderate, loud, often headstrong, “leader” archetype. This character will often charge ahead and/or speak her mind without holding back. In the extreme case, this behavior will go all the way to the point of acting rash or even stupid. Also tend to have voracious appetites.
Note: agressive shades of orange pretty much fall into the same category.

(Bright) Green hair:

Mostly extinct these days – but bright green hair is most often the sign of the “genki girl”, another comedy-oriented character archetype. Such a character is chipper, upbeat, active, sports-minded and energetic. However, unlike a redhead, this character is more feminine and less prone to blindly rushing ahead – and usually displays normal or above-average levels of intelligence.
Note: darker shades of green typically carry similar connotations as “blue”.

Purple hair:

Also near-extinct – at least when it comes to intense shades of purple. What is still somewhat common, however, is characters with lighter/paler shades of purple. These almost always come with long, flowing hair and typically signify some sort of detached, noble, cultured, dainty, often even mysterious, “fantasy princess” archetype.

Pink hair:

Ah yes, pink. The one color that has undergone the strongest shift since the beginning of my anime career. Originally, this color was rare, and reserved for a select few childlike characters. But then… the moe phenomenon happened. And made this color the industry standard for dozens of “cutesy-moe-female-leads”. Today pink hair is pretty much everywhere… yet some of the attributes have carried over. Even today, pink characters still tend to be not very bright, somewhat innocent, naive – and often idealistic to the point of being silly.

Brown hair:

Brown stands for “warm+friendly normal” and is the most common “day-to-day-life side character” haircolor. Similar to black, the underlying message is not very strong – still, brown is most popular for longtime childhood friends, or all sorts of “safe/reliable” love-interests. Characters with this hair color tend to play some role in the plot, and be close friends of the leads, but they still represent normality and following social expectations… sometimes to the point of being boring.

Black hair:

Being the most widespread Japanese hair color, this does not nearly carry a meaning as strongly predefined as most others – in fact, it can simply mean “the everybody”. However, in cases when the character has long, flowing black hair, it can be intended as a shorthand for “noble lady / Japanese princess / idol of the whole school” characters. In that respect, it sometimes once again overlaps with the Yamato Nadeshiko notion.


Surprised that you didn’t find “white” in the list, yet? Well, that is because luminance/brightness is typically on an orthogonal scale to the various colors above…

Simply put, the brightness of a character’s hair communicates how down-to-earth<–>otherworldly a character is. The darker a color, the more that character lives in the here and now – and the brighter, the more esoteric, distant, magical and surreal he/she is…

With the extreme version of that trope, signifying “utter otherworldliness”, being plain white:


Disclaimer: The archetypes listed here describe the stereotypical expectations that characters of a certain hair color will incite in an experienced audience of anime viewers. But guess what, sometimes the industry dares to *gasp* subvert expectations. In other words, these are strong, recurring patterns – but not hard-and-fast, immutable rules.


TL;DR:
Hair color in anime carries an intended meaning – and that meaning will typically easily override any sort of “normal” coloring that you would expect in terms of “realism”. As such, in most cases, it is futile to try to interpret any anime hair color as being a representative of some real-world race/hair color.

Why do Japanese have blue eyes and blond hair in anime?

Why are people in the Marvel Universe more upset about mutants than any other metahumans there?

On the Scifi.stackexchange someone posits a question after watching this video of the Honest Trailers series on the X-Men trilogy. His question reads:

“As CinemaSins snarkily wisely noted in “Honest Trailers – X-Men Trilogy“:

In the world where people cheer the Fantastic Four, Avengers, Spider-Man, those same people will inexplicably hate the X-Men.

Why is that so? As far as I know, all these superheroes exist in the same exact comic universe, yet X-Men seem to always be significantly more disliked.”

While the most popular answer from the Stack article answers the question from the rarefied air of intellectualism, saying

“It’s the tyranny of evolution. Sooner or later, you have a species that will have a genetic or technological advantage and that species will always conquer a species without that advantage. Carthage, the triumph of the Homo sapiens over the Neanderthal showed us that. Now what do we have? We have Homo superior versus Homo sapiens. On a level playing field, Homo superior wins every time.

That is a quote by the character Wade in season 4 of Babylon 5, explaining why he believed all telepaths in that universe needed to be either murdered or enslaved for use by “normals” (homo sapiens). The same guidelines clearly apply in the Marvel Universe.”

I posted a link so you can read the entire article at your leisure.

However, I disagreed strongly with this answer.

It is unlikely my answer will gain any traction because his is a rather easy to understand perspective but I posted my own answer by trying to look at the problem differently.

Rather than approaching it from a purely intellectual perspective, I tried to see the problem from the perspective of a person living in the Marvel Universe rather than from the viewpoint of a person looking at the Marvel Universe from the outside.

Why Fear the Mutant?

There are factors which play into the fear of mutants more than most metahumans from the perspective from a person living in the Marvel Universe.

Uncertainty

A person living in the Marvel Universe has a life very different from yours and mine. His world is an uncertain one.

  • One day Mr. Average is on his way to work and there is suddenly an invasion of Kree warriors bent on battling the Avengers right on the freeway he’s driving over. The battle ties up traffic for hours, costing him money and prestige at his job. Hundreds of people are injured in the collateral damage of buildings and cars being destroyed. (See: Kree-Skrull War)
  • A month later, after they managed to repair the bridge, the Mole man ventures up from his subterranean lair and battles the Fantastic Four. Mr. Average’s car is destroyed as one of the Mole Man’s monsters trudges through the city before being put down by Ben Grimm. Hundreds of people are injured or even killed. (See: Fantastic Four #1, 1962)
  • Three months after that Mr. Average, riding the bus to work now, finds his bus under attack as a powerful and hidden mutant is riding the bus with him, in disguise. Mr. Average escapes with a few burns and a deep abiding fear of giant robots which randomly attack buses full of normal people to reach “dangerous” mutants. (See: Master Mold, X-men #16, 1962)

Mass Hysteria

  • Every day after each attack news pundits like J. Jonah Jameson espouse about the dangers of mutants, Spider-Man and superheroes in general. But mutants catch special flack because they could be anyone. You. Your neighbors, the person on the bus next to you could be a mutant.
  • Look how powerful hysteria is on our modern Earth when the random threat of terrorism is used to manipulate how people feel about other HUMANS. We created the Patriot Act, we dropped bombs on foreign countries for the FEAR of terrorism. The single act of the destruction of the World Trade Center over a decade ago STILL has people in the grip of fear.
  • Now imagine you had events like this happening every year, some of them, not all of them are due to the mysterious mutants living among us, with fantastic powers capable of wiping out all of humanity with the blink of an eye, (so the news media sells it, no matter that it in the case of certain mutants is actually TRUE).

A Legitimate Fear of Incredible Power

As an individual without fantastic powers and a need to go to work, protect your family, pay your taxes, be a decent individual and maintain a role in society, the very fact that you may feel insignificant compared to the mutant superbeing carrying away the stadium you were hoping to watch tonight’s baseball game in undermines your self esteem, hell, your very sanity as you see the impossible being done before your very eyes.

  • Imagine Mr. Average learns the person carrying away your stadium is a mutant, a being who was born this way and whose probably manifested as a teenager. He has a twelve year old daughter and a ten year old son. Could this happen to him? Is it possible that his children could have this mutant gene you hear so much misinformation about?
  • What about that town that was blown off the map out there when those Young Warriors fought that criminal Nitro? Everyone was killed. Could that happen here? Should mutants and superbeings be registered? (See: Civil War)
  • Maybe Strucker has the right idea. Maybe the best thing that could happen is we kill all the mutants before they take over the world. (Not knowing that it has already happened more than once and been reversed; See: House of M). Being an ordinary human in this world would be a terrifying experience akin to living in a warzone where you had no options but to run and hide whenever anything happened.

We Have Seen the Enemy…

Why do mutants have it worse than the rest of the metahuman community?

  • Most of the metahuman community makes an effort to be seen as being on the same side as normal humans. At least some of them have been revealed to be normal humans (Tony Stark, Hawkeye, Black Widow) resemble normal humans (Thor) or were once normal humans (the Hulk).
  • But mutants were born this way, their appearances vary wildly, along with their powers, many in learning to control their powers, harm innocents and even if they become “good” mutants have blood on their hands. When they are evil mutants, they seem to relish their powers and kill without reservation. There are reports (however unreliable) that more mutants are being born every day.

What is a normal man to do in a world where the uncertainty of his very existence depends on a very thin line of metahumans to protect him from the ever-growing menace of mutant power on an Earth in an ever-expanding hostile universe of threats? Aliens, gods, intelligent machines are terrifying but they are the Other.

Mutants? They are us. And they are everywhere. 

What are the shiny circles on Thor’s costume?

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Asgardian Fashion 101

Writing for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange, I came across a question about the Mighty Thor that has piqued my interest only in that I had never seriously considered the classic Thor costume and its design. What are those circles on his costume supposed to be? <empty stares; looks of confusion>

I left the question alone for a few days while other writers on the site tackled the problem. My writing calendar was full and I was sure some of the site’s capable admins and moderators would find some worldly wisdom that I, even with all of my superhero history, did not have an instant answer for.

You know what they came up with? Nothing. Fan rumors. Suspicions. European Defense Initiative Bio-Mechanical Suit, from Earth 1610’s Ultimate Thor.

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I was compelled to intervene. Here I was a Thor aficionado and I didn’t know the answer but I knew the European Defense Initiative Bio-Mechanical Suit wasn’t it.

Here is what I discovered. <cue fanfare> Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Bupkiss.

My Official Answer

“There is little in the way of historical references in Marvel canon for the circles on Thor’s chest tunic. He has had this costume since his first appearance in Journey into Mystery #83 (1952).

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If you know anything about me, you know that wasn’t going to be enough. I did a cursory scan of the Journey into Mystery series and the early Thor comics with no results. Then I knew I would have to go meta.

What follows is my research and speculation about those circles. If you know something more concrete, please share it with me through the comments below.

Can history be our guide?

With that said, we can look perhaps into history and see if we can determine what the artist Jack Kirby was hoping to show in this costume design. If we can assume this design was inspired by Thor being an ancient god of war, then perhaps it would be considered a stylized armor design. Since Thor is a superhuman being, he might have little use for armor in his day to day life, but might want to remind his enemies of his valor with a costume that resembled an armor he may have worn at one time. It was a good idea but nothing in my historical rummaging in Journey into Mystery or early issues of Thor, showed this.

Case in point: Here is a picture from Tales of Asgard, Journey into Mystery 101. In it young Thor is seen wearing his costume as we knew it from the classic Kirby era. Since he is wearing it into battle, it is safe to assume it must double as armor for the young godling. Everyone else is festooned in armor that looks like armor, though they resemble classic Earth Vikings wearing platemail instead of chainmail.

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Tales of Asgard, Journey into Mystery 101

If his costume is indeed supposed to be armor, then perhaps what we should look for is an example of an armor with similar properties. Having a bit of history under my belt I remembered an armor accessory I thought might be a match. It was called the Lauersfort Phaelara.

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A closeup of the Lauersfort Phalera, Burg Linn Museum Center, Krefeld, Germany

One of the first and earliest potential armor designs which bears more than a passing resemblance would be the 120 AD, Legionary Roman armor. The phalerae medallions, the large shiny metal disks share a similar placement (though not exact) on the Roman armor. The disk were usually covered with the faces of prominent leaders or mythical beasts denoting bravery or skill in battle. Legion armies also carried them on their banners as group awards for the regiment.

Roman Legionary

From the Augustan period, both infantrymen and cavalry men received the same award when an opponent was killed and his equipment seized: a series of nine phalerae which gravestone reliefs show were worn on leather straps on the upper torso. Once again, these decorations were intended for soldiers up to the rank of centurions. –Armed Batavarians: Use and Significance of Weaponry and Horse Gear, by Johan Nicolay; Amsterdam University Press.

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Turkish, Antique char-aina, (chainmail with mirror plates), Russian Zertsalo (Ottoman inspired)

The phalerae medallions were not unique to the Romans. The Celts wore similar devices for religious reasons and similarities could be found in ancient Mongolian, Chinese, Russian, Ottoman and Japanese armors, often designated mirror armors for their shiny appearance.

Art Imitates Life

Thor has had many different costume designs, many actually resembling armor rather than the cloth or leather of his early designs. These later designs were more inclined to use actual armor plates to depict the circles in his early costume designs, strengthening the appearance to phalerae medallions, even including ornate designs in some of them. I suspect this was a design issue that came about when later versions of Thor’s costume were reimagined by new artists.

I am willing to be one of those artists knew what phalerae were and decided to incorporate that design element into the armor. We don’t know that Kirby wasn’t influenced by phalerae but some of these on the newer armors are too similar to miss.

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Conclusion

While we have no definitive proof the circles on Thor’s early costume were indeed a representation of phalerae medallions, it is at least historically possible the original design may have been inspired by early armors from the Roman, Ottoman and Persian armor designs which incorporated similar elements.

Note: While Vikings did wear armor into battle, it has not been shown to be an integral part of the armor designs to wear phaelara into battle. Most vikings wore leather furs, cuirboilli (boiled hardened leather) or chainmail tunics with shields into battle.

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A fairly realistic depiction of Viking armor and weapons circa the 5th century AD.

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Asgardians, warlike yet fashionable.