Re: Recreating my superheroes origin backstory

#1
So here is the scoop, I am totally redoing my characters backstories and well I want to solve a problem I have.
You see, I originally had my characters as police officers, a simple approach but one that would account for why they would become superheroes later on.
I was originally inspired by my love for Robocop and wanted to do my own take on the concept.
Unfortunately, the George Floyd incident occurred, raising newfound awareness of police misconduct and corruption.
Let's face facts, It's now practically impossible to depict police officers in a positive light now.
And I am making something with a younger audience in mind here, as I want my characters to be something for young people to inspire to.
Thing is this does uproot my characters a lot and other professions may not fit the bill as much as here are my other options:

Firefighters: Yes, I can make them firefighters, but I want to have my characters to have combat prowess and show them fighting against the villains before they become superheroes in some form of fashion.

Martial artists: A good option, but I don't want this to be another martial arts based series, as we have a bazillion of those. Yes, my characters do have some martial arts training, but no power rangers stuff please.

Secret agents: Another good option, but I already have plans for a secret agent type of character in the series, and them being secret agents may make them have foreknowledge of her too easily.

Anti-terrorist group: a great option, but my first villain is less Osama bin Laden and more John Brown, and I have a redemption arc planned for him.

Some kind of military organization: Again, another good option, but I don't want my heroes to get their powers by some "secret government project". Once more we have like a billion things like this, plus I want the guy who gave my heroes their powers to have a mistrust of the military as they can use his device to make an unstoppable army.

Security guards: eh may work, but one of my characters became a member of law enforcement because of the legacy of his father. So if his father was Paul Blart Mall cop, that is not a good legacy to live up to.

I am pretty much tearing my hair out on this, any change would have its severe drawbacks on my narrative of family legacies and such.
I want my hero to be proud of his father and follow in his footsteps.
Yes I can make him a doctor or rescue worker, but again they don't fight super villains.
I really want to make my characters as believable as possible yet still have some motivation why they become superheroes, you really can't do the narrative I have planned with an office worker or a fast food worker and while I could make them into a medieval knight or something that also makes severe changes to my series...

Yes I can make them into everyday heroes, but I am kind of going for an in general superhero vibe here.

But if you guys have some ideas for me, I am open to them.

Re: Recreating my superheroes origin backstory

#2
Yes, you can depict the police in a positive manner. Yes, the world has become more aware of police brutality and there are definitely bad cops, but even more cops are still good people doing their job. Depict the situation in a nuanced manner that isn't black and white because that's the reality of the situation. And given the kind of story you're writing, you'll have to address the issue sooner or later. Cops will appear in a superhero story since superheroes fight crime.

But if you really don't want the hero to be a cop, you could make him a detective whose agency is a family business for generations.

Re: Recreating my superheroes origin backstory

#3
I don't think you need to worry about redoing your entire character backstory because of current events and how people might think about your character with the chaos irl. As YAK said, there are good cops and bad cops, and I think that as long as you make your heroes likeable, readers won't care too much of their cop identity. Heck, you can even insert a part where the people think cops are bad, and because your hero was a cop, they think the hero is bad! We always connect our fictional worlds with real life, whether as readers or writers, but sometimes you don't need to worry too much and just write as you have. If someone dislikes your story because of the cop backstory and they think cops shouldn't be written in a positive light, then so be it!

Now, if you still want to change the backstory to something different, I think firefighters are the closest to cops in terms of what they do and their abilities. Firefighters go through a lot of training, and due to their job being mostly saving people from dangerous situations (yes, they do that more than fighting fires), I think it sets up nicely how your character has a sense of heroism and mission to save others even before they got their powers. In my city, people generally hold firefighters in high regard because they save people no matter of background, politics, or appearance. So yes, I'd say firefighters could be the closest pick to what you already built up.

Re: Recreating my superheroes origin backstory

#4

MadmanRB Wrote: And I am making something with a younger audience in mind here, as I want my characters to be something for young people to inspire to.
Thing is this does uproot my characters a lot and other professions may not fit the bill as much as here are my other options:


Have you considered your heroes having 'regular' jobs instead? A bank clerk, a librarian, an Amazon delivery driver? A 'run of the mill' blue collar worker that children can be inspired by. 
This way, the message you're kinda saying is anyone can be a hero. Firefighters are already considered heroes. Great if they're superhero too, but think about the jobs where the kids grow up to be stuck in when they're older. I don't want to be over generalising or stereotypical here so try and take what I'm saying in the good faith it's meant, but most kids will end up working regular jobs, possibly manual, or technical, jobs that aren't as exciting. 
So in your story, you're telling those kids that anyone can be a hero, anyone can do amazing things, and even if your job doesn't pay well or is exciting, then you can still be a hero.

I hope this makes sense. I've tried to word it without offending anyone with perceived judgements on their jobs, but I suggest their professions be average and possibly unskilled to reflect the nature of the jobs a large number of children might grow up to be in. 

Re: Recreating my superheroes origin backstory

#5
Th
EnhancedBeing Wrote:
MadmanRB Wrote: And I am making something with a younger audience in mind here, as I want my characters to be something for young people to inspire to.
Thing is this does uproot my characters a lot and other professions may not fit the bill as much as here are my other options:


Have you considered your heroes having 'regular' jobs instead? A bank clerk, a librarian, an Amazon delivery driver? A 'run of the mill' blue collar worker that children can be inspired by. 
This way, the message you're kinda saying is anyone can be a hero. Firefighters are already considered heroes. Great if they're superhero too, but think about the jobs where the kids grow up to be stuck in when they're older. I don't want to be over generalising or stereotypical here so try and take what I'm saying in the good faith it's meant, but most kids will end up working regular jobs, possibly manual, or technical, jobs that aren't as exciting. 
So in your story, you're telling those kids that anyone can be a hero, anyone can do amazing things, and even if your job doesn't pay well or is exciting, then you can still be a hero.

I hope this makes sense. I've tried to word it without offending anyone with perceived judgements on their jobs, but I suggest their professions be average and possibly unskilled to reflect the nature of the jobs a large number of children might grow up to be in.

Thing is, i want my characters to be believable in their roles as superheroes.

I wanted my characters to have some combat/weapons experience before becoming superheroes beforehand, so I don't spend 800 chapters on training sessions.
And my universe has no preestablished superheroes so no legacy character origins here, they are my worlds first superheroes.

Re: Recreating my superheroes origin backstory

#6
The world needs someone to push against whatever the current bad thing is.  Today it is all cops are bad.   70 years ago it was the jews are the cause of all our problems.  Depending on the era you live in there or study there are different things that are completely bad.  You will be all the better for choosing to go against the popular narrative and show our biases are wrong.  (though you will also get some .5 star reviews for it!)

Re: Recreating my superheroes origin backstory

#8
in your post i think you've raised a point i've thought about
what job suits a hero in our minds without a doubt
the important jobs you listed, really are top shelf
I think someone makes a job heroic by themself

i once new a cashier who had saved an old man's life
when he had a heart attack, out shopping with his wife
i once new tech guy who could use a martial art
someone tried to mug him, and he took that thief apart

anyways, i hope you find the answer that you seek
all i want to say is even heroes can look meek
if you put your heart in it, i'm sure that it won't flop
by the way i'm also a big fan of robocop!

Re: Recreating my superheroes origin backstory

#10
What about making them part of a local nightwatch group? I don't know the English word for it but, like, y'know, in some areas you'll have groups of parents and other adult volunteers show up on the streets after dark and kind of be like these people who will help teens and youth who got into trouble or just being there as a watchful eye, and people can reach out to them in a worst case scenario. Like the cops, but with no guns and no arresting people. Much scarier than the cops, because they're peoples moms, too, lol. 

It's not a job and they're not trained, but the presence of these groups can be the difference between a calm and a highly troubled neighborhood. They're people who might end up being the ones to interve in a mental health episode or be the link between a drug addict and healthcare. 

Re: Recreating my superheroes origin backstory

#11
I really don't understand. Maybe it is because I'm not from the USA. Still, I don't believe that you need to change your character because of the reason you listed. The thing is, what about all the police officers that do  save lives instead of taking them, that truly abide by the serve-and-protect code, that are honorable people, and have joined the police because they wanted to better their community. Because of some bad apples, you punish the whole profession. Let me ask you, would you call all medical doctors murderers and monsters? No? Well, the human experiments that were conducted by doctors during WW2 are one of the biggest stains on the medical profession. You see my point? 
I believe that if you want to criticize society, you don't change the MC's profession. You have him be a cop. And then you have one of the villains also be a cop. Maybe his partner. Maybe even his captain. You have a clash of ideologies. And since deep down the original message of superheroes are a reinforcement of positive traits and hope (just look at Superman!), you totally can have the good cop win over the bad one. If I were the reader of the story, this would be a much stronger message than anything. That is why we have heroes - for evil to be punished, difficulties overcome, and, against all odds, proving that there is good in humanity worth saving.  

Re: Recreating my superheroes origin backstory

#12

MadmanRB Wrote: Let's face facts, It's now practically impossible to depict police officers in a positive light now.
As someone who's outside the USA, I sense a disconnect between the depiction of the police and their image. Hell, I'd say none of us gives a damn about police being seen in a bad light. Everything here is fictitious, and what you want to show will be seen as what it is, not a 1:1 comparison with real life.


Outside of that, if you want some ideas, look up STAR, Special Operation Force and Combat Controllers for references. The last of which, you'd likely be something you'd be interested in.