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Old 28-01-07, 08:34   #1
Tyrannosaurus
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Default Lara Croft a Mary Sue?

I just took the Universal Mary Sue Test, and Lara scored 42. Here's what the results are supposed to mean:

Quote:
0-15 Points
Your character should be fine at this level.

16-21
A character can go either way at this point, so fanfiction writers should pay attention to ensure that their characters aren't getting too Sue-ish. For an RPG or original fiction character, however, you should still be within a safe level.

22-28
Some definite Sue-like tendancies here. Some polishing is most likely in order to put original fiction and RPG characters back into the balance, especially if Kirking is involved. Fanfiction characters should definitely have some work done.

29+
Fanfiction authors beware - Mary's on the loose. There's still a chance you can save this character with some TLC, though. Role-players and original fiction characters, you should also strongly consider giving your character a workover.

36+
Fanfiction authors, you might just want to start over. Role-players and original fiction authors, at this point your characters are likely to provoke eye-rolling and exclaimations of "yeah, right!" from your readers. (Well, at least from me.)


50+
Kill it dead. Or make sure you read the instructions properly (some people don't do this, which causes freakishly high scores) and take the test again.
Then I took The Original Mary Sue Litmus Test, which is a bit more generous, and Lara scored 32. Here's what the results are supposed to mean:

Quote:
0-10 points: The Anti-Sue. Your character is the very antithesis of a Mary-Sue. Why are you even taking this test?

11-20 points: The Non-Sue. Your character is a well-developed, balanced person, and is almost certainly not a Mary Sue. Congratulations!

21-35 points: Borderline-Sue. Your character is cutting it close, and you may want to work on the details a bit, but you're well on your way to having a lovely original character. Good work.

36-55 points: Mary-Sue. Your character needs some work in order to be believable. But despair not; you should still be able to salvage her with a little effort. Don't give up.

56-70 points: Über-Sue. You've got one hell of a Mary-Sue on your hands here, and it's not going to be easy to set things right. But do your best. There may be hope for you yet.

71 point or more: Irredeemable-Sue. You're going to have to start over, my friend. I know you want to keep writing, but no. Just no.
I bring this to attention as a point of concern practical honesty, not contempt. How much has Lara really evolved? To what extent can we really say that we "know" Lara? Could we, for instance, assign an MBTI personality type to her or decide which heroic archetype she falls under? Can we say she's a great character without pulling out the "mysterious" card and, after seven games, recognizing it for the cop-out it is?

Do you all remember the first Tomb Raider film, which was inconsistant with the games but nonetheless had a Lara whom most of us felt was well-portrayed? Roger Ebert, one of the few movie critics who liked both Tomb Raider movies, even stated, (and as an observation and not a criticism):"Lara Croft does not emerge as a person with a personality, and the other actors are also ciphers, but the movie wisely confuses us with a plot so impenetrable that we never think about their personalities at all."

After seeing the film I couldn't argue with that statement, though I enjoyed on the same level that he did. However, I couldn't help but shake the notion that Lara, whom I had fallen in love with and whom once seemed so real to me as I was first introduced to her at the age of 16 (in 1998), now emerged as the occupant of myth, sitting along side such immortal larger than life heroes as Conan and James Bond. Like the former, she also seemed to now exist in an infinite loop in which her adventures never end, she never ages a day, and nothing seems to change.

Now years later, after studying literature, I still look back at all of the TR games I've played (1 through 5) with fondness, but Lara seems more distant and tiny than ever, because at least heroes like Bond and Conan had depth, philosophy, and soul in the original works of their authors before descending into abysses of infinite repetition by their successors. I look at the residue of the Lara Croft my 16 year old heart and mind clung to so deeply, think of all that it meant to me at the time, and wonder to what extent she fueled the dreams I was starving for. Has Lara come anywhere in 10 years? And if so, where? And what can I say about her as a character? I don't know.

Anyway, I don't intend for this thread to be an argument, only the staging point for discussing the questions I've raised. I look forward to hearing your answers.
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Old 28-01-07, 09:07   #2
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IMO, she's always had enough personality for me to get a sense of who she is. It's a videogame and she spends a lot of time on her own, but I always thought the dialogue and cutscenes were enough to build her character as someone who's wary of others, intelligent, responsible and aggressive. She never really loses her cool. I considered the film was the natural expansion of these traits, and I suppose the same goes for its sequel (even though I wasn't impressed by the latter).

What I think sets her further from cliche and an image of the impeccable badass, the same thing being that which allows us as players to associate with her and even like her, is a sensitive side that never delves too much into sentiment.

Consider the caring sadness in her voice when she reads "Look over us kindly, Tihocan" in TR1, or similarly the scenes with her father in the film. She has an amiable side, but when faced with unpleasant enemies (any of the main villains/cronies in film or game) she's aggressive yet calm and controlled - except, I suppose, in the closing moments of the first film where she lets herself go at Powell, or at the end of Legend where she very nearly kills Amanda.

Perhaps, then, this is a sign of her evolution, into somebody who does have some emotional past and is still tortured by it. I think she's always had some personality and soul, but it's a little hard to truly evoke that in a game such as TR1 where her contact with other humans is sparse and her only usual company is beasts of some description.

I'm not sure the extent to which I "know" Lara, but I certainly feel that in most situations I'd not be surprised by certain courses of action. It could simply be a case of what we see being who she is - we don't know every intricate detail of her life since her travels happen off-screen, and some characters under the wide branches of fiction, like real people, just haven't much personality regardless of situational factors.

Furthermore, is pedantry always useful for searching into fictional characters? These people are not real and will never be; they react to their surroundings in the way the writer directs them to. When studying Hamlet, several critical interpretations I stumbled across ultimately dismissed the characters' actions as ever being feasible and concluded that we should take them as they are - figures of no real corporeity who exist as entertainment.

Lara was great "back in the day" and I've always thought her character complemented the rest of the games well, which to be fair, was probably the aim all along instead of humanising her beyond reason. One of my main concerns regarding her evolution is that she may deviate from the Lara we all think we know, being now in new hands, and some would doubtlessly argue that this has already begun in Legend. I definitely expect to see more of her backstory emerging from Crystal Dynamics in their future projects - but at what cost to our own imaginings of her? Sometimes, the greatest part about fiction is that it not only captures the audience's imagination, but invites them to interpret things in their own special way.
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Old 28-01-07, 10:04   #3
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If you want to be honest, all fictional heroes are Mary Sues. It's what makes them heroes
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Old 28-01-07, 14:08   #4
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Wow, she only got 30-45? She was pretty much created (or at the least evolved) as a wish-fulfillment character: Probably a genius, but also tougher than any man and kicks the ass of anything that comes her way. Big boobs and is probably a tiger in bed and if you include Legend then she has a ton of angst as well.

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