Discovery made in Mojo Research...

Here on the SDMB the Mojo theory of superheroes have emerged.
And since certain threads have touched on the subject, I have attempted to define Mojo.

I have made one critical discovery:

Characters with high degrees of Mojo are significantly FLAWED.

Lets start with the character with the highest level of Mojo known: Batman.

Witnessed his own parents brutally murdered while a boy, he has become an avenging vigilante with psychopathic tendencies.

James Bond also lost his parents in childhood…in a mountain climbing accident.

Martin Riggs is (or at least was) a suicidal cop whose woman was murdered by South African Neo-Nazi-esque criminals.

Can you think of any other characters’ flaws, or at least other aspects of Mojo-ism?

Well, Mojo is kinda mystical by definition, they can’t really explain it themselves. It’s certainly not something you can train for. Makes sense that it might come from the kind of conflict that makes you not care about what ordinary men care about. It gives you and edge if you’ll do what they won’t. Call it the Keyser Sosey effect. And speaking of Mojo…

I think the word you’re looking for is “angst”. It is well-established that a superhero’s power (in terms of overall effectiveness, rather than in brute force) is directly proportional to their angst-factor.

Batman’s angst-factor, already high due to the circumstances of his parents’ deaths, was amplified by his obsessive tendencies. This led to the development of angst levels slightly higher than those of Superman, who suffered the loss of almost his entire species (but who did not actually know the deceased, and who had loving foster parents to support him). As a result, Batman is capable of defeating Superman despite the vast gulf in raw power between the two heroes. This is an abnormal case due to Batman’s unusual psychology (not to say “batshit insanity”).

More directly comparable angst-factors should offer clear predictors as to the relative mojo of various characters. For example, Spider-Man (who blames himself for the violent death of his surrogate father) would clearly have greater mojo than Static (who mourns the violent death of his mother, but who does not consider himself responsible for it). In a hypothetical confrontation between the two, we could reasonably predict that Spider-Man would win.

This is exaggerated by the fact that while Superman gets a high angst rating, he gets very little mojo from the other aspects of his personality. He’s far too powerful to ever have a chance to lose, and so gets zero tenacity mojo, against-the-odds mojo, or generally any other mojo at all.

Has any criminal tried to subvert the Batman’s mojo by slipping him something to ease his anxiety? That is, tried to cure him of being the Batman?

You know, I really hate the convention that a superhero has to be angst ridden to be powerful. I’m not disagreeing with y’all, I just think we need better writing.

Look at Hellboy. Born in Hell, fer chrisakes. Ripped from his childhood home and thrown into the world above. And he doesn’t have any angst. Nope, he just walks in, drops his tool box down, and asks where the demon problem is. That’s a superhero for you. Not conflicted and unreliable, but competent.

The angst thing is a bad convention that writers need to use less of. It’s become hackneyed.

If they haven’t, that’d make for an interesting story.

“Yo, Bats, my man, don’t be haytin’. Chill out. Here, have some weed.”
“Well, OK, maybe just this once …”

Later …
“Batman! This is Commissioner Gordon! Come over at once, it’s an emergency!”
“Later, Gordo, I’m seriously chillin’ here. Don’t bum out my buzz, man.”

Good question. Has any doctor from Arkham Asylum tried to “treat” Batman…or Bruce Wayne for that matter?

I seem to recall J’onn wondering if he should telepathically help Batman with some of his psychological problems, but backing off for some namby-pamby ethics reasons.

Maybe pour some gravy on him.

I don’t know about the comic, but the movie and cartoon character’s “I’m too cool for words” attitude is just annoying. It also makes me wonder if he really cares about anything. (Except maybe that guy that raised him.) To me at least that’s not a superhero who’s adventure I want to follow.

I thought angst was simply a mood or attitude.

Mojo-ed characters have permanently wounded psyches…scarred souls.

That’s what I was trying to get to before. Why must a superhero’s soul be scarred? I understand the whole Shakespearean flawed hero thing, but it’s been done way too often.

I like Hellboy because he’s akin to an exceptionally good firefighter who grumbles about his job. He defies conventions because he has the everyman aspect - yet he can still kick ass.

Perhaps it’s simply because a tragic background and the resulting emotional scars are an easy way to explain the characters’ motivations?

Assume for the moment that the Waynes had not been murdered when Bruce was young. Where does that leave him? He’s absurdly wealthy, good-looking, and (even without the tragedy-driven obsessive streak) possessed of incredible physical and mental talent. Without some sort of traumatic, unbalancing experience, what would have driven a man with his advantages to risk his life chasing criminals every night? He might have been a pro athlete, or a brilliant scientist, or just been the rich playboy he often pretends to be…but he wouldn’t have been Batman, and we wouldn’t have been reading about him for decades.

There are other motivations, to be sure. A superhero could be essentially a mercenary, hired to fight crime by the government or a wealthy individual with an axe to grind. He could be driven by altruistic impulses. He could want to test the limits of his gifts, and chooses to target criminals simply because they’re more of a challenge, or because it doesn’t get him into as much legal trouble. He might just want to be famous, or admired.

Variations on many of these themes have been used, but none seem to have had the resounding success of the angsty types. The typical audience for the superhero genre must like the tragic figures for some reason. Maybe it’s because it’s inspiring to see someone rise above his pain to achieve great things. Maybe it’s because the other motivations are harder for the target audience to empathize with–vengeance is easier to understand than altruism for most people. Maybe it’s just habit, at this point.

Regardless, the writers (who are typically under pressure to come up with material fast) often take the path of least resistance. The tragic background is a crutch, well-worn but reliable, and it’s not hard to see why they keep falling back on it. After all, it sells.

Wow, Balance. You can write. That was brilliant. I mean that seriously and with the upmost respect.

Ahh, but these are essentially all motives of self, no one would pursue them beyond a rational point. Our angsty hero is other-directed in ways that he can’t explain or control, which is why he’s driven beyond a rational point, it’s his secret weapon.