If you have been a follower of this blog, you know that I, on occasion, like to imagine what characters of a certain TV show or movie might have to say if given the opportunity to pen a self-help book. Some of these have been serious, some more satirical, but, if I am being honest, all books I would love to write myself. These characters have been such an amazing part of my life. Today, I am finally able to dedicate myself to a show called Firefly. Firefly was a science fiction, space western that originally aired on Fox, but was cancelled before completing their first season. There was such a fan base, Joss Whedon (the executive producer) was able to negotiate making a film (Serenity) to appease those who knew the network had given up on the series way too quickly. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the series and movie (watch them in that order), you should immediately download it, purchase it, or whatever you need to do to watch it.
I’m off my soap box now – here is my take on what the characters would have to say:
- Captain “Mal” Malcolm Reynolds: Mal is the owner of the Serenity (the ship). He is a former fighter in the Independent Army. He is cunning, a skilled fighter, and can rationalize his sometimes questionable morals with an “end justifies the means” approach to life. He is fiercely loyal to those in his inner circle. Mal would have a lot to say about maintaining his moral “flexibility” and that failure is not necessarily the end. Suggested title: Firefly – the end is never the end..
- Zoe Washburne: Mal’s right hand “man”, she is a friend from his war days and is his second in command on the Serenity. She is married to Wash. Zoe brings a lot to her shipmates beyond her battle skills – she is able to stay calm no matter the situation and always seems to be able to think clearly. She could offer such insight into the importance of maintaining focus in stressful situations. Suggested title: Calm – the most powerful weapon in your arsenal.
- Hoban “Wash” Washburne: The pilot of the Serenity and Zoe’s husband. He often expresses jealous over the closeness between Zoe and Mal though there is never an indication of a romantic component to their relationship. He is perhaps best known for his humorous take on situations and tendency to always have a quip at the ready. Learning about his use of humor in the face of adversity would benefit many. Suggested title: Laughing in the face of (repeated) impending death.
- Inara Serra: a Companion – the series version of an escort or mistress (higher standing than a prostitute). She displays great civility, compassion, and dignity. She shares many character traits with Mal which only complicates the romantic tension between them. Both have difficulty accepting each other’s choice of occupation. She seems to struggle with the idea of becoming vulnerable to someone she cares for. Suggested title: Caring for others, caring for myself.
- Jayne Cobb: Oh, Jayne and his adorable hat. Jayne is a mercenary which is supposed to mean he will do anything if the money is right, though Jayne sticks with this crew even when he should be tempted to travel elsewhere. He often asks the questions no one is willing to ask (with good reason) and complains about helping others – especially if it puts him at risk. There is likely a lot more to this man than meets the eye, but he’d punch you in the nose if you ever called him on it. Suggested title: Survival: You can’t get paid if you’re dead.
- Kaylee Frye: the ship’s mechanic who is also known as the heart of the ship. She loves all of her shipmates with her whole heart and only wants the best for them all. She has fallen in love with Dr. Simon Tam, but struggles to share those feelings, instead hinting and hoping he will figure it out. Likely, she did not believe she was worthy of him and was terrified of possible rejection. Suggested title: Great risk can bring even greater rewards.
- Simon Tam: a trauma surgeon who is on the run after breaking his sister, River, out of a government research facility. His sister’s care is his primary focus and he sacrificed his own future and career to rescue her. His feelings for Kaylee complicated his situation as he often found himself being pulled in multiple directions. Unfortunately for Kaylee, River typically wins his internal battle. Suggested title: Even in space, blood is thicker than water.
- River Tam: smuggled onto the ship by her brother, Simon. She is a gifted child prodigy who was operated and experimented on by a government agency hoping to use her skills for evil. As a result, she has psychic powers and extraordinary combat skills. Due to her time in the research facility she suffers debilitating anxiety and PTSD. Her erratic behavior frequently worries those around her. Suggested Title: When special doesn’t feel good
- Shepherd Derrial Book: a type of pastor – he functioned as a sort of moral compass for Mal. Mal didn’t always follow his recommendations, but he did always listen and consider them. He got along well with everyone though was not eager to engage in battle alongside them, feeling killing was against his religious beliefs. His religious beliefs were often stretched through his time with the crew of the Serenity. Suggested title: Doing wrong for the right reasons.
I was tempted to include The Operative, a character who played a central role with the cast during the movie Serenity, but somehow it felt like cheating. I wanted to focus on those who started in Firefly and then continued on in Serenity. What do you think? Am I being too picky? What do you think his book would be about? Whose story would you most be interested in reading?
I think I may be a bit obsessed with my self-help books series. Not sure if I am entertaining myself or anyone else, but it is Harry Potter’s turn! What would the beloved (and hated) characters of this wonderful series have to share in their individual self-help books? Here are my ideas:
- Harry Potter: Ah, the “boy who lived”! We all know his story and the pressures he faced as he sought to save the world, avenge his parents and defeat “he who shall not be named.” Talk about huge expectations he had to live up to and it all sat on his shoulders from infancy. What an amazing book he could write about deciding your own fate and not allowing others to choose your path for you. Title: Steering your own broom.
- Hermione Granger: Such a bright child! Hermione, though muggle-born, was leaps and bounds ahead of her classmates in wizard knowledge, potions and spells. This great intellect was both gifted to her, but also the result of hard work and intense studying. At times her skills (and confidence) was off-putting to others, but she never felt she needed to hide just how capable she was. Her book would encourage other children (especially girls) to be proud of their abilities and never to pretend to be less than they are. Title: Shine your light: Protecting your patronus
- Ron Weasley: As the best friend of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, it must have been such a challenge to remain positive and self-confident. Harry is a legend and Hermione is better at “everything”, but somehow Ron remains (mostly) loyal and supportive. His value wasn’t in being the best or the brightest, but in being the truest friend. He could offer guidance in finding one’s value in oneself and not in comparison to others. Title: Being the best me I can be.
- Severus Snape: Such a multilayered man, Professor Snape. He started out as the villainous potions teacher who strove to torment/destroy our hero, Harry Potter, and then we learned his own torturous history and undying love for Harry’s mother. Even as we learned more about him, new questions began to form. It never really felt as though we were ever fully able to understand him. He would be a great source of advice on doing the right thing even when it is not popular. Title: Friends in disguise: Seeing behind the enemy’s mask.
- Draco Malfoy: Born of a pair of Voldemort’s followers, Malfoy didn’t have much of a chance of ending up on the side of good. A bully from a young age, Malfoy hid his own insecurities behind a mask of over-confidence and arrogance. Though he ultimately chose not to commit the worst of crimes (Spoiler alert: He refused to kill Dumbledore), Malfoy was often sniveling, jealous and cruel. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if he could write a book detailing the importance of rejecting the negative influences of others? Title: Casting off Evil: Digging deep for the good within
- Lord Voldermort: Tom Marvolo Riddle was a half-blood wizard with a troubled childhood which lead to significant mental health issues. He had an insatiable need for power and extreme hatred for all muggle and half-blood wizards (non-pure bloods). This is especially interesting given his own lack of pure blood status. It reminds me of closeted gay men who bully out gay men. Self-hatred at its finest and he really ran with it. If you can say one positive thing about Voldemort, it is that he was persistent. If he had received numerous hours/weeks/months/years of therapy, Voldemort might have come to realize his destructive actions were really about trying to destroy himself. Title: I deserve to be named.
- Albus Dumbledore: Professor Dumbledore is the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The books focus primarily on the time when Harry Potter is a student at the school. Dumbledore aided Harry in all of his adventures, even when Harry didn’t know he was helping. Dumbledore is completely on the side of the good guys against Voldemort and all of his minions. The author revealed late in the series that Dumbledore was gay. I like that this was no more important to his character development than had he been straight. It was just part of who he was. Title: Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times.
- Sirius Black: Harry’s godfather, he was a close friend of both of his parents, Lily and James Potter. He spent a number of years in the torturous Prison of Azkiban. Once able to escape, he attempted to aid Harry in his quest to defeat Dumbledore while striving to protect Harry at every turn. Sirius was an animagi, turning into a large black dog at will. Ultimately, Sirius was killed during an epic battle. Title: Man’s Best Friend
- Rubeus Hagrid: The groundskeeper at Hogwarts, but he really is so much more than that. He is the three amigos’ (Harry, Ron and Hermione) trusted confidante and biggest supporter. He is half giant and half human. Hagrid was once a student at Hogwarts, but was unjustly forbidden to do any further magic. (He occasionally sneaks it.) His book could describe how you don’t have to be the most powerful to have the greatest impact. Title: Power is in what you give, not what you can do.
- Argus Filch: The caretaker of Hogwarts – he roams the halls looking to catch students engaged in some form of mischief. The students of Hogwarts (especially Gryffindors) dislike Filch because he is weird and creepy. He absolutely is a necessary component to the smooth functioning of Hogwarts, but it is hard to be liked when you are the one enforcing all of the rules (with the creepy cat, Mrs. Norris). Title: It’s not easy being me.
Which of these books would you be most interested in reading? Maybe it’s because I am a little twisted, I would, personally, want to know what Voldemort would have to say. Would he be able to see the errors of his ways or would it be a narcissistic rant about why he should have kicked Harry’s booty. I would be interested in finding out.
Sometimes when I am out for a run, my mind begins to wander. I usually like when this happens because if my mind is wandering I am not thinking about how much farther I need to go and how soon I can be done. While my mind is wandering, I often stumble on some unusual things. Yesterday, I started wondering what it might look like if superheroes wrote self-help books. Weird, right? I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I thought I’d flesh it out here with you. I am focusing today on the male superheroes – if there is interest, I’ll focus on the ladies next.
- Captain America: What can we learn from Captain America? Hell, he could write a ton about perseverance. Steve Rogers wanted desperately to be a soldier and go to war to fight for the United States. Unfortunately, he was on the puny side and had a number of health issues that precluded his ability to enlist. Did he give up? Nope. Now, admittedly, he ultimately used a super serum to turn him into a super soldier, but it was only his good nature and intrinsic sense of right and wrong that saved him from becoming a villain drunk on his own power. Captain America could write several books about not giving up and the importance of taking care of others – especially those who are weaker and in need of help. Title: Letting out your Inner Super Soldier
- Power Rangers: I know a couple of these heroes are female, but for this blog, I am going with the majority male rule. These superheroes each wear a specific color jumpsuit and can fight individually, but when the battle gets really tough, they band together and fight even harder. Their book would promote the importance of friendship and being able to work with others. It would be all about how much more you can accomplish when you work together than you could ever dream of doing alone. Title: It’s Morphin’ Time!
- Thor: Mighty Thor is a warrior prince from the planet of Asgard. He has strength, endurance and resistance to injury that had caused him to be arrogant and selfish. Thor’s self-help book would be about the power of change – how you really can choose to become a better person. Through his time on Earth, Thor learned about the importance of protecting and caring for others. Title: The Power to Change is Stronger than Mjolnir
- Superman: Superman was sent from his home planet (Krypton) as an infant when the planet was about to explode. His parents sought to send him to safety – he landed on Earth and was taken in by an American family who raised him as their own. Despite his amazing abilities (super speed, flight, x-ray vision, heat vision, strength, and impermeability to injury), Superman has one great weakness – exposure to rocks from his home planet. These rocks are called Kryptonite take away all of this powers and make him an ordinary man. Superman’s self-help book would focus on the importance of having awareness of your weaknesses. He could write about how only in knowing our weaknesses can we overcome them. Title: In our Weaknesses, We Find Strength
- The Incredible Hulk: Bruce Banner is a scientist who is exposed to massive radioactivity that turns him into the Incredible Hulk whenever he gets angry. He could totally write a book about anger management. Much of Bruce’s later journeys focus on learning to manage his reactions to people and situations, so he can control when and where the Hulk appears. Title: Anger: The Beast Within
- Iron Man: Tony Stark was a billionaire playboy who had inherited tons of money from his father, Howard Stark, and then parlayed it into an even more impressive fortune using his own intellect and skills. Here is the thing, Tony always felt that his father hadn’t approved of (or even loved) him. This caused him to act out in so many ways. His book would definitely focus on parent-child relationships and the importance of believing in yourself even when you doubt others do. Title: My Father, Myself
- Wolverine: Logan is an ageless man who quickly heals from all injuries. A secret scientist organization operated on him and lined his skeleton with adamantium, a virtually unbreakable metal. He now is nearly indestructible and also has adamantium claws that erupt from his hands whenever he is in a fight (hence the name “Wolverine”). What Logan really suffers with is difficulty accepting his own mutations and those things that make him different from others. He could write a great book about being proud of who you are. Title: Looking Past the Claws: Loving the Man in the Mirror
- Spiderman: Peter Parker was an unassuming, quietly nerdy high school student who happened to get bitten by a radioactive spider. This spider bite led to super speed, super strength, web shooting, precognition, and healing. We all know the classic line from the movie, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Peter learns from the tragic loss of his uncle that his powers come at a cost – he is charged with caring for others. His book would stress the importance of appreciating what we have and to give back to others. Title: With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility
- Batman: Bruce Wayne was the happy only child of the fabulously happy (and rich) Wayne family when tragedy struck and his parents were shot during a robbery. Bruce then dedicated himself to fighting the criminal element under the disguise of Batman. He would pen a book about building something positive out of trauma. He would talk about reframing the negative experience and focusing on what you can make out of it. Title: Rising from the Ashes – Finding Your Inner Phoenix
- Flash: Barry Allen was a police scientist (with no special abilities) who was doused with chemicals and acquired super speed. He then used his super speed to protect the citizens of his town and take out the bad guys. Even after he had developed his special skills, Barry continued to use his scientific skills to aid the police department in catching the bad guys – while also helping to “run them down” himself. His book would focus on the importance of using the skills you are given to the best of your ability – everyone is good at something! Title: The Race to Know Yourself
So… what do you think? I am feeling relieved to have gotten all of this out of my head! Did I get it wrong? Any suggestions or modifications? Sadly, what I really realized is how much I would love to write each of these books! Time to start thinking about all those powerful ladies in superhero land!
* Correction: I made a correction on 4/7/15 – The previous version indicated Bruce Banner (The Incredible Hulk) was either a reporter or a scientist depending on the version you watched/read. I was corrected – he is always a scientist though he trailed by a reporter who seeks to out him. Sorry!