Another summer, another batch of comic book movies to analyze.
This weekend, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy broke box office records with its band of lovable misfits. Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket Racoon and the rest of the gang have earned their place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for years to come.
Going into the movie, I was sure I was going to love Gamora – my love of Zoe Saldana stretches back to Center Stage – and Star-Lord is played by Parks and Rec fav Chris Pratt. But I found an unexpected kinship with Drax the Destroyer.
(Spoilers for the film version of Guardians of the Galaxy from here on out-as well-established elsewhere on Fandible, I am comics-illiterate.)
When we meet Drax, he has a single-minded focus on revenge for the wife and daughter Ronan killed, making him fit in perfectly with the rest of the film’s losers (as in, people who have lost something – overwhelmingly family). It also makes him a perfect example of the Crusading Widower trope.
For those who don’t want to lose a day of productivity down the TV Tropes rabbit hole, the Crusading Widower is a man who has lost everything and has nothing left to live for. He is focused on revenge or at least has a self-destructive impulse.
Change the pronouns in that sentence, and you have a fairly accurate description of my favorite Fandible PC, Moira Clayton. As the TV Tropes page for Fandible points out, Moira is the rare female example of the trope. (There I go, shattering glass ceilings again.)
I had no intention of playing such a trope-y character, of course. I was focused on the predominantly female warrior class, and would do whatever I had to in order to make the character work, including the class-mandated tragic backstory. That backstory gained more prominence when she was connected with Byron through Moira’s marriage to his brother Horatio. Then Jesus made Horatio’s murder into an important early plot point, and Moira’s role as a Crusading Widow was set.
Iâ€™ve had some macabre fun fleshing out just how tragic Moiraâ€™s backstory is. From the (now forgotten) truth about how much blame lies with Byron to the extent of the cold shoulder from her (probably insane) mother-in-law, not to mention the tragedies Iâ€™m keeping in my back pocket until they come up in play. There’s even a whole Hepburn family planned out and waiting to be met back in London, so everyone can see how much Moira has (or hasn’t) changed in the face of her loss.
But of course what makes the Crusading Widower character worth following is the redemption arc, where they learn there is something worth living for (and/or that revenge doesnâ€™t actually fill the void in their soul). Drax goes from attempting to kill Gamora to defending her honor (well. After insulting it. Sigh.). Has Moira shown such growth yet?
I think thereâ€™s been a hint of it – she requested her memory be wiped rather than live with the knowledge that Byron perhaps shares some blame for his brotherâ€™s death. Moiraâ€™s life isnâ€™t just about killing – itâ€™s about doing a job and doing it well. Her job is to protect Byron (and, apparently, assassinate people inconvenient to Beatrix Clayton), and she will even allow her memory to be wiped in order to do that job effectively. She wonâ€™t allow her grief to get in the way of protecting – her client? Her family? Seems like thatâ€™s something worth exploring!
Will Moira â€œrecoverâ€ enough that she no longer wears the mournerâ€™s veil? In a subversion of the standard trope, I donâ€™t think so – at least not so long as I am actively playing her. Her grief and her anger may evolve, ebb, or grow, but being a Mourner is a complex part of Moiraâ€™s identity as a person. Besides, if she stopped being a Mourner Iâ€™d actually have to develop more of a voice for her. I think she spoke more in the incident with the Shellycoat than she has in the whole rest of the series!
What other Crusading Widowers (or Widows) have you met or played in your games?
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5 comments on “The Crusading Widower: Drax the Destroyer Meets Unhallowed Metropolis”
I think i may have by accident organised to stat out, then run guardians of the galaxy under the fragged empire rules.
I did think the language choice was unfortunate, because for Gamora’s many faults he chose to call her a whore, which is interesting when you’re on a team with a Pelvic Sorcerer.
Moira also got called out on choosing her job of murder rather than thinking about her friends/brother-in-law. And then she proceeded to put their needs first instead of the weird vengeance cult she’s sworn to serve.
She’s one shirt-less tattoo series away from being basically indistinguishable from Drax!
Gamora was terrible in the movie frankly. Her entire purpose was to be a plot tool to get them to come together in prison and then a love interest for Quill.
I was just facepalming at the prison scene where like 4 guys are going to kill her or whatever because comic Gamora would have pretty much murdered that entire prison and then laughed about it.
So much wasted potential.
Also I think Moira is much cooler than Movie Drax. Comic Drax might give her a run for her money though, mostly because of his purple cape.
@Mawdrigen – I’m even more anxious now to get my copy of Revelations of Mars (space pulp by the same folks who did my beloved HEX) because I _think_ I could make a great GotG-flavored game there!
@Jake – The language choice made NO SENSE. We don’t see Gamora perform any kind of sex work, or even act all that sexually interested in anyone, yet super-literal Drax drops “whore” casually into the conversation. That and the random use of “bitch” in the final fight really dampened some of my enthusiasm for the film.
@CaptainStabby – But Moira has a really cool hat. Surely that can compete with a cape?
Gamora’s role was marketed as Peter’s Love Interest, especially with that out-of-place shot of her shirtless on his bed that didn’t even make it in the movie. Her actual role though was the person who realised the importance and larger scope of what was going on. She was the one who was working to prevent a genocide while other people pursued their own selfless goals. She was the one who advocated giving the gem to someone else to keep it safe rather than try to sell it or ignore it. She was the one who was originally willing to die to try and protect it.
And then we get the character whose sole characteristic apart from angry is “does not use metaphor” call her a whore, even though she rejected the only sexual advance she received, and was literally standing next to a guy who boasted about how much alien sexual fluids were on his ship.
I didn’t mind the sudden bitch drop, since it at least fit in with his character of wanting to insult someone but not having a good insult prepared at the moment.