Today, I met the family at the movie theater when I got off work. Or, as Hal refers to it, “the popcorn place”. We watched Wreck It Ralph, which I highly recommend. I had the honor of transporting the kids with me afterwards and thoroughly enjoyed the conversation.
“Which bad guy would you choose to be, Mommy?” Daryl asked shortly after we got in the car.
“Oh, I think I’d have to be Wreck It Ralph. Because he wasn’t really a bad guy, was he? He was more of a good guy.”
“Yeah, that’s true.”
“Can you think of any other bad guys that have turned into good guys?”
Jane jumped in, “Darth Vader!”
We talked about Darth Vader’s transformation. Then we added Gru from Despicable Me and after some brain stretching, Megamind. We talked about what makes Bad Guys bad and Good Guys good.
We were having trouble coming up with more bad-turned-good guys. They tried the monsters in Monsters, Inc. but I insisted that they weren’t “bad”, just from a different culture.
I also rejected Draco Malfoy, when he was suggested. We discussed the difference between stopping being bad and actually becoming good. Did the Malfoys actually become agents of good or just step aside? Jane insisted Draco did good in the Room of Requirement during the final battle at Hogwarts.
“How?” I asked.
“Well. He saved his friends.”
“Bad guys save their friends. That doesn’t necessarily make them good guys.”
“He nodded at Harry at the train station later.”
“Nodding makes you a good guy?”
She thought some more. “Oh, I know! How about the guy in Tangled?”
That got us to talking about bad guys versus Bad Guys. Thieves versus villains. Did the love interest in Tangled count as a “bad guy” when he wasn’t the evil force in the movie? Or was he just a guy that was making some poor decisions?
“Ok, so maybe we shouldn’t talk about bad guys and good guys. Can you name any characters that went from being evil guys to being heroes?”
“That’s too hard, Mommy.”
“It’s usually the other way around,” Jane finally said. “I mean, usually it turns out that the good guy is actually bad.”
“That’s true, but it usually turns out that they were always bad and we just didn’t know, so they didn’t really change,” I claimed.
The conversation lasted for the drive to Sonic and while we waited for our hamburgers. And then the whole drive home.
Once I feared we had exhausted our knowledge of good bad guys, Daryl remembered Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. We all agreed that he was perhaps the best example of someone going from truly bad to hero. Daryl was pleased with himself.
As we pulled into the driveway, Jane suggested Hades from Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. “But was he really bad turned good?” I asked.
“Sure. He wasn’t going to help the other gods and he was going to hurt Percy but then he ended up helping him.”
“But isn’t that just how those crazy Roman gods always acted? Pouted and did their own thing and picked on people and then sometimes decided to help them? I mean was he really “evil” before and then “good”?”
“Mom, Hades wasn’t a Roman god.”
“Ok, whatever. Isn’t that what the Greek gods were like? Amazingly enough, it seems they were an awful lot like the Roman gods.”
Hal hadn’t had much input in the discussion of cinematic portrayals of good and evil. His repeated interjection was regarding his favorite scene in the movie:
“My favorite part was when the bad guy smashed the little girl’s car all up and she cried.” Speaking of bad guys… I think I need to help one get unbuckled from his car seat.