Acting is an important part of animation. Many animators fail, not because their technique is lacking, but simply because they don’t understand acting. It goes beyond the simple smirk, or gesture that a character makes idly, one has to consider the reasoning behind the smirk or the gesture. For instance, a character might smirk because they are amused… they may be amused because they’ve seen another character fail at a task, suddenly the smirker has a motive that makes them appear chaotic in nature.
“We’re acting roles all the time dependant on the situation we’re in and we know it. We trot out the personality appropriate to what’s required in our situation; Authoritarian, Child, Student, Responsible Adult, Lover, Friend, Clown, Empathetic, Hunter, Power Crazy, Etc.” (Richard Williams, Animator’s Survival Kit, P.315)
Archetypes respond to different stimuli in different ways. A weak and meek character might respond to physical pain by crying out and gesturing wildly. Whereas a stoic, brave and bold character might respond by grunting slightly and slumping his shoulders.
“Dialogue is sometimes not your friend, but it’s not necessarily your enemy-more like an annoying uncle. Because games are more about action than dialogue, it’s usually a good idea to pick traits that can be shown without dialogue, but instead through the character’s choices, actions, animations, taunts, clothing, signature gestures, and the way (s)he fights. In general, the more traits the can be revealed without dialogue, the better.” (Dave Perry, Game design, P.198)
Dave Perry describes archetypes in a multitude of different ways. With Heroes and Villains and the types within.
Heroes: Strong Leaders (Superman), Anti (Batman), Smooth (James Bond), Super Spies (Michael Westen), Outsiders (Hellboy?), Thinkers (Professor X), Impetuous (The Flash), Inept (Sam and Max), Fighting Machines (Kratos), Reluctant (Frodo), Sidekick (Robin).
Villains: Tyrant (Justice Lord Superman), Conqueror (Sauron), Patriarch/Matriarch (Magneto), Smooth (Handsome Jack), Genius (Lex Luthor), Sociopath (Joker), Professional Killer (Shiva), Demonic (Diablo), Defector (Korso), Unscrupulous/Nasty (Balrog), False Ally (Loki), Avenger (Clay Face), The Fanatic (Chaos Sorcerer), Rival (Lex Luthor again), Lunatic (Joker), Unseen (T-Virus), Meek (Rain Maker), Giant Monsters (Godzilla).
Minions: Number 2, Liutenant, Random Grunt, Red shirt, Guard, Jailer, Muscle, Sadist, Lab minion, Sneak, Crazy, Family member, Sycophant, Mole.
Others: Mentor, Herald, Threshold Guardian, Shapeshifter, Shadow, Trickster.
I’ve learnt that it’s important to consider the motives and reasoning behind what makes a character tick. Batman, though a little anti-social, is a vigilante hero. With his parents murdered at a young age, it could be said that Batman is his true identity, whilst Bruce Wayne the business mogul is the facade he relies on in the public eye. Ultimately, batman fights crime so that no eight-year would lose their parents to “Some thug with a gun”.
The Joker on the otherhand, isn’t motivated by greed, as evidenced by his burning of a massive stack of money in the Dark Knight Saga, the kind of thing which makes him more terrifying because of his unpredictability. He possesses more of an interest in unravelling society and proving that everyone has a monster inside them, it could be said that the Joker is simply motivated by chaos alone. Although, as his character has been developed and fleshed out, it is seen that he has an obsession with bringing about Batman’s downfall.