Analysis

Five More Underpowered Antagonists

A bird of prey exploding, from footage used in both Undiscovered Country and Generations.
Antagonists need to be threatening so they can provide tension. If the story doesn’t have tension, then the conflict isn’t interesting, and the audience will get bored in a hurry. Storytellers have many tools at their disposal to make bad guys more threatening, but there are just as many ways a villain can lose threat. They might be totally incompetent, they might fail over and over again until no one takes them seriously, or they might just be underpowered to start with.

It’s that last one we’re looking at again today. Underpowered villains might be perfectly competent, they might even win sometimes, but they simply don’t have the resources to credibly take on the hero. What level of power each villain needs depends on what type of story is being told and their role in it, but it isn’t hard to spot a villain who doesn’t have the tools to get the job done.

1. The Cardassians: The Next Generation

A Cardassian on the Enterprise view screen from The Wounded. That helmet though. Why?

In The Next Generation’s fourth season, the writers decided to introduce a new enemy species, likely in preparation for the upcoming launch of Deep Space Nine. These aliens were called the Cardassians, and they were to be more intellectual than the Klingons without being as standoffish as the Romulans. They love to plot and scheme, but they’re also happy to do it over a friendly chat.

Sounds like a great setup, until we find out that Cardassian ships are made of papier-mâché. Their premiere episode, The Wounded, features a Cardassian surprise attack on the Enterprise; our heroes don’t even have time to raise shields. This devastating attack results in… some minor damage that the Enterprise easily shrugs off. Worf then disables the Cardassian ship with a quick phaser volley.

This is the Federation’s new enemy? Pardon me if I’m not quaking in my uniform. Okay, that’s unfair – maybe it’s just a fluke. The Enterprise is Starfleet’s flagship, after all, so maybe this was a destroyer attacking a battleship. Naturally, later in the episode the Cardassians have an opportunity for a rematch with a weaker Federation ship, and… the Cardassians are destroyed by a single torpedo. It’s even a plot point that the Federation ship’s shields aren’t working. Give me a break!

This is total failure for establishing the new villains we’re supposed to be worried about. At the end of the episode, there’s a moment where it’s indicated that the Cardassians have some deeper plan. It’s meant to be a tense exchange, but it’s not because, honestly, who cares? The Cardassians can scheme all they want; the next time they show up maybe Starfleet will need to use two torpedoes.

Adding even more irony, just a season later in Conundrum, the crew come up against an enemy whom they defeat just as easily, and that’s used as evidence that something must be wrong. Surely, such a weak species wouldn’t be at war with the mighty Federation. Riker even marvels that they could have won the battle with a single torpedo. Fortunately, later episodes with the Cardassians mostly pretend The Wounded didn’t happen, but they’ll never be able to erase how underwhelming the Cardassian debut was.

2. The Parents: Runaways

The Parents from Marvel's Runaways.

Runaways is a superhero show where a group of kids must grapple with the fact that their parents are evil, or at least highly amoral. This is a fantastic premise, as it allows for meaty emotional conflict to play out alongside exciting battle sequences. Except it doesn’t, because most of the parents don’t have any powers.

You read that right. Even though most of the kids have special powers or fancy tech, their parents don’t have the same. Marvel, the company that can’t resist ending every movie with a fight between characters sporting the same power, decided to pass on that premise the one time they had a setup that actually supported it.

This creates a serious problem: how are parents without powers supposed to be a credible threat to kids who do have powers? Runaways doesn’t have an answer. At first, the show delays by making the first few episodes about the kids investigating their parents’ evil secrets, but that only lasts for so long. Then the writers try to use corrupt cops as the parents’ minions, but said cops don’t have any real connection to the heroes, so they’re dispatched fairly quickly. The show’s original big bad does at least have his own powers, but he’s just one character who can’t be everywhere at once.

Finally, the show tries leaning on the one parent who does have powers, but then she gives her powers up so her daughter can have them. This decision is absolutely baffling and only makes the problem worse. After that, we have several scenes where the parents try to physically overpower their children, and they’re easily defeated each time. It’s a little sad to watch because the writers put so much work into establishing the emotional conflict, but it’s all short-circuited by the parents having no ability to threaten the kids.

Eventually, the writers try to fix this by having the parents get possessed by aliens, and that does help, but a season and a half was already gone by then. That’s a long time to spend with villains we’re not at all worried about.

3. Lursa and B’etor: Star Trek VII: Generations

Lursa and B'etor from Star Trek: Generations

Hey look, a second Star Trek entry on this list. What a weird coincidence that has nothing to do with my viewing habits. No, YOU watch too much Star Trek.

Anyway, Lursa and B’etor are some no good, very bad Klingons who want to take over the empire, declare war on the Federation, and probably over-steep Picard’s tea. You know, standard Star Trek villain stuff. When they first appeared in TNG’s fourth season, they were okay villains, mainly serving as cover for the more threatening Romulans.* Then they showed up as minor antagonists on Deep Space Nine, where they were also fine.

It wasn’t until TNG’s first feature film, Generations, that things went wrong. In that movie, the sisters form half of a villain tag team, and their job is primarily to threaten the Enterprise while Picard has a solo adventure with the film’s other villain. That shouldn’t be a problem, except their ship is just not up to the task.

Lursa and B’etor fly the classic Bird of Prey. Though the exact capabilities of this craft are a little hazy, it’s usually described as a small scout ship, whereas the Enterprise is among Starfleet’s most powerful vessels. Even within the film, they make a point of noting that the sisters’ ship is no match for a Galaxy-class starship. Naturally, when these mismatched opponents come to blows, the battle… ends in a draw? With both ships destroyed? Hang on, that doesn’t sound right.

To the writers’ credit, they do have the Klingons find a way to neutralize the Enterprise’s shields, but that isn’t enough. Even without shields, it feels like the Enterprise should be able unleash its entire arsenal and overwhelm the much smaller Bird of Prey. This isn’t based on any technical schematics or other background material, but we know the Enterprise has a powerful array of weapons at its disposal from watching seven seasons of TNG.

Instead, the Enterprise gets off one or two shots and then tries to flee until the characters can come up with a technobabble solution. It really makes Riker look like an incompetent commander in what should have been his moment of triumph on the big screen. Having the Enterprise actually destroyed by such an underwhelming opponent just adds insult to injury.

The fix for this problem is simply to give Lursa and B’etor a more powerful ship. It didn’t need to be an unstoppable dreadnought, just something that the Enterprise couldn’t easily overwhelm with one volley. Then, the shield-defeating plot would have turned an evenly matched situation into a desperate one.

4. Hazel and Cha-Cha: Umbrella Academy

Hazel and Cha-Cha in their animal masks from Umbrella Academy.

We move on from space opera to a superhero show about dysfunctional family drama. A second superhero show about dysfunctional family drama, I mean. Umbrella Academy’s first major villains are Cha-Cha and Hazel, a pair of jaded assassins from the future who complain about incompetent bosses, shrinking budgets, and joint pains. So relatable! If deadpan sarcasm was all you needed to be threatening, these two would be set.

Unfortunately, in an action-oriented story like Umbrella Academy, villains also need to pose a physical danger. In that capacity, Hazel and Cha-Cha are a strange contradiction, both too powerful and not powerful enough. The first part of that comes from the fact that they use machine guns, and none of the heroes are bulletproof. In any rational scenario, the assassins should auto-win any time they have surprise, which they usually do.

But it wouldn’t work for the characters to all end up dead in the third episode, so the show’s solution is to make Cha-Cha and Hazel really bad shots. At least, that’s the only way I can explain how they manage to constantly miss, even at close range with no cover. Once they ditch their useless guns, the second problem becomes clear: they have no powers.

Our protagonists are a group of superheroes. One can teleport, another can hit anything with throwing knives, and the third is super strong.* Against this setup, the assassins should have no chance. They both know how to fight, and Hazel is really big, but otherwise they’re just normal humans as far as I can tell. Their first fight should have ended with the teleporter getting behind them and stabbing them to death like he does everyone else, the knife thrower putting blades through their hearts, or super-strength dude just ripping them in half.

None of that happens. Instead, the teleporter just doesn’t use his power very much against them,* knife man throws two knives at the one armored place on the assassins’ bodies before giving up, and Hazel is somehow able to overpower a guy who is explicitly stronger than a human can be. The only way to reconcile this power mismatch was for the show to mostly forget how the heroes’ powers work.

The solution here was clearly to give Hazel and Cha-Cha some powers of their own, or maybe some future tech that would put them on even footing with the heroes. Guns don’t work for this, since they’re so powerful that they destroy the chance for interesting fights. That means they can’t be allowed to work. Instead, something that mimics super strength or enhanced reflexes would have done wonders. It might not match the source material, but adaptations make that kind of change all the time.

5. The White Witch: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The White Witch from a staged production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

For our final entry, we’re going old school, to the magical land of Narnia where the eternal winter holds sway and the White Witch reigns. That’s our villain, and at first glance, she seems plenty powerful. The Witch has a wand of petrification and Turkish Delight of mind control at her disposal, plus a nasty stone knife that she’s no slouch with. How could this not be enough when the heroes of this book are all school children?

The twist is that she isn’t actually facing off against Peter, Suzan, Edmund, and Lucy. They just happen to be along for the ride. The real leader of team good in this book is Lion-Jesus, also known as Aslan. His mere appearance in Narnia is enough to destroy the Witch’s spells, and it’s made clear none of her powers will work on him. In fact it’s heavily implied that Aslan is just invincible and can destroy the Witch’s entire army on his own.

So how does the book not just immediately end if Aslan is that much more powerful? Aside from filler scenes of the characters eating delicious fantasy food, I mean? It’s because the Witch suddenly acts more like a protagonist than the actual protagonists. She plots and schemes until she comes up with a clever plan for defeating a more powerful opponent. Granted, her plan is a little contrived as it relies on previously unknown “deep magic,” but we can forgive her a faux pas because of the circumstances.

Of course the Witch’s plan doesn’t actually work, and eventually Aslan comes back via even deeper magic.* From there any tension the story might have had is lost as Aslan can not only defeat the Witch but also un-petrify her victims. But for a brief moment, it seemed like the Witch might succeed through cunning and guile, which actually makes us want to cheer for her as if she were the protagonist.

Audiences automatically sympathize with the underdog in any conflict because their victory is the more interesting outcome. If Goliath wins, it’s boring. Everyone expected Goliath to win, so why are you telling me this story? We want David to win because it’s more satisfying. This dynamic holds true even when the underdog is evil like the White Witch, to the point that we actually take more satisfaction from her short-lived victory than we do when the heroes finally triumph.

I’m not sure if this could have been fixed while retaining the religious metaphor that Lewis placed so much importance on. What I do know is that beings who are all-good and all-powerful rarely make good heroes, since they don’t have to struggle for anything. Worse, they end up making us cheer for the outmatched villain, and after that there’s no way to give the story a satisfying ending.


It’s a simple fact that audiences like a powerful villain. Weak, ineffectual villains rarely get the job done, and the few who do usually have extenuating circumstances. Even so, it’s not difficult to make an underpowered villain by accident. If you do, there isn’t any satisfaction when your heroes win the day, and it’ll be simply unbelievable if you go for a villain victory. Keep that in mind when designing your next antagonist, so your heroes will be properly afraid.

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Comments

  1. Dvärghundspossen

    This might be nitpicking, but I don’t think Aslan should be called an allegory or metaphor for Jesus. The whole thing takes place in a multiverse where God incarnates in different forms in different universes. Aslan in Narnia, Jesus in our universe, and probably other beings in other places.

    • Adam

      See Lewis’s letter that he wrote in 1958 about Aslan: “He is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, ‘What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?'”

      In 1961 Lewis wrote: “Since Narnia is a world of Talking Beasts, I thought He [Christ] would become a Talking Beast there, as He became a man here. I pictured Him becoming a lion there because (a) the lion is supposed to be the king of beasts; (b) Christ is called “The Lion of Judah” in the Bible; (c) I’d been having strange dreams about lions when I began writing the work. The whole series works out like this.”

      So it’s okay for Oren to say “Lion-Jesus” because #primarysources.

      • Dvärghundspossen

        Yeah but… my point is that it’s not really an allegory; it’s LITERAL. In-universe, Aslan is LITERALLY Narnia’s version of Christ.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Just for the record, while it’s clear from documentation like Adam is mentioning that Lewis’ intent was for Aslan to be either a stand-in for Jesus, or just Jesus himself, that’s not what I base my interpretation on.

      I am a firm advocate that the Author Is Dead. I call Aslan Lion-Jesus based on what I see in the text. I feel the evidence there speaks for itself, so I won’t get into it here.

    • Jenn H

      I would still say Aslan is a metaphor/allegory for Jesus, as Jesus is not Lewis’ OC. Other Christians have a very different view of Jesus than Lewis did.

  2. Dvärghundspossen

    Agree on Hazel and Cha Cha. I was certain Hazel was meant to have super strength after that fight with Luther… Diego throwing his knives on their HELMETS made zero sense, and they’re the worst shots in the history of mankind!

  3. Sam Victors

    You wouldn’t say that about Jadis had you read the Magician’s Nephew. She was a genocidal, power-hungry tyrant (it runs in her family) who destroyed her own planet and species so her sister couldn’t with the civil war for the throne, and Jadis still blames her sister for making her destroy the world.

    Jadis also had other terrifying powers in MN, like super strength, telepathy, and turning things into dust.

  4. SunlessNick

    Audiences automatically sympathize with the underdog in any conflict because their victory is the more interesting outcome.

    That’s why I always roll my eyes at stories where Batman uses Kryptonite the defeat Superman being held up as great triumphs of humanity against the godlike alien. The whole point of Kryptonite is to make Superman the underdog this time round, so the interesting story would be one where his powers are countered by the green rock, but he defeats Batman *anyway* via ingenuity (where Batman is clearly the Goliath).

  5. Dvärghundspossen

    This is particularly true if the story is written by someone like Frank Miller, who’s got such an enormous hard-on for Batman.

  6. Innocent Bystander

    What’s baffling about the Runaways show is that in the original comic the parents were superpowered, whether by alien/mutant genes, magic, tech, time travel, or just money and connections. So making the parents normal in the show makes no sense.

  7. JackbeThimble

    I loved the Umbrella academy so I made up a headcanon that Hazel and Cha cha have minor superpowers from some unidentified source. There’s a couple places where they survive things that no normal human should plausibly be able to survive but I really just have no idea what the writers were thinking here. It would have been so easy to just have a scene where they explain that all the evil organizations assassins receive cybernetic modifications that make them super-durable and increase their reflexes and that would have made it all kosher (though they should also have fleshed out the hero’s powers a bit to give them reasons why they wouldn’t just be easily shot- maybe Diego has stupid-fast reflexes and Luther is actually bullet proof). As it is there’s actually a scene where Hazel and Cha Cha are both completely unarmed and yet Diego and Luther run away from them for no discernable reason despite having already established that, even armed, the two are barely a match for the superheroes.

  8. Rose Embolism

    The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe works better if you change the genre from fantasy to horror. The entire world was created by Aslan, so every awful thing that happens is due to his will. In this perspective, the White Witch is a desperate if ruthless fredom fighter, futily trying to break the horrifying reality Aslan created. It just needs a very interpretive reading of the text.

  9. Nite

    SPOILERS ahead on Umbrella Academy (2019), Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2 (2017) and Rick and Morty (2013-present):

    Hazel and Cha Cha are an exception.

    First, because the serie’s creators needed them to become, at the very least likeable, as Hazel will become a deuteragonist whose antagonist is Cha Cha herself (a tenser arc);
    Secondly, because the teleporter has a bug in his ability at that specific moment (diablo ex machina) and needs to keep his love interest safe (his own weak point); — LEAST ACCURATE SCENARIO
    Then, because the strong-man has lost proper control of his body, losing to Hazel’s technique who leaves the scene to regroup. Failure frightened both villains, unused to such; — MOST ACCURATE SCENARIO

    Finally, because this show is a comedy, whose purpose is to show how toxic families can make the most useful powers useless, since:
    a) they don’t miss their necromancer SIBLING absent (never cared about him — a worse case than Gamora and Nebula in MCU);
    b) their disconection constantly mislead them;
    c) Diego’s a lousy detective, because he forgets of the “child” in a crime scene and eventually gets his former partner killed because of his indiference towards his brother (cited in point a); — DIEGO’S THE WORST ASSHOLE
    d) They don’t even solve the plot, since they need to “reset” — travel to the past, creating another dimension, a la Rick and Morty;

    Proving their major antagonist were themselves as a family.

    The rules of Mythcreants can usually be bent by comedy.

    • Nite

      Sorry for the “freak”, I lacked words then.

      “What I do know is that beings who are all-good and all-powerful rarely make good heroes, since they don’t have to struggle for anything.”

      What do you think of Captain Marvel (2019)?

      • Oren Ashkenazi

        That’s okay, I edited your comment slightly to remove it.

        We thought it was quite good. Marvel style fighting has gotten pretty old for us, but it’s not any worse than most MCU movies in that regard, and better than many.

        The dialogue and character interactions are excellent though, Brie Larson is a delight, and she has great chemistry with Jackson. Also the cat is cute.

        • Nite

          While I agree with most of what you said, I think Carol Denver is too overpowered. I did the same criticism on Thanos. Many heroes on that movie had conditions to defeat him (and didn’t because plot) whereas nobody had a chance against Captain Marvel.

          SPOILER on Captain Marvel:

          She didn’t have any internal weakness to be used either. The amnesia was just a minor setback, an external one. I think the third act ruined the movie because of this.

          About Nick Fury, I think he was a wasted opportunity. Although Sam and Brie worked well together (I can’t believe haters criticized her acting), his character lost the groundness he had in earlier movies. Fury could easily be exchanged by Coulson and it wouldn’t make much of a difference, which I consider an inconsistence, given both characters are essentially different — in the movies, I didn’t watch Agents of Shield (2013-present).

          • Cay Reet

            Since Captain Marvel is set in the 90s, doesn’t that mean Fury is a good deal younger than in the other movies? Can’t that be a reason for him being less grounded?

            Fury isn’t much in AoS, it’s a TV production which can’t afford an actor like Samuel L. Jackson long-term.

          • Nite

            Spoilers to The Avengers (2008):

            Although Fury’s younger, he’s still a senior to Coulson, meaning he has baggage enough to look less newbie than he does. By grounded, I mean, more serious, more stoic which was pretty much the base for the character.

            I thought so about Fury being little in AoS, but I meant about Coulson. As I don’t watch the series and this character is a great deal there, I may not grasp the changes he’s been through since “dying” in The Avengers.

          • Cay Reet

            Well, Coulson has been through a lot in the course of AoS. In the first two seasons alone, he lost his job (when Hydra took over SHIELD), learned he was only alive because of icky alien DNA, lost his hand to an axe (although, admittedly, the other option would have been turning to stone completely), and became acting head of SHIELD. He also had to start figuring out the whole inhuman topic when Skye/Daisy/Quake got her powers.

  10. Tifa

    I meant to comment on the part about the White Witch days ago, but I was busy and had to figure out whether to watch The Good Place or Steven Universe first. But now I’m ready to ramble! It’s storytime.

    When I was little, I loved the Narnia books. During winter, I looked for tunnels in the snow to Narnia, hoping to go on magical adventures. But…it’d be the understatement of the decade to say that all the religious allegory flew over my head like a dragon. It was years and years before I finally looked back at the books and realized, ‘this is what it’s supposed to be?’ I felt…I don’t know…cheated isn’t really the best word. Betrayed, maybe?
    Yet even back then when I was little, these tiny, often subtle things about it bothered me, even though I didn’t understand it or wasn’t really aware of it. Since I’m a list-y sort of person, I made a list of all thirteen.

    1) The fact that Santa Claus, of all people, gives weapons to children, and how the children basically become child soldiers like it’s some kind of crusade. Plus the line ‘wars are ugly when women fight’. Ergh.
    2) Oren’s mention of the ‘deep and deeper magic’ made me remember how I was both bemused by it and frustrated that it was never explained nor mentioned beforehand.
    3) More importantly, I did not understand Aslan’s death in the first book at all, or, more to the point, what it represented. I’m not sure if my mum ever did try to explain it, but I’m kind of thinking she didn’t. Either way, something about it felt so…off…to me. I read it over and over again, trying to figure it out.
    4) The way Alsan excludes the children one by one as they grow older, and to me it was like he was saying, ‘you can never again be innocent, or act like a child–that door is closed forever’. Likewise, the realization that from Susan’s perspective, her entire family died, leaving her alone, to face all the pressures of society, hit me so hard. The fact that it’s left ambiguous whether she “made it” to Narnia/Heaven makes it so much worse.
    5) Aslan brutally clawing a girl’s back in The Horse in His Boy. When people do that sort of thing, they get called ‘sick’, ‘twisted’, and other names. When Aslan does that, it’s because of…reasons, I guess. Omniscient Morality Licensing 101? But joking aside, this is one, if not the biggest reason why I’m not a follower of religion–I can’t willingly believe in a god who’s followers say it’s wrong to do certain things, but it’s okay for him/his followers to do so, claiming to be merciful and loving, all while displaying angry, wrathful, cruel, and sadistic traits. [I’m not atheist or agnostic, either, but that’s another story for another day.]
    6) The implication that there are animals in Narnia who are not as intelligent as the talking ones, and that it somehow makes it okay to eat them.
    7) Never fully explaining why the White Witch wanted eternal winter, or where she came from, or anything.
    The whole ‘Garden of Eden’ and witch = snake mess in The Magician’s Nephew, and snakes = bad. Also, wolves = bad. I happen to like both a lot, especially in my favourite mythological stories. Speaking of snakes, the Green Witch from The Silver Chair–her motives, or lack thereof, always bothered me.
    9) Speaking of The Silver Chair, Aslan acting like some kind of CIA monitor, and getting angry at/frightening the children for disobeying him, puzzled me exceedingly when I was small.
    10) All of the implications of how Narnia time’ works, from the protagonists from the first book being sent back to their world without warning, mentally adults while stuck in child bodies and having years and years of memories to boot, to how every time they go back to Narnia, all their friends have been dead for centuries.
    11) The fact that the…ahem…’Middle Eastern mash-up’ Calormenes’ are the bad guys, racist overtones and all. But even worse is that the children are not only expected, but encouraged to kill them, and do so. It’s so disturbing, I’m writhing inside while writing this.
    12) The Calormenes’ god, Tash, is basically intended to be a Satanic figure. Little me looked at the illustrations of that raven headed four armed creature in my copy of The Last Battle, and thought, ‘wow, that looks awesome. I want to find out more.’ Then I read the book, and in my continual confusion, thought, ‘What is it, and why is everyone so afraid of it?’ I had no idea of the concept of cosmic evil until much later, and it makes just as little sense to me now. Fun fact: When I was little and back in the days when I went to church, I mixed up Satan with satin, and when I saw a box marked something like ‘Purple Satin’, I was terribly confused. I never told anyone about that until now.
    13) Building on that, pretty much everything about The Last Battle, from Aslan only preserving the “good bits” of Narnia and only accepting/resurrecting those who love him into new Narnia/Heaven, then letting all the rest be destroyed, to the points I mentioned above, to me wondering whether Susan’s insistence that Narnia wasn’t real was her simply trying to cope. What kind of a god is this?

    To say that I have a complicated relationship with these books is yet another huge understatement. Ironically, when I read The Dark Materials, I had similar problems with those books, too, despite them apparently supposed to be a direct counterattack to Narnia [according to the author]…and have similar sexist and class-ist parts, if not more. I found an interesting little review on the subject: http://reason.com/archives/2008/02/26/a-secular-fantasy
    Still, having a daemon would be awesome.

    I guess if I learned one thing from the Narnia books, it was: ‘don’t write books just to shove your personal views at people’. But, of course, that’s far easier said than done.

    Now I’m off to watch The Good Place.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      The Good Place is indeed a wonderful show, excellent choice!

      I can’t say even I thought about the Narnia books that thoroughly when I was a kid, although I found Aslan’s death really confusing. Like, I didn’t get why he had to do it, or how he came back. Now I get it, I just don’t like it.

      • Dvärghundspossen

        It really amazes me when people say this of the Narnia books. I mean, I guess it’s not ACTUALLY weird. It’s just that when I read them as a little kid, I went to Sunday school every week, and although my family wasn’t that religious, my friends’ families at the time were dedicated baptists… So it was 100 % OBVIOUS to me on reading them that OK, Aslan is another incarnation of God, obvs he’s got to die for people’s sins in Narnia as well as on Earth (so note my comment above: I don’t object to Aslan being Christ, I just thought it was an in-universe LITERAL thing rather than an allegory).
        I was surprised to first realize that other kids apparently read this books and they’re like “how weird that this lion had to die”, and then, EVENTUALLY, “WTF are these books religious? I feel so cheated!”

        • Cay Reet

          Not everyone is deep in Christianity, though, and not everyone would immediately connect some kids books to the bible.

          I didn’t have any Sunday school and my parents and other relatives (or family friends) weren’t religious, so apart from two hours of religion class in school (here in Germany), I had no easy reference to Christianity. It’s quite likely a lot of kids who read the books (and parents who read them to their kids pre-internet age) wouldn’t have spotted the connection. And, thus, have wondered about Aslan.

          • Dvärghundspossen

            Yeah I didn’t mean that kids who don’t get it are stupid or anything, since obviously people grow up with very different frames of reference. I was just surprised to realize that there are, maybe TONS of kids, for whom a) the whole dying-and-coming-back-thing was just strange, and also b) felt cheated when they understood the books are religious.
            Particularly the “feeling cheated” part is something I’ve actually heard from a bunch of people (although maybe not on this particular site).

            Although I realize now that I often didn’t get socialist allegory as a kid (we had tons of this in Swedish children entertainment). Like I had this children’s book about mice working hard in a mouse trap factory owned by a cat. Stuff like that. I just thought it was a weird story.

  11. Tifa

    I forgot to mention that I didn’t learn the story of Jesus’ death [most of it at Bible Camp, with rather graphic descriptions] until quite awhile after I read the Narnia books, if I recall correctly.

  12. Tifa

    In a rather interesting twist of synchronicity, I just finished watching the movie of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe fifteen minutes ago. In spite of all my problems with the overall story, I still had fun watching it.

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