Why I think Mako Mori is the hero of Pacific Rim.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I totally got that about Mako when I saw the movie and I was so ecstatic about the sword. I don’t go to the theater very often because of the barrage of crap being offered until this came along with everything I ever wanted in a movie. It’s been a week and I’m still excited!
You see that Jaeger take down that Kaiju?
That shit was so Sword.
PREACH! PREACH, BROTHER! This movie was all I hoped it to be and more.
Did you read these blog posts about the physics behind the rocket punch and nuclear explosion?
Right on! Mori was totally badass. Right from her entrance under that umbrella. One of my favorite lines was- “It’s not obedience, it’s respect.” Yes. Saw it twice and both times I was just floored by her amazing character.
“Fucking Sword!” Yes. That was in fact the best thing ever in the movie.
I don’t get what’s with people and calling Mako weak or a damsel in distress or whatever. She’s clearly badass, strong on her own count, and doesn’t take any bullshit from any Kaiju out there.
Regarding the whole “backing down from Pentecost” thing, plenty of traditional male heros do much the same thing without anyone batting an eye.
When Luke Skywalker wants to go to the Academy to become a pilot and fight the Empire, his protective Uncle Owen completely disallows it. What does Luke do? He goes and fixes the droids and mopes. Then, later when he meets Obi-Wan and learns about the Force and his father, Luke wants to leave even more, but he STILL won’t bring himself to defy Owen. Only when the Empire kills his family and destroys his home, leaving him no other real option, does he leave on his journey.
Our culture holds a strong double standard. When a female character is eager to do something, but has obstacles in front of her which she either cannot or will not surmount to achieve her desires, we consider her weak. It doesn’t matter if the obstacles are later removed, either.
Meanwhile, who doesn’t love Luke? Sure, he’s scrawny, insecure, submissive, ignorant, unskilled, and naïve, but dangit, he’s got “Fighting Spirit!”.
What’s that? Mako is all that, plus actually skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable? Pfft. If she was a “real” badass, she’d punch Pentecost in the face and steal the Jaeger or something! Taking charge, like a man… I mean… like a “hero” does! Just like when Luke kicked Owen in the nards and ran off with the droids so he could go join the Rebe… wait-a-minute…
First, I agree with the major points: awesome movie, awesome giant robots, and Mako Mori was no damsel (where “damsel” is defined here as “less character than object acted upon by other characters). I further agree that, as far as one can say, she shows more character growth and development than any other character in the film (except perhaps our Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern doctors).
That said, I have to disagree on two points. Point the first is that Mako doesn’t follow the Hero’s Journey. One of the defining traits is that the hero is forced into the journey against his will. Think of Luke when his home is destroyed by Stormtroopers, or Odysseus when he is drafted into the military against his will. Now, granted, our erstwhile two-dimensional protagonist didn’t exactly get forced into the adventure either – his introduction into the plot consisted of, “Do it,” “No, my brother died,” “Shut up and do it,” “Okay.” But Mako, to cite the trope, Jumped At The Call. She sought this. That already distinguishes her from the classic hero who has heroism thrust upon him/her.
Point the second is character development. I loved the movie, I really did. It was exactly what I had always hoped a Western film would be able to accomplish- a love-song to everything giant robot and kaiju. It hit every note pitch-perfectly. But it was two-dimensional. The movie was linear – our only twist was introduced in the first five minutes (oh noes, brother died!). Every plot point was telegraphed – relationships, successes, failures, scientific breakthroughs – it was all extremely linear. Characters didn’t particularly evolve, with the exception of, for the most part, Mako Mori. And that evolution was limited to overcoming her fear. As soon as that happened, she was a fully evolved pilot, and that was the end of it. I don’t have issue with this, because I didn’t go to an awesome movie about giant robots and kaiju (and freaking swords, man!) for the plot or character development. But claiming that Mako is a fully-rounded character with depth and growth is just uncomfortable. Nobody in that film was. (Not even Idris Elba. Alas.)
Tl;dr version: Awesome movie, awesome robots, awesome kaiju. Mako was no damsel in distress, but the most evolved character, although none of the characters were that developed. Joseph Campbell would not be satisfied, but any kid who grew up seeing people in rubber suits sword the crap out of each other would.
Actually, Fel, there are plenty of Heroes that don’t deny the call to action, and even WANT to go on some grand adventure. TvTropes refers to this as “Jumped At The Call”, in contrast to the usual Refusal of The Call.
In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones hears about the Nazis going after the Ark and instantly says “I’m in!”. In most of the classic James Bond films, 007 goes straight to work with only a cursory briefing. Tony Stark never intended to get captured, wounded, and as a consequence turn over a new leaf, but when adversity hits, he rises to the challenge instantly. In The Princess Bride, Westley gets multiple calls to action: first he goes across the sea to make his fortune, then he joins the pirates to save his life, then he becomes the Dread Pirate Roberts, et cetera – he never balks or hesitates for an instant when a new challenge comes up.
And while I’ll admit this is a more modern tendency in storytelling, at the same time it also stretches back into history quite a ways. A perfect exaple is when Beowulf jumped at the call to aid Hroðgar.
Imma leave this here: http://stormingtheivorytower.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-visual-intelligence-of-pacific-rim.html
YES! I agree with you completely, and we all know Raleigh agrees with you 250%.