Superhero shows like the CW's Arrowverse slate is filled with large-than-life characters. For every super-charged hero or over-powerful villain, there is a collection of supporting characters and actors who fill the essential roles. The next time you watch a superhero series, consider the ways a supporting character helps the overall arc and themes represented in episodes.
The Viewer's Perspective
Supporting characters on superhero shows are often the powerless bystanders. In many ways, the characters represent the viewer's perspective in a world of larger-than-life characters. The characters keep a show grounded and will often showcase the same opinions and views that an audience member has.
The perspective can include everyday people like teachers, cafe workers, or neighbors. Without the characters, some of the hero's mythology could get lost within the story.
Every episode of a TV show cannot just feature a hero clashing with an arch-villain. Sub-plots are essential for continuing the story elements. This is where supporting characters come in. For example, on the show Black Lightning, actor Kedrick Brown played the character of Marcel Payton.
Marcel was introduced as a teacher, but his journey took him in many directions and connected him to the heroes of the story. He taught super-powered students and eventually had a storyline of his own where he became an underground fighter. His journey helped fill in a lot of a show and brought connections to both main heroes and villains.
The subplots with Marcel allowed our main hero to shine and build up his character through some of the key moments inclduing many themes like homelessnes.
The Hero & Villain Impacts
When you see heroes fly around, save lives, or make major decisions, the repercussions of those decisions often reflect through supporting characters. It's one thing to see a villain blow up a building. The explosion has a lot more depth and consequences when you can see the impact it has had on supporting characters. Lives change and heroes learn there are consequences.
The morals and life lessons will also grow from these impacts. Viewers become more connected to the story through the lens of a supporting character and the actors portraying the character. Without the elements, the shows would feel like a reel of special effects rather than an emotional journey.
The next time you watch supporting actors, like Kedrick Brown, take note of how essential the supporting characters are and supply support to the superhero genre on television and beyond.