If you are reading this article, you should already know about the term that is used to describe a lot of characters from various media in a bad way. The term originated in fan fiction, but it is now being used to describe every character that fits the strangely large criteria. “Mary Sue” can be used to describe characters that are powerful for an unexplained reason or a rather vague one. It can also be used to describe characters that are always the center of attention, poorly written, cliché ridden, or someone who just goes overboard with ideals. Now, you are probably wondering why I am informing you on these different definitions. Well, I am going to inform you on my thoughts about characters that are considered a “Mary Sue” or “Gary Stu” from their respective stories and why I don’t think they are always a bad thing. I will be focusing on a few examples from the western comics and the eastern manga.
Starting with western comics, you can say that most superheroes are a prime example of this term. Coming from other planets, getting powers from other life forms, constantly saving the world, and evening losing to the villain once before they gain another power to beat said villain. Early Superman would be considered “Mary Sue”. Another example would be Kaneda or even Tetsuo from Akira because of how they both are at the center of the story and one of them awakens to some rather strong powers that keep getting stronger (Tetsuo), while everything just works in the other’s favor to the point where it’s almost comedic and surprising how he hasn’t died or been seriously injured like the other characters (Kaneda).
Some find these methods of telling a story to be poorly written and one-dimensional for the character. I believe that all of these “Mary Sue” or “Gary Stu”-esque traits create gateways for characters to evolve and mature over time. At the beginning of a series, a character can be seen as the strongest being around and pretty unstoppable, but when you get closer to the end you will see that they have gone through enough events to actually flow with the narrative and stand out a bit less. Taking a look at one of the examples from earlier, Superman started to change and gain bit more personality as time passed. At the time, Batman was the one thriving because this dark avenger had a bit more character to him than Superman did, so it time for a change. Instead of being this alien who was worshipped like a god by everyone, but the villain, he is now a figure who protects everyone even if they hate him. He understands how to use his powers and when he is doing the right thing or the wrong thing. Just do a comparison with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, the novel where Superman is dumb enough to be tricked by the enemy, and something newer featuring the hero. You will see a difference because he has changed over the years from some random, overpowered guy from another world.
Before I conclude, I want to say that there are a lot of characters that fall under the categories for this term and some of them, in my opinion, actually do not change over time. Although, I feel like most of the characters being considered one in comics and graphic novels do change, unless the authors purposely made them out to be “Mary Sue”‘s or “Gary Stu”‘s . Well, If you think about it, all of this shouldn’t really matter as long as you decide to enjoy the content that you are viewing. Thanks for viewing my mini-rant!