Day One: Aground Amiable Aliens

Welcome to Day One of the A to Z Challenge. As mentioned in my last post, I’ll be looking at different types of characters that ride the unpredictable winds of international fiction.

I’m starting with aground amiable aliens, which are friendly characters who are temporarily or permanently stranded on worlds very different from their own.  Although the worlds these characters inhabit are can radically different, their challenges and journeys are often the same.

Journeys of Self-Discovery

The journey into a foreign land bends towards introspection.  What makes the character stand out from the rest enables the character to view themselves in a way they wouldn’t have at home.

Take Thor in Thor (excuse the redundancy, there will be a lot of it in this paragraph) for example.  Cast down to Earth, he faces new challenges that make him evaluate his former warmongering tendencies.  Bumblebee in Bumblebee has lost his memory and goes on a journey to remember/discover who he is.  Superman both in Smallville and in Superman Returns goes on journey to discover his place in a world where no one is quite like him.

The Three Major Opponents

The three major opponents that tend to show up in these stories are people from the new planet who want to evict or exploit the character, haunting enemies from their home planet, and/or the character’s weaknesses.

Bumblebee is hunted by military forces, haunted by Decepticons, and wrestles against his own memory loss, his clumsiness, and his not knowing the rules of this new world.  E.T. in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is also hunted by government forces and faces an inability to fully communicate.  Superman in Superman (1978) wrestles against Lex Luthor (new planet enemy) and General Zod (old planet enemy) and along with the internal struggle of understanding responsibility and power.

Due to the nature of these stories, these characters tend to appear in speculative fiction.  A few more examples of characters that also fit this category can be found in Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し), Coco, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Captain Marvel and Transformers.  

Can you name other stories that contain aground amiable aliens?


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