Fictional Places Versus Actual Places

One thing I noticed while watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was that I actually cared for Hogwarts and I didn't want to see it be destroyed.  Well, that's an odd thing to feel about a fictional school now isn't it?  But it was true.  I grew up watching these movies and I have always seen Hogwarts as a magical and heartwarming place.  This wasn't just a school where witches and wizards can learn to do magic things, it was a place where these people lived, it was a place where they had courageous adventures, it was a place where these characters made friendships for a life time.  And to see it get annihilated was just awful.  But it made me realize that this feeling was not done by accident.  It took roughly 7 movies for me to actually care about this building.  A FICTIONAL building for that matter. 
 
I remember watching a Nostalgic Chick review on Roland Emmerich movies and she made a point that all he did was use landmarks that we already knew and cared about and destroyed them.  He depended on our knowledge and love for the landmarks for us to be emotionally invested in the movie.  And that's pretty weak.  She goes on saying that James Cameron used the tree in Avatar (sorry, I can't remember the name at the moment.  I think it's the living tree?) and showed how the  Na'vi were emotionally invested in the tree and it was devastating to see it get destroyed like that.  We were invested with that tree because the characters were, and that's harder to pull off then just destroying something we already know about. 
 
Why doesn't that work in comics?  I have heard complaints about DC that they use fictional locations.  For whatever reason they liked Marvel more because they used actual cities.  But isn't it more impressive that you want Superman to save the city of Metropolis even though that doesn't exist?  Well, not really actually.  Ya see, we as the audience never get the chance to actually enjoy and love the cities that DC tries to create.  In the sake of story, Metropolis is just a city and Superman happens to live there.  I, personally, have never read a story where the writers have tried to make one of the DC cities (Gotham, Metropolis, Keystone, etc.) likeable and have us, the audience, care for it.  We only care for them because the characters care for them.  Which, when I put it that way, sounds like it could be enough.  But why should Batman care for Gotham?  He was mostly raised in Wayne Manor which wasn't even in Gotham City.  So to see him defend the place that is supposed to be scummy and awful seems a little off when you think about it.   
 
I'm just writing this blog because I think DC should have the upper hand here.  It takes better story telling for the audience to be emotionally attached to a fictional location of some sort.  But I still hear all the time that people like Marvel better because they protect a place that actually exist.  (I hope that isn't the only reason why they like Marvel.  I'm just giving examples :P)  So, how come no writer has ever tried to make Gotham or Metropolis a likeable place?  Well, maybe one will now.  

1 Comments
1 Comments
Posted by ecm1285

I don't think Marvel uses real cities because when things get destroyed readers will feel for it more (but who knows, that could have been part of the thought process), but because they thought it would connect more to the readers.  Rather than having a superhero fly through a city know one knows anything about, Marvel makes it for readers to see a superhero in a city that they've actually been in.  It's just like when Superman went to Des Moines in issue 707, the issue sold out in Iowa comic shops because it was cool to see our city in a comic.  But over all it's a good article and raises a good question.