Growing up in Germany I loved watching American television and films. Especially animated shows and action movies. But that also meant for me that I grew up with a lot of German characters that are the bad guys.
Often German characters were/are Nazis.
Fair enough, it was horrible what happened and I never ever want to have something like that again in my home country. It‘s shameful and inhuman.
But is that really all that there is from German culture that is worth for stories to tell and characters to show?
I mean, thank the gods, for the Brothers Grimm and their fairytales because they inspired so many great stories. Especially Disney had fun with them. And that’s great but still …
Isn’t there more than just fairytale adaptations?
As a huge nerd myself, I was desperate to see some other German “not Nazi or fairytale bases”-characters in tv shows and movies.
So, I researched and made a list. And that list unfortunately isn’t long which makes me a bit sad. But that’s also something I’m eager to change as a screenwriter myself.
If you know a German character that isn’t the typical Nazi-Bad-Guy or based of a German fairytale, please let me know!
I’d love to have more on my list.
1. Klaus from “Umbrella Academy”
Hands down, he’s one of my favourite characters ever!
He’s weird, lovely, and just such a free spirit. Also Klaus is a really common German name and in the show, he sometimes even uses German words which makes me very happy.
Klaus is one of seven children who got adopted by a billionaire and were trained to be a “heroes”. But instead he became an alcoholic because of his misunderstood sensitive soul.
He can communicate with dead people and somehow manifest them in reality. But he has been struggling with this “gift”. That’s why he numbs himself with drugs, alcohol and sarcasm.
I love that he’s such a great and complex character. And not one “Nazi”-comment about him being German during the two seasons of the show. Which seems probably weird for most people but I count that as a win.
But I gotta say it’s always great to make a sarcastic comment as a German about Hitler.
I can’t just call Dad in the afterlife and be like, ‘Dad, could you just stop playing tennis with Hitler for a moment and take a quick call?’Klaus, Umbrella Academy, Season 1
Klaus, I love you with all my German heart.
2. Magneto (Erik Lehnsherr) from the “X-Men” Franchise
Talking about complex characters with questionable morals, am I right?
Of course, Magneto mostly is the “bad guy” in the X-Men franchise but damn, he has his reasons. He got tortured and survived the Holocaust as a kid while his mutant abilities made him to a lethal weapon and revenge seeking killer.
But his friendship to Charles Xavier aka Professor X also shows that he can be reasonable and that he just wants the best for his people, the mutants. Which is actually quite nobel.
My German heart was especially happy when Michael Fassbender was cast as the younger version of Magneto. I mean nothing against Ian McKellen, he’s a national treasure.
But Fassbender can actually speak German!!! Like proper German! Not some learned lines with sometimes grammar mistakes and a bad accent.
People with English as their second language will understand what I mean. For my native English speaking friends: trust me, there’s a difference!
What none of you will ever understand is that there are no sides. No heroes or villains. There is just what I want, and how I’ll get it.Magneto (Marvel Comics)
3. Edna Mode from “The Incredibles”
It’s Edna, baby! What a surprise, eh?
I couldn’t believe it myself but Edna is actually half-German and half-Japanese. What a great mix. Love it.
To be honest I’ve always adored Edna Mode. She’s so blunt, hard-working and a creative genius. I liked her right from the first glance.
This makes me even more happy now that she’s actually half-German. Who would have thought?
I’m also wondering now if that’s why her last name is “Mode”. Because that means “fashion” in German. Interesting, interesting, …
I never look back, dahling! It distracts from the now.Edna Mode
4. Helga Sinclair from “Atlantis”
Another animated one and a woman, nonetheless. Yay!
Helga Sinclair is the antagonist’s right hand in Atlantis. She’s tough and a badass. I was very impressed with this bossy woman, even though she was one of the “bad guys”.
Like Edna, she’s half-German. She was born in Frankfurt but her dad was a soldier from the US army which technically makes her half-American, half-German.
Come on, people, that’s an order, not a suggestion. Let’s go!Helga Sinclair, Atlantis
What a nice mix, isn’t it? Two live-action characters, both male, and two animated ones, both female. Two are antagonists (and not Nazis), one is the anti-hero, and then there’s the great supporting character.
That’s kinda cool.
But that also gives me plenty of motivation as a writer to create other German characters for the mainstream media. And one goal is definitely to create a German superhero that is international known.
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