Monday, July 20, 2009

The Missing Variable

My esteemed colleague, the venerable ShadowBanker, has done a lot of work analyzing villain's choices, cooperation and the outcomes that arise from these choices.

And I think we can all agree that these analyses are pretty well thought out and well considered, but one element is missing.

Let's consider a similar analysis. In a two-part story in Detective Comics in the mid-90's, the Penguin hires an actuary to calculate risks for his jobs. The actuary sets to work analyzing a particular set-up for a heist, works on the cost-benefit ratios and probabilities, and provides Penguin with a plan that is satistically most likely to succeed. The actuary even applies his skills to reducing the interference of Batman. He postulates that since Batman appears almost exclusively at night, a daylight heist of a rare orchid from a flower show could be pulled off without any interference from Batman. But Batman shows up, beats the living crap out of the thugs and foils the plans.

But why did the actuary's analysis fail? How did Batman triumph over statistics and reasoning? With the most important ingredient in any super-hero analysis: BAD-ASSITY. That's right, because Batman is bad-ass, probability starts to break down.


And its not just Batman who benefits from this extra variable influencing probability. It's nearly ever major superhero who triumphs over impossible odds consistently. You can find bad-ass in all of them. It's in every flying kick. Every splash page uppercut. Every pile of vanquished enemies. The true hero eats, sleeps, and maims with pure bad-ass. And as a result, this infused bad-assity affects all of their hero encounters.

Allow me to demonstrate some simple equations for how bad-ass can affect a situational analysis.
  • Superman+ Braniac's spaceship + Badass= smoldering metal floating in space

  • Daredevil + Kingpin + Badass= -12 teeth for Kingpin

  • Batman + Scarecrow + Badass= A floor covered in straw and bloody burlap

  • Wolverine + 3,000 ninjas + Badass= HOLY CRAP ALL THOSE NINJAS ARE DEAD!

But without Bad-ass you're left with very different results:
  • Blue Beetle + Maxwell Lord = Gaping Head Wound

  • Speedball + Civil War = bondage freak

  • Alpha Flight + Power Absorbing Mutant = Dead Canadians

So if you're going to analyze the outcomes for actions of superheroics, you need to include Bad-Assity as a fundamental element of your equations. Bad-Ass is the deciding factor between a hero standing triumphantly on a balcony with the moonlight shining through their flowing cape and a hero locked in the trunk of a car with a plastic bag wrapped around their head. It's that important.


18 comments:

synergic said...

Nice read...hilarious

But I think apart from BADASS variable, BADLUCK variable also predominate all Villains too. Think about it, from your post actuary postulated that it is safer to steal during daytime and it was a very sound and logical reasoning but due when BADLUCK variable comes in to play, even greatest crime lord villains could be defeated by a sidekick.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Wolverine vs. 3000 ninjas. True, Wolv is the ultimate badass, but this may be a poor example. I think that is more easily explained by Conservation of Ninjitsu".

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ConservationOfNinjutsu

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Generic Viagra said...

My Girlfriend is an actuary and I am going to have a little fun with her with this,and see if she can come to the same result as Penguin's actuary or if she takes BAD-ASSITY as an ingredient.


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