Ben 10: How to Fix and Improve Charmcaster
Tactical Ochoa last edited by
After having watched and reviewed The Charm Offensive a while back, I say that the timing is right to cover Charmcaster in-depth and explain what I think are ways to help fix and improve her as a character…because my god, she has not been treated well after the Original Series and really needs some serious help to get her back on her feet. Charmcaster was among the many things within the Original Series that was set up to have so much potential and great opportunities to really shine as a character and, to me at least, she never reached that very potential. This is primarily due to how post-Original Series writers (which apparently now includes Man of Action given how they and CN Studios handled Charmcaster in The Charm Offensive) seem to have little understanding of Charmcaster as a character and her past. Here is what I think went wrong with Charmcaster and how to make things right for her.
What made Charmcaster at her best was how she was portrayed in the Original Series. Not only did she have such a unique, appealing, and pretty much the best design to her appearance and not only did her rivalry with Gwen provide some interesting conflicts and situations for the main characters to overcome but what I find to be the best part about her and where her potential shined the most is her history with her uncle, Hex. As I explained in my review of The Charm Offensive, while the Original Series doesn’t go further into Charmcaster’s past and her experience being raised by Hex, there were some significantly subtle clues that really showed a lot about her and her relationship with Hex; subtle clues that gave Charmcaster a lot of depth and potential as a character. Basically, Hex tormented and abused Charmcaster throughout most, if not all, of her life. He made her fear him and he also made her the very person that she is. Charmcaster acts the way that she did in the Original Series because of how Hex raised and treated her. Even though it doesn’t excuse her actions in the Original Series, this very aspect about her does make Charmcaster feel like a tragic victim that really does deserve to have a better life. While Charmcaster is very much a fitting evil counterpart of Gwen much like how Kevin is to Ben, this aspect about her explained so much about Charmcaster as a character as well as having set up potential to really make her shine as a character in such an interesting and compelling way. I’ll get to more of what that potential can very much be later in this article. Overall, everything that I explained here in this paragraph sums up what I find makes Charmcaster at her best. It’s just a shame though that she never reached that very potential that was set up for her after the Original Series.
So what went wrong with Charmcaster? Pretty much a lot of things that came after the Original Series and that’s due to how little of an understanding of Charmcaster that the writers really have. In Alien Force and Ultimate Alien, Charmcaster was changed into a pretty generic and bland femme fatale with a redesign to her appearance also being quite bland as well. I know that in my review of The Charm Offensive I stated that her UAF design looks more unique than her reboot design. I still stand by that statement. When compared to how Charmcaster currently looks in the 2016 reboot, yes, her UAF design does look better and more unique and does fit that aspect of Charmcaster being a magic casting sorceress. However, if I were to compare Charmcaster’s UAF design to her Original Series and Omniverse design, there’s no doubt that her UAF design certainly looks bland and generic. Even though her UAF design is quite similar of Marvel’s Enchantress, UAF Charmcaster somewhat looks like something out of a fairytale. It doesn’t really fit her well along with that femme fatale approach to her as a character given how she was portrayed in the Original Series. She did improve a little in Omniverse though; especially in regards to her design. The issue though is that the writers decided to make Charmcaster more…kooky than her previous portrayals, from what I recall. Again, like with the femme fatale approach, it doesn’t really suit her. It felt out of place for Charmcaster. It doesn’t help either how the writers decided to change up Hex and made him a more caring uncle to Charmcaster, which very much conflicted with how he treated Charmcaster in the Original Series. Again, Hex tormented Charmcaster for most of her life. He didn’t care about her. He only cared about himself. Suddenly, Hex pulls a 180 and decides to do something that’s so out-of-character for him to do? I stated plenty of times a while back how it was rumored that Dwayne McDuffie and likely Glen Murakami never watched the Original Series when they were making Alien Force and Ultimate Alien. Given how Charmcaster and Hex were portrayed as in UAF and OV, that’s just more evidence to add to the pile. Then we get to Charmcaster in the Ben 10 reboot. For those that haven’t seen my review of The Charm Offensive, the issues that I have (and noticed that others had as well) with Charmcaster in that episode is just how incredibly bland and generic she was, more so than in UAF. Her new design looks just like a typical and generic Goth girl in a typical and generic school that checks off every trope that a typical and generic school would have. Her new backstory is something that we’ve seen done before thousands of times already. As far as I can tell, considering that she’s no longer related to Hex, which already tosses away what I believe to be the most interesting aspect about Charmcaster (that I explained in the previous paragraph) and the potential that it brought to her. Then again, they already screwed Hex up enough to make him no longer redeemable and good. Tara Strong replaced Kari Wahlgren as the voice of Charmcaster and, much like with Gwen and Max’s voice actors being replaced in the reboot, it just isn’t the same. Tara was decent with her performance but it just doesn’t fit the character well. It certainly doesn’t help either that the plot of The Charm Offensive was a copy and paste of the Ultimate Alien episode, Couples Retreat. To think that Man of Action, the very creators of Ben 10, was behind this just makes her portrayal in the Ben 10 reboot even more disappointing. The only part about reboot Charmcaster that made her…well, Charmcaster is that she’s a teenage delinquent with a Gothic look and magic powers, which as I stated in my review, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of Charmcaster as a character and what made her at her best. Overall, all these issues with Charmcaster, and Hex, all stem from the lack of an understanding of both characters and quite the mistreatment and mishandling of them that resulted from it.
So what are ways that I find could help to fix and improve Charmcaster and overall make her a much better character? Well, first off, bring back Kari Wahlgren as the voice of Charmcaster. Second, make Charmcaster and Hex very much like how they were back in the Original Series. Bring those very traits and elements of those two characters from the Original Series back. Make Hex the ruthless, terrifying, and power hungry villains that many fans and viewers liked without turning him into an absolute joke of a villain for comedy sake like how the Ben 10 reboot handled him. Make Charmcaster back into being Hex’s niece who was tormented and corrupted due to the abusive and harsh treatment that he gave her throughout most of her life. I mentioned in the second paragraph how Charmcaster’s experience being raised by Hex and how that made her the very person that she is set up a lot of potential for her as a character. What exactly do I think that potential is? The build up to Charmcaster finding the strength to overcome these hardships that she went through and turn her life around for the betterment of herself and others (especially Ben and Gwen). Charmcaster had always felt as if she deserved to have a better life. In Batman: The Killing Joke, the Joker emphasized how one bad day can make a normal, sane person go insane. It could be interesting to see something along the lines of the opposite happening; especially with Charmcaster. I doubt that this would work with Kevin Levin though. In The Killing Joke, the Joker himself knew that it was too late for him; that he crossed the point of no return. In the Original Series, as I have addressed plenty of times before, Kevin had also crossed that point of no return for numerous reasons, which is why I find his transition in Alien Force to still make no sense whatsoever. I say that it should be too late for Kevin to redeem himself but Charmcaster, however, still has that chance. Ultimate Alien looked as if it was going that approach of Charmcaster turning a new leaf but then Omniverse pulled her back. If given various and numerous nudges, I believe that it would be enough to push Charmcaster to make that transition and become a better, stronger, and more compelling character. Have Charmcaster experience some of the better, more positive moments of life that she never got a chance to truly experience. I think that’s one of the ways that can help push Charmcaster towards a better life. Having her get a taste of that better life is something that I find to have quite a significantly positive impact on her but that alone might not be enough for her to walk away from her villainous life.
Another thing that I want to suggest is to stop pairing up Charmcaster with Michael Morningstar. Considering how it was handled in Ultimate Alien felt unnecessary and it felt even more unnecessary when the Ben 10 reboot did that as well…considering how, again, The Charm Offensive copied from Couples Retreat. In fact, you want to know whom I find to be a much better character to pair up with Charmcaster? Kevin Levin. These two characters have so much to them that parallels each other. Both characters went through a lot of abuse. Both Kevin and Charmcaster very much fittingly represent the evil counterparts of Ben and Gwen respectively. Both characters have a strong desire to take revenge on Ben and Gwen. The biggest difference between these two is that Charmcaster is saner and more mentally stable while Kevin is a delusional psychopath. It’s because of this major difference that while I can see this partnership be very much fitting here, it certainly wouldn’t last long given the nature of Kevin. In fact, it would certainly end badly for the two and thus would certainly further encourage Charmcaster to walk away from her villainous life. Regardless, I find this pairing to be a much more interesting and fitting approach to take than Charmcaster and Morningstar. Also, given the type of person that Kevin is, I can see things go badly for Charmcaster here, thus acting as another significant nudge to further push her even closer towards making that transition to a better life.
Regardless of Charmcaster being pushed further and further towards leaving her villainous life behind, there’s still one thing that I guarantee that Charmcaster would have to deal with; a final test for her to overcome and that Hex. As long as Hex remains being around, Charmcaster would never be truly free. Given the nature of Hex in the Original Series, I can imagine how furious he would be towards Charmcaster considering how she double crossed him, which led to Hex’s plan to restore the Charms of Bezel to fail, and how Charmcaster planned to treat Hex after the Fountain of Youth turned him into a child. I can also imagine how Charmcaster would see Hex being turned into a child as an opportunity to pack up and run; to get as far away from Hex as possible in order to avoid his wrath and anger towards. Eventually though, Hex will catch up to her. During this conflict that Charmcaster would find herself facing, this could lead up to a good opportunity for Charmcaster and Gwen to build up their relationship and eventually end up being on good terms with each other. This was something that was pretty much happening in the sequel shows that I do agree on. I do think that it would make plenty of sense for Charmcaster and Gwen to eventually become good friends with each other. I can see Gwen, and Ben, being willing to step in and help Charmcaster deal with Hex. It’s likely that Hex would be too powerful for Charmcaster to handle on her own and there’s certainly nothing wrong with having some help. Granted though, both Ben and Gwen would need a good enough reason to convince them to help Charmcaster. Witnessing Charmcaster being pushed towards the light side would help but regardless, I think what would really convince them (most especially Gwen) to help Charmcaster is for Ben and Gwen to learn more about Charmcaster’s past and thus learn more of the torment that she really went through and witness evidence of it; to learn on how Charmcaster is more of a victim than a villain and thus gain their sympathy. With Ben and Gwen’s help, Charmcaster would finally manage to find the strength to defy Hex and thus defeat him once and for all, thus freeing Charmcaster from his grasp and completing her transition away from her old villainous life and towards a new and better life.
There’s one more thing that I want to cover as well and this is in regards to Kevin’s son, Devlin. I think Charmcaster would be a very fitting choice to be Devlin’s mother…or at the very least a mother figure to Devlin. While plenty of aspects about Devlin parallel Kevin, I say that Devlin really parallels more with Charmcaster. Much like how Charmcaster was raised throughout most of her life being tormented by Hex, Devlin was raised throughout most of his life being tormented by Kevin. Much like how Charmcaster feared Hex due to how he treated her and how powerful he is, Devlin feared Kevin due to how Kevin treated him and how powerful Kevin is. However, implementing this could likely be quite a challenge to face given what I stated before in regards to Charmcaster and Kevin pairing up and how badly that could end for them. I’d imagine that thing would get pretty extreme (not like Kevin is known for being quite extreme himself) in order to make Charmcaster being Devlin’s biological mother work well in Ben 10. Either way, I still find Charmcaster to be a fitting choice to be Devlin’s biological mother (or at the very least be a mother figure to him) and I can see her and Devlin having a strong bond with each other, coming to understand the hardships that they went through, thus encouraging Charmcaster to try and protect Devlin from Kevin and help Ben, Gwen, and Ken give Devlin the better life that he deserves.
So that’s everything that I find would help to fix and improve Charmcaster and overall make her a much better character than how she was handled since after the Original Series. If anyone has any thoughts of their own on what this article covers or on what they think are ways to help fix and improve Charmcaster, feel free to comment down below.
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