On Fictional Character Names, Or “God I wish I’d thought of ‘Hannibal Chow’”
So, we’ve got some new speculative science fictional motion pictures coming out, involving Giant Things Crashing Into Or On Top Of Each Other, and they all released trailers this week.
That is goddamn insane, to ask me to have opinions about Superman AND The Lone Ranger in the span of a day. Be more considerate, Hollywood.
But what amused me the most about After Earth (which is bafflingly named, since the Will Smith informs his son that the harsh alien landscape they have crashed into is, in fact, Earth, so don’t piss on my head and tell me it’s raining, movie!) and Pacific Rim (probably the most relaxing name a film about giant robots fighting monsters can have) were the character names.
Will Smith’s character, you see, is named Cypher Raige.
A screenwriter who was possibly not M. Night Shyamalan sat down, wrote something like, “Ext. – Earth Not Earth?, Night: CYPHER RAIGE looks on at his clone son, forlornedly…” and saw NOTHING THAT MIGHT NEED EDITING.
So yes, I’ve just been laughing at that name in my head all week.
Then came Pacific Rim, and…well, here:
Idris Elba IS Stacker Pentecost!
Ron Perlman IS Hannibal Chow!
Charlie Day IS Newt Gotlieb!
Max Martini IS Herc Hansen!
Charlie Hunnam IS Raleigh Antrobus!
Robin Thomas IS American Statesman!
Okay, that last one…that may not be an actual character name, so much as a vague IMDb description. BUT IT COULD BE A CHARACTER NAME.
And I fucking love each and every one of these absolutely insane names. Because while “Cypher Raige” – I’m sorry, I forgot, GENERAL Cypher Raige – may be the most pretentious, bang-you-over-the-head-with-meaning names I’ve ever been asked to take seriously, Guillermo del Toro came up with a list of names straight from The Devil’s Mad Libs, and I thank him for it.
Meanwhile, The Hunger Games series has managed to name every character after some combination of antique furniture components and poisonous fauna that I’m starting to think we may be in a new golden age of ridiculous made-up names. No more of this “John Carter” or “Jack Ryan” business. BRING ME THE HEAD OF RALEIGH ANTROBUS!
Now, El Braako has admitted from time to time that he has trouble coming up with names, and I’m beginning to see the value of keeping some at the ready in case a catastrophic science fictional condition breaks out, so here is a by-no-means exhaustive list to get us all through those lean times (and feel free to add Colonel, Admiral, Midshipman, etc., as needed):
Potemkin Q. Jangles
October Kingsnake “O.K.” Wicksong
Charger Van Beefstack
Okay, that’s all I got for now, everyone come up with more. If you need inspiration, here you go: