Sunday, July 13, 2014

Top 10 Magicians in Fiction

For this list, what I mean here by “magician” is any character that wields and dabbles in magic – wizards, witches, warlocks, sorcerers, sorceresses, clerics, and the like, as long as it was established that their powers originate from “magic” of some sort.  Thus, the scope for this list covers a lot of ground so a lot of characters are missed out.  Any depiction of Merlin, the legendary wizard that served as adviser and ally to King Arthur, who has been the archetype for many wizard-characters – wizened, wise, and proficient in magic – did not even get a spot in the list.  That’s how crowded the choices for this list are.        


I really enjoyed the different incarnations of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.”  Whether in Archie Comics’ stories, in the live-action sitcom, or in Sabrina: The Animated Series, Sabrina’s adventures are always amusing.  The character’s premise is quite interesting: a young witch lives with her more powerful witch aunts and a smooth-talking cat (a warlock punished to become a cat for his world domination aspirations), as she learns the proper way of using her powers while struggling with the daily trials that a teen girl has to deal with.  Fun.

The DC Universe has a mob of magic-users (there are three that made this list, Zatanna being the first one), and Zatanna was the first one I got to really like.  What made her initially fascinating to me is because of her “day job” as a stage illusionist; her being a practitioner of both stage and real magic, I find that really cool.  She also has a very, er, appealing outfit. 


Doctor Fate’s mythology and character history makes him a very interesting character.  He also has one of the coolest superhero appearances ever.   
There are different people – both male and female – who have taken the mantle of Doctor Fate.  But the essence of the characters are basically the same: they have been chosen to wield the Amulet of Anubis, Cloak of Destiny, and Helmet of Fate; granting them immense magical powers to serve as the avatars of the Lords of Order, particularly Nabu, in their war against Chaos. 


It can be argued that Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet With, at some point, is the most powerful character in this list.  Originally, the Scarlet Witch’s magic was merely portrayed as “hexing,” the ability to manipulate probability.  But it was later revealed that her powers are bigger than that, that her magic is even capable of altering reality itself.  She has been able to re-write reality that made mutants reign supreme over humans, extinguish the mutant X-gene, conjure children for herself, raise the dead, and other god-like manifestations.   After the events of “The Children’s Crusade” storyline, her powers returned to her previous “hexing” levels.    


Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Willow has one of the most captivating and complexly executed character developments that have ever been done in fiction.  Willow was introduced early on the story as Buffy’s sidekick/bestfriend.  She was initially a shy, nerdy girl that lacked confidence.  Nonetheless, she has inherent magical powers and aided Buffy in her vampire hunting escapades.  As her study of witchcraft progressed, her confidence gradually grew with her mastery of magic.  However, she also become more and more dependent – addicted – on magic.  This eventually led to darkness corrupting her; triggered by heartbreak, grief, and raged due to the loss of the love of her life.  She would serve as the main villain of the show’s sixth season, in the path of destroying the world. 


I liked this Harry Potter villainess so much – as brilliantly portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter in the movies – that she is one of my choices for 20 female characters in fiction (She’s no. 15).  She’s also the only Harry Potter character that made this list. 

Bellatrix is a sadistic, mad villainess whose primarily concern is to create chaos.  She has proven to be the deadliest and most ruthless among Voldemort’s chief Death Eaters.  And in the Harry Potter movies, the character is a more captivating and terrorizing antagonist than Voldemort himself (again, thanks to Ms. Carter’s performance).           


The greatest magician in the DC Universe is, hands down, John Constantine.   Constantine is a cynical, cunning, and snarking anti-hero that efforlessly wins you over despite being a big a-hole.  He is mostly selfish and manipulative, but he is sincere in doing some good in his life and protecting his friends, no matter how it takes. 

He has immense magical powers and great knowledge of the supernatural.  However, he mostly relies on his quick-thinking, smooth-talking, and slyness to win confrontations.  He is a natural con man, and has been able to fool and manipulate, not only people, but demons and other supernatural beings as well. 


Stephen Strange, M.D. doesn’t need to adopt a flashy code name to distinguish himself as a magician-superhero.  What he has in his actual name is mystical sounding already.  

Doctor Strange is the “Sorcerer Supreme.”  This implies that he is arguably one the most powerful, if not the most powerful, magic-user in the Marvel Universe.  Doctor Strange is primarily concerned with defending the world from magical and supernatural threats, but, being an Avenger, has been occasionally tackling with “down-to-earth” concerns.

He is one of Marvel’s most fascinating and complex characters; I’ve always wanted to see this character to be portrayed in a live-action movie, and I am happy that movie is reportedly on the works for Marvel Studios’ Phase 3.           


Gandalf the Grey – later, the White – is one of the important characters in the classic Lord of the Rings trilogy (and its prequel, The Hobbit).  He is a wizard of the Istari order and a member of “Fellowship of the Ring.”  Without his wisdom, initiative, and courage, Sauron wouldn’t have been defeated.  In fact, for me, Gandalf was the most significant contributor to the salvation of Middle Earth (one of the reasons why he is high on this list). Really.  Frodo and Aragorn had been indeed heroic and were major factors to Sauron’s demis, and they are worthy to be celebrated.  However, it was due to Gandalf’s guidance and urging that made it possible for Frodo, Aragorn, and the rest of Middle Earth to step up and rise from the occasion.       

Sir Ian McKellen played Gandalf magnificently in the LOTR movies and in the ongoing “The Hobbit” movie trilogy.     


I find no other interpretation of magic that is more delightful than what was done in Fairy Tail.  The manga’s titular magicians’ guild, Fairy Tail, is a collection of very enjoyable characters that wield various themed magical abilities: sword, size-enhancement, summoning, transformation, iron, fire, water, wind, ice, lightning, and several other kinds and motifs.  Fairy Tail’s ensemble of magicians is the best in fiction.  

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