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The Triumph and Trouble of Charles Gunn

CharlieGunn1

Ready for battle...
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Mar 8, 2017
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Hey everyone, I thought it might be fun to see what people liked and didn't like about ol' chuck. I wrote a thesis back in the day with the same title as this thread on his character, his introduction and overall portrayal, and I was wondering how others really felt about this character, his roll in the series, and if there was anything about his introduction that you particularly enjoyed or were annoyed by.

Considering the deep anaylsis of so many other characters, I think it's high time to crack open the head of one Mr. Charles Gunn.
 

thrasherpix

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In a nutshell: Gunn streetwise Xander who is actually cool (I mean no disrespect to Xander, but Gunn did normally avoid the awkwardness that Xander often experienced, and Gunn also started off as a leader while Xander never was much of a leader throughout the TV series). I absolutely LOVED how they introduced his character. And after that, I loved the slow but steady growth of his character and how he came to redefine himself.

On my comparison to Xander: I can see this confusing people because they define Xander as often being comedic and openly scared (even if he still conquered his fear), but I see Gunn's wisecracking nature (which could also be surprisingly self-depreciating at times) and black & white view towards demons and vampires in a very similar light (perhaps if Gunn was crushing on a girl that was instead going with Angel then he might've gone after Angel himself in similar petty jealousy, and jealousy did motivate his character later on). Xander sometimes felt insecure about his contributions to the cause, and Gunn sometimes resented being the muscle (not the same, yet similar enough to remind me of the other). Gunn would also confront dangerous criminals while Xander would confront the jocks that bullied him. Both were incredibly loyal that took the death of anyone close to them very hard, and they were everyday men who would fight the supernatural and live (this is one reason characters like Xander and Gunn fascinate me so, and elicit more admiration from me than the witches, slayers, rogue demons, and like). Facing a goddess, Xander gets a wrecking ball, facing vampires without a slayer and Gunn gets a tricked out truck. Both characters also knew their comics as well.

As a personal note...I was once a runaway (and had a certain plan of mine worked out as I had intended then I'd have been on the streets of Los Angeles just months before season 1 Angel aired, which could be very interesting now when thinking of the series assuming I survived the experience). In some ways this caused me to question many of the convenient things Gunn and his crew had going for them, though on the other hand I was also able to feel an affinity at the same time, and I know I'd have gladly followed a Charles Gunn into battle against the undead. That trick used in Blind Date where Charles walked into the offices of Wolfram & Hart to create a distraction that allowed Angel in is very similar to a trick me and the krew I was part of (and others) also did in order to steal from stores (a trick I regret in retrospect as it ultimately served to bolster racist attitudes, but it was survival for all of us who didn't have the luxury of ethical reflections, and the vast majority of us were just kids anyway).
 

Puppet

You rocks think you're so smart.
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Black Thorn
I'm kinda saddened that there is finally a decent Gunn thread and then only 1 person has responded...

What I like: I really like that Gunn isn't, imo, a cliche character. Sure, he has certain aspects fitting the cliche, but that's to be expected. However, the more you get to know him, the more you realize the depths that he has. I never even realized he was an underappreciated character until I joined here last month. I also completely understand the comparison to Xander, and many of my reasons for loving Xander can be fitted to my love of Gunn, too; bravery in the face of overwhelming odds, often the voice of (human) reason among enhanced people/beings, keeping a sense of humor in the face of such tragedy and trauma, a rough childhood that shapes a better person when it easily could have gone in the opposite direction. Plus Gunn is definitely a bad-ass :D

What I don't like: I was never a big fan of the Gunn/Fred relationship, though I do appreciate the writers trying to show that Gunn wasn't going to just fall for another version of himself (though I personally love the idea of Gunn/Faith or Gunn/Gwen). While his S5 lawyer arc was okay, it could have been handled better, unfortunately I think he suffered from the writers focusing on others and not giving him enough screen time to make us truly appreciate this arc.

Overall, I'd say that Gunn ranks rather highly for me as far as AtS characters go. I love his friendship with Wes, including the dynamic when it falls apart in S3, and then returns in S5, I love that he doesn't hero-worship Angel like the rest of the team - he's a realist - and that, even with the upgrade in S5, he never forgets where he came from.
 
W

WillowFromBuffy

Guest
I really love Gunn, but it took a while. I suspect he was intended to be a one-off. There was a whiff of tokenism about him and his Mad Max Blaxploitation crew.

However, Gunn quickly grows to be a great character. I loved the idea of him and Fred. Their personalities are really compatible. For some reasons, the writers decide that Fred and Wes are meant to be, because both are white and educated. It does not seem to matter that Fred and Wes have zero chemistry and that they studied completely different fields. How was Wes able to read a journal on theoretical physics? It makes no sense. Bloody Da Vincian Renaissance man he must be!!

Gunn could have used more moments of triumph. He is always interesting to watch, but he constantly plays the underdog. He shares a lot in common with early Lilah. Two amazing characters that are constantly pushed around by the less interesting.
 
Taake
Taake
Lol. All academic types are experts in all academic fields, it's not like its hard or requires a lot of time and effort or anything.

Athene

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Sineya
Gunn was a really good character, the problem was with the writers and their need to shove Wesley and Fred/Wes down our throats. I found it so disrespectful how Gunn was reduced to being an obstacle between Wes and his happiness, I love Wesley but it wasn't nice to watch a ship that I loved being set up so obviously to fail. I'm not surprised that Gunn is forgotten about a lot in the fandom, he was never allowed to make much of a splash on the show.
 
W
WillowFromBuffy
Hallelujah!

Meliza

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I like that he is Joe regular in the vein of Xander and Riley. Proving one doesn't need to be all super natural to be strong and heroic. In hindsight, perhaps they could have empathized his superior fighting skills in comparison to Wesley's. Wesley did have the vogue rogue phase but it was definitely a phase. Wesley's development could have been more dramatic if this difference in mastery was highlighted at least in the beginning.


@WillowFromBuffy, Gunn is a sweet heart that is where I personally see the Fred similarities begin and end. And why I did not care when they made him go Mr. Jealous stay away from my women. Xander was a conflicted guy who never felt like he lived up to the traditional trappings of masculinity and desperately wanted to, insecure, jealous, possessive fitted as his character flaw, as all characters need one. Gunn was comfortable with his masculinity, some other trait or flaw would have better complimented his character better. I particularly liked vulnerable Gunn and wish we got a bigger exploration of his interior life, the emotional cost and repercussions, I think the actor shined in those moments.

@Puppet, I think Cordelia before they ruined her character, is the midway point between Faith/Gwen/Fred. She is sweet and tough and old fashioned and headstrong exactly like Gunn, I see the lighthearted bickering power dynamic between them very entertaining.
 

spikenbuffy

"Buffy's like nobody else in the world"
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I don't like how his sister's death is fastly forgotten in S1, he lost his sister in "War Zone" and the next episode he acts all smilling like nothing happened. I find that weird. I also don't like him sometimes in S4 because of the triangle in "Habeas corpses". He's a little irritating.

But apart those minor things, I like Gunn
I like Gwen & Gwen, his relationship with Wesley, I am Fresley but I have nothing against Gunn & Fred they are sweet in some episodes in S4. I even like him in S5.
 

RachM

I'm busy. I'm brooding.
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However, Gunn quickly grows to be a great character. I loved the idea of him and Fred. Their personalities are really compatible. For some reasons, the writers decide that Fred and Wes are meant to be, because both are white and educated. It does not seem to matter that Fred and Wes have zero chemistry and that they studied completely different fields. How was Wes able to read a journal on theoretical physics? It makes no sense. Bloody Da Vincian Renaissance man he must be!!
Ahhh, bless you for this! Completely agree!
 

Meliza

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I wonder if she was Gunn's sister in the adopted sense that he raised her, whether or not she was intended to be his bio sis that is the impression I got. And clearly intended to be less a story arc for Gunn's development cause we jut meant him then as a quick stand in representation for his street gang family and severing ties with them to go join Angel.

The Fred triangle never made sense to me based on the characters, unless we logic and fan gap it as being a consequence of proxy. They want to date and do not have a lot of options (Sorry Fred haha) so might as well be a fellow traveler in their very specific and difficult line of work.

If we based it on the characters personalities, my thinking is Angel would be the most likely to have a crush on Fred. Actually you could argue its established he likes strong blonde women but out of the three of them Fred's normality and innocence represents what he himself would most like to be but can never have.

I like Gunn and Cordy when they playfully bicker. I also think Gunn and Angel have good frenemy chemistry when they're antagonists.
 

Myheadsgonenumb

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I really like Gunn. I like that he is smart and not necessarily in a 'street smarts' way but just in a normal - figuring stuff out way. It's him that suggests that, when Drusilla talks about a nursery, maybe she means a plant nursery, he is the one that spots the pattern in the stuff Wolfram and Hart took from Lorne's head, he juggles the expensive conjuring orbs to get the man to put the gun down in 'offspring' - when Wes's' threats of the police didn't work and he speaks enough Japanese to get him and Gwen out of trouble at the party they are breaking into. I like the journey he goes on in season 5 (though tragic) because he clearly didn't recognise his own smarts as one of his strengths (I think Gwen says something to him about 'they really have you believing you're just the dumb muscle, don't they?') and his attempts to 'better' himself are what lead to his down fall (and Fred's).
His desire to be this super smart lawyer has its roots way further back than even he realises. He starts off as the leader of his own mission - and then he joins Angel and becomes the sidekick. He even acknowledges that he isn't a leader anymore (in Supersymmetry). He might be able to do more good with Angel than he was with his crew - but it's still a loss of rank, that he feels. A loss of identity, too. And then Fred and Wesley are so very book smart, which leaves him feeling under educated - thinking the best he can do, for the team, is hit stuff. Plus their shared connection of (massively wide ranging) academia is a reason for insecurity for him, he thinks Wes can connect with Fred better on an intellectual level - which makes him feel stupid. So his grabbing at the cerebral upgrade seems almost inevitable ... only for him to find out he never needed it - and having it takes away from another part of him: that he is a genuinely good man.
And he is a much better human being than Wesley, at the very least. He chooses to fight - rather than being born to into that world or chosen. When we meet him he has nothing - but is working to keep others safe. His 'home' is open to all the runaway teens and he is insistent that everyone is allowed to stay there and everyone gets to eat - when his deputies want to throw out some newcomers. He believes in justice - not vengeance - wanting to stop Fred from killing the professor, where Wesley aids and abets her. He's open minded and not resistant to change - whereas his old crew are killing any demon they can find, he has moved on to understanding that demon does not equal evil. And he can admit when he's wrong ... like with the ballet.

I really think Gunn is one of the most positive and least problematic male characters in all of the Buffyverse. I think maybe only Oz tops him in terms of being unproblematic ... and Oz has literally no flaws. So Gunn is a bit more realistic.

One thing I do always wonder about him - well J.A.R more, is what he thought of the occasional cringetastic 'street' language that was put into is mouth by middle class, rich, white writers. I get stuck for days saying 'I'll hook up wit y'all back da crib' whenever I even think about it, never mind see it. And that bit where he goes to the casino and Gangsta's Paradise is playing in the background...???? oh very dear.
I mean, J.A.R pulls it all off very well - but sometimes I just listen to Gunn talk and then think 'oh wow - a white person wrote that.' (not 'wow' in a good way). There is nothing more tragic or embarrassing than someone who isn't street saying (or in this case writing) street things - and I can't help but wonder if it just came across as patronising, overly stereotypical or even offensive when they had Gunn say something very street - which always stands out because most of the time he talks just like everyone else.
 
thrasherpix
thrasherpix
This is all gold, and you just explained why I don't want Joss Whedon in charge of writing a Black Buffy (at least not one from the inner city).

telperion66

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Gunn for me was a great anchor of season 4. I love his romance with Fred in season 3 (just so cute at the breakfast diner) and its so obvious he loves her deeply. I thought that romance worked a lot better than Fred and Wesley, whom I preferred with Lilah in all honesty.

Upon Gunn's introduction, we see him being typecast a little bit with a "ghetto gangster" accent and so forth, but thankfully by season 4 he has truly blossomed into an integral part of Angel Investigations, without the sterotyping. It seemed he had just found himself a lot more by then.

I hate season 5, but from the little I remember of it I thought they took the transformation way too far with the new "cheesy lawyer" Gunn who was supposed to be super slick. This totally didn't work for me. I much prefer the gritty, down to earth Gunn we get in season 4 and as Fred's loving boyfriend in season 3.
 

Meliza

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Gunn's way of talking has grown on me exactly for the reason that "no body talks like that" I use to linken it to a street tough..... as appeared on the fresh prince of bel air, haha. though the character is fundamentally wholesome or in other words, a good man, so I don't mind the white writers version of a blackaccent anymore, time has redeemed it, its a ,idiosyncratic unique part of the show, lets just pretend people talk like this in L.A on Angel.
 

Meliza

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I wish Gunn would have retired along with Cordelia, both of them deserved to live happily ever after
 
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