Flamethrowers: Fire-Powered Characters
One of the most exciting aspects of fantasy characters is their special abilities and how those powers affect the character’s personality and story.
Elemental magic is one of most popular tropes, seen across fiction from comic books to fantasy novels. In keeping with this month’s Beltane theme, we’re discussing some of our favorite characters with a connection to fire—the most passionate and all-consuming element.
Art by: @morgana0anagrom
“Once upon a time, in a land long since burned to ash, there lived a young princess who loved her kingdom ....very much”
This princess is descended from the Fae and inherited the ability to create and manipulate flame. Yet fire is one of the most dangerous and unwieldy elements, and she has trouble controlling it, especially when her emotions are running wild. As a result, she earned the nickname "Aelin of the Wildfire" and became afraid of her own powers.
She—and all other magic users—lost her abilities when magic disappeared from the continent. Despite not being able to produce a magic flame, it's evident she has fire in her blood. She grew to be passionate, commanding, headstrong, confident, sarcastic and witty. On the flip side, she can also be impulsive, rude, ruthless, temperamental, and consumed by feelings of rage or wrath.
Aelin eventually has to confront her fears and learn to wield her magic once she has access to it again. Aside from conjuring the flames and controlling their movement, she learns to use them as daggers, shields, and blasts of power, as well as channeling them into weapons like her sword. She is also able to burn enemies from the inside out or with a touch. When she's feeling creative, she can turn water to steam or cover an area in flames without burning anything.
By learning to control her literal and metaphoric fire, Aelin becomes one of the most formidable beings in the world and is able to lead the charge to reclaim her throne. Like a phoenix, Aelin and the kingdom of Terrasen rise from the ashes.
Art from House of Night comic book
Like all students at the House of Night, Shaunee was a human until she was claimed by Nyx, goddess of night, and Marked as a fledgling. As such, she had to enroll in the vampyre finishing school and (hopefully) survive the Change from fledgling to full-on adult vampyre.
Shaunee was gifted an affinity for fire by the goddess, which she often uses in ritual circle-casting with the rest of her group of friends. She also uses her affinity to create light and warmth, wrap herself in a red aura, or to ward off enemies with fireballs.
When she's not fighting evil, her toughest battle is for independence. Most of her time at the House of Night is spent as one half of the "Twins"; she and her best friend Erin are uncannily alike, showed up at the House of Night at the same time, and were chosen by the same feline familiar. As a result, they’re viewed as a package deal and Shaunee loses grip of herself as her identity became enmeshed with Erin's. She becomes shallow, vain, and quick to anger.
Through her quest to regain independence, Shaunee becomes a confident, inspiring leader and an incredibly powerful vampyre.
“This feather symbolizes that even though I've been afraid to be alone for a really long time, I want to be free of that fear.”
Since most folks are at least familiar with the concept of ATLA by now, we'll just say that calm uncle Iroh and snarly Prince Zuko are everyone's favorite Fire Nation guys. Watching Aang and Zuko master this element and watching villain Azula use it for destruction draws interesting parallels in how the power is utilized.
These characters' different approaches to their abilities are perhaps some of the best examples of how magic systems are shaped by and with the characters.
Iroh—As a general who's seen too much war and an uncle who loves his nephew Zuko deeply, Iroh is one of the calmest and most accepting fire-benders. As such, we rarely see him use his power, preferring instead to talk out of situations or use hand-to-hand for defense. When he does use his power, it's precise and controlled to inflict only the necessary amount of damage to get away.
Zuko—In the beginning, Zuko is emotional and finds it difficult to control his powers. His fire manifests in bursts of anger, prompting his uncle to instruct Zuko in calming techniques (which he of course doesn't heed). Though Zuko is highly trained, his rashness causes him to lose fights despite his obvious strength.
Zuko gradually learns compassion, heals from his past, and becomes a true hero and leader. When he's in control, his fighting improves tenfold and quickly reveals him to be one of the most powerful fire-benders, able to produce immense flames and redirect lightning.
Aang—As the Avatar, Aang is expected to master all four elements, but fire gives him the most trouble. The furthest thing from his natural element of air, which symbolizes peace and freedom, Aang struggles to connect with such a violent power.
With the help of his friends and fire masters of old, Aang finally realizes what Iroh has known for some time: fire is not always about destruction, but protection.
Azula—On the opposite end of that spectrum is Zuko's older sister Azula, who maniacally embraces the violent side of fire. She uses her unique ability of blue flames and lightning to raze and take whatever she wants.
As Iroh points out, however, her ego is also her weakness.
SHOTO TODOROKI - MY HERO ACADEMIA
Shoto Todoroki is a student at U.A. High School, where he trains to strengthen his powers and become a Pro Hero. He's an interesting character in that his power, or Quirk, is Half-Cold Half-Hot; he is a dual wielder of ice and fire.
These contrasting elements are reflected in his appearance: his hair is white on the right and red on the left, and his eyes are also different colors. The left side of his face features a large burn scar, alluding to his struggles with the fire half of his power and with his father, whom he inherited the ability from. The traumas his father inflicted lead him to be reserved, cold, and aloof with others. Like his father, he can be arrogant and impulsive.
A standoffish pseudo-bad boy with fire magic who hates the father that scarred him . . . sounds familiar, right?
Much like Zuko, Todoroki must come to terms with his abilities, confront his father, and claim his power and path for himself. Though he initially refuses to use his fire side and relies on his freezing power, Todoroki eventually acknowledges the power is his own and that he does not have to be like his father. In doing so, he becomes a balanced individual able to remain calm in tough situations, yet brutal on the battlefield by utilizing both halves of his power.
Rei Hino, AKA Sailor Mars, is one of the Sailor Scouts charged with protecting the world from the forces of evil by using her gifts as a pyromancer to "fight for love and passion." She is an Aries (the zodiac sign ruled by Mars) and as such is confident, courageous, enthusiastic, and passionate; she can also be aggressive, impatient, impulsive, and short-tempered.
After the death of her mother, Rei moved in with her grandfather and became a priestess at the Hikawa Shrine. As a Shrine Maiden, she befriended the crows Phobos and Deimos, became an expert archer, and developed psychic abilities. Aside from her abilities of precognition and detecting evil, Rei can also use her Shinto talisman to exorcize people under the influence of evil.
Axel is known as the "Flurry of Dancing Flames" for good reason: in battle, he uses his speed to move quickly across the field, dancing out of reach of his enemies while wielding pyrokinesis and twin chakrams. But his mind is just as deadly as his fire and weapons; Axel is clever, ruthless, and a master manipulator, making him a great double agent.
His wit, sarcasm, and laid-back nature mean he's a fun character, but his development is what makes him lovable. Despite being a Nobody without the ability to feel emotion, Axel becomes loyal, kind, and protective after meeting his new friends, taking on a big brother role. He grows from someone who would do anything to protect himself to someone willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good.
You may remember Winx from the Favorite Fae Films & Shows post, but to recap here, the original Winx Club cartoon was remade into a darker YA show about a group of young women attending a magical academy in the land of Alfea, where they must learn to control their elemental fairy powers and fight back against evil fae and their army of Burned Ones.
Bloom is the first fire fairy to be seen in quite some time, making her destructive powers both invaluable and a threat. Bloom, like our other favorite fire-powered characters, struggles to control her anger and therefore her fire. When clearing her mind and focusing calmly doesn't work for her, frenemy Stella suggests Bloom tap into her rage.
Though Bloom's friends warn that using emotion could be deadly for herself and others (and may quickly burn out her magic and drive her to darkness), they also acknowledge anger is Bloom's quickest defense until she can learn an alternative.
We're excited to see where season 2 takes this fiery character and whether her arc includes mastery of her powers and wrath.
Art by: @madschofield
As a fire sprite, Lehabah is a literal living flame. Because of their role in a rebellion against the hierarchy centuries ago, sprites were cast down and enslaved, and so Lehabah has been a slave since she was born. She was purchased by a sorceress and put in charge of protecting a hidden library of outlawed books and items . . . and making sure they stay on their shelves and behave by threatening to burn them.
Lehabah is passionate, often speaking out about the enslavement of sprites and their treatment as lesser beings. Because she is confined to the library, she doesn't get to meet many people. When she does, she is curious, nosey, and talkative. Those close to her know her to be deeply caring, loyal, and fiercely protective. And it's adorable how she fangirls over TV dramas, shamelessly flirts with males, and changes colors depending on her mood. She is one of the bravest characters in House of Earth and Blood.
Thanks for tuning in! If you enjoyed this post, stay tuned for more fire-themed content in the coming weeks.