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A brief analysis of Matau in WoD

Matau Web of Shadows analysis

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#1 Offline The Fifth Spoilers

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Posted Mar 16 2013 - 03:56 PM

The changes between Matau in LoMn and WoS are interesting, and I’ve found myself analyzing him the last times I watched either.

 

In Web of Shadows, Matau suddenly becomes much darker, losing his Airy quirkiness and gaining personality traits more comparable to those of Ta and Po characters. The change itself doesn’t strike me very hard, but when I think about their explanations, Matau’s story suddenly becomes a little sad.

 

In WoS, Matau is always complaining and grumbling about Vakama, and develops a pronounced pessimistic view towards everything. He’s questioning Vakama’s leadership, which I took to be partially due to lack of attention, in addition to his clear impatience towards Vakama's new attitude. He wants to be noticed and acknowledged by the others too.

 

Worse, however, is how he reacts to Nokama. When she comments that they made it to Metru Nui, he replies sarcastically with “whatever”. When they’re in the cocoons, he rolls his eyes when she says it’s not Vakama’s fault. When Nokama says they’ll be fine as Hordika, he outright flips out. All of us know that Matau had feelings for Nokama (screw canon!) in LoMn, and in WoS, she’s always defending and worrying about Vakama. Matau is deeply jealous because of that, and as a result, he becomes aggressive and sarcastic as a defense mechanism, burying the feelings he has for her in an attempt to convince himself that they aren’t there.

 

Every once in a while, Matau attempts some humor (e.g. “Guys, look it’s amazing! It’s Keetonguuuuuu! …. Not.”). These attempts are always met by aggression, sarcasm or a life lesson from Norik. He’s still trying to be himself, but everybody is making it difficult for him, and as a result his defense mechanism kicks in again. When Nuju comments on the sounds of the night, Matau responds with more sarcasm. When he’s told to be patient, he blows up and runs ahead of everyone. Even when Keetongu found something he said funny, Matau covers it up!

 

I never appreciated how much duress Matau was under in this movie when I was a kid. Now that I’m looking at it like this, though, I can appreciate just how hard it all was for the Toa of Air. This movie wasn’t just dark atmospherically and thematically. Vakama wasn’t the only one battling the beast within. There was a dark beast in all the characters, but in Matau, it manifested itself as a psychological issue so ordinary to us that it escaped notice.


Edited by Draezeth, Mar 16 2013 - 03:57 PM.

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#2 Offline King of Dust

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Posted Mar 16 2013 - 04:39 PM

That was an interesting read. I always kind of prefered the Matau story over the Vakama story. Vakama was the usual "Im dont believe in myself"boohoo story. A character that we are MEANT to relate to at the time. Yet Mataus's was about growing up and accepting responsibilities. A lesson we all need to learn. Hes was the character we relate to when we look back on it.


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#3 Offline Taipu1

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Posted Mar 16 2013 - 05:14 PM

It's certainly an interesting perspective, and one you can sympathise with more than Vakama's.   Although frankly, I'm not sure Vakama's perspective ever deserved any sympathy.  What I'd like to see is Nokama's perspective, as she was the third main character in the films really, and her motivations aren't that obvious...


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#4 Offline King of Dust

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Posted Mar 16 2013 - 05:16 PM

It's certainly an interesting perspective, and one you can sympathise with more than Vakama's.   Although frankly, I'm not sure Vakama's perspective ever deserved any sympathy.  What I'd like to see is Nokama's perspective, as she was the third main character in the films really, and her motivations aren't that obvious...

I agree. In my opinion she was the second main character, yet she seemed almost void of a real personality. Something I felt the other two had. She seemed to be there to either sympathize with Vakama or shake her head at Matau.


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#5 Offline Dual Cee

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Posted Mar 16 2013 - 05:23 PM

It's certainly an interesting perspective, and one you can sympathise with more than Vakama's.   Although frankly, I'm not sure Vakama's perspective ever deserved any sympathy.  What I'd like to see is Nokama's perspective, as she was the third main character in the films really, and her motivations aren't that obvious...

I agree. In my opinion she was the second main character, yet she seemed almost void of a real personality. Something I felt the other two had. She seemed to be there to either sympathize with Vakama or shake her head at Matau.
She was the one who kept the team together, like Gahli in the first 3 years and always wanted to have the best for the team and never thinking about herself. The true Hero is she, she was also the one to live the easyest with the Venom.

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#6 Offline Taipu1

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Posted Mar 16 2013 - 05:28 PM

She was the one who kept the team together, like Gahli in the first 3 years and always wanted to have the best for the team and never thinking about herself. The true Hero is she, she was also the one to live the easyest with the Venom.

I wouldn't say she was the true hero at all.  In trying to keep the team together, she drove Vakama away, and in brooding over this, psychologically pushed Matau away as well. 


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#7 Offline Gengar

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Posted Mar 16 2013 - 05:58 PM

That's interesting. But Matau had been angry with Vakama taking sudden leadership on their way back to Metru Nui, and it didn't help that he got mutated due to Vakama's reckless, "leader" behaviour, and he really liked being a "real" Toa. So the whole thing made him all grumpy and it lasted through pretty much the whole time.
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#8 Offline RobotProphet

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Posted Mar 16 2013 - 07:47 PM

The changes between Matau in LoMn and WoS are interesting, and I’ve found myself analyzing him the last times I watched either.

 

In Web of Shadows, Matau suddenly becomes much darker, losing his Airy quirkiness and gaining personality traits more comparable to those of Ta and Po characters. The change itself doesn’t strike me very hard, but when I think about their explanations, Matau’s story suddenly becomes a little sad.

 

In WoS, Matau is always complaining and grumbling about Vakama, and develops a pronounced pessimistic view towards everything. He’s questioning Vakama’s leadership, which I took to be partially due to lack of attention, in addition to his clear impatience towards Vakama's new attitude. He wants to be noticed and acknowledged by the others too.

 

Worse, however, is how he reacts to Nokama. When she comments that they made it to Metru Nui, he replies sarcastically with “whatever”. When they’re in the cocoons, he rolls his eyes when she says it’s not Vakama’s fault. When Nokama says they’ll be fine as Hordika, he outright flips out. All of us know that Matau had feelings for Nokama (screw canon!) in LoMn, and in WoS, she’s always defending and worrying about Vakama. Matau is deeply jealous because of that, and as a result, he becomes aggressive and sarcastic as a defense mechanism, burying the feelings he has for her in an attempt to convince himself that they aren’t there.

 

Every once in a while, Matau attempts some humor (e.g. “Guys, look it’s amazing! It’s Keetonguuuuuu! …. Not.”). These attempts are always met by aggression, sarcasm or a life lesson from Norik. He’s still trying to be himself, but everybody is making it difficult for him, and as a result his defense mechanism kicks in again. When Nuju comments on the sounds of the night, Matau responds with more sarcasm. When he’s told to be patient, he blows up and runs ahead of everyone. Even when Keetongu found something he said funny, Matau covers it up!

 

I never appreciated how much duress Matau was under in this movie when I was a kid. Now that I’m looking at it like this, though, I can appreciate just how hard it all was for the Toa of Air. This movie wasn’t just dark atmospherically and thematically. Vakama wasn’t the only one battling the beast within. There was a dark beast in all the characters, but in Matau, it manifested itself as a psychological issue so ordinary to us that it escaped notice.

Great analysis! It's interesting you say that because I don't think they stressed how the other toa were effected by their Hordika sides enough. It always bothered me that they never explained the stories from the books in between the movies. In the books, Matau's feelings for Nokama are clear: He likes her and would do anything to keep her safe. But time and time again, because Vakama is always doubting himself and his place as leader, he's putting his fellow Toa in danger. No spoilers for those who haven't read the books, but there is a severe incident in book #6 (Maze of Shadows) that really reveals Matau's feelings for Nokama because of what happens to her. When Vakama is confronted with the serious dilemma, he ignores the well being of Nokama, and concentrates on the mission. This is one of the cases that rubs off on, not only Matau, but Onewa as well, who threatens to kill Vakama several times.

     As for Matua's pessimism, it is sad that he's pushed to the limit and beyond. Part of it is because of the Hordika inside of him, but mostly it's because of Vakama's identity crisis. But that's what makes the story all the more beautiful and touching when Matau solely makes it his personal mission to correct Vakama's path and save him because they're still brothers no matter what happens. How can anyone say these stories are "just for kids?"


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#9 Offline bonesiii

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Posted Mar 17 2013 - 02:26 AM

For the most part I agree with this. Obviously basic psychology plays a major role in just about any story, especially one that forces the characters to confront their inner darkness like the 2005 story. And I think you've described Matau's well.

 

One thing you said made me want to comment, though, for sake of encouraging a productive discussion. :)

 

All of us know that Matau had feelings for Nokama (screw canon!) in LoMn, and in WoS, she’s always defending and worrying about Vakama. Matau is deeply jealous because of that, and as a result, he becomes aggressive and sarcastic as a defense mechanism, burying the feelings he has for her in an attempt to convince himself that they aren’t there.

By "had feelings" you obviously mean of the romantic variety. And I'm sure some people working on the movie were probably under that illusion, and your explanation works for a non-canon alternate reality, fanfic type thing. At the same time, wouldn't it be even better to try to understand it from the actual canon perspective? :)

 

If you think about it like that, there's two routes you can go.

 

First, keep in mind that Matoran/Toa/etc. can have especially close friendships, and jealousy is a trait they can have. So there's no need to invoke romance to explain Matau's behavior in LoMN. He probably wanted Nokama to "be his best friend", and she wasn't so sure about that, and jealousy could enter the picture there. In that case, your explanation works just fine, with no need to add "screw canon." :P In other words, there's other kinds of "feelings" besides romance, most of which are canon.

 

Or, some other explanation besides jealousy. This could be with the idea of the best friend or without (just teasing, etc.). I presume it's canon that he wanted her to be his best friend mainly because the comics (and I think the books) had the same basic portrayal, written by Greg, so those parts of the movie are almost certainly canon.


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#10 Offline Makuta Matata

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Posted Mar 17 2013 - 09:28 AM

That's probably one of the reasons that Matau chose to go after Vakama alone. Because Matau was also having a conflict with his Hordika side, and he knew what Vakama was feeling. But rather than succumb to it like Vakama did, Matau learned to overcome it, and he wanted to help Vakama, regardless of the relationship between Vakama and Nokama. 


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#11 Offline Dual Cee

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Posted Mar 17 2013 - 09:48 AM

That's probably one of the reasons that Matau chose to go after Vakama alone. Because Matau was also having a conflict with his Hordika side, and he knew what Vakama was feeling. But rather than succumb to it like Vakama did, Matau learned to overcome it, and he wanted to help Vakama, regardless of the relationship between Vakama and Nokama. 

He also must've felt responsible for his actions, since he was one of the mayor reasons Vakama left.

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#12 Offline King of Dust

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Posted Mar 17 2013 - 09:51 AM

That's probably one of the reasons that Matau chose to go after Vakama alone. Because Matau was also having a conflict with his Hordika side, and he knew what Vakama was feeling. But rather than succumb to it like Vakama did, Matau learned to overcome it, and he wanted to help Vakama, regardless of the relationship between Vakama and Nokama. 

I actually though it was (as well) becuase he knew he was strong enough to kill Vakama if he needed to.

Someone asked him if they couldnt change Vakama's mind, what would he do. Matau repied "Leave that to me". I couldnt really think of many other options that could be left.


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#13 Offline Dual Cee

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Posted Mar 17 2013 - 09:55 AM

That's probably one of the reasons that Matau chose to go after Vakama alone. Because Matau was also having a conflict with his Hordika side, and he knew what Vakama was feeling. But rather than succumb to it like Vakama did, Matau learned to overcome it, and he wanted to help Vakama, regardless of the relationship between Vakama and Nokama. 

I actually though it was (as well) becuase he knew he was strong enough to kill Vakama if he needed to.Someone asked him if they couldnt change Vakama's mind, what would he do. Matau repied "Leave that to me". I couldnt really think of many other options that could be left.
I wouldn't say strong enough, remember who actually lost the fight :) That could hower be because he didn't want to hurt Vakam.

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#14 Offline King of Dust

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Posted Mar 17 2013 - 09:56 AM

 

That's probably one of the reasons that Matau chose to go after Vakama alone. Because Matau was also having a conflict with his Hordika side, and he knew what Vakama was feeling. But rather than succumb to it like Vakama did, Matau learned to overcome it, and he wanted to help Vakama, regardless of the relationship between Vakama and Nokama. 

I actually though it was (as well) becuase he knew he was strong enough to kill Vakama if he needed to.Someone asked him if they couldnt change Vakama's mind, what would he do. Matau repied "Leave that to me". I couldnt really think of many other options that could be left.
I wouldn't say strong enough, remember who actually lost the fight :) That could hower be because he didn't want to hurt Vakam.

I dont mean strong as in "Physically strong" I mean mentally. 


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#15 Offline Dual Cee

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Posted Mar 17 2013 - 09:57 AM

@CeeCee You can't really kill someone solely with your mind can't ya? :)
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#16 Offline King of Dust

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Posted Mar 17 2013 - 10:08 AM

@CeeCee You can't really kill someone solely with your mind can't ya? :)

Stop playing dumb Dual XD 

To kill someone, esspecially your best friend you would need a incredibly strong mentality to do so. No matter how much the person has changed.


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#17 Offline toa kopaka4372

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Posted Mar 17 2013 - 05:40 PM

Really interesting analysis. I wish more stuff like this would come up, the characters in BIONICLE have more depth than some people give them credit before. Rereading the books I'm struck by the effort Greg put to develop the characters, especially in the Toa Metru's case.

 

I found Matau's character arc fascinating, more could definitely be written on it. One of the reasons I think having the 2005 story arc was a good thing was because it allowed character development the Toa Metru might not have had otherwise. 


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#18 Offline King of Dust

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Posted Mar 17 2013 - 05:55 PM

Really interesting analysis. I wish more stuff like this would come up, the characters in BIONICLE have more depth than some people give them credit before. Rereading the books I'm struck by the effort Greg put to develop the characters, especially in the Toa Metru's case.

 

I found Matau's character arc fascinating, more could definitely be written on it. One of the reasons I think having the 2005 story arc was a good thing was because it allowed character development the Toa Metru might not have had otherwise. 

I dont get peoples gripe on 2005 I really dont. It was a solid year on story and a good year for sets. It gave us fresh things on both mediums.


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#19 Offline The Fifth Spoilers

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Posted Mar 17 2013 - 07:33 PM

I think as far as canister sets, it was the worst year. The sets were lopsided and with annoying posability. The story, on the other hand, was awesome.


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#20 Offline Takhamavahu

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Posted Mar 25 2013 - 05:05 AM

It's a kids' movie made to sell toys. The characterisations are simplistic and serve the story in a way that the producers felt kids would understand. (which is a shame because kids are much smarter than they're given credit for)

 

To get the full scope of Matau's personality and development, you'd have to read all the novels and comics too. (and even then, he's limited to about a grade 2 reading level) You won't get a very deep character from a sixth of the spotlight in two ninety-minute movies.

 

 

Matau is less open about his insecurities than someone like Vakama. He hides behind humour so that he doesn't have to open up. He would rather other people like him as comic releif than risk them not respecting him for who he is.

Who he is is an intelligent and talented pilot, mechanic and engineer with a passion for his work and an appreciation for the thrill of danger.

He has a strong sense of duty, courage and comradary as a Toa, but it took him time and experience to fully understand the meaning of his responsibility.

He puts Vakama down early on, to elevate his  esteem and flirts with Nokama because she is the most respected of the group, and her approval would carry more weight than the others. His occasional cynicism and pessimism are also attempts to project himself as smarter.

By the time of the Great Rescue and their transformation into Toa Hordika, they have grown as a team. It's been a relatively short time, but they trust each other. Matau opens himself up to them, but the stress of his mission weighs him down.  He saw his city destroyed, his people captured and had his entire way of life taken from him. On the new island, Nokama, the best friend he had nearly died and when they returned to the ruins of his home, they were captured, turned into monsters and opposed violently in the rescue of the people they already fought so hard to save. I don't blame him for a second for being cynical about the situation.Inspite of this, he maintains his courge and sense of brotherhood in reaching out to Vakama. He does not waver in his mission or try to give up.

As a Turaga, he has made peace with his life and approaches leadership with a renewed sense of whimsy. He's not just helping his people fend of Rahi. He's building a life for them. Even under the guilt of lying to his trusting villagers for a thousand years (about their origins and the nature of their world) he leads with a warm heart and an optimistic temperment.


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