I have been pretty vocal about my love of Joss Whedon and the whole Whedonverse. Whedon fans are usually pretty vocal about their love. When he got the job writing/directing The Avengers, there was a universal squee that echoed across the Internet.
And yet, there is one question that threatens to tear the Whedonverse asunder: Who is more awesome, Spike or Angel?
I am a fan of Angel. Valerie was for Spike. This led to several polite discussions about how one is better than the other.
Now I’m not knocking Spike. He’s a great character. But this is why Angel kicks his ass:
1) Angel is Batman: Angel follows the classic motif of the characters that I love. Like Spiderman, he is driven by remorse for his past actions, and strives to do good in a world that conspires against him. Like batman, he is a tormented soul, not to mention the whole brooding dude in a cape/trench coat thing. Spike, he’s just a snarky English guy with dyed hair and a hard on for the Slayer.
2) Angel is a legitimate hero. When the gypsy cursed Angelus by giving him back his soul, he was ripped apart by remorse, so much that it drove him to near madness. Thankfully, Whistler helped him find his new purpose. Angel didn’t have to go that way. A soul does not make you good or evil. There are millions of people out there with souls who are awful. Father stabbers, mother rapers, father rapers, etc. Angel could have given in, said “fuck it, I’m evil. I have to kill to live.” Instead he strove for good, even though his own body begged him to hunt, Angel refused. He sacrifced his own well being to protect the people around him, and sacrifice is what makes you a true hero.
Yes, Spike eventually wishes for a soul, but he does it to impress a girl. How heroic!
3) Angel cares: Angel legitimately cares about other people. He becomes a detective because he wants to help, he wants to fight evil. Can you imagine Spike doing that? Spike only cares about Spike…and Buffy, and Dawn, in a weird creepy older brother way.
The meta point of view: From what I’ve gathered, people like Spike mostly because he is funny. yes, he is funny. That makes him a good supporting character, but nothing more. They could never make a show about Spike. It would just be him sitting on the boardwalk, making fun of and occasionally biting the people that go by. Angel has the cult of personality, enough that he draws people to him, enough that he can be a leading man.
Sorry Spike, you may be all witty and shit, but you’re no Angel.