Metroid Art From Castlevania's Animation Director Causes Me to Reflect on Samus' True Nature

Metroid Art From Castlevania's Animation Director Causes Me to Reflect on Samus' True Nature

Samus is 32 years old, and I dare say none of us really know her.

Samuel Deats, the director of Netflix's animated Castlevania series, has a lot of video game-related fanart floating around the Internet. Some pieces, though aged, are still powerfully awesome and worth sharing.

Case in point: Earlier today, Resetera member "Lady Bow" found and shared a picture Deats drew of Nintendo's space hunter Samus Aran in 2012. Though six years old, the piece has generated a lot of discussion about how fans depict Samus versus how Nintendo depicts her. The discourse caused me to think back on how I personally regard Samus—one of my very favorite game heroines. It's interesting how she's many women to many people.

"When I played Metroid and Super Metroid, I always viewed Samus as a hardass. Someone with a no-BS, somewhat military-esque attitude," Deats wrote in his Deviantart description of the piece. "After the more recent titles in the series, I'm not sure Nintendo had that in mind for the character, but that's how I always viewed her growing up, and how I kinda wanted to portray her in this image."

Visit Deats' Twitter for more art: @samueldeats

Deats' picture of Samus certainly depicts Samus as a hard-ass. Her gaze is intense and focused. It's clear something's going to die, probably messily. And, as Deats noted, she looks a little angrier than in some of Nintendo's official depictions of the character—especially in 2010's Metroid: Other M.

Who's the "real" Samus? Can we say a real Samus exists? Maybe she's just a difficult character to pin down. Last year, I talked a bit about Nintendo's myriad depictions of Samus; not just in her games, but in supplementary manga and North American comics. As I pointed out in that same article, Nintendo wasn't wrong to make Samus vulnerable in Metroid: Other M. She's a human, after all—a human raised by birds, but still a flesh and blood being who endured terrible trauma at a young age. The problem with Other M is that it tried to funnel her powerful struggle with PTSD (initially depicted across several arcs in the 2003 manga) into a single game. The end product just made her come across as a literal and metaphorical space cadet.

Samus kept a low profile after Other M until she re-emerged as a silent protagonist in last year's Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS. Interestingly, the Super Smash Bros Ultimate reveal trailer for Ridley doubles as a sort of redemption for Samus: She's clearly shocked at the sight of her old reptilian foe (who wouldn't be), and she even finds herself overwhelmed for a moment—but then she re-emerges from the smoke and wreckage to deliver a devastating flying kick to Ridley's big pointy face. I approve.

No, I can't tell anyone the "right" way to write Samus Aran. Clearly, Nintendo's still trying to work a few things out about its space-faring warrior. Personally, though? I envision a Samus who's one part the trained warrior we see in Deats' picture, and one part the woman who took in an alien baby who was orphaned, like herself. Orphaned by her own hand, no less. Samus is large, fierce, soft, and as prone to making mistakes as any mortal. I'm looking forward to spending more time with her when Metroid Prime 4 finally arrives.

Oh, there is one thing I know for sure about Samus:

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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