“I’m not a “shipper”. Not my scene. I do, however love a good story… and the Genji/Mercy thing is nothing like a good story. It has uncomfortable parallels to another franchise-killer.
Mr. Chu’s done some fantastic things with Overwatch. Under his lead, it’s become a very interesting setting, with a lot of interesting characters. Falling into having favourites is the kiss of death for good writing, however – especially starting to favour one character in an ensemble cast that depends on the strength of its diversity to create its market appeal.
William Faulkner’s advice to writers was that “In writing, you must kill your darlings.” You have to find the things you’re doing in a story that please you, and then ruthlessly examine whether or not it serves the story – if not, kill it.
In an ensemble cast story, you need to dole out different story beats between a variety of characters, so that each has their shared moments of power and pathos. The movie “Love, Actually” is a brilliant example of how this can be balanced among a large, diverse cast to create appealing stories for all. If instead the elements of four or five of those stories had been rolled into one character, the movie would have been a bomb.
This is the problem with Genji. He’s already been handed several very big, powerful story themes. He’s got family issues, forgiveness, spiritual awakening/enlightenment, and redemption beats going on. He’s already dancing on a huge story. Handing him a romance plot line, too, would be heavy-handed overkill.
More to the point, because a) you can’t have multiple groups of characters getting involved with each other without making it feel common and trite, relationships between central characters is magnified in importance, and b) Mercy has not yet been given any story beats herself (a history, yes, but not a story to move forward with), it has the issue of compounding the problem. People are already accusing Mr. Chu of using Genji as a “Mary Sue”. If he goes this route, that perception will only spread over time, because Genji really will be displaying many of those unfortunate traits.
And that’s a shame, because Genji really does have a wonderful, compelling story ready to go. Keeping him as a self-contained warrior monk adds an elegance to that tale. Having Mercy as a very dear, very close friend – but platonic in nature – gives him more emotional depth without falling into the trap of heaping all the big story beats on a favoured character.
It’s a common trap that writers fall into. Sadly, it’s the kind of thing that could eventually erode Overwatch as a franchise. Not by itself, but by the ripple effect in the story, implicitly sidelining the many wonderful characters still to be explored… Mercy included.”