Reconstruction

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"It strikes me that the only reason to take apart a pocket watch, or a car engine, aside from the simple delight of disassembly, is to find out how it works. To understand it, so you can put it back together again better than before, or build a new one that goes beyond what the old one could do. We've been taking apart the superhero for ten years or more; it's time to put it back together and wind it up, time to take it out on the road and floor it, see what it'll do."
Kurt Busiek, Astro City, on the whole point of Deconstruction.

So the genre has just been deconstructed. What used to be seen as a wonderful and happy story has been shown as it would really be, often much darker than it was previously portrayed as. What hundreds of thousands of children wished were real is now considered the stuff of nightmares.

So, you wanted to be a Princess Classic? Well, your husband is Louis XVI.

So, you wanted to be a badass Super Soldier? Well, here's your Training from Hell, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and existence as pretty much a military slave, without the luxurious off-duty living conditions of the Mamelukes and Janissaries.

In short, your previous fantasy has been shown to be badly thought out, and it turns out to lead to (or even derive from) things that are... not nice.

So what do you fantasize about now?

This is where Reconstruction comes in. A Reconstruction accepts the criticisms of the initial fantasy made in the previous Deconstruction and then modifies the initial fantasy into something that would not be so bad in reality. Basically, where a Deconstruction frequently shows fantasy X as being much darker than you thought it would be, a Reconstruction corrects the fantasy to have less awful results.

Thus, Princess Classic is not being married into a fairy-tale monarchy, but into a post-Napoleonic 19th- or 20th-century one—a constitutional monarchy in Ruritania, with the scenery and regalia but without the power and corruption, so she won't end up like Marie Antoinette.

The new age Super Soldier is not a new recruit trained from recruitment, or even from birth, to have unwavering loyalty and superhuman skills; he's a seasoned, decorated veteran who's already been to Hell and back, chosen to try out miraculous new equipment because of his proven skill, steadiness, and reliability.

Of course, Reconstruction can involve deconstructing said Deconstruction.

Compare the George Lucas Throwback, which usually involves quite a bit of Reconstruction, and Troperiffic works. See also Decon Recon Switch, which is a single work which sets up a deconstruction only to reconstruct the same tropes later on.

Often confused with Adaptation Distillation. Reconstruction is when a genre is rebuilt after being hit with an extremely heavy criticism; Adaptation Distillation is when a specific work is revitalized, without any new objections needing to be answered in the process.

See also Reimagining the Artifact, a much more localized phenomena.

Not to be confused with the Freeware RPG The Reconstruction, season six of Red vs. Blue, or, for that matter, with the Reconstruction Era.

Examples of Reconstruction include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Astro City. In fact, most of Kurt Busiek's works involve nuanced reconstruction on some level.
  • In 1986, DC's big two heroes, Superman and Batman both received Deconstructive treatments, with The Dark Knight Returns and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?. These were followed almost immediately with Reconstructions with Batman: Year One and Man Of Steel.
    • Kingdom Come was a particularly famous comics reconstruction that delivered a rather heavy-handed denouncement of the Nineties Anti-Hero. Though it should be noted that the story ended up with all the super-heroes realizing they were flawed, removing their masks, and joining normal human society.
    • Justice is more a reconstruction proper, as it is essentially Superfriends without the camp, token characters, and low-budget visuals. Its opening reads like a superhero deconstruction, with the rest of the series reading like a thorough rebuttal.
    • Grant Morrison's Final Crisis is increasingly interpreted as an attempt to redeem Silver Age idealism and high concepts in order to subvert the Grimdarkness and "realism" of The Dark Age of Comic Books.
    • Tom Strong does something similar with the pulp / comic book 'science hero' archetype.
  • While the first two volumes of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen were definitely deconstructions of Victorian adventure fiction (and for that matter, the concept of the Massive Multiplayer Crossover), The Black Dossier seems a reconstruction of the concept (though in doing so, it becomes a deconstruction of 20th century fiction). If you aren't somewhat confused, then Alan Moore hasn't done his job.
    • And even the first two books were a reconstruction in their own way. Sure, Moore brought on all kinds of moral ambiguity and tossed aside typical Victorian ideals, but at the same time he was taking some of the most awesome literary characters of the time and giving them their full due. It had been a long, long time since Fu Manchu had been anything but a parody.
  • A lot of smaller conventions of the superhero genre were deconstructed during the Bronze Age and reconstructed during the Dark Age. For one example, Genre: Superheroes Wear Capes because of the Rule of Cool. Decon: Capes are silly stuff that's just for show and can get in the way, therefore practical superheroes don't wear capes. Recon: Superheroes Wear Capes for variety of useful purposes, or are given explanations deeper than the Rule of Cool.
    • Also, Genre: Heroes don't kil because of the Comics Code Authority. Decon: Superheroes kill, and those who don't wind up getting beaten by the villain. Recon: Superheroes don't kill because they are not police or military and therefore don't have the legal authority to kill.
  • Captain Atom: Armageddon was this as well. By the time it came out, the Wildstorm characters had come to embody all the excesses of the Dark Age, so DC brought Captain Atom, who, while hardly what you'd call a traditional superhero, nonetheless was a much more wholesome, positive character to set the Wildstorm Universe to rights.
  • Superman: Secret Identity. A boy named Clark Kent in "our" world develops Superman's actual abilities.
    • Deconstruction: He repeatedly mentions that he has no clue where his powers came from or how they work - how can he hear things before the sound waves even have time to reach him, for instance? When he actually starts going out in costume, the Superman suit works in his favour because no-one's going to believe someone saying Superman saved them. Unfortunately, he draws the attention of the military, who repeatedly try to capture him and experiment on him.
    • Reconstruction: He never stops helping people, and eventually proves to the people chasing him that he's more useful as a friend than an enemy. The book's overall tone and ending is completely positive.


Fanfiction[edit | hide]

  • Super Milestone Wars and it's sequel is a reconstruction of the Deconstruction Crossover trope itself.
  • Shinji and Warhammer 40 K is a shining example of this trope, if not THE defining example within fanfiction.
  • Power Rangers GPX does this with Super Sentai/Power Rangers. What makes this different is that it starts out parodying/lampshading/just plain making fun of Power Rangers tropes, begins playing it straight, then drifting towards deconstruction before veering right into Reconstruction in the penultimate chapter.
  • While Hunting the Unicorn is largely a Deconstruction Fic, it is indirectly reconstructive since it portrays Blaine as a believable character rather than a Relationship Sue. In-story, it's starting to reconstruct how damaged he is by showing how Kurt and Blaine genuinely care about each other, averting There Are No Therapists, and using a healthy dose of The Power of Friendship / Love.
  • Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams and Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With The Light are intended as Reconstructions of traditional superhero comics. Many plots are "done in one", efforts are made to explain traditional superhero tropes and make them more believable, and Writing for the Trade is notably absent.
  • Blue Sky is a Reconstruction of the 'Wheatley becomes human' breed of fanfiction. This extremely large branch of the portal fan-community tree is rife with variations, ranging from innocent, helpless Human!Wheatley who needs Chell, to Wheatley being a psychotic, corrupted android with a taste for non-con. In this fic, Wheatley is sorry for what he did, but he's not entirely innocent either. Chell is willing to forgive him, but doesn't right off the bat, and makes it very clear that Wheatley has to earn her trust. Even the most common thread of these stories, GlaDOS seeking revenge, is subverted. She is only interested in testing, and making Wheatley hurt to reach that goal is more of a fringe benefit than anything else.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Batman Begins is a reconstruction of the entire idea of Batman.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer takes the dumb blonde who gets killed in horror movies and reconstructs her as an action heroine, then deconstructs the supergirl concept by giving her real world problems.
  • Clueless is a reconstruction of Teen Movies after the bitter deconstruction of Heathers.
    • While also taking some time out to reconstruct Jane Austen by way of adapting Emma into a modern-day setting where it actually more-or-less works.
  • Hard Boiled features every single police officer character as unambiguously heroic, as an apology by John Woo for the way Chinese films had started to glorify criminals (including some of Woo's previous films). Their conduct in the hospital sequence in particular puts an extra helping of "Heroic" in Heroic Bloodshed.
  • Hot Fuzz was partially an attempt to revive the British police officer as a credible movie hero after almost every British crime movie of the previous decade (or at least since Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) had instead focused on glorifying criminals. Hot Fuzz spent its first half brutally deconstructing the police-action movie, then used its second half to gleefully rebuild it.
  • Some recent Westerns seem to be attempts at this (the [[3:10 to Yuma]] remake, Appaloosa) in contrast to some of the more post-modern examples of the genre (such as No Country for Old Men and The Proposition). Or they may be seen as straddling the middle ground between Deconstruction and Reconstruction.
  • Silverado reconstructed the Western in The Eighties.
  • When the James Bond series appeared dead (and had been somewhat deconstructed in the Timothy Dalton era), True Lies appeared to reconstruct the spy-action-adventure genre by way of Affectionate Parody. Ironically, it is a remake of a French parody of Hollywood action-adventure movies.
  • The Incredibles reconstructs the superhero plot, partially by correcting the mistakes and partially by transferring them to villains. Yes, superheroes need special suits, so Edna designs them. Yes, capes are silly so Edna's suits don't feature them. (Villains, though...). Yes, heroes cause destruction, but how else can you defeat evil robots? Most supers are eager to be supers, as opposed to be tired and suicidal. The only one doing this for fame is, well, the villain. And so on.
  • The film version of Kick-Ass reconstructs its own original comic's deconstruction of the superhero genre. In the comic, the hero is a sorry loser who never trains, gets beaten up all the time, and screws up his relationship with his new girlfriend. In the film, super-heroism is played mostly straight, with Kick-Ass becoming an inspirational underdog with low-level superpowers who eventually helps save the day and gets the girl.
    • Kick-Ass was called a superhero version of Zombieland, a film where zombies are not used as some kind of political or sociological metaphor, but just something to have fun killing.
  • Scream was, itself, a Deconstructive Parody of the Slasher Movie, but it also reconstructed the genre by reminding audiences of why they liked slashers so much, and helped bring the ailing genre back into popularity. It was soon followed by a large number of straight slasher flicks.
  • Cloverfield does this to Kaiju movies. Ironically, people believed it to be a Deconstruction, forgetting what a horrific anti-atomic weapons allegory the Trope Codifier Gojira really is. It started out horrific, got light and fluffy, and returned to being horrific. The film performs this recontruction by showing the events of the film through the perspective of normal civilions. It's a surprisingly effective way to show just how gut-wrenchingly brutal and terrifying a giant monster attack would be in real life.
  • Star Trek could be seen as a Reconstruction not only of the Star Trek franchise, but also the Space Opera genre as a whole. While the franchise had been heavily deconstructed to begin with, the later series had moved away from many aspects of the original series. The genre as a whole had suffered from certain works (including Star Trek: Enterprise and the Star Wars prequels, though, as always, YMMV) becoming notorious for generating a Hatedom and Broken Base, and undergone Deconstruction with the remake of Battlestar Galactica in 2000.
  • Although it didn't stick, The Outlaw Josey Wales can be seen as an attempted reconstruction of the old-style "sagebrush" western, with a more ambiguous and nuanced view of morality, the Civil War, and Indian raids. Essentially, The Man With No Name leads a group of pioneers to seek their fortunes in Texas.
  • Goodbye Lenin reconstructs, of all things, Marxist Socialism. The film blatantly acknowledges the problems of socialism and the good things provided by the West but by the end of the film we see that the hopes and dreams of the East German people are not necessarily defeated.
  • The Joshuu Sasori films are a reconstruction of the Women In Prison genre. While the genre normally consists of deeply mysogenist, red-hot-lesbian flicks created purely for men's tittilation and possessed of virtually no artistic merit, Shunya Itou made the Joshuu Sasori films thoughtful, vicious, artful and surreal works with an overtly feminist message, without even changing the basic common plotline.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Michael Chabon loves these. He's one of the most respected writers in America, yet many of his books take on subjects usually seen as meaningless pop culture, as if to prove that they can have literary merit if done right.
  • Harry Potter takes the idea of the inherent corruption that comes from magic, but thanks to a little something called humanity and pure hearts, it turns from a Crap Saccharine World to A World Half Full.
  • The Canterbury Tales seems to do this with the courtly love genre in the Franklin's Tale. Chaucer had parodied the genre in both the Miller's Tale and the deliberately sucky Tale of Sir Topas (which Chaucer assigned to himself). The Franklin's Tale Reconstructs it by keeping the postive genre element of celebrating honorable conduct, but jettison's the genre's stance that love only exists outside of marriage.
  • The Dark Tower series began as a reconstruction of the Westerns the author enjoyed.
  • Boris Akunin's Erast Fandorin detective novel series was made with the specific intention of reviving and uplifting the Russian detective genre after it sunk to a particularly terrible low.
  • Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol actually deconstructed the idealistic Self Made Man with Ebeneezer Scrooge, a man who had become wealthy through greed and at the expense of other people. However Scrooge learned the error of his ways and became a good person and thus an idealistic Self Made Man.
  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley may be a reconstruction of urban fantasy and vampire books. Instead of accepting a secret world of magic or trying to rationalize it, it's thrown out: vampires and magic have always been around. Enough names are droppped to indicate that history hasn't remained the same, it's a different world than ours, but the protagonist is young and focus-minded enough that the author can get away without describing the details. Magical superpredators of humans (vampires) come across as physically and mentally alien—though they can pass when they need to.

Music[edit | hide]

  • Sufjan Stevens' yearly Songs For Christmas EP's were a personal reconstruction of Christmas Music for Sufjan: his attempt to capture the sublime melancholy of Christmas music at its best, and to come to terms with the Glurge of the holiday season. (Sufjan had previously dismissed Christmas itself as a social construct.)
  • Tenacious D's music seems to be a reconstruction of classic rock. Though they don't take themselves or their lyrics very seriously, they certainly take the music seriously. As they wrote in "The Metal":

You can't kill The Metal...
The Metal will live on!
Punk Rock tried to kill The Metal...
but they failed, as they were smite to the ground!
New Wave tried to kill The Metal...
but they failed, as they were stricken down...to the ground
Grunge tried to kill The Metal...
Hahahahaha, THEY FAILED! as they were thrown to the ground!

  • Monster Magnet is another reconstruction of classic rock, as are the Hellacopters. (especially on their early albums)
  • The Darkness, with their five minute guitar solos and soaring falsettos is either a reconstruction or brilliant parody of Glam Metal.
    • A reconstruction basically. Sadly for them, they got pigeon holed rather unfairly into being a novelty parody, and faded away after the misguided fans got bored of the 'parody' and started ignoring the music.
  • Rappers like 50 cent, Boyz n da Hood, et al were supposed to be a reconstruction of hardcore hip-hop in the mainstream. But it never really caught on. Likely because of the lack of mainstream media support. Although "fiddy" defied this with radio friendly songs like "In da Club", "Candy Shop" etc.
    • Similarly rap group Dead Prez tried to reconstruct rebellious, hardcore, socio-political rap.
      • Would Flipsyde count as something related?
  • The Tel-Aviv City Team (aka: "Tact Family") uses a large portion of their music to perform a deliberate reconstruction of Zionism or Jewish nationalism in response to the deconstructions that came from the left in the '90s and 2000s. They actually have a rap rivalry with the older left-wing group Hadag Nachash over the precise definition of Zionist Hip-hop.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • The Ibsen Follies has a sufficiently loose relationship with the fourth wall for the Interactive Narrator to discuss this. She's based on a real-life woman whom Henrik Ibsen fell in love with and then broke up with, and whom he fictionalized as a selfish schemer in his tragedy The Master Builder. At the play's beginning, she watches Ibsen sitting in his chair, and speaks of how they could have lived a romance of dropped handkerchiefs and humorous misunderstandings—but Ibsen did everything he could to destroy that genre, replacing moth-eaten, badly painted backdrops and cheerful endings with despair and misery. Then she declares that it's time for turnabout, and a moth-eaten, badly painted backdrop slides onto the stage as Ibsen moans in despair and exits. The rest of the play is an old-fashioned romantic comedy about the (also real-life) relationship between Ibsen's son and the daughter of his greatest rival.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • After the years and years of mockery and criticism of the Daleks, mainly regarding their impractical design and their weapons, the episode "Dalek" addresses these criticisms to return the Daleks back into their previous threat level, by taking these criticisms and turning them on their head.


Video Games[edit | hide]


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Red vs. Blue. Notable in that the new series is actually called Reconstruction. After five seasons of picking apart gaming tropes, they are now being put back together. What was once laughed at by the main characters is now a serious threat. Of course, it never made the audience stop laughing at them.
    • Reconstruction is actually a Double Subversion. Yes, it put some tropes back together but it utterly obliterates some of the jokes the series as a whole has built over five seasons. Your Mileage Will Vary a lot as to whether or not this was a good thing.
  • The Whateley Universe is basically a reconstruction of the Superhero genre, starting with kids at a Super-Hero School and an attempt to define realistic powers and the Applied Phlebotinum to make them work. (And Gender Benders galore.)
  • The Randomverse seems to have gone this way. It started off with heros discussing their movies, to heroes discussing their movies while socialising, to Lex Luthor attacking the heroes while they're trying to socialise, and has since built up a canon of jokes and joke-threats ad threats that used to be jokes, and constantly flipping allegiances. And it's still flipping hilarious.
    • In between the jokes though are serious stories about why idealism and optimism are important in comic books. There's segments on how Superman is still relevant today, why Batman is really revered (hint: it's not about the gadgets), and why Spider-Man could perhaps be one of the most amazing heroes ever for the Heroic Sacrifice he does more than any of the other two mentioned ever would. Heck, it's practically a Reconstruction of understanding on why we loved these favorite heroes in the first place.
  • Imperial Dawn reconstructs the creation of Plato's Republic, in the sense that it introduces the idea of a philosopher-king in a fairly organic and realistic way.
  • The Pokédex Extended Fanon Edition, maintained on this very site, acknowledges that yes, Pokemon are potentially incredibly dangerous, but just as long as you're not a complete idiot, it is very possible to care for and love them. And you can do so in one piece, to boot.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Justice League episode "Legends" is both an Affectionate Parody and reconstruction of The Golden Age of Comic Books. In it, a few members of the league travel to an Alternate Universe and meet the Justice Guild of America, ersatz versions of the JSA. The episode points out the racism and sexism prevalent in the Golden Age, and the Flash mocks the Guild's cheesy "let justice prevail!" catchphrase, but at the end of the story the Guild helps defeat the villain, knowing that they'll fade from existence when they do, and when they yell "Let justice prevail!" that time, it's completely awesome.
    • The episode was in dedication to Gardner Fox, a rather influential comic writer, so it wasn't just Reconstruction; it was an Homage to the man.
  • Much of the dislike for Batman: The Brave And The Bold stems from people not realizing it's an Affectionate Parody as much as it is a Reconstruction of the Silver Age Batman. Although considering how many people only know of Tim Burton's and Christopher Nolan's Grimdark interpretations, it's not surprising.
  • The Venture Brothers, after the first two and a half or so seasons, has slowly evolved from being a Deconstructor Fleet to gradually reconstructing several of the tropes it has taken great pain to tear down.
    • Much of the second and third seasons were spent lampshading the utter ludicrousness of the Guild of Calamitous Intent and the Office of Strategic Intelligence's secret costumed battle for supremacy, showing them both to be hidebound, ossified and frankly, quite ineffectual. Eventually, certain members of OSI saw through this and decided enough was enough, dug out some old equipment, and thus SPHINX was (re)born, as a more dynamic alternative focused on actually eliminating threats (costumed and otherwise) and not maintaining a BS status quo.
      • The status quo itself was deconstructed. When Jonas Jr. tried to kill The Monarch while the latter was attacking him, it's quickly pointed out that killing a supervillain leads to escalation from the Guild. On the other hand, it's revealed that keeping to the status quo keeps supervillains placated and not committing real crimes. So while the OSI is pretty ineffectual by dealing with the Guild, it keeps an army of supervillains from wreaking havoc.
      • Not to mention that Colonel Gathers is now back as head of the OSI because he complained about how thing were going. Its basically been revealed the the Secret Peace between heroes and villains is really just a front the even more Secret War between heroes and villains which is far far stranger and multi-leveled than any other kind of politics.
    • In some ways, The Monarch is slowly becoming a reconstruction of the Supervillain, as, through a combination of Genre Savviness, Not So Harmless, and Dark Mistress, he's climbed the ranks from lame nemesis to a truly dangerous foe.
  • The jury may be out, but this seems to be the entire purpose to the newest Scooby Doo series, Scooby Doo Mystery Inc. The series takes a comically cynical approach to the Scooby Doo mythos, but it doesn't outright parody or deconstruct the elements. While the kids are, realistically, treated as a nuisance by the law and their parents constantly question why they're obsessed with solving mysteries, the kids still get the job done and solve mysteries because they love it and love hanging around with each other.
    • Case in point, at the end of Episode 11, the gang breaks up under the weight of the group's relationship issues. A straight deconstruction would probably end there - Mystery Inc. is a group of teenagers in high school investigating crimes in their home town, so eventually they have to grow up and find real jobs. However, Mystery Inc. gets back together by the end of the next episode, realizing that solving these mysteries really is what they were meant to do, and the team begins repairing their bonds - the reconstruction is that the Scooby Gang would have personality clashes, just like any group of friends, but acknowledging these clashes and finding ways to cope with them strengthens the group. (A straight parody, on the other hand, probably wouldn't even bring up these issues in the first place.)
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, in a very subtle way. My Little Pony had been parodied for years, and the new series picked up on the reactional sarcasm and sardonicness of cartoons in the 90's. It's dropped the saccharine Tastes Like Diabetes exaggeration of its previous incarnations, even regaining some of the initial darkness of its pilot roots in the eighties, and older fans don't feel so silly for watching it because they know the show is very much aware of its own idealism and even pokes fun at it. (Twilight's blunt "Tell me she's not..."' when Pinkie Pie starts singing, for example, while also accepting the value of her song.)
  • Archer does this to a whole lot of Spy Fiction tropes;