One of the biggest changes, in my opinion, in literature and storytelling in general recently (ish) has been in the characterization. The farther back in time you go, the more “perfect” characters seem to be.
That’s because of a shift towards relatable characters.
Now, I’m no historian. I don’t understand the nuances of cultural and it’s evolution through the ages. But just comparing the first two Thor movies to Thor:Ragnarok shows this shift – and those were (comparatively) recent.
In the first two Thor movies, Thor had flowing long hair, spoke like a medieval king, and was in love with a brilliant female character that we all felt like we’d seen before. In Ragnarok, Thor sounded more modern, got a more modern look, messed up dramatic timing, and even hit himself in the head with a ball.
Valkyrie, compared to Jane, was completely different. For one, she was an ally, not a love interest. She drank, got drunk, never seemed overly impressed with Thor, and could hold her own in battle.
A lot of this comes down to the difference in humor and interpretation of the directors, but it also shows a difference in relatability.
Humans are flawed, and I don’t just mean conflict-causing flaws like pride, loyalty, or obliviousness. We as a species trip over our own feet, struggle combing our own hair, and don’t always time things perfectly. When characters do this, we laugh because it seems like something we would do. For me, it’s characters like Merida from Brave who struggle with hair, or Frank Zhang from Heroes of Olympus who trips on his feet and occasionally comes off as awkward.
The point is, don’t be afraid to give your characters human moments. It just makes that that more human.