Phoenix Wright’s Evolution and Consequent De-evolution as a Character

      Phoenix Wright used to be my favorite character. He was constantly being forced to grow and adapt to the situations he was constantly thrust into. In the original trilogy, each game brought about new problems that challenged his views of the world and its inhabitants. This constant growth as a character even persisted in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. While people’s opinions vary as to the quality of this game, one fact still remains clear: Phoenix changed. a lot.
Personally, I liked Phoenix in AJ. But then again, I like the sorta loveable-asshole character type. I’ve heard people say that this seemed like a very out of character appearance of Phoenix, but I personally disagree. Back in Justice For All, when Maya tried to bring up the fact that Edgeworth was gone, Phoenix would close himself off and refuse to talk about it. I feel like the Phoenix in AJ acted the exact same way. He refused to talk about his disbarment, and kept everyone in the dark about his plans to enact the new Jurist System. Phoenix in AJ was also very callous and even a bit blase when it came to the events around him. He didn’t seem to trust the court system, or the participants and used underhanded tactics to reach the truth. He actually forges evidence and gets Apollo to present it just to lure out the true culprit. The most likely reason is Phoenix’s intense desire to reach the truth.
And it’s not like he’s never used tricky tactics to lure out the culprit. In the third case of Trials and Tribulations, Phoenix presents a piece of evidence and convinces the true culprit that it’s the real murder weapon, and manages to get him to confess to knowledge only the murderer would know. Also, in the bonus 5th case of the first game, he presents inadmissible evidence, and manages to get the police chief to legitimize it and make it presentable.
The Phoenix in Apollo Justice is just a more extreme version of himself, and I think that comes from losing all faith in the system he devoted his livelihood to, and having 7 years of poorly playing a piano, and beating people at poker to think about what happened to himself. Phoenix had to completely reevaluate everything he believed in, and that’s probably why he developed the attitude he had in AJ.
But enough talking about AJ. Let’s move on to what I consider the de-evolution of Phoenix’s character as mentioned in the title.
Dual Destinies was marketed as Phoenix’s big comeback. Everyone was thrilled. We had missed our old lawyer friend (No offense Apollo), and his big comeback game was…
Okay. Nothing terrible, but definitely nothing absolutely amazing. The biggest thing that many fans (Including myself) noticed was that the game focused heavily on Apollo. He was the character that had the most character development. But what I haven’t heard as much about is how Phoenix seemed to have gone back to his old rookie attorney self (Despite being 34 years old and not 26).
The Phoenix in DD and SOJ seems to act the exact same as he did when he first started. That is, a fumbling, goofy, unprepared attorney (At least when you’re playing as him). You would think that Phoenix would keep some of that aforementioned blase attitude that gave him this very calm and collected demeanor. In the first case of AJ, he had that trial in his pocket. Everything went exactly as planned, and Phoenix handled all of it from the sidelines. Now, it seems like Phoenix is doing well to even know what’s going on. It’s incredibly disheartening to see this character regression.
Nowadays, Phoenix is just a bit bland, as well. He hasn’t gone through a character arc (Even though the games are named after him), and he just seems to be a shell of what he was even during the original trilogy.
He used to get mad. He’d yell at people when he was frustrated, and he’d get fired up about the things that meant a lot to him. Remember when he refused to let Edgeworth turn down his defense request? The closest he’s gotten to having a somewhat interesting development is when Maya gets kidnapped (Again) in SOJ. Even then, it’s something that’s already happened, so we already knew exactly how he was going to react.
It’s strange that Phoenix doesn’t act like his old goofy self when he’s not in court. He takes up Mia’s old role of being the mentor figure what with him even telling Athena and Apollo the whole ‘the worst times are when a lawyer has to force their biggest smile’ (which is a quote I’m going to tackle at some point especially considering how hard it’s been shoved down our throats recently). It’s odd then, that he doesn’t replicate Mia’s methods of defending clients. She was usually pretty calm and collected when she was in court, and she rarely bluffed. It’s pretty jarring to see Phoenix act one way when he’s not in court, and another when he is.
However, I will admit that he was a bit more interesting in SOJ, since Maya came back and Phoenix really shines as a character whenever she’s around. I hope that Maya goes back to being Phoenix’s partner. Most of the Ace Attorney fans missed her, and would welcome her serving a more prominent role in the future. This doesn’t really change Phoenix’s personality when you’re not playing as him (Unless Maya gets kidnapped), but it’s a definite improvement.
Phoenix’s bland character and pretty inconsistent behavior is why he was replaced by Apollo as my favorite character. Apollo just had more interesting character changes going on while Phoenix remained stagnant, and I feel Phoenix’s character suffered. I don’t dislike him at all, and I enjoy playing as him, but I just wanted to elaborate on a problem that I’ve noticed for a while now.
But obviously, this is just the opinion of someone who thinks a bit too much about fictional characters.Check out my other social media accounts here:
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