Christopher Chance (Human Target)

humantargetfilmNot exactly a tasty episode, but with some moments of fun nevertheless (and a lot of nonsense as usual), Arrow o5x05 Human Target introduced in the DC TV Universe a well-known comicbook character: Christopher Chance, portrayed by Wil Traval. The ultimate bodyguard, Chance impersonates Mayor Oliver Queen to lure Tobias Church out, being “killed” in his place and later aiding him in his final stand against the mob boss. Quite a unique case, despite being a secondary character in the comics Christopher Chance received two other live action adaptations over the years: the first one was the 1992 tv series Human Target, with Rick Springfield portraying the titular character; in the series, Chance is a veteran from the Vietnam War who becomes a bodyguard and p.i., and he dons extremely realistic masks created by his hacker friend Philo Marsden, while former CIA agent Libby Page finds and coordinates his assignments, and pilot Jeff Carlyle helps him on field: his M.O. is unique, as he replaces his client for days until the threat to his life is exposed. The second, more recent tv series of the same name had Mark Valley portraying the character, albeit in the second season it turns out “Christopher Chance” is a name legacy, with the previous one being Lee Majors. Trained to be a killer but reformed by love and by his predecessor, Chance doesn’t replace his client anymore, but rather becomes part of his life following him like a shadow, impersonating a pilot, a lawyer, even a monk, always with all the skills necessary, assisted by his friend Winston, killer Guerrero, entrepreneur Ilsa Pucci and teen thief Ames. Just for this once, Arrow‘s version is the closer one we got to the original: let’s take a look.

Christopher Chance was born in BostonMassachussets, the son of accountant Philip Chance. Philip surely wasn’t a wealthy man, but he wanted to provide the best for his family (his wife died early, either on childbirth or when Christopher was little, so everything depended on him): in order to do so, he borrowed money from a local loan shark, Amos Sharkey. Things went better for a while for the Chances, but eventually Philip lost all the money on the stock market, and was unable to repay Sharkey. The criminal wanted to make an example out of Philip, so he sent one of his killers, Dancer, to dispose of him… just in front of his kid. Christopher, paralyzed by fear, watched helplessly as his father humiliated himself and pleaded for his life. Finally anger had the best of fear, and the boy rushed in front of Philip, trying to shield him with his own body… but Dancer gave him a shove and shot his father. Blinded by rage, the boy attacked the killer, trying to strangle him: at first, Dancer was taken by surprise, but it took humantargetcomics1little time for him to regain control of the situation and to point his gun to the kid’s head… but he was interrupted by the sound of police sirens, and he fled. Philip was still breathing, and Christopher came close to comfort him. In his final moment, Philip begged his son to do something good with his life, to be successful not to end like him. The lesson Christopher learned, however, was something different: he didn’t want anybody else to be paralyzed by such a fear, nor to endure such a pain and humiliation. He had tried to be a shield for his father, and he had failed: he would have never failed again. Committed to become a bodyguard to protect people who risked to suffer his father’s fate, Christopher started an intensive training that made him a perfectly accomplished athlete, a weapon master, and an expert in a variety of martial arts. But he wanted something more: he wanted to be the best bodyguard ever existed, who erased any chance of risk for his client… and he found out just how he could accomplish that.

First, as part of the promise he had made to his dad, Christopher opened a restaurant on Joy Street, in the wealthy Beacon Hill area; then, with the money he made from this activity (albeit he changed the bills depending on how much the costumer could afford), he researched and produced an extremely realistic kind of masks, and he decided to include them in his other activity. When a client came to him looking for protection, Chance followed him for a while, making researches on his (or her) life, learning everything he had to know about family, job, attitude, relationships. Then, when prepared, he used his masks and his skills to actually replace the client, living his life until the menace to his life emerged, then he neutralized the threat, and let the client resume his ordinary life: he had become the Human Target. The style was unique and effective… and it even rewarded Chance on a personal level: one client came to him for protection, as he had been targeted by none other than Dancer, the same killer who had murdered his father. As usual, Christopher replaced the client and waited for the right moment: when Dancer arrived, he was quite shocked to be beaten by a simple businessman, but he suffered a major nervous breakdown when he saw the man removing what he thought to be his face, revealing the one of the kid he couldn’t kill twenty years before. Gone mad, Dancer was locked up in Arkham Asylum, while Chance came back to his restaurant. Ironically, soon after the FBI hired him to protect none other than Amos Sharkey, Dancer’s employer, who had humantargetcomics2become an informant. Albeit struggling with his thirst for revenge, Chance accepted the job, as he had promised he would had protected anybody… including his father’s killer. Sharkey was saved, albeit his actions later led him to be abandoned by the FBI, becoming a wanted man (much to Chance’s relief)… but impersonating the man he hated the most in the world after Dancer had left a mark on Christopher’s psyche, a mark that would have become quite a problem in a few years…

Christopher Chance is a man with a purpose: incapable of feeling fear anymore, he’s committed to protect as many people as he can, always putting himself on the line of fire, able and willing to risk his own life to avoid pain and loss to others. As the Human Target, he’s a master of disguise, able to fully become someone else, replicating looks, voices, ways of moving, patterns, tics, everything that makes a person who he/she is; he’s also a master martial artist, an accomplished pilot and driver, a master with any ancient or modern weapon, gifted with a photographic muscle memory. The Human Target doesn’t just pretend to be his client, he becomes his client, and this puts his mind through quite a stress over the years: unable to tell his original personality from the ones he has adopted, or even to tell which emotion he feels belongs to him or to one of his “fake” personalities, Christopher Chance has now completely disappeared, as only the Human Target remains.


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