It’s time for another installment of Unpopular Opinion Hour with your host, Fussypants! Today we profess our undying love for a character almost as reviled as Thrall himself. You guessed, it, we’re talking about Anduin Wrynn!
Anduin Wrynn is, hands down, one of my favorite characters in the World of Warcraft. He’s no badass fighter, walking away all cool-guy like from explosions. He’s no infallible leader, orchestrating the perfect sequence of events to win the day. And he’s certainly no wise sage, consulted with for matters of prophecy and the foreseen. All told, there’s really not much remarkable about Anduin at all, other than the fact that his father is Varian Wrynn. However, despite all this (or perhaps, because of all this), I connect with Anduin much more than any other character in the game.
Prince then king, then prince, and now once again king, Anduin has, in many ways, been thrown to the wolves unprepared. Not only did young Anduin have to deal with the disappearance and supposed death of his father very early on in his life but he also had to help lead an entire nation. There was no boyish innocence, no rosy colored childhood allowed, just a load of responsibilities which would have been much for even someone much older to handle. Anduin grew up in a world where he was expected to grow up quickly and take on his duties as king, without a mother or father to guide him.
Then, when his father did return, life didn’t exactly get much easier. The Varian Wrynn who returned was not the Varian Wrynn who had left, instead replaced by a grizzled, scarred warrior who struggled to connect with anyone outside of the battlefield. Varian Wrynn might have come back and resumed his duties as king, but he sure as heck did not resume his duties as a father. Once Bolvar Fordragon, who’d acted as young Anduin’s father figure during Varian’s absence, disappeared forever in Northrend, Anduin was left without any sort of support.
Despite Varian now being back, things only got harder for Anduin Wrynn. While he was no longer acting as the king, now Anduin had to contend with the awesome reputation of Varian. Varian Wrynn was no simple king, he was more of a force of nature. His prowness in battle and leadership at home elevated him almost to the heights of legends. Everyone knew the name Varian Wrynn, whether they were Alliance or Horde, and all were in awe of his abilities. Being the son of such a figure, there was an expectation that Anduin would be similarly legendary.
Only, Anduin wasn’t. He eschewed the sword, choosing instead to wield the Light. Where Varian was confident, Anduin was unsure. Where Varian was ruthless, Anduin was compassionate. Where Varian was a pragmatist, Anduin was an idealist. To many, the crown prince of Stormwind seemed downright weak.
This is the first major reason why I love Anduin Wrynn as a character. In a world where everyone is insanely self-assured, Anduin was the kid who wasn’t. He doubted his actions. He made mistakes. He failed. Try as he might, Anduin Wrynn failed again and again. Not because the enemy’s strategy was better or some force outside of his control got in the way but because he himself made a mistake. Anduin Wrynn isn’t perfect, and he knows it.
Nevertheless, Anduin Wrynn does not give up. When something knocks him down, Anduin gets right back up and tries again. He is determined to a fault, willing to do whatever is necessary to stay true to his ideals. War and bloodshed have not numbed his sense of compassion; if anything, they have made it stronger.
Anduin Wrynn is an unashamed idealist in a world run by pragmatists. Even Jaina Proudmoore, the old holdout on peace, has become jaded and bitter. But not Anduin. While the things he believes in may never come to pass, Anduin Wrynn does not give up hope. And truly, Azeroth needs someone like that. Someone who can trust, someone who can hope, someone who can believe. By believing in something better, Anduin and those like him help to create a world where that is actually the case.
However, it is vital to realize that Anduin Wrynn is no fool. He might be an optimist but even Anduin Wrynn recognizes that peace comes at a price Even Anduin Wrynn realizes that some enemies can’t be reasoned with. Even Anduin Wrynn knows that war is sometimes necessary. His is a character where idealism is in constant conflict with harsh realities. Over the expansions, Anduin has outgrown his naivety but the kid is far from a realist. That internal conflict is part of what makes him interesting.
It’s also part of what makes him identifiable. I won’t lie to you; part of the reason why I love Anduin Wrynn’s character so is because I see a lot of myself it him. Someone who is young but wanting to change the world. Someone who is having to balance perfect scenarios with what actually occurs. Just as I’ve been slowly finding my place and who I want to be, so has Anduin Wrynn, growing up along side of me in the World of Warcraft.
When Varian Wrynn died at the Broken Front, all of these factors that have been building and growing inside the young Wrynn came to a head. His father is now well and truly gone, and Anduin has to fill the enormous mantle left behind. Lead the Alliance. Fight the Legion. Become the new Varian Wrynn.
I think that short little cinematic (Alliance side only, I’m afraid) does the perfect job of explaining who Anduin is now. He’s absolutely still afraid and unsure. He’s most definitely not prepared. And he can never be the new Varian Wrynn.
But that doesn’t matter because he doesn’t need to be. By accepting his father’s old sword and infusing it with the Light, Anduin has demonstrated that he will not be his father. He will try to emulate his father’s strength and bravery but he will still maintain his own idealism. He will lead the Alliance, not as Varian but as King Anduin Wrynn, Son of the Wolf and Keeper of Peace.
And then maybe, hopefully, become a paladin