Right now, of course, vampires are a hot commodity in general entertainment. From the Twilight series, to "True Blood" and a fair number of other movies and fiction, people like vampires. And why not? Vampires are compelling because they trade immortal life with having to drink human blood. Throw in a love interest with a mortal, and you have immediate, unresolvable conflict (a.k.a. a story). So I get it.
But, I'm a little vampired out. For one, the best vampires are anti-heroes, not mopey protagonists. For instance, ask an Anne Rice fan who his or her favorite vampire is (or even Anne Rice) and the response will be the same: Lestat. And there's a reason for it - among all the vampires in her books, Lestat is the one guy who didn't choose to be a vampire, but when he became one, he tried to be the best vampire he could. He didn't bitch like Louis.
Now, of all the various other types of supernatural characters, werewolves are the ones who get the short end of the stick. Yes, there are werewolf movies, but those films are either: protagonists are being attacked by werewolves (werewolves as random monsters); protagonists are turning into werewolves (werewolves as a proxy for madness); or, protagonists are being helped by werewolves against vampires. In each case, the focus isn't on the werewolf, and the lycanthropy is a proxy for something else - our fear of nature, our fear of madness, etc.
There is one exception, of course, Teen Wolf wasn't about nature or madness or anything of that sort - Teen Wolf was about a teenager dealing with being a werewolf and trying to fit into society. The lycanthropy was a good thing - though it was also a metaphor general talents. I'm sure there are other examples, but I think my original thesis holds water.
And here's my big problem with werewolf literature - its based upon an outdated view of nature. When the werewolf legend first sprung up, nature was a scary place and wolves were viewed as mindless, relentless killers. We now know that to not be the case. Wolves are highly intelligent, social animals, capable of adapting to multiple environments and who have been known to work with both humans and badgers (of all things, I know) to hunt prey. So, the madness aspect of the werewolf legend is off. So too, is the idea that wolves eat people. In fact, wolves are generally scared of humans (which, considering that humans have wiped out wolf populations, makes sense), and don't consider humans prey animals.
My ideal reformation of the werewolf character then, is as follows:
- The Werewolf Should Be Able to Transform Without Going Crazy. I could understand a first time craziness because the initial transformation would be horrendously painful, but after that, the werewolf should be able to switch from one form to another without issue. Oh, and the full moon thing, which is tied with the idea that lycanthropy is a form of lunacy (as in, involving the Moon), should go as well.
- The Werewolf Should Not Eat People - Again, people aren't prey items for wolves or humans, so why should werewolves eat people? Plus, that puts them a little bit too close to vampires. Although, you could do a story where the vamps drain the victims and turn the bodies over to werewolves for consumption. Hmm. . .anyway, for the protagonist werewolf, eating people shouldn't be in the cards. Instead werewolves should eat like. . .dogs. Now, I'm not saying dog food, but since dogs are wolves adapted to human life, they're the closest thing to a werewolf. So the werewolf should eat all the crap that a dog would (which is just about everything except lettuce).
- The Werewolf Should Be Mortal. Again, immortality basically makes werewolves like vampires, which is dumb. The only possible trade-off is immortality for madness, which sucks because its too close to vampirism. Additionally, let's make lycanthropy an inherited condition as opposed to something you get from being bitten.
- The Werewolf Should Have Badass Powers. I don't want to completely defang the whole werewolf story - after all, that would suck. So aside from transforming into a wolf, the werewolf should be able to look like the werewolves in "Underworld" and basically rip things to shreds and run ridiculously fast. I also like the silver allergy thing.
- The Werewolf Should Have Quirks - Every dog I've owned has been quirky, from barking at the sky during after a thunderclap, to jumping randomly on furniture, to fixating on cats/squirrels. Its the odd combination of canine senses in a human world that makes dogs fun. Werewolves should equally have personality quirks.