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Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano in Sky High)

Will Stronghold


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Sky High was a 2005 Disney super-hero comedy/parody movie. One core hook is a special high school for super-hero children. It was well-reviewed.


Background

  • Real Name: William Theodore Stronghold
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: The Commander/ Steve Stronghold (father), Jetstream/ Josie Stronghold (mother)
  • Group Affiliation: The Stronghold Three (only at the end of the movie); also associated with several “sidekicks”.
  • Base Of Operations: Maxville and Sky High
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 135 lbs. Age: 14 (in 2005, when the story takes place)
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown


Powers & Abilities

At the beginning of the story, Will has no powers. During his first week at Sky High, while being attacked and then seeing his friends threatened, he manifests superhuman strength and durability like his father.

A few weeks later, again while under stress when his life is being threatened, he manifests the power of flight like his mother. He is not yet as strong or tough as his father nor as fast or skilled in the air as his mother but he is only 14 years old and just got the powers.

Will has some basic super-hero training from his new school, including quick-change artistry.


Video

Sky High trailer in 720p.


History

Will Stronghold is the son of the two most powerful super beings in his world setting, the Commander and Jetstream. In their secret identities, his parents are Steven and Josie Stronghold, real estate agents.

Steve is himself a second generation super being, his father having been a superhero although neither his father’s real first name nor his codename are mentioned.

In the world setting, the governmental system of the United States (and possibly the world) seems in some ways set up around the existence of super beings. Being a superhero or superheroine seems to be a profession onto itself although things are set up in such a way that they can assume secret identities. But doing so seems almost a lark or something to do with their mostly free time.

Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) in a school hall

Generally, world leaders, as well as more local leaders, have the private phone numbers of certain superheroes to call in case of emergencies. It is implied these leaders know their true identities. For instance, Jetstream mentions to the Mayor that a mission as a superheroine interfered with her first successful sale as a real estate agent.

At some point in history, in order to facilitate the training of super beings while they were still young, “Sky High” was formed. It was based on technology possessed by certain high-tech characters. Sky High is a high school like no other, floating high above the clouds using anti-gravity technology.

Super kids are picked up by what seems an ordinary school bus. But when it has all the kids on board and arrives at an isolated location, it transforms into a flying bus that takes them to the high (very high) school. It is said that the school moves around to prevent it from being an easy target and it is shown that there are multiple school buses.

Introducing Will Stronghold

The story begins when Will Stronghold begins his first day at Sky High. He just has one small problem. He has no super powers in spite of being the son of two super beings and the grandson of another.

Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) with his dad, the Commander

He has managed to hide the fact from his parents by a number of simple tricks. For instance, he loads weights onto a bar, weights so heavy no human being could lift them. As his father is about to walk into the room, he gets under the weights and manages to make a clanking sound as if he was just setting them back in the rack after lifting them.

His mother seems the smart one of the pair but she is not obsessed with him following them into “the Family business”. So William mostly has to fool his father, which is not a particularly difficult task.

New school

On the morning of his first day of school, he meets up with his neighbor, Layla Williams, who has the power to make plant material grow and control it. They have known each other sense they were babies.

On the bus, he also meets his friend, Zack, who he has known for a number of years along with meeting other kids such as Magenta and Ethan. He likewise meets Ron Wilson: Bus Driver, who gives him a business card. Upon arrival, he also meets the Student President, Gwen Grayson.

He quickly finds out that this is an extremely stratified system. Students are placed into one of two groups based upon the type and degree of powers they possess. It’s either the “Hero” category or the “Hero Support” category, usually referred to as “the Sidekicks”. They will attend classes only with the group they are placed into.

Further, heroes will eventually be able to choose such things as their costumes and code names. Sidekicks get no such choices. Upon graduation, they will be assigned to a hero or heroine and their costumes and code names will be designed to reflect the hero they are the sidekick of.

The kids who always get picked last

All of Will’s friends proceed to be tested and assigned to the sidekick category. Zack (whose clothing always consists of yellow and white) has the amazing power to glow but only in the dark. Ethan’s power is to change into a gooey puddle on the floor. Magenta can turn into a Guinea pig.

Layla, who could easily qualify as a heroine, refuses to test as she thinks it is a flawed system. She is automatically sent to Sidekick training.

Though it may not be obvious from the written word, this is all presented as comedy, a parody of the Superhero genre. At that, it probably is not as ridiculous as it sounds. It sort of reflects the school system which takes people of an age where they are already trying to fit in and the slightest difference is seized upon as a reason for ostracism and puts a superhero spin on it.

Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) lifts a table

Will is finally forced to reveal that he has no powers and is relegated to the Sidekick role. He discovers that while people who gain their powers through an accident usually manifest the powers by the next day, those who inherit their powers may not do so until full maturity.

Some children of a super being never get powers though there is only one known case of someone with both their parents having powers never getting powers themselves and that is Ron Wilson: Bus Driver.

School life

Will continues to avoid telling his father that he has no powers. Especially when his father shows him “the Secret Sanctum” where he stores all of his prizes from various villains he has defeated.

Unknown to the COmmander, one of his villains who recently sent a giant robot after him wanted it defeated. He knew that the Commander would take the power source as a prize. This device allows the villain to spy on him. The goal is to learn the location of another device that the Commander took as a prize years ago, a gun known as “the Pacifier”.

As Sidekick training continues, Will attends a class run by a middle-aged man named Jonathan. He was once a sidekick called the All-American Boy. In fact, he was once the Commander’s sidekick and yet his father never mentioned him.

This is another nail in the coffin of what his father thinks of sidekicks. He doesn’t think about them at all.

But Will finally tells him because he’s tired of feeling embarrassed by something he sees nothing wrong with. His father’s reaction is controlled anger combined with a certainty that Will is just a late bloomer.

Alliances and Divisions

At school, some of the “heroes” play a trick by tripping Will so he crashes into a table where another boy is sitting. His name is Warren Peace.

(Yes, there were characters in the movie that really had such names).

It seems Warren’s mother was a superheroine. But his father was a super villain who was captured by the Commander and ended up in prison for life. Warren has a hatred not only of the Commander but of Will for the crime of being his son. Warren possesses the ability to generate and throw fire from his hands, an ability he now uses to attack Will.

Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) during a technology class

Running for his life, Will still does not gain powers. But when his friends show up to try to help him and Warren is about to use his fire powers on them, Will’s super strength suddenly manifests. He goes into a pitched battle against Warren which ends with them both in detention in a room that neutralizes powers.

(The comedic plot ignores that Warren was blatantly trying to murder him and only gets detention for it- in the same room as Will).

I shall become… a Hero!

Because of his powers manifesting, Will finds himself transferred over to the Hero division. It is not something he initially wanted but then he realizes it will allow him to take some classes with Gwen Grayson, who he is very attracted to and who seems very attracted to him.

Of course, he does not realize that his longtime friend, Layla, is in love with him. But when the sidekicks are snubbed and refused being allowed to sit at one of the Hero tables for lunch, Will tries to make it up to Layla by inviting her to a restaurant for dinner.

Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) with his mom, Jetstream

Unfortunately, when Gwen shows up at his house for a surprise study session, he forgets all about his “date”. Gwen invites his parents to be the Hero Guests of Honor at the Homecoming dance and gets Will to ask her to be his date.

Meanwhile, Layla begins a friendship with Warren Peace who happens to have a part-time job at the restaurant where Will stood her up.

Oh the drama

The High school dramas continue as Layla pretends to be dating Warren. Meanwhile Gwen, while at Will’s house while his parents are away, tricks him into letting her invite the Homecoming planning committee to his house to work. Except everybody from the Hero classes shows up and a party results.

Gwen laments that there seems no place where they can be alone. As she snuggles closer, Will suggests they could go into “the Secret Sanctum” although he knows that his father’s one rule is that you never bring anyone outside the home there.

As she kisses him in the now unlocked Sanctum, an accomplice with super speed rockets by and steals the Pacifier. This is the weapon a villain called Royal Pain once tried to use on Will’s parents. The powered armor wearing villain had been defeated before he ever got a chance to use the weapon.

Gwen and the odd gun

Getting back upstairs, Gwen sees that Layla has shown up at the party as she lives nearby. Gwen does everything she can to alienate Layla from Will. However, Will sees Layla as she storms out and, infuriated by Gwen’s callousness, breaks everything off with her including their Homecoming date.

Then, just as an ugly argument begins, Will’s parents get home, having been gone to Europe and back in two hours. After everyone else leaves, Will tells his parents he isn’t going to the Homecoming dance.

Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) discusses with the bus driver

As his parents leave for the dance, Will sits and starts looking through their high school yearbook. He sees a photo of a girl named Sue Tenny. He remembers that his parents told him she was a “science geek” who vanished just a few days before graduation.

He notes that she looks exactly like Gwen Grayson and surmises that Gwen must be the daughter of this Sue Tenny. In one of the Yearbook photos, Sue is holding a prototype invention that looks like the Pacifier.

Then he turns and sees that the Pacifier is missing and realizes that he’s been set up. Remembering the business card that Ron Wilson: Bus Driver gave him, he gets Ron to show up with the school bus and give him a ride to Sky High.

School event

Meanwhile, at the dance, Gwen reveals herself. As her armor appears around her, her accomplice hands her the Pacifier gun and she fires it at the Commander, transforming him into the powerless baby he once was. She manages to shoot Jetstream and all of the other powerful super beings (who, of course, seem to conveniently forget to use their powers).

Several of her accomplices also reveal themselves and they are, of course, every kid in the school who is a bully and who picks on the sidekicks.

Layla, Warren, Zack, Magenta and Ethan manage to get out of the room as Gwen is focusing on taking out the heroes first. Will shows up and quickly reconciles with Layla, then heads to stop Gwen. Meanwhile, some of the bullies show up to stop the sidekicks.

Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) and fellow super-students

Some of the bullies possess powers that seem to make it very arbitrary whether they should be heroes or sidekicks. For instance, one girl, a snotty cheerleader type, has the amazing power to duplicate herself. But we never see more than a dozen of her. She is easily captured by Layla using her power over plants to hold her. Obviously there is a limit to how many duplicates the girl can make since she doesn’t create more to escape.

(In other words, she has the incredible power to turn into a dozen average cheerleaders that any real life martial arts master would wipe the floor with. I picture her in a bank when it gets robbed and duplicating only to have the robbers thank her for giving them a dozen more hostages. A boy with stretching powers but no extra durability seems in about the same category).

The real plan!

Gwen reveals her real plan. Decades ago, a girl named Sue Tenny went to Sky High. Back then, nobody knew what a technopath was so she was relegated to the Sidekick role and tossed in with the Science geeks. She hatched a plan to start her own school for Super villains.

Using her Pacifier invention, she would eventually turn everyone at Sky High into babies and raise them herself to be villains. But in a pitched battle against the Commander and Jetstream in 1985, the gun was damaged and she was struck by its energy.

The Commander thought she vanished but she had actually turned into a baby. Her sidekick, Stitches, managed to grab her and get away in the confusion.

He raised her and explained to her who she really was. Somehow, she seems to have regained her memories as she grew up. Although never explicitly stated, it seems that at five she remembered both her new experiences to that age and the previous experiences; at ten, both sets of experiences, etc.

So going to high school again, dating Will, getting invited to his house, to the Secret Sanctum, inviting his parents to be guests at the Homecoming, etc., was all part of her plan.

Powers make not a hero

As they battle, Royal Pain hits Will and knocks him through a window, sending him falling from the sky at terminal velocity. Seconds later, he floats back up and into the room, his mother’s power of flight having activated.

He quickly defeats her but not before she activates a booby-trap that shuts off the school’s anti-gravity device and sends the whole facility plummeting towards the ground.

Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) flies at an opponent

As Will flies outside and under the school, trying to slow its fall, Magenta turns into her guinea pig form and crawls through the service pipes until she reaches the anti-gravity controls and manages to reactivate them. With the controls active again, the school stops falling just above the ground and Will is able to push it back up into the sky.

Epilogue

In the aftermath, Mr. Medulla, a dome-headed Mad Science teacher, still retains enough intellect even as a baby to reverse the effects of the gun and restore everyone. The Commander and Jetstream decide that the Superhero award they were going to receive should instead go to the sidekicks, along with Ron Wilson: Bus Driver and his own former sidekick, Jonathan the All-American Boy.

The Commander declares that rather than being called sidekicks or Hero Support, they should just be called what they are: heroes. Will and Layla are last seen kissing while floating outside the school.

While it in unclear whether this will generate any permanent change in the school structure, it is presented as a beginning. As Will narrates, the girl he thought was his girlfriend (Gwen) turned out to be his arch enemy. The guy that at first was his arch enemy (Warren) eventually became his best friend. The girl he thought of as his best friend (Layla) became his girlfriend.

So nothing was the same at the end as at the beginning. But that’s high school for you.


Description

Will Stronghold is a boy of fairly average build for his age, fit but not unusually muscular. He is almost always decked out in clothing that is some combination of red, white and blue although it is always normal clothing. As a Sky High student, he has not yet selected a costume or a code name.


Personality

Will seems to be a fairly typical boy, neither loud nor quiet but somewhere in between. Lacking experience, he is often oblivious to the feelings of those around him, especially girls.

He does not get any of the hints from Gwen Grayson that she likes him and she has to tell him she’s interested and to invite her to the Homecoming dance. Likewise, he doesn’t have a clue that Layla Williams is in love with him even when everybody else can see it.

Because he has known her all his life, he is equally unaware of how much he is really in love with her, thinking of her as his best friend. But, being a late bloomer himself in terms of getting his powers, he has real empathy for the underdog. He hates the way the sidekicks are treated by so many of the “heroes” and dislikes the school system that promotes and validates it.


Quotes

“In a world full of superheroes, there are two that stand above the rest: the Commander and Jetstream. His super strength makes him pretty much indestructible and she has the power of supersonic flight along with the total mastery of unarmed combat. By day, they live as Steve and Josie Stronghold, the top Real Estate agents in the metropolis of Maxville. But, whenever duty calls, they are the Commander and Jetstream. Me, I have my own names for them: Mom and Dad… You look at them and see the defenders of the world. All I see is my Dad wearing tights. Don’t get me wrong. It can be cool to have superhero parents. Like when Mom picks up awesome takeout on her way home from work.” [Visual shows her flying by the Eiffel Tower, bringing a pizza home]. ”On the other hand, living up to the family name means that I’m supposed to save the world someday. I just have one small problem.”

“If life were suddenly to get fair, I doubt it would happen in high school.”

“So, in the end, my girlfriend became my arch enemy, my arch enemy became my best friend and my best friend became my girlfriend. But hey, that’s high school.”


DCU History

In spite of being a comedy and a superhero story, “Sky High” touches on some real issues of high school and of growing up. This is a movie where the teenagers are often the sane ones and the adults are crazy. While his parents come across as more comedic and while he certainly finds himself in comedy situations, he could be presented as a serious character.

The super-student in the movie Sky High />

In the DCU, with all sorts of fictional cities, some of which are basically New York City even though New York City also exists in the setting, there’s no reason not to have yet another fictional New York bumping edges with Metropolis and the real New York for space where in the real world NYC exists. After all, his parents are in real estate.

Will could be asked to join a team such as the Teen Titans. It could be the current incarnation or the more or less original one (which I am far more familiar with): Robin, Speedy, Aqua Lad, Kid Flash and Wonder Girl.

Granted it would take some fudging to have the DCU still be in that era in the early 21st century as far as the ages of certain characters. I could see situations where Layla gets jealous because she thinks something is going on with Will and Wonder Girl or how Will would react to Speedy’s drug problems.

Having dealt with the whole hero/ sidekick dichotomy already, he might help convince Batman that Dick Grayson needs to move on, graduating from sidekick to full-fledged hero as Nightwing.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Will Stronghold

A 450 points character

Dex: 04 Str: 09 Bod: 09 Motivation: Upholding the Good
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: High school student
Inf: 02 Aur: 04 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 015 HP: 030

Powers:
Flight: 07, Jumping*: 02

Skills:
Acrobatics (Dodging)*: 04

Advantages
Buddy (Layla Williams), Headquarters (Confined), Insta-Change, Lightning Reflexes, Luck

Connections:
The Commander (High), Jetstream (High)

Drawbacks:
Age (14), Arch Enemy (Royal Pain)


Design notes

This movie was a comedy, a parody of the superhero genre. It was very difficult to precisely determine Will’s abilities, especially strength and durability.

His biggest strength feat involved slowing down the school when it was falling from the sky. But, frankly, it didn’t look like he was slowing it at all. Once the anti-gravity technology was reactivated, he was able to move it back up into the sky but it is impossible to say how much his strength played a role.

Since I think he comes very close to being a base starting character anyway, I just decided to tweak him to exactly 450 points plus Drawbacks. So he would be usable in a starting points level campaign.

This is Will Stronghold as he was by the end of the movie, “Sky High”. At 30 HP, he exceeds what either of his parents had at that age but he has the feats to prove it.

Even before he got his powers, he was able to dodge and seemingly push himself for a good minute while trying to survive against a full-fledged super being and might have even managed to knock him down and get the advantage if only for a moment had another super being not interfered and also attacked him.


By Doug Mertaugh

Source of Character: The Disney movie, Sky High. Will Stronghold was created by Paul Hernandez, Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle and was played by Michael Angarano.

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