Name: Mark Watney
Canon: The Martian
Scrubs Color: Hunter Green
Visible Age: 45
Physique: Slender -- Not as skinny as he was, but not fighting weight, either
Complexion: Fair, tanned
Hair: Light brown, short
Mark Watney is a multitude: Renowned botanist, notorious astronaut, engineering MacGuyver, loyal friend and generally all-around good guy. But the thread which binds together all of these aspects of Mark’s personality (and his many, many more) is his steadiness. He is a rock-solid, steady person through and through.
People all over the world, experts and laymen both, will tell you that Mark Watney is ingenious. They wouldn’t be wrong -- The man successfully cultivated crops on Mars by creating a greenhouse on the floor of his vacuum-sealed human habitat, for God’s sake. But when you boil it down, when you get to the real nitty gritty, it wasn’t Mark’s innovative thinking that allowed him to survive over a year alone on a distant planet with very few resources. It was that immovable steadiness.
And sure, he had his moments of anger and despair -- Who wouldn’t? But Mark is a guy who gets it out and then gets up, dusts off, and figures out what needs to be done.
It’s a pretty necessary plan for surviving Mars, but it’s also not bad advice for life back on Earth.
Mark’s steadiness is the pillar that holds the rest of him up. He’s a joker, but he’s keenly aware of the difference between joking simply for the sake of it and joking for levity, or as comfort, or to prop up a friend who really needs to smile. It isn’t often that he thinks only of himself -- He can be on ⅓ rations and thin as a rail and still spare a light-hearted comment for the crew members who accidentally left him behind. It wasn’t their fault; he can’t say it enough. And if they won’t listen to him when he says that, at least he can find a way to help them laugh despite it. Some people use humor as a shield; Mark Watney uses it as a blanket.
So where does it come from, that underpinning of solidity? An all-American, apple pie, Midwestern upbringing? Warm and attentive parents? A mysterious chemical mix in his DNA? Some or all of that, maybe. What is clear is that Mark is modest yet aware of his own potential, and those things rarely go so firmly hand-in-hand. He was a science nerd; he was teased, then grew up, and was teased again, in a matter of speaking, when he opted to study botany instead of one of the “cool” sciences. (And who’s laughing now? That’s right, this guy.) I think he had a sort of epiphany when he made that final commitment to studying plants -- Even the bullied, even the uncool, even the pocket-protector-wearing Poindexters can kinda be dicks. And that really wasn’t who he wanted to be.
So he loves plants. He loves the deep stillness of things which grow in the soil. He loves the affirmation of life beginning again. And these passions, these deeply-felt observations, make him love the fragility of human beings just a little more, too.
But really, please don’t ask him to listen to any more disco.
What skills does your character bring to the situation?:
As mentioned, Mark is a botanist and an engineer, and he’s really, really good at both of them, even under difficult circumstances with extremely limited resources. This is something that NASA drives into every, single one of its astronauts: The ability to make do in a pinch. He is a hell of a problem-solver in terms of physical, tangible things that need fixing. His knowledge is vast, and his knowledge of plants is most impressive of all. He knows how to identify them, what they’re good for, and how to cultivate more.
He wouldn’t classify himself as a leader, but he’s the guy who keeps his head in a crisis and helps figure out a solution. You just have to work the problem, and after Mars, most things seem like a cakewalk.
He is a forever sort of friend whether you’re still in touch or not, and he is the sort of person who steps up first when someone needs help. Having lived in close quarters with other people for so long, he’s wonderful at sensing the beats of emotional undercurrents and either encouraging them or neutralizing them as needed. There’s almost never tension with Watney; he’s the diplomat, the one who looks outward more than in, the one who sees how everyone fits together.
Discovering that their memories may have been tampered with:
Honestly, I think he’d be more intrigued by the idea that it could be done in the first place than by the fact that it happened. To him, even from as far in the future as he is, it would sound like pure science fiction. With regards to himself, I don’t think it would bother him terribly unless he started losing actual knowledge -- He’s so modest that he has no fiercely-held sense of identity he would see as breeched. But to lose knowledge would be upsetting, because what he knows can potentially help others.
Having to do physical labor to survive:
Ha! Have you ever had to shovel dirt in reduced-gravity while wearing a suit that weighs almost as much as you do, and which only allows you a portion of the oxygen your body needs?
Yeah, he won’t even blink.
Having to share resources with others:
As previously mentioned, this would seem the only natural thing to do for Mark. Why wouldn’t he share his resources with others? Even if you set aside that he will potentially have more of certain resources than others because of his expertise, that would be a dick move. Mark spent a long time alone up there on Mars, and while he’d never wish that situation on another human being, the fact remains that most things, including maintaining his sanity, would have been much easier with somebody else around.
Being unable to leave the area:
What will concern him most about being unable to leave won’t be that he’s physically trapped, or that he’s lost any particular agency, but why. He’ll be very concerned with the idea that someone, somewhere, is jerking them all around for an unspecified purpose. As the danger mounts, he will become tangibly worried about their lives potentially being expendable to whomever it is who pulls the strings. I also have to imagine that the aftermath of plot will probably be intensely frustrating to someone like Mark, who will be working to establish a sense of security for everyone. A point will come when he finally, finally breaks and gets legitimately angry, although it will likely not lead anywhere.
Doing without modern conveniences and technology and/or being around tech more advanced than they're used to:
Either scenario is one that Mark could easily roll with. He’s extremely comfortable with advanced technology, having spent the last several years depending on it for his survival in the cold depths of space. As an engineer, he’d be fascinated by tech that was more advanced than what he’s used to.
On the flip side, he’s had to deal with very challenging situations wherein his ability to see around all that advanced tech and get back to basics has literally saved him from starving, or freezing, or never seeing anyone anywhere ever again.
Being separated, possibly permanently, from loved ones and their previous life, including loss of powers, if applicable:
“Loved ones” is a bit of a flexible term for Mark. He loves his parents deeply, but like many adult children his age, his life is mostly one without them. He’d already prepared himself for years spent far, far away from them, so this would simply be an extension of that. Similarly, being the conscientious person he is, Mark very specifically avoided close relationships with anyone other than his fellow crew members in the years before he left for Mars. And sure, this is kind of sad, but it’s also practical, and now it means he hasn’t really got anyone he’s left behind. Discovering how to legitimately open himself up again to others will be one of the lessons he’ll have to learn in this new and confusing life.