During Capcom Cup 2014, Capcom revealed Charlie (a.k.a. Nash) would be returning to Street Fighter 5 with a teaser trailer. Being one of my all-time favorite characters from Street Fighter history, it felt appropriate to do a piece on him.
I spoke briefly on the setting of Street Fighter V before, but Charlie’s reveal makes it far more likely to be a sequel to Street Fighter 4 and a prequel to Street Fighter 3, just based on how the story has unfolded so far. What story? Well, allow me to elaborate:
Street Fighter 2
Charlie was first mentioned in Street Fighter 2 as part of Guile’s background and ending. Charlie was a friend that Guile had lost to the hands of M. Bison (the dictator) in some vague way. Guile had entered the Street Fighter 2 tournament to avenge him. Guile’s ending has his wife and child encouraging him to give up his quest for vengeance and return home. He does so after visiting Charlie’s grave.
Fun fact: Charlie was originally known as Nash in the Japanese game, but was changed to Charlie in the Western release. As such, Charlie is a character with two names depending where you are from, much like M.Bison, Vega, and Balrog; unlike those examples though, calling him Charlie or Nash shouldn’t present any confusion, as he doesn’t share these names with anyone.
At this early point, Charlie was simply a supporting character, and a dead one at that. His significance to Street Fighter lore, however, would soon dwarf the character he was meant to support.
Street Fighter Alpha, Alpha 2
The mysterious background of Charlie had been brought up in several anime, cartoons, and other extraneous material following Street Figher 2’s release. Thereby, it was appropriate that the prequel series, Street Fighter Alpha (also known as Street Fighter Zero), attempt to tell the story of Guile’s lost friend and partner Charlie.
Unfortunately, despite being a hallmark Alpha character, Charlie was did not really get much development or story out of the first two installments. Both Alpha and Alpha 2 end in Charlie’s death at the hands of Bison, but neither seem to be canon. Admittedly, however, very few storylines from Alpha and Alpha 2 were part of the canonical story anyway.
Street Fighter Alpha 3
Alpha 3 shows the culmination of many character arcs, the height of Shadowloo’s power, and the resolution of most of the developments necessary to lead into Street Fighter 2. This is also where we get the bulk of Charlie’s actual background.
Charlie is an American Air Force pilot who befriended and trained Guile. In Alpha 3, he undertook a dangerous mission in cooperation with Chun-Li and Interpol. The goal of the mission was to eliminate Bison’s Shadowloo organization once and for all.
Guile’s ending on the home versions of Alpha 3 is where most of the rest of the story is revealed. Guile followed Charlie on his expedition (against Charlie’s wishes), and helped complete the mission. After the bombs are set in the Shadowloo base, Bison ambushes Charlie, Guile, and Chun Li. Charlie holds Bison off while the other two escape, only for the base to explode before Bison or Charlie are seen leaving the area. Afterwards, Guile and Chun-Li both contemplate the loss of their comrade.
However, Charlie’s ending doesn’t depict any of this. Ironically, Charlie’s Alpha 3 ending is the only ending for Charlie where he doesn’t die. Instead, Charlie is shown flying off into the sunset, his mission completed.
Discrepancies like this are rampant in the Street Fighter series, but could this be something more?
Street Fighter 4
Street Fighter 4 shows Guile getting right back in the saddle of trying to find and stop Shadowloo, despite presumably being over his vengeance streak in Street Fighter 2. Guile meets Abel, who reveals that he has seen Guile’s fighting style before. Guile immediately assumes Abel knows something about Charlie, but Abel doesn’t really give up much information on that front. Guile is left with just an inkling of hope that Charlie is still out there somewhere.
Which brings us to a surprising twist in our search for the truth about Charlie, however, as we now have to follow a whole other character, Abel. Does Abel hold the secrets to Charlie’s true fate, or is he a coincidental distraction?
Abel’s backstory is that he is an amnesiac who was found and nursed back to health by a military man of some fashion. Through his story, we learn that he was a prototype for the body doubles that Bison uses (referred to as dolls). Abel was the first of his kind; thus the biblical name Abel. However, he was considered defective and discarded at some point
Superficially, this seems to add up — Abel knows someone who can do a Sonic Boom, was nursed to health by a military vet, and could have been around when the Shadowloo doll program went kablooey in Alpha 3. However, we need to fast-forward a little bit to the future we know exists in order to track down this thread…
Street Fighter 3
Street Fighter 3 takes place sometime after 4, despite having released well before it. It featured a number of characters, many of which designed to be the heirs to the throne of characters from previous games. As such, the vast majority of the cast were new characters.
The signature character of this series was Alex. Alex was a headstrong youth with a plethora of wrestling moves. While his style is very much his own, Alex and Abel do share a few standing and crouching attacks, as well as a similar stance — the basics of their moveset if you will.
We learn through Alex’s endings in Street Fighter 3 that Alex was trained by an ex-military vet named Tom.
If Alex and Abel have similar stances and attacks, and Alex learned from Tom, could Tom have been the military vet that saved Abel? This means that Abel was simply a red herring for the Charlie hints in Street Fighter 4. However, that may not be all we can glean from Street Fighter 3.
Street Fighter 5
We know from the trailer that Charlie will sport a gem on his forehead. That’s about the extent we know of his costume, but we need to go back to Street Fighter 3 for it’s significance.
Street Fighter 3 Second Impact
Street Fighter 3 also introduced the boss character Gill, as well as his brother Urien in the second update, subtitled Second Impact and usually (incorrectly) referred to as Double Impact. Gill and Urien are brothers who fought untold scores of enemies (as they tell it anyway) to reach the position they have in the Illuminati. Urien was at one point defeated by Gill, and thus is only second in command. Both of them wear a gem on their forehead. Though it’s actual meaning is unknown, since they are the only Illuminati in the games so far, we can only assume Charlie was inducted into or is the fore-bearer of the Illuminati some how. So, what is Charlie’s connection with Gill and Urien… well let’s rewind again.
Street Fighter 4 (cont..)
Street Fighter 4’s main boss is Seth. Seth was also a part of Bison’s doll program, but was a robot body built upon Abel’s standards. Seth somehow became damaged, and thus sentient, taking control of Shadowloo’s weapons division, known as S.I.N. He uses the information from the S.I.N. databases to compile fighters’ movesets, and copied many of them for his own attacks.
At first, Seth doesn’t seem to have much connection here. However, similar to Alex and Abel, he has some attacks worth noting. Most noteworthy is his focus attack, which is a shoulder charge that Urien used in Street Fighter 3, and of which Gill had a variant of as well. Many of Seth’s other attacks that aren’t directly taken from other fighters are similar to Urien or Seth as well. This means that either a) Gill and Urien’s moves were included in Seth’s database somehow, or b) Gill and Urien learned these from Seth or Seth’s line of dolls.
Another point of interest is the Sonic Boom in Seth’s arsenal. If Abel and Seth were active at the same time, this could explain how Abel saw a Sonic Boom before meeting Guile. More importantly, though, Seth can perform his single handed, unlike Guile who typically uses both hands. Perhaps Guile’s Sonic Boom isn’t the one Seth was programmed with…
Street Fighter 5 (cont..)
So where does this leave us? We can assume Charlie in Street Fighter 5 is connected to the Illuminati, and the Illuminati may be somehow connected to S.I.N. How is still unknown. Based on what we know of Charlie, there are a few possibilities.
Charlie could have infiltrated S.I.N. and is building the Illuminati out of it’s remnants. This would explain Gill and Urien’s resemblance to Seth. This could make sense, since the origins of Seth’s cognizance are vague and ill-defined. Seth could have been put in place by the Illuminati, and thus by Charlie. Charlie could have been behind Abel’s freedom as well. What doesn’t quite make sense, is why would he work within S.I.N. instead of destroy it outright? And what would be the contingency when Seth’s lust for power becomes overwrought? The other big problem is that this sets up Charlie to be a mastermind behind all these events, which would be a better setup for a boss character, not a standard member of the cast.
It’s also possible that Charlie did die and was resurrected by the Illuminati who are in the process of eliminating S.I.N., likely in similar fashion as above. This could mean Charlie is unaware of his past, and/or is a vessel for whoever is head of the Illuminati currently. This doesn’t really tie into the story as it stands currently, but provides better explanation to Charlie’s absence. A Charlie unaware of his past also is a better setup for a regular character for the cast.
Regardless, however, we know for certain Charlie’s legacy will go beyond just Street Fighter 5…
Street Fighter 3 Third Strike
In Street Fighter 3’s third update, subtitled Third Strike, we are introduced to the French street fighter Remy. Remy is very interesting, not just for his devilish looks, but because of his fighting style. Remy can use moves that are extremely similar to the Sonic Boom and Somersault Kick Guile and Charlie use. What’s more, Remy comes from a broken family, whose father left them to become a ‘warrior,’ leaving himself to care for their mother and a sister who was now comatose and in stasis. Remy has a vendetta against other warrior types, which is why he sets his sights on Street Fighter 3 tournament champion Alex.
Remy could be part of the family that was left behind when Abel was inducted into the dolls. This isn’t uncommon, as T.Hawk’s family was a victim of this as well — his wife Julia was taken into the program and brainwashed too. It’s unclear whether or not Remy ever found Abel, or learned of his fate. I would suspect he may have though, given his primary target was Alex.
What does he have to do with Charlie? Presumably, Remy can only learn the Sonic Boom from 3 people — Guile, Charlie, or Seth. If Seth’s is not original, and Guile’s is a two-handed Sonic Boom, the number of possibilities is very limited…