“He’s a less-interesting, less-developed, badly written Riven!”
I’ll say it again: if you need that many qualifiers, the argument is already dead. As it should be because Nex isn’t anykind of Riven. Also, Riven’s not a character type.
You read the title: Nex is more like Brandon than Riven. But before you call Nex a copy of Brandon instead, stick around for the part about how they’re different. First, we’ll get their similarities out of the way.
So both Nex and Brandon have big egos and think they’re irresistible to women. By the way, if any of the Winx’s boyfriends deserves to be called a womanizer, it’s Brandon. Schmoozing girls was part of his character for four seasons. Yet Nex gets a lot more flak from the fandom for his flirting, even though he only did it once and hasn’t done it since he met Aisha. He’s not a womanizer, but the fandom still says he is. Why? ?♀️
Anyway, back to Nex and Brandon’s egos. Vanity and arrogance are related to each other, but they’re not exactly the same. As I’ll talk about in the “how they’re different” section, each guy has a different theme to his character.
Winx Club: Guida al Mondo Magico
Here’s another source of similarities: the book Winx Club: Guida al Mondo Magico (Guide to the Magical World). Brandon’s profile is longer than Nex’s, but none of the info is new. It says Brandon:
Nex’s profile says he’s “good in combat” (bravo in combattimento), so we may have a match there. But Brandon’s line might mean he’s physically strong since his season two profile said he has “a powerful body”. Either way, both guys are handy on the battlefield.
If we look at other Winx media, we see more parallels between them:
We know he likes to show off, and in comic #131, “La Prova di Nex” (Nex’s Test), King Teredor called him a “braggart” (sbruffone).
Again, these might have slightly different implications:
Brandon is goofy, while Nex likes to tease people (though Brandon does, too, sometimes).
“Vitality” could mean “spirit” or “enthusiasm” rather than literal energy. (Not that Nex doesn’t have that, too.)
The Italian word “quello” (what) is singular, which means Brandon brags about one specific thing he does. What is it? How about being a Specialist? If memory serves me, he’s bragged about that a lot throughout the series, while Nex brags about his abilities. (More about that later.)
Regardless, Nex and Brandon are both playful, energetic, and boastful.
Here are a couple more ways they’re alike.
1. They’re both extroverts.
What if I told you Nex and Riven don’t have the same personality? Disagree? Well, I can prove it.
Riven is a loner. His character descriptions say so, and we’ve seen it throughout the series. He’s not comfortable around people, and he likes to work alone if he can.
But Nex is an extrovert (estroverso). Extroverts get their energy from social interaction, so being alone would literally tire him out. He also prefers to work on a team. (We’ll talk about that later.)
I think the Winx fandom ignores this whenever they compare Nex to Riven, but these aren’t minor differences. Extroversion affects how you process the world.
Something I brought up in Riven’s “Nex vs. Riven” post is that he often wrestles with negative emotions: sadness, anger, hatred, betrayal, jealousy, etc. Of course, extroverts like Nex have internal struggles, too, but they focus their attention outward instead of on their inner lives. One way they do this is by talking through their feelings with others, whereas loners like Riven bottle things up.
But I digress. Read my posts for more about Nex and Riven’s differences.
Back to the point. Nex is more like Brandon because they’re both extroverts. They love hanging out with other people, they love being the center of the attention, they’re not afraid to chat up strangers (especially females), and they’re usually upbeat.
As a bonus (especially for Aisha and Stella), they also both have Secure attachment styles. What’s an attachment style? Read more here.
2. They’re both athletic types.
Brandon’s not an athlete, per se, but he used to keep his “powerful body” in shape. We saw him lift weights and practice martial arts in his dorm room in the early seasons. And it paid off. He looked slightly more muscular than the other Specialists.
As for Nex, he is an athlete, so he stays fit through sports. He used to be the slimmest guy in the group. You can really tell in this season seven screenshot:
Geez! Was he competing with the Winx?
Of course, now all the guys have the figures of five-year-olds, thanks to the season eight redesign. But my point is Nex and Brandon’s physiques used to matter. Their character descriptions even mentioned them. Nex’s called him “slim and athletic-looking” (dall’aspetto snello e atletico), which is why he didn’t have the default Specialist body type.
Nex and Brandon’s bods also had something to do with what I hinted at earlier: their character themes. We’ve done with the similarity section, so no more vagueness. Here we go!
How Nex and Brandon are Different
Remember Tecna and Timmy’s only fight back in Winx season two? She called him a coward when he let the Trix steal the Codex from Redfountain, but she apologized several episodes later. “I judged you by surface data and not by who you are,” she said.
Well, the Winx fandom does that with Nex and Riven, too. “They’ve got the same hairstyle.” (Really?) “They both tease people. They’re both competitive. So Nex is a copy of Riven.”
These superficial comparisons ignore the core of each character. It’s like I said in Riven’s “Nex vs. Riven” post: he and Nex are the same only if you take his traits and behavior out of context.
So let’s bring the context back in for Nex and Brandon, too. We’ll start with — drumroll, please — their character themes. Brandon’s primary flaw is vanity, and Nex’s is arrogance. For the sake of this post:
Vanity is overvaluing your appearance. That’s why we call those dresser-mirror combos in our bedrooms vanities. What a shock.
Arrogance is overvaluing your skills. It’s about your public image, not your looks.
So Brandon’s theme is beauty, and Nex’s is ability.
Beauty: “Nature treated me well…”
One of the first things Brandon said in his season two profile was:
…nature treated me well and gave me a powerful body and a really handsome face!
He later said, “Of course I am quite vain.” Good for you, Brandon. Admitting your problem is the first step to overcoming it. ?
The point: he cares a lot about his looks. I mentioned how he used to lift weights in his dorm. Sure, it kept him in shape, but let’s face it: he probably wanted to bulk up to impress girls.
He also pays attention to how other people look. When he compliments girls, for example, it’s usually their appearance:
(To Aisha, Winx season 2) “You can say that again, cutie.”
(To Amentia, Winx season 2) “It’s good to see you’re looking so elegant, Your Majesty!”
(To Stella, Winx season 3, 5, and 8) “Hey, gorgeous!” “You look beautiful, Stella!” “Beautiful as always, Stella!”
Also, like Stella, he gives unsolicited fashion advice sometimes. At least twice in Winx Club, he’s tried to makeover Timmy. The first time, in “Race Against Time” (Winx season 2, episode 11), Timmy turned him down:
TIMMY: So you think all’s not lost, and I might still impress Tecna? BRANDON: Sure, and while you’re at it, some nicer clothes would really give you an edge, you know. TIMMY: Uh, no, thanks. I kinda like how I dress. BRANDON: You should try puffing up your hair a bit. Stella gave me this stuff. Works like magic! TIMMY: No, really, it’s okay. BRANDON: How ‘bout contacts? TIMMY: Arrgh, never mind!
The second time, in “A Perfect Date” (Winx season 5, episode 21), Timmy gave in…reluctantly:
TIMMY: Guys, I’m telling you this isn’t a good idea. I’m not a date kind of guy. HELIA: Man up. It’s going to work. BRANDON: And that outfit makes you look totally hip! TIMMY: Maybe on you, these clothes would look cool. On me, they just look… RIVEN: Silly? HELIA: Riven! RIVEN: Hey! I’m just sayin’.
He’s full of it, Timmy. You looked handsome!
Finally, Brandon’s beauty almost got him married off to a Trog! In “Princess Amentia” (Winx season 2, episode 4), the titular princess fell in love with that “really handsome face” of his. And because his vanity got the best of him, he couldn’t help soaking up the compliments.
AMENTIA: *Gasp* I can’t believe it! Such perfectly harmonious features! BRANDON: Well, with all due modesty…! AMENTIA: Your face is absolutely perfect! BRANDON: Princess, you’re making me blush, but good eye! SPONTUS: No! Oh, please, princess! Nooooo! AMENTIA: Brandon, you shall become my husband!
Don’t worry, Brandon. She wouldn’t wanna marry you now. ?
Ability: “I’ll give these guys a run for their money!”
When Nex strutted up to the Winx in “The Flying School” (Winx season 6, episode 3), the fandom honed in on his “Hey, ladies!” greeting. But his next line told us what we really needed know about him:
When it’s my turn, I’ll give these guys a run for their money!
So Brandon thinks his looks make him a dream guy, but Nex thinks it’s his skills.
Nex’s focus on ability took a few forms. Form #1 was his competitiveness. To steal a song lyric from a franchise I’m sure you’ve never heard of, Nex wants to be the best like no one ever was. ? Both his character description and his Guida al Mondo Magico profile said so:
Guida al Mondo Magico: “Flaw: Sometimes, he thinks he’s the best at everything.”
If you think about it, this makes sense for his character. He’s an athlete, so sports and competition are his world. Athletes always aim for the top, right? When they’re not trying to beat someone else, they’re trying to beat their personal best.
Nex’s debut was all about competition. The best example, of course, was the stupid love triangle, which Rainbow shoved him in minutes after he introduced himself. But he had less annoying contests with other characters, including Aisha. One example was in “Broken Dreams” (Winx season 6, episode 11), when he challenged her to a roller blade race:
NEX: Let’s see if you can pass me! AISHA: Oh, a challenge, huh? You sure about this? Then let’s do this the right way!
I think by this point, Nex understood her personality — she’s competitive, too — so he thought challenging her would cheer her up after her spat with Stella. Yes, this wouldn’t make sense for any other couple, but they’re both athletes, so they speak that language.
Fast forward to “Mystery of Calavera” (Winx season 6, episode 16) when the Winx and Specialists were looking for the Fantasy Emerald. Nex turned the windsurfing ride to Bajo Mundo Cave into a race, and even timid Timmy got into it.
Another form of Nex’s fixation on ability is how he always wants to prove himself, especially when people doubt him. That’s why he shows off. But remember what I said in his “Nex vs. Riven” post? He does it because he wants people to like him. (It’s an Enneagram Type 3 thing.)
But it’s not always for his own glory. For example, in comic #131, “La Prova di Nex” (Nex’s Test), Aisha’s father didn’t think he could protect her. So when the king proposed the titular test, Nex gladly accepted it. Aisha tried to stop him, but he explained he wanted her father to trust him.
AISHA: We love each other! That’s all that matters! NEX: I know… but I want to show King Teredor that I’m willing to do anything for you! NEX: It’s the only way I can earn his trust!
How Their Winx Girlfriends Played Into Their Themes
Nex and Brandon’s character themes affect their relationships, too. On the Winx Club website during season six, Stella said her ideal guy was “beautiful and full of muscles…like Brandon!” And like I said, he often tells her she’s beautiful.
But beauty also played a major role in their relationship development in Winx season three.
Stella and Brandon: Outer and Inner Beauty
Remember the arc where Stella got turned into a monster? She was afraid of Brandon seeing her mutated form, so Flora cast a spell on him so he’d only see Stella’s inner beauty.
But later, in “The Mirror of Truth” (Winx season 3, episode 4), Brandon revealed he could see monster Stella the whole time, and it didn’t change his feelings for her:
BRANDON: Stella, maybe this isn’t the best time to tell you, but I can see what you look like. STELLA: But…but how is that possible? BRANDON: I don’t know. The spell Flora cast on me never worked. STELLA: And you…even though I look like this, you didn’t run away? BRANDON: What? Me, run away from a beautiful person with a great big heart and a wonderful soul?
So even though Brandon is vain, he’s not shallow. He can love someone for who they are, not just what they look like.
Aisha and Nex: Courage and Teamwork
In the beginning, Aisha and Nex’s relationship revolved around sports and competition. But Nex didn’t fall in love with her because she’s “amazing at a lot of things” (*cough* Roy *cough*). Nex fell in love with her strong personality.
Soon, he stopped wanting to win against her and wanted to win with her. The first sign of this shift was in “Mystery of Calavera”, when he teamed up with her in the windsurfing race:
NEX: C’mon, let’s be the first ones there! AISHA: Alright, let’s do it!
But their most notable “Power Couple Team Up” in season six was in “Legendary Duel” (Winx season 6, episode 24) when they took on Siobhan the Water Champion of Alfea. Even though they didn’t beat her, they felt proud of how well they worked together.
Aisha hatched a plan to free the Pixies from the Legendarium World, but Icy tried to stop her from leaving Alfea. That’s when Nex soared into action. He didn’t flinch at the witch’s ice bolt; instead, he hit it back at her, knocking her out of their way. It impressed the Fairy of Waves.
AISHA: Nex, you were so brave out there! NEX: What? Did you expect anything less? Good luck in there!
That’s right. Aisha didn’t fall in love with Nex for his abilities, either. She fell in love with his courage. I guess we should have known. After all, her season six profile said her ideal guy is “loyal and courageous”.
I Can See Your Voice
Voice is another important part of characterization. Coincidentally, Nex and Brandon had the same voice actor in Winx season six: Adam Gregory. That means he had to create a distinct voice for each guy that fit their personalities, so he needed to understand what made them different.
Listen to these four clips from “Mystery of Calavera” (Winx season 6, episode 15). In each one, Nex and Brandon speak one after another. Can you tell who’s talking in what order?
Here’s Clip #1.
Whoa! We’re already on hard mode! I’ll admit: I’d get them confused if I didn’t know the show.
Clip #2 might be easier. The first voice is Timmy’s, so ignore him.
Here’s Clip #3. The voice order is obvious in this one because…well, you’ll see.
And here’s Clip #4. This time, the first voice is Sky’s.
Let’s see how you did. Here’s the speaking orders:
Timmy, Brandon, Nex
Sky, Nex, Brandon
Could you tell who was who? What were some of the differences in their voices, and what impression do you get from them?
What I noticed was Nex’s voice was raspier, feistier, and more masculine. He also sounded more like a teenager (older teens, though). Brandon’s voice was smoother and, while still masculine, not as stereotypical. He also sounded more mature.
So did Adam Gregory do a good job? Also, Nex and Brandon are voiced by Marc Thompson and Jake Paque, respectively, now. How do their voices compare to these?
If you read this whole post, thanks a lot! If not, that’s okay. I’m not mad. From now on, I’ll add “TL;DR” links to my posts because I know I have too much to say sometimes.
Here’s the summary. Nex and Riven may have some similarities, but Nex is more like Brandon. They’re both energetic extroverts who love to joke around, keep themselves fit through sports and exercise, and think all the ladies love them.
Does that mean they’re the same? No. Rainbow distinguishes them from each other by focusing on different themes. Brandon’s is beauty, and his flaw is vanity. Nex’s theme is ability, and his flaw is arrogance.
But both guys are overcoming their flaws with the help of their Winx girlfriends: Aisha and Stella. Coincidentally, both girls are princesses, which means Nex and Brandon will both marry into royalty. I think they’re on their right path to becoming men who are worthy to sit beside these queens.