Super Heroes

We need more super heroes that are not so super.

Chris Oatley’s Paper Wings Podcast interviewing Brian McDonald on Creating Characters for Your Story’s Theme, hammers on the importance of creating timeless characters and story. Making characters more human, weak, emotional —— those elements that surpasses genre, effects, cinematography, and good writing or drawing. And I can’t agree more.

Like Scott Myers from Go In To The Story says in a post, we need more humanism. If we play our cards right with our characters, we can actually make the audience care more for the life and death of our hero than the life or death of a planet — even if it’s earth! Which makes me wonder, how many times has the earth been close to being destroyed in a super hero movie?  How many people have actually cared?

We tend to focus on the big story and forget the small story — the theme.

My humble advice for Superhero filmmakers? Think Pixar. One key to their success is they pay as much attention to the movie’s Small Story as they do to the Big Story. Like Joss Whedon did with The Avengers. Here once again, the fate of the whole world lies in the balance, but that Big Story is grounded in a completely relatable Small Story: The collection of superheroes as a dysfunctional family. Viewed through this lens, the entire story, all of the plot machinations and visual eye-candy services the metamorphosis of this disparate group of individuals, used to working on their own, learning how to function together as a group. People think that post-credit shwarma scene is just for kicks? No way! It’s a fitting capstone on the movie’s Small Story, the superheroes now so comfortable with each other, they can eat together in utter silence. No need for nervous chit chat. No impulse to try to impress each other. They just are. And they are together… as a ‘family.’

That scene is extra special. It’s a “And they lived happily ever after…” scene. Don’t know why it would be left for the end credits. But the movie can’t be left with out it, because it show us the completion of a theme.

A reluctant hero is always welcomed in a story. Can you think of any? Simba, Luke Skywalker, Frodo, Neo, and Sarah Connor are just some examples. And those movies are big hits and work. They weren’t so super (or courageous) if you think about it.

Too often, I see films where the hero is gung-ho for any situation. He is ready with a clever quip, a wink and a smile with lines like: “It’s go-time,” or “Let’s do this thing,” or “Let’s rock and roll.”  Nothing scares this person.Sure, sometimes these lines can make an audience cheer with a Pavlovian response, but it is a cheap way to get that cheer. And a fearless hero is less of a hero than someone who overcomes fear. It is the facing of these fears that makes one heroic, not the actual deed performed. The so-called reluctant hero is a hero; the fearless hero is a cartoon. Ironically, a character who has fear but confronts it will feel more real to an audience—even if that character is actually a cartoon. — Brian McDonald

How many super heroes are known for what they cant do?…Dare Devil is blind. He can’t see. Thats his distinguishing feature. I fell in love. This is is perfect. He can be the perfect hard-boiled super hero…he is a flawed hero. He should of been a villain. — Frank Miller

This week I watched an interview on Frank Miller on his intent in re-creating Dare Devil. You can obviously see he was tired of all the flashy superhero Stan Leeish kinda of stuff. He wanted some thing more realistic. Something more dark maybe, but emotionally engaging.

I got rid of the costume. For a good long time, so he wasn’t wearing the tights. He realized, the real hero wasn’t the costume. The costume was just dressing around the hero.

If you watch it, I actually think it panned out well for him. He actually passed something on. He shook the comic and movie industry a bit. Especially knowing how influential he is with our current superhero movies. Which why I think TV shows like Gotham works. We don’t need the costumes, the flying, and gadgets. I don’t mind it. Toy around with fantasy a bit, but don’t forget the human part. The reason we care about the character.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *