I watched Justice League last month to see what all the DC/Marvel movie hoo-ra was about. For those of you not plugged into superhero-internet spasms, DC has all the truly Golden Age iconic heroes—Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman—and is flailing at the box office, while Marvel has less universally known heroes—Ironman, Captain America, the Hulk—and is making money so fast it’s giving the industry a headrush. I don’t care about box office, I care about story, but I do think there’s often (not always) a strong correlation between good story and good profit, so I decided to do a compare-and-contrast, to look at Marvel’s big superhero team-up, The Avengers (2012) and DC’s team-up, Justice League (2017), to see why DC keeps falling on its face and Marvel usually (not always) kicks box office butt.
My thesis going in: It’s the story, stupid. My thesis after watching Justice League twice last month and The Avengers at least half a dozen times in the past six years: They’re the same damn plot, so it’s something beyond that.
Uh, that would be the writing.
I re-watched Morning Glory last night; I love that movie, and I’m trying to understand why it never got any traction in theaters in spite of a sterling cast and a solid concept. My conclusion: Snotty critics who disapprove of the genre (lightweight comedy) and truly bad marketing. I’m annoyed.
Netflix’s The Defenders dropped on Friday morning, and I considered dropping it Friday night. Why? It’s an eight-episode story, and at the end of the third episode, the four protagonists finally met. Everything up till then? Exposition and back story. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh. Continue reading
So it’s 9 PM on Tuesday, and I’m setting myself up here, talking about “.exe” as the last episode plays (I won’t see it until about four AM), but I’ve been thinking a lot about this since Sarah posted how unhappy she was with the “.exe” episode. I loved it. And I think it comes down to expectation at the climax. Continue reading
When I chose the episode and craft topics, I did it by memory. As a fan of the series, I loved “RAM,” so I thought it’d be a good way to talk about “good backstory.” Watching it now as a writer, it’s still an excellent story on its own (another written by Denise The), but in the context of the series as a whole, it has two main purposes: explain what happened in the past and provide fan service. The problem is, while it’s fun to know what was happening to Finch and Reese before they joined forces (even more fun to see Shaw at her murderous best), there is nothing in the story that we needed to know. It’s a good episode, but if you were editing the season as a novel, this episode would go. Back story kills, people, no matter how well it’s written.
Previously on Person of Interest: Continue reading
One of the most heinous crimes a writer can commit in relationship stories is the Big Misunderstanding. After spending many chapters/episodes building a strong relationship that the reader/viewer can invest in, instead of looking at the very real, character-driven problems that might test a bond, the crisis descends into a misunderstanding that any solid relationship would defuse with an intelligent question. If you want a strong story, forget the “I saw you kissing that woman” “That was my sister” stuff; give your relationship a real test, something that just talking won’t solve. That kind of test almost always goes to character: In this situation, no matter how much this character believes in this relationship, he or she has to walk away. Continue reading