It's About Characters, Stupid

Yahtzee Croshaw

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It's About Characters, Stupid

Raising the stakes through ludicrous plot points is a great way to kill a franchise.

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shrekfan246

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May 26, 2011
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A movie focusing on the rogue's gallery instead of the team of heroes? Darn it, that's just so far-fetched that it just might work! Of course, the movie execs would never green-light it.

I'd watch it, though.
 

Mahoshonen

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Very nice article.

If you want an example of how something can have an exciting conclusion without being over the top is the end of Fellowship of the Ring, where the last fight is Aragorn battling an unnamed Uruk-hai commander. It's an exciting fight, even compared to all the huge battles, and indeed with Gandalf's confrontation with the Balrog in that very same movie. And it works because it shows that Aragorn has his work cut out for him when the actual big battles come.
 

Eternal_Lament

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It would be nice for a change to see a comic movie focused more on the villains than the heroes. And hey, if it's successful maybe "Mankind is Yet to Recognize my Genius" can hit store shelves not to long after.

I think there are ways to raise the stakes without being too character focused while also not being bombastic about it. For example in Shadow of the Colossus I liked how halfway through the game, before Wanderer is told about it, a group of warriors and a priest are seen riding towards the Forbidden Lands just like you did before. You didn't know fully what was happening, it wasn't being bombastic about it, and yet I could tell that shit was starting to get serious.
 

Frission

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I think it was addressed earlier with the whole bit of authors having nowhere else to go with the force because they had made apprentice what's his name in force unleashed crash a star destroyer.

Anyway,I have to agree. The Dark Knights movies were brilliant because of their villains. Everything felt like padding to the villains.
 
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Mahoshonen said:
Very nice article.

If you want an example of how something can have an exciting conclusion without being over the top is the end of Fellowship of the Ring, where the last fight is Aragorn battling an unnamed Uruk-hai commander. It's an exciting fight, even compared to all the huge battles, and indeed with Gandalf's confrontation with the Balrog in that very same movie. And it works because it shows that Aragorn has his work cut out for him when the actual big battles come.
You mean Lurtz? I thought they named him in the movie...

But I see your point: Having a battle between two individuals is better than a city-destroying war between forces we can't easily comprehend.

OT: I'd love to see a Rogue's Gallery movie, but I think that Batman is the only one it can work with; for the general public, Lex Luthor and the other villians are tied inextricably to their heroes.
 

Sniper Team 4

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Actually, if you read the files that you can unlock by finding all the emblems, the villain's plan in RE6 makes slightly more sense. Yes, he wanted to kill one person, but he also wanted to test the affects of the virus and show other people how B.O.W.s are changing the face of war. But again, you have to read this, tucked away in a little side pocket of the game. So yeah, RE6's plot and writing weren't amazing. I had several questions at the end too. The final cutscene hints that maybe they'll focus more on one character in the next game though. And I can't believe I just typed all that in defense of Resident Evil. Sigh. I'm sorry.

I don't know if you can get inside the Joker's head. That would sort of ruin his character, because it would add logic to him. We'd understand his way of thinking, and that's not fun. I do agree the Luthor has every right to be suspicious of Superman, and the Legion of Doom movie does sound interesting. I'd be a little concerned about it though because I'm sure whoever directed would insist on turning the villains into, well, villains. Have them go on murder rampages, destroy property. The stuff villains normally do. And that sounds like it would take away from what Yahtzee is talking about.
 

WabbitTwacks

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Sniper Team 4 said:
I don't know if you can get inside the Joker's head. That would sort of ruin his character, because it would add logic to him. We'd understand his way of thinking, and that's not fun.
They actually did something like that in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.
It was a pretty good show actually. That Terry guy had some of the emotional problems that other DC characters lack and he didn't have a flippin' kid sidekick.
 

LobsterFeng

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Please don't generalize super heroes like that. Superman can be interesting when given the right author believe it or not.
 

Storm Dragon

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LobsterFeng said:
Please don't generalize super heroes like that. Superman can be interesting when given the right author believe it or not.
Here's the thing, though: Anything can be interesting when given the right author. The problem is that the character of Superman, being nigh-invulnerable and incredibly strong, does not innately lend himself to being interesting.

shrekfan246 said:
I have to know where your avatar comes from.
 

Falseprophet

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I agree with Yahtzee that the stakes in movies are a bit too neat these days. I recently rewatched Commando, an R-rated 80s action film, and there's a scene where Arnie is chasing a bad guy through a mall, and a couple of innocent shoppers get killed by the bad guy trying to hit Arnold. You see those people die.

Meanwhile, a PG-13 rated superhero movie can level city blocks and tear apart office towers in the middle of the working day, implying thousands of people are killed and maimed, but never really show it. Yeah, the Avengers had some dirty-looking people telling the news about it afterwards, but you didn't see anybody screaming "OH MY GOD I JUST WENT OUT TO GET COFFEE FOR THE OFFICE AND ALL MY COWORKERS WERE CRUSHED TO DEATH BY A METAL SPACE DRAGON!"

Sniper Team 4 said:
I don't know if you can get inside the Joker's head. That would sort of ruin his character, because it would add logic to him.
No, but the Joker's the exception to the rule. He's Batman's greatest nemesis, because Batman is all about an orderly, predictable universe where everything can be investigated and analyzed and he can have a plan for every situation. But the Joker is completely unpredictable and his motivations defy examination, so Batman can't really plan for him.

On the other hand, the Animated Series version of Mr. Freeze, with the tragic backstory and the wife in cryogenic suspension, who robs banks to try and cure her, is a far more interesting character than his Silver Age Mr. Zero incarnation, where he was just another criminal mad scientist with a gimmicky gadget.
 

shrekfan246

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Storm Dragon said:
LobsterFeng said:
Please don't generalize super heroes like that. Superman can be interesting when given the right author believe it or not.
Here's the thing, though: Anything can be interesting when given the right author. The problem is that the character of Superman, being nigh-invulnerable and incredibly strong, does not innately lend himself to being interesting.

shrekfan246 said:
I have to know where your avatar comes from.
You may or may not be disappointed by the answer.


Also, I agree that there are a lot of superheroes, particularly in the DC Universe, that don't lend themselves to interesting story-telling. If there's one thing Marvel does do better, it's making the actual heroes more... human. Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, Hal Jordan (or whatever other Green Lantern you prefer), Wally West, these aren't people that we can relate to, they're people we can idealize.
 

Steve the Pocket

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Yahtzee Croshaw said:
Then Umbrella was shut down and the series had nowhere to go, so the role of villain is now being filled by something completely nebulous - the entire concept of heartless business or the entire concept of terrorism, and it's hard to get a grasp on what, exactly, the protagonists need to do to put a stop to it all.
So pretty much just like real life after the Cold War, eh?

Falseprophet said:
Meanwhile, a PG-13 rated superhero movie can level city blocks and tear apart office towers in the middle of the working day, implying thousands of people are killed and maimed, but never really show it. Yeah, the Avengers had some dirty-looking people telling the news about it afterwards, but you didn't see anybody screaming "OH MY GOD I JUST WENT OUT TO GET COFFEE FOR THE OFFICE AND ALL MY COWORKERS WERE CRUSHED TO DEATH BY A METAL SPACE DRAGON!"
Sounds pretty standard for superhero media to me.
 

WanderingFool

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Falseprophet said:
I agree with Yahtzee that the stakes in movies are a bit too neat these days. I recently rewatched Commando, an R-rated 80s action film, and there's a scene where Arnie is chasing a bad guy through a mall, and a couple of innocent shoppers get killed by the bad guy trying to hit Arnold. You see those people die.

Meanwhile, a PG-13 rated superhero movie can level city blocks and tear apart office towers in the middle of the working day, implying thousands of people are killed and maimed, but never really show it. Yeah, the Avengers had some dirty-looking people telling the news about it afterwards, but you didn't see anybody screaming "OH MY GOD I JUST WENT OUT TO GET COFFEE FOR THE OFFICE AND ALL MY COWORKERS WERE CRUSHED TO DEATH BY A METAL SPACE DRAGON!"
A couple of people getting gunned down in a mall is realistically possible. Its unlikely New York is actually going to get attacks by giant metal space dragons. Plus those people getting gunned down are innocent civilians that we see dead. Said deaths by metal space dragons are only implied.

Captcha: tea, earl gray, hot

...is captcha asking me to get it tea?
 

JoJo

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We don't need a Justice League movie, we need an Injustice League movie!

Okay, but seriously, a movie based around super-villains would be pretty cool (that said, Despicable Me and Megamind aren't bad)
 

M0rp43vs

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WaitWHAT said:
Wait, does anyone else notice how bad an idea a film from the supervillian's point of view would be? The appeal of supervillians lies in the fact that we know so little about them: it's their air of menace and mystery that makes them frightening and yet enthralling at the same time. Would the joker from the dark knight be as scary or as fascinating if we knew everything he was going to do next? I think not.
With Joker yes, but that's only because his character is actually based on that.
But I think movies from the POV of a villain can work. You could make the villain sympathetic, you could show the audience what the villain thinks of the hero and how their motivation contrasts. Maybe have them be not so different to add a little "Ooh". Mr freeze's story made me feel bad about the hero winning.

Maybe smear the hero and whitewash the bad guy so everyone falls in love with him despite doing evil things, this especially can be used to show how manipulative the antagonist is, he's manipulated the audience to side with him.

And with regards to the mystery, the mark of a true writer will be if he could write a story from the view of the antagonist... and we learn nothing about him. The closest I can think to matching this is the Usual Suspects, if that isn't a spoiler.
 

ex275w

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Interesting idea I find it weird that Yahtzee thinks Batman is bland as hell yet his villains represent different aspects of him. Doesn't that mean he has a lot of aspects?
(Also Grant Morrison writes a great Superman, so him being always boring is untrue)

Still conflict rides in opposites against opposites. Individuals vs. the Collective. Unstable Freedom vs. Organized Dictartorship. Brain vs. Brawn. Any conflict is interesting as long as it engages the audience and you can feel for at least one side of the conflict. Raising the stakes only inflates the movies budget and it's a weak way of generating more conflict, when the real way of generating conflict is by making the audience care more about the stories.