We’re deep into the heart of the summer “blockbuster” season. Every week, there’s a new movie based on a comic book with over-the-top images and a good-versus-evil storyline. I love them. (And I’m grateful my wife does too.)
There’s been some talk about the comic book/graphic novel origin of these movies, implying that Hollywood doesn’t have any new ideas. I’m not going to debate that, but I think comic books are a good source for stories. A graphic novel uses 120 pages of limited dialogue and images to tell a story. They are filled with action and excitement. The heroes aren’t angst-ridden or doing “good” in spite of their best intentions. They stand up for what they believe in and follow simple truths about helping others and fighting villains. When you realize that each page in a movie script equals one minute of screen time and each page in a graphic novel script equals one page of images and dialogue in the finished project, the parallel between a 120 page book and a two hour movie is obvious.
As a writer, I often hear writers talk about anti-heroes, how your villains should be as likeable as your hero or how you “have to” introduce flaws into your characters. First off, I really don’t believe you “have to” do anything. Second flawed, whiny or anxiety-filled characters wear me out. I’m not saying I want my characters, or the characters in the books I read or films I watch to be one dimensional, cardboard cut outs. They can face problems and have issues, but when those issues become more important than solving whatever problem is the actual plot of the film, it becomes a soap opera and I tune out.
To a degree, I think the desire for battles between right and wrong (where the good wins in the end) is a reaction to the world we live in. Everything is gray. Black and white is gone and it’s hard to know who to root for.
Today we are more than 500 days away from the General Election that will elect our next president. There is already a football team worth (with almost enough for a separate offense and defense) of Republican challengers and a basketball team worth of Democrats on top of that that. The last time we had a president to win the Electoral College by a landslide while winning the popular vote by around 60 percent was Ronald Reagan’s second election (against Walter Mondale).
I’m looking for one of those candidates, from either party, to step forward as a hero and lead. No one expects them to be perfect, but I do expect them to do what’s right, because it’s right. I want them to be a comic book/blockbuster heroes. Not cartoons.
Maybe we should require them to watch all of the Avengers movies..