Neil Gaiman says:

Neil Gaiman says:
pic by Allan Amato

Monday, July 09, 2012

Just Stop

Ok.

Some people get extremely excited at the proposal of something new coming their way. And, new things can be fun. Unfortunately, certain things aren't really new, are they? They're redone old things that are pretending to be new. And that is not a good thing. That's actually pretty depressing; especially if you really liked the 'old' thing better and all the sparkles and glitter on it just makes it something you wish you'd never invested your emotions into in the first place.

Most people realize that when something isn't broken, you should not undo all the screws, replace them with gum and spaghetti and then put it back together again. It wasn't broken to begin with...and it sure is not going to work when you're finished fiddling with it. Please, for the love of whatever religious or spiritual power you tip your hat to: do not redux, reboot, rewrite, re-do, re-configure, twist-up, bend-over non-broken iconic superhero characters, books, movies and the like.

I'm not being a whiner; I do think some re-jiggering and mash-ups of genres can be fun and that cool things pop out of unexpected places (zombies & everything; pirates & everything; ninjas & everything; sharks & apes...) But, really. Think about it. Do you really, really REALLY need to re-tell yet another rendition of a known super hero movie?

The ancient Greeks used to  attend plays and went in knowing the script by heart. They'd watch the same plays over and over again. Is the current crop of reduxed comic movies and books just a version of Greek theatre? Is retelling Spiderman, Superman and the Hulk what people want to experience? Can't we just agree to be content with a version of the heroes' stories and continue to write new stories within that context and see what happens next? Do we have endure the retelling of everything from the beginning and grind the ORIGIN in audiences' faces, yet again?

We know Superman is the last son of Krypton, we know Uncle Ben dies, we know Bruce Banner has anger issues, we know Bruce Wayne's parents die. We know these things. This leaves studios with a couple of options: Write Something New. (AGGGGH!) Ok, no, I know branding and money and test audiences reveal that Writing Something New is dangerous. Dangerous-- if you're on the wrong side of it, can either kill you, or make you extremely poor.

That leaves the studios with: Write Something Within Context. Safer, for sure. But it requires some reading, a bit of research and a (hopefully) love and respect for the material one is handling. Accept that it's OK if you can't get the original cast back, and they're off someplace doing legitimate theatre. Viewers aren't dummies. We really aren't. Honestly. We know what Clark Kent looks like. He's the guy with nice hair and glasses who stutters around Lois Lane. We know what the Hulk looks like. Truth to tell, when I watched Hulk II, I literally thought it was Hulk II. I thought it was a continuation of the Hulk story; because he is an iconic, easily recognizable character. I didn't need to see the original actors to recognize Bruce Banner. For me, for that movie, somehow it all worked.

Is it so difficult to continue a superhero's story and not have to retell his beginnings? Things don't have to end in trilogies. They can just keep on going (look at the endless Planet of the Apes movies from the 60's) You can have spin-offs and 'son-of' or 'daughter-of' stories, leaping from iconic characters. What about movie serials ("Zorro's Black Whip"). Pick up the story and get going with it. Try a new villain once in awhile. How about Superman vs someone who isn't just some human millionaire? That might be interesting. Or, Batman vs someone who isn't a gibbering lunatic?

Please, be brave and patient.  Take the time to read the background material; make use of the wealth of comic stories that have piled up for decades behind iconic characters and see what you can do to continue those tales and write in the spirit of those characters. Don't reboot, redux, reconfigure, rise Phoenix-from-the-ashes with yet another retelling of an old, dead horse. We KNOW the Origin Stories. Surprise us. (Or Write Something New).

Or make all the male characters girls. That would also be ok.

Cheers,  
Suzanne.
http://www.comicscavern.com/news/tag/sdcc

2 comments:

Keith Savage said...

I couldn't agree more. If is was possible to agree with you 10 000%, I would, but we're stuck with 100%.

I think two of the biggest culprits are that movies cost a lot more than ever, especially super hero movies, and so studios want to minimize risk. The other contributing factor, is that studios think people are stupid, and that without an origin story, the audience won't 'get it.'

Writers have very little influence in the motion picture business. It's all money driven, so no one has enough clout to point out that origin stories are not needed. You remember the pilot for Star Trek? Was there much origin story there? Nope. From the first minute we jump straight into the story.

A good writer SHOWS and doesn't TELL. It's better to learn about a character's background through reacting and navigating the actual STORY. Background is not story. We learn about characters by how they react to conflict, and if I use the Star Trek example again, what do we really actually know about McCoy? Practically nothing, but he's such a well fleshed out character that he becomes the heart and soul of that crew, and he's become a sort of father figure for generations. This was done through showing, not telling.

This point should be obvious, given that the lasting super hero stories have lasted because they are iconic. It isn't they're origins that define their popularity, but how they act, and what they do.

If you do decide to make an origin story, take a page from the actual comics. Read Issue #1 of the Incredible Hulk. He was turned into the Hulk within 2 or 3 pages out of 32. You don't nee to devote 30-40% of the film's running time to origin.

Keith Savage said...

I couldn't agree more. If is was possible to agree with you 10 000%, I would, but we're stuck with 100%.

I think two of the biggest culprits are that movies cost a lot more than ever, especially super hero movies, and so studios want to minimize risk. The other contributing factor, is that studios think people are stupid, and that without an origin story, the audience won't 'get it.'

Writers have very little influence in the motion picture business. It's all money driven, so no one has enough clout to point out that origin stories are not needed. You remember the pilot for Star Trek? Was there much origin story there? Nope. From the first minute we jump straight into the story.

A good writer SHOWS and doesn't TELL. It's better to learn about a character's background through reacting and navigating the actual STORY. Background is not story. We learn about characters by how they react to conflict, and if I use the Star Trek example again, what do we really actually know about McCoy? Practically nothing, but he's such a well fleshed out character that he becomes the heart and soul of that crew, and he's become a sort of father figure for generations. This was done through showing, not telling.

This point should be obvious, given that the lasting super hero stories have lasted because they are iconic. It isn't they're origins that define their popularity, but what they represent thematically. We know an iconic character instantly by the choices these characters make.

If you do decide to make an origin story, take a page from the actual comics. Read Issue #1 of the Incredible Hulk. He was turned into the Hulk within 2 or 3 pages out of 32. You don't need to devote 30-40% of the film's running time to origin.