Marvel End Battles, Part Two

This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #012.

While Disney still has several entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) planned for the next few years, it’s hard to imagine them ever building up to an event of such epic scale as Avengers: Endgame.

The twenty-three films that make up the MCU, however, did not just contribute to an epic team up adventure the likes of which we’ve never seen. They also provided us with a baseline by which to judge superhero films on a whole. 

That is not to say, however, that every individual entry in the MCU is a complete and indisputable masterpiece. As I mentioned in last week’s issue of The Writer’s Everything, there is at least one problem in particular that almost every MCU film shares.

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Marvel End Battles, Part One

This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #011.

There is no film series more popular than the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Starting with Iron Man in 2008, both the solo and team outings of the various Avengers have since exploded in popularity. After eleven years, Marvel has amassed a collection of successful, interconnected movies that few, if any, will be able to replicate any time soon. 

Yes. Many, many people enjoy MCU films. At the same time, many others, especially storytellers, can’t help but notice the similarities between each new entry and the last. For them, it feels as though Marvel has discovered a formula for their films, sacrificing originality for the sake of success. 

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The Positives of Subverting Expectations

This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #010.

A more and more common creative choice for story-tellers in our modern age is the practice of subverting expectations. What that means is that the audience goes into your story expecting one thing, and what you give them is something different.

The problem with this habit is that it is quickly overshadowing the quality choices that would make for better storytelling and more fulfilling arcs. In Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, for example, we are introduced to Rey, and one pivotal question is raised. Who are her parents? In the sequel, Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson has went on record as saying that he wanted to provide the most shocking answer possible, one that no one would have seen coming. Her parents were nobody.

The problem isn’t that her parents have to be major players in this galactic saga. The problem is that the first movie basically straight-up told us that the identity of her parents matters, and that we should postulate on who they might be.

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Crafting Compelling Character Arcs—Captain America

This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #009.

Few characters embody all the ideals that we as a culture hold dear the way Steve Rogers, better known by his crime-fighting alias Captain America, does. Over the course of his eleven appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), he has stood for truth, justice, and freedom, easily snatching the mantle of a pure and innocent do- gooder from the DC Extended Universe’s Superman.

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Crafting Compelling Character Arcs—Iron Man

This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #008.

In Avengers: Endgame, Tony Stark utters the now-iconic words that first opened the door eleven years earlier to the flood of record-breaking content that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

What were they? “I am Iron Man.”

If you’ve seen the movie, you know exactly what moment I’m speaking of, as well as what a profound and moving moment it truly is.

If we look at it from a thematic standpoint, however, we find that it is more than just an emotional and heart-wrenching end to a three-hour-and-two-minute action extravaganza. It was the conclusion to a deep, meaningful, well-crafted character arc.

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Crafting Compelling Character Arcs—Black Widow

This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #007.

In Avengers: Endgame, Scarlett Johansson’s character, Black Widow, chose to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save the universe. Her selflessness won the day, providing the rest of the team with the tool they needed to restore billions of people back to life. While Black Widow’s death scene was a tragic moment in the fourth Avengers film, if we look at it from a thematic viewpoint, we’d see that it was the only possible conclusion for her character’s arc.

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Differentiating An Ensemble Cast

This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #006.

There are very few writing choices as risky as creating a novel with an ensemble cast. So much could go wrong, especially for the beginning writer. Yet, if done right, the rewards are more than equal to the challenge.

The question is, though, what is the secret to creating a satisfying ensemble cast?

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Subverting Expectations

This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #005.

There’s a concept that is becoming more and more commonplace in entertainment, in a world where a trailer can’t drop, an episode can’t air, and a movie sequel can’t be announced without thousands of enthralled fans dissecting every nanosecond of material they’ve been offered, analyzing every potential twist and turn in the upcoming narrative, and publishing their findings online for the rest of the world to share in their excitement. That concept is that subverting expectations is the key to great writing.

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Prologues—The Kiss of Death?

This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #002.

Exciting prologues can be a powerful tool.

There is a sort of stigma in the writing community, especially in certain circles, when it comes to prologues. We can postulate that the premise of this pre-plot problem is, put simply, that prologues are a bait-and-switch.

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