By Mellie Montoya and Aaron Plourde
1. Fake Deaths
*potential spoilers ahead
What do Nick Fury, Batman, Bucky Barnes, Professor X, Phil Coulson, James Kirk, Loki, Pepper Potts, and Jim Gordon all have in common? Well it’s not that they died, because none of them did despite their respective films presenting that fate as reality for at least some period of time. This is quickly becoming the most overused plot point in blockbuster films, particularly in the Marvel Universe. Blockbusters have the challenge of needing to create dramatic tension in each film while keeping the franchise intact, an obstacle they overcome by pretending to kill major characters. But c’mon, no one is going to buy that franchise leads like Kirk are dead by the second installment. The only time that it seems believable that one of these characters are actually dead is when the character has a relatively minor role like Coulson (but then TV happens), or when it’s the last installment of the franchise like The Dark Knight Rises (but then he just went to a French cafe with Anne Hathaway).
Examples: The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Star Trek Into Darkness
2. Being “dark and gritty”
And here we have every producer and executive’s favorite buzzwords. We hear them whenever a fairy tale adaptation needs to sound cool or a superhero sequel needs to sound more mature. We get it, The Dark Knight was a good movie. But just because dark and gritty worked for a Batman movie doesn’t mean that tone works for every character. An obvious example of the replication of The Dark Knight’s tone is Zack Snyder’s Nolanization of Superman in Man of Steel, but at least Snyder stuck to that tone throughout the movie. That’s better than franchises like Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man movies, which try to realize the Spider-Man universe in a dark and gritty way while maintaining video game visuals and Spider-Man’s smart-ass humor, creating a tonal incongruity that can only be overcome by the white-hot chemistry of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. But those two lovebirds won’t be present to save Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, whose trailers depict 6 foot turtles in what might as well be Gotham.
Examples: Amazing Spider-Mans (Spider-Men?), Snow White and the Huntsman, Man of Steel, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Seemingly Maleficent and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
3. Villains getting captured on purpose
We get it baddies. You’re clever. In fact, you’re so clever that you’ve all decided to employ the same strategy of getting captured on purpose, and as we all know, great minds think alike. At this point, however, it’s neither original nor surprising when villains let heroes catch them as part of some elaborate, dastardly plan. Blockbusters need to find a new way to showcase the creativity and intelligence of their villains. There are many ways to be good at being bad. Let’s hope that future blockbusters make a greater effort to explore them.
Examples: The Avengers, The Dark Knight, Skyfall, Star Trek Into Darkness