I love superhero movies as much as the next guy. In fact, I love them more than most people. They bring me to a place I’ll never go and set me behind the eyes of men I’ll never be. Yet, let’s be honest. The money-hungry production studios are coughing up as many superhero films as they can, and not all of them are good.
Simply put, action is mind-numbing porn. Everyone likes it even if they don’t admit it. It gets the heart pumping, but it’s also strangely relaxing. With that said, you can’t just dive into action. The action has to mean something. That’s why you need characters; genuine, fully realized characters.
Characters aren’t real. They’re people made up in cafes and break rooms by nerdy writers like me. However, a well-written character will make you forget they’re fake. They will live and suffer, and hope and dream just like any true human would. They have things to fight for, things to lose. They change the world around them and the world changes them as well. Without characters, stories have no meaning.
When a lot of these fat cat producers make their blockbusters, they trade out their characters for CGI and explosions. Action sells after all. But in the end, the audience is dissatisfied because they don’t see characters. They see basic forms of characters colored in with one sloppy stroke: good guy, bad guy, love interest.
Worse, some films put a ton of people in their movies because Avengers did it and made it work (ahem DC). They forget the Avengers was created after nearly every character got a standalone movie to show who they were. The Avengers gathered flushed out characters instead of pulling them out of nowhere. They could dedicate more time to action because the characters were already well-defined. Even so, the Avengers dedicated time to developing their characters just so they wouldn’t fall back into cliched archetypes. Think of Agent Coulson with his geeky trading cards and awkward interactions with Captain America. That’s character building. It connects you to the film and makes you legitimately sad when someone…I don’t know…dies. Spoiler? Aw come on. You’ve all seen it by now.
Obviously not all action movies are bad. Not even all superhero movies are bad. Action is fine. But I’m getting tired of all these blockbusters. I’ve had my fill of violent fights and explosions. Just give me a relatable character and I’ll be happy. That’s all I want.