Yes, every movie and TV show can now afford to use CGI, which they do. Way too much.
And you can’t watch a Marvel or DC movie without noticing how every frame is packed to the gills with CGI: fake set, fake hero suits, fake explosions, and fake fights.
The fake fights are what kill me.
Every action film and superhero movie is required to end in a final brawl, hero vs. villain. Usually at night and in the rain. Hey, I don’t make the laws.
Here’s the thing: these fights are the absolute climax of these movies. If you nail them, the whole movie works. Screw them up and the audience remembers forever.
I loved the hell out of BLACK PANTHER, but couldn’t buy the cartoonish final fight, which made me feel nothing.
The scene right after, with real human actors doing this thing called acting, generated tons of emotion.
This is an old problem. Way back, THE MATRIX looked revolutionary, and every fight felt real. In the horrible sequels, they poured all kinds of money and effort and CGI into fights that should have been epic yet looked like cut-scenes from a video game.
Here is an old-fashioned final battle that completely avoids CGI and completely works. It also avoids the modern problem of blurry action with a camera that never stops moving. You can see the whole fight and it’s glorious.
And I’ll end with the best fight from a Marvel movie, one that’s very real and human that makes you think Sebastian Stan is the baddest man on the planet.
VERDICT: Save a few million and step away from the CGI, directors. Hire fight choreographers and film real fights with real human beings. Because that’s how you generate real human emotions.
Unless you live alone in an ice cave, you have seen these things we call “movies” along with shorter, lower budget shebangs we call “shows.”
And doesn’t it feel like half of all movies and shows are about superheroes? The other half are Disney+ series about random Star Wars characters, like the new show THAT STORMTROOPER WHO HIT HIS HEAD ON THE DOORWAY OF THE DEATH STAR.
Yet I remember a day, not long ago, when an actor holding a hammer and saying two words absolutely blew us away.
So let’s talk about the rise and fall of Marvel movies, and why DC is like bread dough without yeast: never rose, so it never had the chance to fall.
Here’s how Marvel climbed Mount Mojo and ruled all that it surveyed
1) The climbing crew absolutely rocked
Part of the story is who they picked to climb this mountain: a great crew of actors and directors. Sure, there are some big names like Robert Downey, Jr., and these days every bigshot actor is getting recruited to join the MCU.
But back when they started this climb, their core group was unknowns, who all happened to be named Chris, maybe because the Marvel casting people had a thing for somebody named Chris, maybe the One Who Got Away–who knows. Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Pratt were all risky choices that paid off. Even Robert Downey, Jr. was a risk, a big name with a history of addiction and rehab.
Whatever criticism you might level against Marvel movies of the past or today, they pick good actors.
I mean, everybody says Sebastian Stan is a nice guy, but after watching this, I thought he was the baddest man on the planet.
2) The writers and studio built up suspense, movie by movie
From the first time we saw an Infinity stone (and they kept popping up in every movie) to that last scene of INFINITY WARS: ENDGAME, WE REALLY MEAN IT, THANOS GONNA DIE FOR REAL THIS TIME, you knew that these movies were building up to a climax. There was a peak to Mount Mojo, and a ginormous purple villain sat on a throne on top of that peak, and shit was gonna happen when the heroes and audience finally clawed their way all the way up there.
You wanted to see what happened.
3) Each new movie added real pieces to the puzzle
You can fire up IRON MAN and microwave a vat of popcorn to binge the first round of movies, and every movie brings you new clues and characters. Even if you knew basically what was going to eventually happen–THANOS GONE WILD–all the little things mattered.
Why DC never got its mojo at all
DC came to this bazillion-dollar poker game with the far-stronger hand: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Joker, and Aquaman.
Before these movies, the Marvel characters (except for Spiderman) were pretty obscure. Thor, Ant-Man, a talking tree and his pet raccoon? Come on. DC should have eaten Marvel’s lunch.
And they mangled it.
Instead of introducing each superhero with their own movie, they did it backwards, and gave us a movie with Batman and Wonder Woman before sending us back in time for a solo Wonder Woman movie and Aquaman flick, and never giving us a solo Batman with Batfleck at all.
You can’t build up to something big when you go back in time with prequels like that.
Instead of having one big bad guy, we got Villains of the Week who were vanquished, buh-bye, we will not see you around.
Marvel keeps stopping and starting with new actors, new directors, and new tactics to rival what Marvel did, and it’s like they don’t know what direction they’re driving.
THE BATMAN was a good movie, and a nice start to a new trilogy. If they’re smart, they’ll use that as a starting point to build fresh. That’s just incredibly hard to do when you have an established Wonder Woman and Aquaman who do a great job and don’t need to be recast.
This opening scene is golden.
Don’t get me started with Flash and that actor.
So it’s a hot mess, which is really too bad.
How Marvel lost its way
I’m not a comics nerd, and neither am I a snob who only watched black-and-white French existentialist films. I’m probably a lot like your average movie fan who sees all the big movies, and the Daredevil/Punisher/Jessica Jones stuff. But now I’m starting to skip a lot of these shows, along with some of the movies.
Because you need to clone yourself to have time to watch it all. There is too much content.
They started out strong. WANDAVISION was amazing, and LOKI rocked. Started watching MOON KNIGHT, love Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke–did not finish.
Haven’t watched any of MS. MARVEL or SHE HULK, and all the other movies and shows in the works just don’t excite me.
THOR: RAGNORAK is one of my fav movies of the whole bunch, yet I have zero desire to watch THOR 4: THOR AND LADY THOR VS PALE BATMAN. I’ll probably check it out on the televisions later. No guarantee.
There’s so much content coming out so fast. Instead of a couple of giant blockbusters every year that you definitely circled on the calendar, it’s a flood that you can’t track.
We’re basically to the point where this SNL skit has become our reality.
2) The multiverse means no character is ever dead, so the stakes don’t mean anything
Yes, the multiverse is a cool concept, and introducing it with Miles Morales was brilliant. A great movie.
After INFINITY WARS and LOKI, though, we know that no character is really dead. I mean, we watched Loki die, and here he is. And yeah, Iron Man died, though if he gets bored in a few years, I bet you every quarter in my swear jar that Marvel could wave $50 million under his nose to show up on set for three days.
Now when a character dies, we don’t really feel it. Because they can just pop into the multiverse and get another version of Thor or Iron Man or anybody else.
3) There is no clear mountain we’re climbing where the One True Bad Guy is waiting
Yes, the writers at Marvel may have a secret plan involving secret wars with the green shapeshifting aliens or Kang the Conquerer or whatever, and all of this will make sense seven movies and thirty shows from now.
Whatever phase they say we are on, and I will not keep track, it is too confusing,
HOWEVER: it’s not clear to us, as an audience, why we need to watch everything to see what happens. These movies and shows used to be all part of one body, with all the parts working together. Now they are loosely connected, and you have to contort your brain to see why it matters, and why you should care.
If your audience has to wonder why it should care, they won’t.
I believe, deep in my soul, that Zack Snyder-style gritty darkness isn’t bad simply because Zack Snyder directs it. Gritty Dark Dourness would be bad if the love child of Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock sat in the director’s chair.
And yes, it’s still fun to laugh at BATMAN VERSUS SUPERMAN: THE DAWN OF JUSTICE.
But there’s something smart and deeper behind the idea that the Marvel movies got things right by being (a) funny and (b) exciting, while the DC / Snyderverse went wrong by taking itself far too seriously and going Full Melodrama, with a color palette full of grays and blacks contrasted by grays and more blacks. You never go Full Melodrama, because it makes your audience feel like the movie’s being written and directed by a bipolar Michael Bay who’s crying in a corner when he’s not blowing stuff up.
And all this made me think.
Because comedy isn’t actually light and fluffy. True comedy points out how absurd and unfair the world is, and how you can’t fix it and have to laugh at the insanity of it all.
My proposition is this: adding comedy to a book or movie doesn’t make it light and lame kiddie fare. Interweaving comedy into whatever–an action movie (every Marvel movie ever), a romance (ROMANCING THE STONE and every rom-com), a mystery (SHIMMER LAKE is perfect perfect perfect, go watch it now on Netflix, kthxbai)–can make it infinitely better.
We were talking yesterday about our favorite books of high lit-rah-sure, and my favorites were CATCH-22, Kurt Vonnegut and the ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL books, because I’ll happily go back and re-read any of these. What do they have in common? They’re universally beloved, recognized as classics, and funny as hell.
But making you laugh isn’t their only trick, like a SNL skit that repeats itself 459 times in four minutes. The best storytellers serve us different courses for our emotions over the length of a movie or book. They don’t dish up sad scene after sad scene, or pile up joke after joke. You get an appetizer, a main course, side dishes and dessert. Not five appetizers in a row or a plate full of six desserts.
ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL does this beautiful. The original book and its sequels are really short stories strung together. Each one, though, makes you feel a variety of emotions. Joy, sadness, laughter, love. You see the struggling young vet and the hard-scrabble farmers, and when an animal dies, or a sick cow makes it because a poor farmer stayed up all night tending to that animal, yeah, you might tear up.
That’s what makes us come back to those books and movies.
Not the plot points–we know what will happen. Not the writing.
We want to feel.
So that leads me to the acid test for me, as a writer. It’s how I know whether a draft is working or not.
Here’s the test: If I’m not tearing up, it’s not working.
Tears of joy, tears of laughter, tears of sadness–I better be feeling something as I write the ending. If I don’t, bring on the rewrite.
So yes, we can make fun of the dour, dark Snyderverse, and relentlessly depressing lit-rah-sure like THE ENGLISH PATIENT, where the scenery is beautiful and everybody’s rich and having affairs and in the end, everybody sells out to the Nazis and dies, the end, roll credits, and THROW SILVERWARE AT THE SCREEN BECAUSE THIS IS STUPID.
What do you want the audience to feel?
That’s the real question. And you have to feel it first.
Sure, there are stinkers–bad movies and terrible shows on the Glowing Tube–but overall, we are living in a golden age for entertainment on Whatever Type of Screen You Prefer.
Why is that?
A few theories:
1) Looking good is half the battle
In the old days, most movies and shows (a) were cheaply made and (b) looked cheaply made. The real exception to this are sitcoms filmed in a studio, which look about the same. Everything else? Massive differences in production values.
So when a film truly looked good–typically because it had a great director and a big budget–it blew everything else out of the water.
The difference was even more stark on television. A great example: back in the day, BBC seemed to take pride in the worst possible production values on the planet.
Lighting, costumes, camera angles–all that matters. You notice bad production values the most when it comes to terrible monster costumes and special effects.
These days, everybody has upped their game. Even bad movies and shows LOOK good.
And CGI has gotten cheap enough that average TV shows can afford to do special effects you used to only see in blockbuster movies.
2) Massive competition
When there were only a few big studios, and three major TV networks, competition wasn’t nearly as tough.
Today, you have movie studios around the world cranking out more films than ever, plus 3.53 bazillion cable channels making content along with Netflix and Amazon making shows AND movies.
There’s never been more choices.
This has two counter-intuitive effects: (1) it’s easier to get things made, since far more sources might bankroll it, and (2) killing a flawed project or series is easier, too, since there are plenty of other projects that deserve a shot.
The fact that most movies and series don’t become amazing successes isn’t the real point. You can’t predict which ones break out and make mountains of money.
Can’t win if you don’t play.
So everybody plays, and takes risks, because being safe and conservative isn’t the way to hit a home-run.
That creative, competitive environment helps give birth to today’s great shows and movies.
3) CGI takes planning, and great planning makes for great stories
With production values good across the board, and special effects cheaper than ever, what makes a movie or show stand out and break out?
A few years ago, when cheesy CGI spread across the land, I hated it. Terrible CGI was easy to spot and immediately killed your suspension of disbelief.
Today, CGI is incredibly advanced.
Here’s the unintended side-effect, though: great CGI is more affordable than ever, but it still takes a lot of time, money and most of all, planning.
You can’t rush it.
And good planning makes for good storytelling.
There’s a reason Pixar is famous for great stories. They know exactly how long it takes to do an animated movie.
If they screw up Act 3, the director doesn’t call back the actors and do reshoots for a few weeks. Redoing all that footage in an animated movie takes a lot more work.
That’s why Pixar goes crazy with storyboarding and planning the structure of each film. You have to nail that story before you commit. This is why Pixar spends so much time emphasizing storytelling, and perfected their 22 Rules, which are worth checking out. Roll film:
With live actors, you can shoot hundreds of hours of footage and a great editor can take all that footage and do the structure and storytelling.
Can’t do that with animation–or CGI-heavy movies, which is just about everything today.
The more action and CGI you use, the more important planning and storyboarding becomes.
I think this is a key reason why Marvel has been on a hot streak. Every one of their superhero movies takes a ton of green screen and CGI work. They know it. And they have to plan not just for each movie, but how all the different movies tie together, with setups and payoffs stretching all the way back to the first Iron Man movie.
There’s a disturbing trend in Hollywood where studio execs would rather greenlight movies based on board games and toys from the ’80s than original ideas.
Yet I’m not overly worried about getting swamped with a sea of sequels to BATTLESHIP or RAMPAGE.
The deeper, more enduring trend in books, movies and video games? Meta-stories.
STAR WARS, HARRY POTTER, LORD OF THE RINGS, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Batman Arkham games, WESTWORLD, GAME OF THRONES–they best series are true meta stories.
Notice I didn’t list some big franchises, like the STAR TREK reboot, the DC non-universe and the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: TOM CRUISE DOES ALL HIS OWN STUNTS movies. They don’t fall in the same category.
So what’s a meta-story?
A book or movie can have sequels with the same hero (or group of heroes and sidekicks) without being a meta-story. Think of 99 percent of most shows on HBO, Netflix or this thing I called “network television.” They’re episodic. Sure, it’s the same universe and same characters. The stories being told, though, are separate and distinct.
This is why you can binge-watch LAW AND ORDER: PICK A SERIES, ANY SERIES, WE HAVE LOTS and it doesn’t matter if they skip around seasons and whatnot.
This is also why you can take all 20-some of the Reacher novels by Lee Child (my fav) and read them in any order. Because yes, Reacher is in every one of them, but otherwise, they aren’t really that connected. Separate stories each time. Different villains, different themes, different locations.
Meta-story is the difference between Marvel owning a license to print money while DC, with better characters (they have Batman, for God’s sake) struggles and reshoots and just can’t get it going.
Building the beast
It’s simple, really. Forget about the hero.
Yes, the hero is what people focus on, typically. That’s the star of the show, right?
Meta-stories often don’t have a singular hero. Think about Marvel–there are dozens of heroes.
The acid test, the way to see whether a series of books and movies is episodic or a meta-story, is to look at the villain(s).
Is it Villain-of-the-Week or does the series feature One Big Baddie?
HARRY POTTER is all about Voldemort, who’s winning the whole time until Harry literally dies and comes back to beat him.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS has a fellowship of heroes–not a singular hero–facing off against One Big Baddie who happens to be a big glowing eye.
Marvel was brilliant in planting Infinity Stones in every movie and having Thanos lurking in the background the whole time as the One Big Baddie, a villain so good they’ve managed to do what, 20-some movies as part of this arc? Amazing.
You get the idea.
If you’re writing a series, just remember this: Villains rule, heroes drool.
Back in the day, they made a movie about an intergalactic gang of misfits that included a cyborg raccoon, a green alien woman and a living tree that only said, “I am Groot.” And they turned that trash into treasure.
IRON FIST is one of the first mistakes Marvel has made, which is crazy considering the number of movies and TV shows they’ve produced.
Now that THE DEFENDERS has all four of these characters teaming up, and Season 2 of IRON FIST has a new showrunner, there is hope that the show will improve.
Having watched every episode of the other three Netflix originals—DAREDEVIL, JESSICA JONES and LUKE CAGE—it’s pretty easy to see where those shows went very right and Danny Rand, the homeless billionaire, went very wrong.
Fix Number 1: A new intro
The intros for the other three shows are interesting and set the mood, while this intro simply annoys you with bad CGI and makes skipping ahead the default choice.
DAREDEVIL has an intro that reminds me an awfully lot of WESTWORLD, so much so that I wondered if the same people did it.
LUKE CAGE starts off every episode with images of Harlem and history broadcast on his unbreakable skin, and I don’t skip it despite having seen it a zillion times.
JESSICA JONES puts you in a noir mood with her intro, and though it’s not quite as good as the blind ninja’s or Luke’s, it doesn’t completely annoy you.
IRON FIST just has a bad intro. Here, watch this for ten seconds and you’ll get annoyed. Is the main character some kind of shapeshifting oil beast?
Give us an intro that’s interesting and different. WESTWORLD has such a beautiful and genius intro that I’ve rewatched again and again.
Fix Number 2: Make us want to be the Iron Fist
Regardless of your age or gender, part of the joy of reading a novel or watching a movie is living vicariously through the eyes of the great protagonist. You admire them, and wonder what it would be like to be them.
With the other three Netflix shows, it’s clear that Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are interesting and special people. It’d would be fun to walk in their shoes for a day, and it’s a pleasure to be there, watching, even when they go through the worst possible troubles.
All three of those characters are good in very different ways.
Daredevil is intelligent and driven.
Jessica Jones is sarcastic and tough.
Luke Cage is calm, strong and determined.
I don’t think anyone wants to be Danny Rand / Iron Fist, and that’s really a function of the writing, not the acting.
Fix Number 3: Stop making Danny Rand act like a fool
In episode after episode, Danny makes stupid decisions that hurt other people. And yes, that’s despite the best of intentions.
The first season is more of a tragedy than anything else, with Danny’s hubris leading to terrible things. In just about every critical situation, the great Iron Fist makes choices that any other superhero would avoid.
Telling everyone—from homeless men on the street to villains—his secret identity. He may as well wear a sign. Every other superhero with a brain works incredibly hard to protect this vital secret, because failing to do so always, always leads to trouble and death. Danny has no clue.
Being a taker instead of a helper. There’s a good reason why most superheroes default to tackling problems by themselves. They don’t want to get civilians involved and hurt, and it’s safer when friends and loved ones don’t know their secret identity. Danny constantly, constantly asks for help, often from strangers or villains. He’s not self-reliant at all, which is one of the primary traits of heroes.
Creepy stalker behavior. Early in the series, he breaks into Joy’s house and refuses to go away when Colleen Wing clearly and repeatedly tells him to scoot. And this is a pattern. While other heroes break into places to collect clues and skedaddle, Danny does it like he’s dropping by to visit and is shocked when people treat him like a burglar.
No discipline. There’s an episode where Danny says he’s spent a lifetime learning to control his emotions, which made me guffaw, because every episode, he shows zero control over his emotions.
Can’t plan for the future. Danny simply bumbles through problems. He never has a plan aside from, “Let’s break into a place and either ask for help or beat people up.” Then he’s confused and angry when that non-plan goes south.
Falling into every trap. Danny Rand believes every word that anyone says to him, whether it’s from the mouths of a random stranger or a villain who just tried to kill him ten minutes ago. Even when a villain invites him to an obvious trap, he goes straight into it.
All of this makes Danny seem more like a goofy, tragic side character than a hero. You could see him as a troubled sidekick for a smart hero who figures out ways to control and harness the human wrecking ball.
This problem is made exponentially worse when actual side characters like Colleen, Claire, Harold, Joy and even Ward—Ward!—make clever decisions that seem more heroic and interesting.
At one point, Danny says, “I’m sorry” and Ward replies, “Danny, you’re a cancer.” And I cheered, because it was the truth.
In every tough situation, audiences instinctively think, “What would an average person like me do?” They compare the choice the hero makes to what other heroes or villains would do. The best stories surprise us with choices we haven’t even considered.
Every time Danny faces a tough situation, I groan and compare his choice (always bad) to what Batman, Daredevil, James Bond and a hundred other heroes would do. We all have that repository of stories and characters. Even the villains we know and love, like Hannibal Lecter and Darth Vader, would make different and more interesting choices than Danny Rand.
Because what Danny chooses is never a surprise. As a character, he’s an overgrown child, which people keep telling him. Which is a shame. The actors are fine, the cinematography works and the tie-ins to the other shoes are nice.
For the audience, there’s no surprise. We know what Danny will do, and we know the outcome will be bad. The only question is, “What side character or villain will save Danny from the mess he creates this time?”
Here’s to hoping Season 2 fixes these three flaws and gives the world an IRON FIST who doesn’t keep bumbling his way through New York City and, instead, starts acting like a hero instead of a cross between Homer Simpson and The Greatest American Hero.
ACT 1, opening scene: BRUCE WAYNE drives up in a classic black car to a black tie event. He opens the passenger door for a leggy model in Little Black Dresses and Zack Snyder makes sure the sky is an appropriately grim shade of black. In the middle of the charity ball, as Bruce is giving a speech, he notices a flash in the sky and makes an excuse to leave.
BATMAN rolls up to an industrial part of Gotham where all is not right. An alien war machine nearly kills him.
Over at Arkham Asylum, LEX LUTHOR won’t tell COMMISSIONER GORDON or BATMAN what he knows about the alien war machines. He simply gloats and says they aren’t ready for the invincible army that’s coming, though he will make popcorn and watch from his prison cell. LUTHOR does reveal the invasion of alien war machines is not being sent by the Purple Man Who Does Not Like To Stand, because that villain only attacks Earths populated by Marvel superheroes.
On the rooftop, WONDER WOMAN arrives to tell BATMAN they can’t fight this war alone, and without SUPERMAN, they won’t last ten minutes, and this movie has another 105 minutes to go, so that won’t do at all. This is war. They need an army.
In a montage, a series of would-be heroes are approached by BRUCE WAYNE and reject his suicide mission.
One exception is a pebble-faced man in a hoodie, who says if they both snagged their other costume, they’d bring a total of four superheroes to this fight. BRUCE WAYNE tells the man, “This is D.C.–we don’t do irony.”
Meanwhile, the alien robot army pauses to consolidate its grip on North Dakota for some reason, instead of taking over the world already.
BRUCE WAYNE wears steampunk goggles to brave the cold of GREENLAND, which is not green at all, to get his butt kicked by AQUAMAN in a bar.
AQUAMAN refuses the call to adventure and says this isn’t the proper way of doing things. He’ll wait for his own solo movie before joining any ensemble as a sidekick.
FLASH eagerly joins up because he’s this movie’s dorky version of Peter Parker, nerding out about being allowed to hang with a billionaire playboy with a cave full of armor and technology.
The growing crew finds CYBORG fighting off a gang of alien robot warriors. CYBORG interfaces with a dying alien robot to uncover the truth: they’re scouts for DARKSEID, a villain whose superpower is that you’ve never heard of him.
Alien robot warriors grow bored in North Dakota and descend upon the village bar where AQUAMAN is scowling while he drinks his mead, which spurs him into wearing a costume that, sadly, looks better than the Batsuit we’ve been looking at for three different movies.
Wave after wave of CGI alien robots flit through the sky and swarm the ground.
AQUAMAN leaves the fight for some made-up reason so he can sulk before coming back again. CYBORG seems to get taken down by a horde of alien robots and BATMAN gets trapped in a cave, which is as close to ironic as D.C. dares.
Meanwhile, WONDER WOMAN looks amazing in slow-mo as she destroys legions of glowing alien robots, because slow-mo is her motif, if you haven’t seen the trailers for her movie yet. But it’s a losing battle. No daughter of Zeus can single-handedly win this kind of war.
It takes a son of Krypton to help out, so SUPERMAN rises from his real grave, not the fake one in D.C., to fly around in a black suit which also looks better than the weird, short-eared Batsuit we’ve been looking at for three movies.
BATMAN finally escapes the cave and CYBORG reveals that he interfaced with another alien robot to learn the location of their secret server farm, and that they’re not using https yet.
WONDER WOMAN, BATMAN, AQUAMAN, FLASH and CYBORG pile into the Batplane to do battle, but only after BATMAN finally puts on an armored Batsuit that actually looks like it was designed for, I don’t know, fighting. SUPERMAN flies solo, because he’s still getting over being dead.
Even more endless waves of alien robots fly into battle to get smashed into glowing bits until we get a glimpse of DARKSEID, a special giant clump of dark, glowing CGI with an impossibly deep, gravelly voice based on Christian Bale’s growl in THE DARK KNIGHT, and yes, this is daringly ironic for D.C.
DARKSEID throws around the heroes until he gets bored. Nothing they do hurts him.
Finally, SUPERMAN gets tired of puny punches. He picks up DARKSEID and flies him into space, past our sun, past another sun and finally into a black hole, though when he flies back CYBORG reports that this alone won’t kill the villain. DARKSEID is still communicating with his network with a 2400 baud moden. He’ll return, stronger than before.
A bloody BATMAN picks himself off the floor to say, “We’ll be ready.”
You’ll stay to watch the credits. They will be long. At the end, there will be no post-credit scene, making you remember this isn’t a Marvel movie, though the plot of AVENGERS: INFINITY CRISIS I and II will be roughly the same thing–big bad guy leads alien invastion–with the exception that IRON MAN, THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA and the Hulk only beat the villain by sacrificing themselves and becoming trapped in another dimension or timeline at the end of the second movie, because their contracts are all up.
I like it, I love it, I want some more of it. So why does this short bit with zero special effects work so well?
Let’s take it apart.
Comedy is incredibly hard. Even the pro’s at Saturday Night Live fail more often than succeed. The tough part of a short skit like this is variety.
Saturday Night Live and other skit shows tend to find one joke that does work, then beat it to death, making a five-minute skit feel like five hours.
The other path–multiple jokes that may or may not work–is much harder to pull off.
You won’t know if it works while writing or rehearsing it, and unless you film in front of a live audience, you won’t get feedback until you put that short film out there for the world to embrace or trash.
Marvel and DC have taken comic books for kids and turned them into an unstoppable machine, designed to entertain the masses while making massive profits.
When all the pieces fit together, it’s memorable and magical.
When they don’t, as in SUICIDE SQUAD, everybody notices. (Warning: this is packed full of spoilers.)
It’s like making chocolate chip cookies: Marvel and DC have well-known, well-liked ingredients that people have loved consuming for decades.
Mix it up, put them in the oven and serve them warm and hot. People are going to eat them. It’s not rocket science.
HOWEVER: your average person has eaten a lot of chocolate chip cookies, and seen a ton of these comic-book movies. They’ll know, right away, if Marvel burns the whole batch or DC forgets to add any chocolate chips at all.