Posts Tagged ‘characters’

Even if you don’t like Thor, you will go see it because you want to know what’s happening in the Avengers movie.

This is a trick comic companies have been doing for years: You only buy Uncanny X-Men, but they want you to also buy X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force, Generation X, Astonishing X-Men, Wolverine and Dazzler. So, they parse the story up and put a page or two into every title, forcing you to buy it.

Now, just think of it as a multi-million dollar film deal. They want you to watch each one, so they put Samuel L. Jackson into all of them, and spread the storyline around a bit, and then you’re hooked.

That said, it was a good movie.

Acting was solid. Costumes. Sets (except the New Mexico town seemed like it was built in the literal middle of nowhere).

Loki’s plot was good. He had me guessing. And he was a well-rounded character, not what I’d expect. Also, I appreciate that his plot wasn’t a MacGuffin. He had a real motivation, and it was layered.

The only issue was there was a bit of a reality problem. Like I said in:

https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/super-hot-super-genius/

I just don’t buy the idea of a beautiful young single scientist who just so happens to be in the right place at the right time. Maybe there are hundreds of young, gorgeous scientists who are busy chasing storms, spelunking volcanoes and exploring ancient ruins. Anyway, half of the movie is in Asgard, which has a lot of digital animation. And the other half is on Earth, with this relationship that’s blossoming between a scary stranger and a brilliant scientist who turns into a 13-year-old schoolgirl every time the Thunder God smiles in her direction.

I asked my friend Michelle, one of the people I saw it with, if she thought it was too weird. She didn’t think so. My reason for asking is that most super hero movies to date have been pretty grounded. Ideas like mutants and radioactive spider powers introduced slowly and carefully. Then, we have the 9 realms, Asgardians, Destroyer, the Warriors Three, Heimdall (who kicked ass) and the Rainbow Bridge. And…wow…is this too much for people to swallow?

Granted, maybe this movie isn’t for grandma and grandpa. Unless your grandpa is Stan Lee.

It helped that Sif and the others were pretty one-dimensional to begin with. You’re not really going to get into the mind of Fandral or Volstagg. That’s OK. You got enough of them to know their motivations, and not to get them confused with other characters in armor.

It’s worth seeing, if you can suspend disbelief about gods and about awkward romance blooming. Especially if you want to see Avengers.

Disclaimer/background: I’m a traditionalist. I don’t think people should break rules of storytelling unless there’s a good reason. I write comic books, short fiction and children’s books. Just to put my comments in perspective, these are my interests and favorites: My favorite superhero is Spider-Man, and I also like Justice League and Batman. My favorite comic writers lately have been Kurt Busiek, Peter David, and Geoff Johns. I am a huge Transformers fan. In children’s books, I go either simple or meta: either really simple stories or books about stories. In movies and books, I am more impressed with something small that makes me feel something rather than something I’m told is a “must-read” or a must-see.”

I make silly videos and post them here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/verylittleknowledge

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A lot of movies and shows seem to have a character with autism, or more specifically with Asperger syndrome, and the characters are all more or less the same.

In “Mary and Max,” Max turns out to have Asperger syndrome. All the charm, for me, slipped away from the character. He stopped being a quirky recluse with no social skills and instead became a textbook.

At the point it is mentioned that he had Asperger’s, it was no longer a story about Max. It was a story about Asperger’s syndrome. The condition became the character.

A commercial I saw advertised an episode of “Parenthood” with the boy asking about Asperger’s, because he was apparently just diagnosed. It felt like “A very special episode of…”

I never thought I’d blog about “Dear John” twice (Here’s the other one: https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/%E2%80%9Cdear-john%E2%80%9D-and-how-weakness-defines-character/), but at one point, John’s father is determined to have Asperger’s syndrome. My wife, a special ed teacher, had it nailed already, of course. Especially because they had already introduced a boy with autism earlier.

“Dear John” wasn’t about Asperger’s. That was just a subplot. “Rain Man” was definitely about autism. But “Rain Man” was based on a real person.

I think writers try so hard to paint these characters in a positive light, and be accurate, that they stop making them characters and just make them cut-outs. They have their little obsessions, which are interchangeable from character to character. And they have their odd way of looking at the world. In sad movies, they are constantly at odds with the way the world works. In reassuring movies, they look at the world through the eyes of a wise and noble child.

Writers have two audiences in mind. The first is someone who knows someone with autism. These people they are trying not to offend. The other are people who don’t know anyone with autism. I think the writers are trying to educate these people.

These are all good goals, but they don’t really make for good storytelling.

Here’s a thought I’ve had before and I’ve got to say it again: The only way to make movies inclusive of people who are different is to make the movie not about the difference. If the whole movie is about a character with autism, you’re not building bridges. They are still the “other.” Studied. Under glass. If you want to show autism as a part of life, show an autistic family member in the movie, but don’t have the whole movie be about that.

I have a comic book super hero whose brother is autistic. Will that fact be the center of stories at some point? Undoubtedly. However, until then, he’s just Jake’s older brother Ronnie, who likes to play video games with him and keeps his mom on her toes.