Tony Stark: [to Pepper] Things are different now, I have to protect the one thing that I can’t live without. That’s you.
Super Hero Love
The more that you understand the different facets of an event the more you can appreciate it. If you understand how a car engine works, you would have more appreciation for car races. If you can cook, you savor the dishes. If you play an instrument, then music has more depth in your experiences.
The enjoyment of story-telling in books and movies can be made deeper if you can try to understand the templates or frame-works of the different kinds of stories. It has been studied in some areas much more than others.
We understand the Hero Saga with all of its parts; so when we see this kind of movie or story, we can dissect where the successes and failures are once we’ve experienced it. The Hero Saga has been nailed down and the template, now, is common.
Rom-Coms have evolved. In the 80’s, the poor sap had to eat shit in public to get the girl. We don’t see that quite so much today and sometimes have the girl asking the boy in the end. Still, the template is solid: a couple from opposite factions falls in love and society tries to keep them apart until society sees that it is true love. Whether it is the billionaire and the hooker or a Shark and a Jet or a movie star and a bookstore owner, it is up to the writer to fit the story into the template. The template works, it is solid. High School Musical!
Detective stories are so much fun to watch. They must be very fun to write. Those stories are not really about the case. Those stories are showing how incredibly eccentric the detective is in life but still succeeding. From Holmes to Marple to Mr. Monk to Nero Wolf to Stephanie Plum, they are all as wacky as the writer can make them. It all comes down to those little grey cells and a perfect mustache.
The Super Hero story is a little different because its Origin story must follow the Hero Saga (orphaned, find a mentor, lose a mentor, build a group, betrayal, victory) like in Superman and Spiderman. And, the Super Hero story is serial and episodic; there has to be a foundation for the story to continue — and this is where the director and writer can trip up and fail.
In our viewing history of (fairly) recent Super Hero movies, we see that they keep retelling the Origin story of Superman and Spiderman for example. But, they have moved on with Ironman, for example.
Let me tell you why!
The success of a Super Hero story beyond all of the cool powers and transition into world savior is really about love. The love story has to work and, I’d argue, the core motive for doing what our hero does.
Love is humbling. We as an audience can trust the all-powerful Superman because he is in love with Lois Lane. Love is the tether that keeps power from corrupting the choices of our hero. That love story is central and must be emphasized.
We as an audience love being in on the secret. Secrets are so powerful that you can put it in click-bait titles to get clicks “The secret behind …”. That we know the secret identity of our hero is so much fun because we see MJ interact with Peter Parker on one level and Spiderman on another but WE know that he is the same guy.
All three Ironman movies have been about Pepper. They work solid certain sure. The first Captain America was a charming love story and his motive through-out, the second movie … not so much. We wanted Thor to like Natalie Portman and let that be his motive for all his godly efforts, in fact I’d say that we need it to be the case for the story to work.
The first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve got it right and we love it. The other movies since then have been flawed and broken and they keep trying again. Ignoring Amy Adams as Lois Lane is stupid. I’ll say it, Zach Snyder is stupid. Zach might do well at the box office because (like Warcraft) there is a huge built-in fan base but I am not satisfied at all. I want love.
On a side note; Batman is and always has been a Detective. He might fall under the Super Hero umbrella but his actions and motives are pure eccentric. It is never about love for Batman. We like Batman a lot.
The love our Super Hero has will make the story “work”. Once past the Origin story, it can go serial if we have that triangle and secret established and told each and every time.
Otherwise, we’ll get another Spiderman re-boot until they understand that you can not drop MJ down an elevator shaft and let her die; stupid stupid directors.
Until we can have Super Hero Love, we can not go episodic.
Ironman has Pepper. Superman has Lois. Spiderman has MJ.
I’ll be candid here. I saw Deadpool. I remember laughing and enjoying all of the over the top antics. But I don’t remember the story. I don’t care about Deadpool like I care about the others. Lets set this one aside for the moment; so far it is the Origin story; can it go episodic?
Wonder Woman is coming out. What will be her motive for doing what she does? Can it be love?
Origin stories are great. We enjoy watching Doctor Strange or Wonder Woman or any story you want to tell. It is love that will make the next story and the next story work. That, my friends, is how you build a franchise.