|Note the hero. She’s on the left.|
O.K. I need to confess that when I wrote the first installment in this, The Man of Steel and Writing, I never planned on it being a series. I was just writing on something that I was passionate about (first rule of writing by the way). But it has slowly shaped into something on its own so I’m now I have to give it a name. It simple really. I call it Superheroes and Writing. But if you have a better name that you want to shoot to me, be my guest. Be good to hear from you.
Now, on to the subject of this post.
For years now since X-Men came to the theaters, I have been making predictions on how good a superhero movie was going to be based on information I had researched and the trailers I had seen. I was batting 100%…until this year. Until Iron Man III.
I saw the trailer for Iron Man III and was convinced that it was going to be killer. The Mandarin, arguably his number one nemesis in the comics, was going to show up and he looked like he was going to be a great villain played by Ben Kingsley. I was excited. I was telling folks it was going to be the best movie of the year. I was geeked.
Opening weekend came. I took a seat in giddy anticipation. The movie began. As I watched, I slowly began to be highly disillusioned. The movie continued. The feeling continued. The movie ended and it was official-I was wrong. The movie was horrible. Horrible because of one key element.
I could say volumes about the writing in this movie but I’ll condense it so you’re not reading a novella. Iron Man III is rife with lessons for writers on what NOT to do.
Stick to the Source
If you are writing a story based on source material, then make sure you stick to the source material. Mandarin is not some faux villain in Marvel. He’s the real deal. He’s nobody’s willing pawn.
If you’re writing from source material, whether your own or someone else’s, then stay true to it. Create the story but stay true to the characters. Don’t write the character one way in one book then turn around and have him be someone else entirely with no explanation in another. That is a quick way to lose a readership. Readers like a good villain as well as a good hero.
Don’t Leave Subplots Dangling and Unresolved
In Iron Man III, Tony was going through some heavy psychological issues in the after effects of what happened in The Avengers. I was very interested in that part of the movie because it made sense that after all of that, he would experience some kind of mental stress. How would this affect and ultimately change the character? How would he deal with it? Well, I’m still waiting on the answer to that question because it never got resolved. It was just there.
Don’t do that to your readers. They want a finished story. Unless it’s something that will be resolved in a later book or series, clean up your subplots in a believable and meaningful fashion. This is part of a good ending-that everything has been wrapped up.
Speaking of writing, in the article written by David Manners called The Ten Deadly Sins, he points out:
In stories you always want to leave your reader with a warm glow, satisfied that the story is complete and everything is taken care of.
In other words, don’t leave ’em hangin.
Let the Hero Be the Hero
This is similar to advice that I’d given in my post on The Wolverine and Writing. I’m going to highlight it here because it was done so egregiously in this movie.
If you get nothing else from this post today, get this:
Don’t save your hero with another supporting character in the story climax.
Supporting characters are there to do just that, support. Not save the day. That’s the hero’s job. Know how your hero or protagonist is going to get out of the impossible crisis situation before you write it. Having to save a protagonist in that fashion is a sign of weak, lazy writing.
Now, you don’t have to take my word on this. Test it out and see if these things harm rather than hinder your story. Then after that lesson is learned the hard way, go write a better story.