How to write a superhero movie–from guys who have done itBy
There’s a good interview on movieline.com with Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the two guys who wrote the Captain America screenplay, as well as the three Chronicles of Narnia films.
They give eight tips for writing a superhero screenplay. There are two that stand out and that I think apply to some other genres as well:
- When you’re writing a superhero movie, don’t write a superhero movie. Markus explains: “Write a movie, and in a movie you are beholden to that guy in the first scene and you have to take him through it, and he can’t just turn super and then just lose his personality traits and be awesome for the rest of the movie. It’s got to be, to use the dreaded word, an arc.”
- Treat the fantastic realistically. Markus, again: “Those obstacles — going from 98 lbs. to 200 — treat those incidents as if they actually have an effect on his head. ‘What would it be like for me to go from 98 lbs. to 200 lbs.? What would it be like to go from no woman in the world looking at me to many women looking at me?’ What does that do? We don’t take the audience for granted. We don’t think because it’s a superhero movie we can give characters short shrift at all.”
I haven’t seen Captain America so I can’t comment on how well they’ve achieved these two points but they’re both worth consideration. I had a recent experience with the second point. In a horror/comedy film I’m writing, my protagonist’s best friend is badly injured and it looks like he may not make it. When I read my first draft I realized that in my haste to get on with the plot I hadn’t paid enough attention to the huge impact this would have emotionally on my main character.