Thursday, May 10, 2012

Avengers and human vulnerabilities

This is probably going to come as a surprise, out of nowhere kind of thing, but I'm going to let the cat out of the bag anyway. I think Joss Whedon is a genius. And I don't know... I think it might just be possible that I'm not the only one who thinks that... When people ask who my Author Crush is, I've always been wishy-washy. Apparently I just needed to think beyond books. It's been Joss since before I started writing.

Anyway, to get to the point, I read an article on Huffington Post by Maureen Ryan called 'Avengers' Fans: Thank TV For That Awesome Movie. If you're a fan of Joss, click on that link and read the whole article. It'll make you feel good all over. (I have no idea who Maureen Ryan is, but anyone who starts out an article with "There's a cloud to the silver lining of "The Avengers'" record-smashing success: We've probably lost its screenwriter and director Joss Whedon to the movies forever" is pretty worth reading in my book.)

And wow. I still haven't gotten to the point. (I just saw Avengers last night, so I'm kind of on an Avengers high. I swear I'll make my brain stay focused.) There are several ways to make your character sympathetic, likeable and relateable to your readers. If you make a character that is perfect in every way, how is anyone going to be able to relate to that? No one is perfect! It's kind of hard to see yourself in the shoes of someone who is. We don't find ourselves rooting for the perfect characters. Yet one of the ways we can make a character likeable is to make them REALLY GOOD at something. We like characters who are just downright awesome at things. So how do we make them still likeable and relateable while keeping their awesomeness intact? In her article about the The Avengers' opening night success, Maureen Ryan gave a few incredible writing tips. So I'm going to let her take it away.


[Whedon] makes us relate to the specially chosen and the super-powered because he shows them experiencing self-doubt, self-loathing and fear. 

Yes, these men and women are exalted and special, but they're vulnerable too. That's what makes us love them, and Whedon has always understood that. 

It's their reluctance -- the kind of reluctance exhibited by every major Whedon character -- that makes their sacrifices all the more meaningful. It's easy to be on a character's side when we know what their choices have cost them, and what flaws they had to overcome to make a meaningful contribution to the Big Plan for Battling Evil. We can't relate to being indestructible or unspeakably powerful (though of course, these movies tap into those aspirations), but we all know what it's like to have doubts about our own abilities, to fear letting people down and to wonder whether we can trust other people (especially others who appear to be every bit as flawed as ourselves).


Well said, isn't it? So those characters that are hugely good at something become relateable to the reader when they also have very human vulnerabilities.

By raise of hands, who has seen The Avengers?

24 comments:

Steph Sessa said...

Loooved the Avengers. (And love Joss Whedon). The dialogue was awesome (as usual) and I think he really did "get" the characters. They all seemed very true to themselves while also creating those flaws to overcome.

Tonja said...

Definitely good writing advice. I haven't seen the movie yet.

JeffO said...

Saw the movie Tuesday night and really enjoyed it. I'm not a huge superhero fan in general (Batman is the exception) but the movie was a lot of fun. Story, dialogue, characters were all strong. People I know who are fans say they got Banner/the Hulk right on.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Loved it. Did you stay to watch the two scenes at the end. The last one was so worth waiting through all the credits. lol

Great stuff in that article. Thanks for sharing it.

Iain said...

I'm gobsmacked. You're a Joss fan? How have you kept that secret hidden all this time? :o)
It's on my "to watch" list. :o(

Delia said...

I have not seen The Avengers, but then, I think I'm missing the Joss Whedon gene. That's intuitive of the article writer, though. Good observations.

Adam Heine said...

Seen it. Loved it. Blogged a love letter to Joss that's scheduled to go up Monday morning.

Connie B. Dowell said...

Haven't seen The Avengers. It is good advice though, and it ties into the old trope of the reluctant hero who initially refuses to go on the adventure, but then something happens to change his/her mind. It's an old trope and can definitely be overdone, but still these old tropes are tropes for a reason. They do resonate with audiences, both readers and moviegoers.

Allison Merritt said...

I haven't seen Avengers yet, but I agree with you 100%, Joss Whedon is a genius. I fell hard for his writing when he did Firefly. I'm kind of interested in seeing Cabin in the Woods as well just because he was involved in that and horror isn't my usual thing.

Kimberlee Turley said...

Still haven't been able to see it, but I do love Joss Whedon!

Libby said...

Who's Joss Whedon? Just kidding!

S. L. Hennessy said...

I thought Avengers was AMAZING. I really don't have one criticism. Joss Whedon is simply brilliant.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Joss Whedon is definitely a creative genius. I enjoy "nearly" everything that he has had a hand in. I'm glad the Avengers has done so well because now he will be able to call his own shots in Hollywood as he's had quite a few tough knocks in the past.

Kim said...

Hand raised! And I've already blogged about my favorite character!

Compliments to Joss Whedon who very artfully composed a masterpiece.

Did you see the Easter Egg scene after the credits? Made me laugh and I didn't know why. :D

Joshua said...

Hand down, but that's because I refuse to pay more than the $1.75 ticket price at the second run theatre. I'll see it there soon.

Kristine said...

I agree, Joss is a genius. Very well said.
And, I loved it!

S.P. Bowers said...

I keep hearing good things about this movie. Despite the fact that we've already been to the movies once this year we may have to go. It sounds babysitter worthy.

Nicole said...

Very well said. SO excited to see the movie!

Carrie Butler said...

I haven't been able to see The Avengers yet, but you know I'm a huge Joss fan. Loved this post. :D

Jenny Morris said...

Do you have to ask?? Lol. My hand is raised. Both for seeing the movie and acknowledging Joss' genius. I was SO surprised at how funny and wonderful the movie was until I saw his name on the credits.

And yes, Joss is SO good at making the super seem normal. Not untouchable. He actually made me like Ironman. LOL. I've never liked his character.

Z said...

raising my hand and jumping for joy! the whole time i was watching it, i couldn't get over the writing! I kept leaning over to my husband and commenting on the brilliance of the character arcs and one-liners and...i could go on and on for ages :)

The Golden Eagle said...

*hasn't seen a movie by Joss Whedon and slinks away surreptitiously*

i'm erin. said...

I need to see this movie! Seriously. Did you hear they are going to make a second one? So cool huh. Hopefully I 'll see the first before the second comes out.

Maggie McGee said...

I so enjoy your posts.