Tuesday Top Ten: Most Egregious Story Tropes

Whether its comic books or their related adaptations, dumb storytelling choices are made. As we get more comic book adaptations, some mistakes get repeated more and more. Here’s a list I made of the 10 that bug me most:


#10.Cloud Monsters:

Not a super repeated occurrence, but it’s happened enough times to become a cliche and proof that Hollywood has no ideas of its own.


#9.Mobs of Faceless Goons:

Movies used to have a handful of henchmen, 2-7 throughout the film that would have a little personality or crack some jokes. Now, with CGI and the obsession with showing the heroes as powerful we’re treated to 100-1,000 pointless bodies flying at the hero only to be easily beaten. Sometimes that’s ok, others the old adage “Less is More” holds true.


#8.Conflicted Childhood:

This one is more recent but still befuddling, a main character is shown to have the “heroic morals” as a child but is a jerk as an adult. Look at Star-Lord and Seth Rogen’s Green Hornet, both start at roughly the same level but after diverging heavily still become less than noble. Star-Lord becomes a womanizing thief and Green Hornet an alcoholic chauvinist. Realistic? Sure, but also a tad disturbing. Every hero has flaws, but to start out with the ideals and lose them is an odd journey for a protagonist.


#7. Wasted Magic:

What if you took a boring, tired character and gave them magic powers? That’s exciting right? Well, only when done to the right character in the right manner. Jonah Hex and Tonto of The Lone Ranger, not so much. These characters didn’t need powers, and if they did it could’ve been done better. The fact that the powers added nothing to the stories and only amounted to poor window dressing to terrible movies says it all.


#6. Learning Curve:

It bugs me when smart characters, who we’re told often how brilliant they are, act dumb for 2 1/2 hours. Write better plots or make them regular joes. Almost as bad is when a normal person learns something in 2 days or 2 weeks that takes most people YEARS to learn.


#5. Will They/Won’t They?

They will, they almost ALWAYS do!!! Does every relationship have to be the stereotypical, boy-next-door, Superman dilemma? Even when when its “They Won’t” it is done poorly. almost rendering the turn moot. If relationship subplots are a staple of the Superhero genre, writers need to dig a little deeper to show two people in love.

Batman Crime Alley

#4.Tragic Beginnings:

Anything can be justified from a rough childhood, and if it helps explain a specific neurosis all the better. The problem comes when every single character on the screen is messed up from something that happened decades ago causing them to act outlandishly.Everyone has baggage, but when shows like Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, or even Game of Thrones can show nuance interactions continuously and make them engrossing, it puts everything else to shame.

thor malekith

#3. Weak Villains:

Every hero needs a villain, every story needs an antagonist. Nowadays, the main character(s) are so damn charming we forgive if the villains are so forgettable. Good villains don’t grow on trees, but if you’re gonna devote time for explosions, dancing, or sex scenes, you’ve got time to make a compelling villain that people remember.


#2. Get in the Back:

All the talk of representation counts for squat if minority characters are just busying themselves in the background while the male WASP character does the exciting stuff. It keeps happening in the same manner, which is the infuriating part. They play “support” to the main hero doing something that they could do themselves. Writing is hard, progress is slow yes, but it’s almost better you don’t try at all then barely succeed showing minorities as heroic.

The-Dark-Knight-Rises-broken cowl

#1. Same Story Structure:

Origin/Flashback, establish villain, show mcguffian, raise the stakes, raise the romantic tension, explosive finale, tease the sequel. We’ve done this almost a hundred times now, and it’s getting stale. Not every story needs to be an action story or follow the same plot points verbatim. Imagine a Batman movie, not like The Dark Knight but like Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum: a serious house on serious earth graphic novel. Doctor Strange’s solo flick not as The Sorceror’s Apprentice  but like The Exorcist. Ant-Man as not another Iron Man but like Role Models. Shaking up the formula now and then will keep Superhero flicks from becoming stale and grinding to a halt.

Maybe it won’t make the big bucks but damn, think of all the stuff we’ll never see because of that…


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