Avengers Movie Offers Super Powered Writing Lesson

What I expect from a summer blockbuster film:
(I'll rate the Avengers success in each category.)

1. Stars - It isn't a true blockbuster without a recognizable name on the poster. Dep, Pitt or Downey Jr. and/or Johanson, Portman or Jolie + movie = entertainment gold. They're like pretty Hollywood street cred or something.

Avengers - Literally not a full minute of the film passes without being able to say, "I've seen that guy or gal in a dozen movies!" Seriously, I'm thinking about naming my first child Robert-Sam-Scarlet-Chris-Hemsworth-Jeremy-Gwen-Ruffalo Wesley.

2. "I didn't just see that..." Scenes - Call them special effects if you will, but if my jaw and the floor don't get acquainted at least a couple of times throughout the film, it isn't a blockbuster. Required: Last summer's explosion count must be surpassed at all cost!

Avengers - Oh boy, if you love you some 'splosions then this is THE movie for you. Earth's mightiest heroes do a damned fine job of breaking everything in sight, including each other. Ever wondered what the Hulk would do to a building if he decided to scrape down it a like an angry kitty on the drapes? Wonder no more. Ever wanted to see what Thor and Iron Man could do to a forest if they got a little rambunctious? (Boys!) Let's just say Mother Nature is still pissed.

3. A Reality Reboot - The success of the summer blockbuster hinges on being able to make us forget we're normal. Most of us are under or over weight, too short to ride rides or too tall to have ceiling fans, afraid of heights, and kind of freaked out by live chickens. The blockbuster must take that away with the thrill of the improbable victory, the rush of fake situations so death defying someone probably really died trying to pull them off, and the scorching envy brought on by watching people too pretty to exist hooking up like it's their hobby.

Avengers - Simply put, if you don't walk out of the Avengers without at least thinking about trying to tip over a car or parkoring up the wall of the cinema like a Red Bull infused spider monkey, there's no spark of imagination left in your little black soul. For two hours you're so overwhelmed by the impawesome (impossible + awesome), there's just no way to accept our reality could be so sucky and boring. 

So that's the movie review: STOP READING THIS AND GO WATCH IT ALREADY!

As for what I don't expect from my summer blockbusters:

1. A proper schooling on the craft I've been chasing the last few years like some kind of obsessed Labrador.

If you're not familiar with Joss Whedon it probably just means you haven't watched TV in a couple of decades. Not calling you lame, just ... sheltered. 

His writing credits date back to the Rosanne show and include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Toy Story, Speed, Angel, Firefly and most recently the horror movie hit, Cabin in the Woods. Suffice to say he's developed quite a lot of geek credit (like street credit, but with glasses and acne) over the years.

In fact, my use of the non-word 'sucky' above is a Whedonism. He likes to turn nouns into adjectives by adding a 'y'. Now you know why three generations of teens talk the way they do! 

Back to the Avengers. I mentioned all the explosions and cool visual stuff, right? Here's what's really going to blow you away if you're looking for it: The best scenes in the movie are dialogue heavy interactions between the various super folks.

When the characters speak, stuff happens. I'm not talking about visual stuff up on the screen kinds of stuff. I'm talking about the rusty old gears in my noggin turning kinds of stuff.

That's right, the true vehicle for the story isn't the action, it's the motivations of each character. What keeps your mind racing toward the next scene isn't what makes them super, but what makes them normal. 

Through razor sharp dialogue and not an ounce of wasted exposition, Whedon and his co-writers have crafted a master's course in how to keep a story moving and meaningful in spite of all the visual distractions. It truly is what makes the Avengers special.

I know I sometimes focus so much on what goes on in my stories from an action/doing standpoint that I often fail to utilize dialogue and exposition to its utmost. In fact, I'm going to go see the movie again and take some notes this time. 

I was having too much fun the first time to catch everything. :)

TOMORROW: I'll be interviewing the wonderful debut author, Alyson Burdet. Her novel, NIGHTFIRE, is full of vampire goodness! You know we'll have some fun, so I hope you'll stop back by to wish Alyson luck and check out her thoughts on writing and the beautiful madness it induces in us all. :)

Also, my primary computer is in the shop so I'm getting around to my blogs a little slower this week. I should have it back by tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to reading what you all have been up to. Until then: 




  1. I've heard awesome things about this movie, and your post has me itching to see it! And, I must admit, I WILL probably attempt to get my family to try to roll over my car (it's dying anyway) before going to the theater. I think it can be done. My 14-year-old stepson is nearly 6 feet tall and growing, and you should see him on energy drinks (which we do NOT buy for him--I think there's a black market for energy drinks at his school)...crazy kids.

    1. You raise 'em big, Jess! lol Can't recommend the movie enough, and I think it's pretty family friendly for folks with teens.

      True story: My art teacher in high school drove a tiny little compact car and we (with the help of football players) would move it around the parking lot at least once a week. Closest to an Avenger I'll ever get. :)

  2. Saw the first showing on Friday and will go see it again in two weeks - absolutely awesome! And yes, I did want to go pound something after coming out of the theater. And go real fast while doing so.

    1. Seriously! I felt like a seven year old boy after seeing it!


  3. Well, EJ, your review is quite different from mine, yet says basically the same thing: THIS MOVIE ROCKS!!!!

  4. It's the best superhero movie I have ever seen.

  5. I kept hearing amazing things about this movie, so I just had to see it. Now I want to be a superhero too! I can't wait til this one comes out on DVD.

  6. Brilliant review, EJ. Just finished seeing the movie myself a few minutes ago, and absolutely loved it. The characters were precisely as they're supposed to be. I'll be reviewing it myself.

  7. Great review! Whedon is a genius.

  8. It is so great to know that the summer movie season is actually launching with something worthwhile. Sounds like it will be worth a couple of viewings.

    Elizabeth Twist: Writer, Plague Enthusiast

  9. I'm torn! I actually don't care about the Avengers, but I like Joss. What's a girl to do?

  10. You write the BEST reviews. ;)

  11. I hate explosions but I was raised by a shell-shocked bunch of Europeans.

  12. Great review. I've heard nothing but good things about this movie so I'll definitely be going to see it.


“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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