Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mechanical Failure: Plotting and Batman V Superman (Spoilers) part 1

Screenwriting is a very specific art form that rewards brevity and clarity. Character and plot revolve around each other in a push-pull that at its very best results in an organic story told about believable people.

Batman V Superman is not that movie. It is the most mechanical inorganic film I have seen in years and serves as a great example of  how not to plot a story.

What is Plot?

Plot is the series of events that lead or are led by the characters through the story. It can be as simple as boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl forgives boy. It can be as complex as a heist movie, where the characters are reacting to and/or driving the moving parts that make successful heist. The drama of the plot is how the characters deal with the adversity they encounter.

What is a Mechanical Plot?

A mechanical plot is a series of events that exist only to cause further events, like dominos, ignorant of the characters affected by those events. BvS is one of those movies.


A gracefully plotted movie feels organic and natural. Character decisions make sense in the moment and upon reflection. It feels like the ending is inevitable as the journey that led us there makes sense.

The ending of BvS makes no sense, and neither do the mechanics that lead to it. Let’s start with the Kryptonite Spear plot point from the end to the beginning and how it travels through the climax of the movie, answering the following question's 
  1. why does Batman plant the Spear in the ground floor when fighting a flying man? (So Lois can get to them). 
  2. Why does Lois throw the spear in the flooded basement (so she can nearly drown, giving Superman motivation).
  3. Why did Batman make a Spear instead of explosive tipped bullets? (ie. Kryptonite mist weakens Superman enough that Kryptonite bullets would shred his heart)So that Superman can sacrifice himself 

The Players

Superman/Clark is the son of Martha and the boyfriend of Lois.
Batman/Bruce is the son of Martha and the employer of Alfred
Lois Lane  a reporter and the girlfriend of Superman

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