On Thor and More – A Mid-Tour Mailbag

Next question:
When will superhero movies just die? I am so sick of them.

They’ll die when people stop going to them, which is something they don’t appear to be doing, given Thor‘s solid $60 million-plus debut and decent hold for a second weekend. Alternately, they’ll stop when the movies become too expensive to justify, which is a real possibility, since the budgets regularly top $100 million before marketing. We’ve already seen the Spider-Man franchise scale back with a cheaper director and star and a (relatively) smaller budget, but not every superhero film will lend itself to downsizing.
There’s also another option, which is that we’ll see the end of the superhero movies when Hollywood exhausts the A-list stable of both the DC and
Marvel universes and starts trying to build blockbusters off of marginal or second-string heroes. It’s one thing to aim for a half-billion in box office with Batman; it’ll be another thing entirely to try to do it with, say, Nightwing. It’s not impossible, but
that’s not the same thing as saying it’ll be a sure bet.
Final question:
Last week, you talked about things film can teach you about writing novels. What doesn’t film teach you about writing novels?

Well, lots, actually. Films are visual media, so there’s no real need, generally speaking, for films to focus on description. A film can show you in a few frames what an author might take several pages to describe
– the proverbial picture being worth a thousand words. Film’s also generally not good at getting into the heads of characters, and, while it
offers a form of omniscient narrator, the form takes shape via the placement and use of the camera, not (necessarily) via the skill of the writer. All of these things are useful for a novel writer to know and implement in his or her writing, and film’s not going to be a way to learn these things.
None of this is particularly
surprising; filmmakers and novelists overlap in terms of their skill sets and focus, but there’s lots in each case that is not applicable in the other. It’s why being a great author is no guarantee of writing a great (or even good or fair) screenplay and why so
many wonderful screenwriters fail badly when they put their hands to
long-form prose. They’re disciplines that require work and effort
to get done, and the more time you spend on one the less time you have
to spend on the other. Usually, you have to choose which you like more.
There are exceptions (The Princess Bride‘s William Goldman stands out as one), but they’re called “exceptions” for a reason.

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