Avengers Fanboys, Check It Out

Screenwriter Todd Alcott has a series of great posts about the Avengers movie that look at the movie with a different set of eyes.

Where is the helicopter going?  The helicopter is going to some sort of government installation, The Joint Dark Energy Something.  What’s happening at the Joint Dark Energy Something is that everybody there is getting the hell out.  This, in screenwriting, is called “getting into the scene as late as possible.”  We don’t know what everyone is running from, we only know that they are running.  This, too, increases audience involvement.  The audience leans forward to gather information when they are not spoon-fed it by a cautious narrative.  We don’t even get a clear look at the sign.  Do we need to know exactly what this place is?  Not really — the sheer size of it, which we’ve seen from our helicopter’s POV, is enough to indicate that it is “important,” and the panic erupting all over is enough to indicate that it is in great danger.  Again, stakes.  “Important” and “Great Danger.”  Concision.

Everyone at the Joint Dark Energy Something is in a panic, except this guy, this guy who’s there to greet the helicopter.  This guy is, Marvel fans will know, Agent Coulson, beloved agent of SHIELD.  But to the viewer who just wandered in from off the street, all we know is that he is The One Guy Who Isn’t Running Around Panicked.  That makes him very powerful in his own right, and the fact that he is waiting for the helicopter makes whoever is in the helicopter that much more powerful. Keep in mind, we’re still only a minute or so into the movie — if nothing else, The Avengers is a sleek deliverer of information.  We’ve not only been given a ton of information, we’ve been given it in a highly cinematic style.

And finally, after an exhausting two minutes of movie, we meet our protagonist, Nick Fury, getting out of the helicopter.  This is the powerful man in the helicopter, this is the man The Only Man Not Panicking is waiting for.  Everyone else is Running Away, this man is Walking Toward.  You don’t need to know anything else, he hasn’t opened his mouth, he hasn’t introduced himself, all he’s done is fly in in a helicopter and get out, and already you know he’s very important and very powerful. Read more of this post