Believable Character Arcs, Villain Logic and Monologuing: What AGE OF ULTRON Can Teach About Fiction and Craft

Have you seen Avengers: Age of Ultron yet?

::grabs your shoulders through the Internet, shakes you::  GO SEE IT.

The only people who should not see it are those people for whom The Notebook was an edifying, deeply satisfying emotional experience. If you like fun, fast, summer blockbusters with star power, humor, technology, EXPLOSIONS and (ahem) some of the most insanely attractive people on the planet ALL IN ONE FILM, go see this movie.

Srsly. ALL the attractive people. And a giant robot.
Srsly. ALL the attractive people. And a giant robot.

Preferably at a matinee on a weekday, though. No one likes a Pepsi-soaked middle-schooler kicking the back of their seat and giggling at 70 decibels every time a character says the word “butt.”

Anyway, WRITING. Isn’t that what this blog is all about? Something like that. I got carried away.

Let me try this again.

What AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON Can Teach You About Writing!

Noted nerd royalty Joss Whedon (he of Firefly, Serenity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and most relevantly, The Avengers) was at the helm of this epic team-up superhero romp, and you can feel the touch of someone who is, at his very core, a writer in love with the art and craft of character, who feels a deep affinity for his smart-mouthed and adolescenty villain, and who absolutely adores comic books, elevating them to stand alongside other genres in the canon of human literature.

There’s a deep writing gear turning here. Most of the audience left satisfied and pumped up by a film that, on paper, was destined to be a sprawling, overstuffed mess full of egos, Spandex and things that go boom. So you have to ask yourself, Why did this cacophony harmonize so well? 

I think the answer’s in the writing.

For example, what specific thing does Ultron do that your characters should also emulate? What’s Joss Whedon’s method for defusing the tension between the needs of the plot and a character’s often-divergent motivations (the dreaded “My characters won’t do what I want them to do!”)? How can you use “Whedonisms” to your advantage the next time you write dialogue?

I muse about all of this and more in my hybrid review/writing tip takedown of Avengers: Age of Ultron on The Write Practice. 


What did you think of the movie? Love it? Hate it? Was it better than the first Avengers? Is it better than Batman vs. Superman is going to be? Share it in the comments below.