In which approved ethics and morality make for a pretty lousy action sequence.
So many movies revolve around the theme of revenge. If you pulled “revenge” out of screenwriters’ bag of tricks, you’d get a lot of screenwriters sitting around on their bosses’ sofas, thinking, “...um...” In chick flicks, revenge is often socially motivated: “That person did me wrong, so I’m going to come up with an elaborate plan to humiliate him/her in front of our mutual co-workers, friends, or family! Ha ha!” With guy movies, revenge is usually physical, involving fists, power tools, guns, or rocket launchers. One reason revenge is a useful plot motivation is that all of us have fantasies about getting even with people who have treated us badly, or at least who we believe have treated us badly. With guy movies, revenge provides another useful purpose — it gives an excuse for lots of action, and guys like movies with lots of action. (In chick flicks, revenge isn’t very useful as a motivation for montages of women dancing around their bedrooms in their jammies, pretending to sing ‘60s pop songs into their hairbrushes.) If you look at the names of guy action heroes, some of them have revenge built into their names, like “The Avengers”, or “The Punisher”. I’ve decided, in the interest of balance, in being the first to create a whole new meme for superhero movies: The scene: a dark underground lair, with stalactites and stalagmites and everything. A dozen costumed evildoers sit around a table lit from above. Professor Vicious: “...as I was saying, once we take over Brazil, we use that as a springboard for our takeover of all South America! From there....” (Crash! The cave roof and walls explode in from a dozen different points. Costumed superheroes jump in and strike dramatic poses.) Evildoers: “The League of Forgiveness!” (Captain Clemency, dressed as a masked, spandex-ed version of St. Francis of Assisi, steps forward accompanied by little masked sparrows and deer.) Captain Clemency: “Stop your fiendish plans right now, so that we may pardon you for them!” Evildoers: “Nooooooo!” (The Conciliator, disguised as the popular image of Sigmund Freud, only with a red cape, approaches the table carrying a board game and set of dice.) The Conciliator: “If it’s okay with you, I’d like to try some role-playing to help you understand why you feel a need to....” The Sociopath: “Hit them! Hit them at once many times!” Absolution Girl: “Quick! Turn the other cheek!” (The superheroes just stand there and let the villains smack them around.) Dispensation Man: “Now I know you don’t really want to do that, and are feeling sorry about it deep down.” The Calamitous Reprobate: “No, I’m not.” (He keeps hitting Dispensation Man.) Malignant Woman: (kicking an unprotesting Absolution Girl) “This is pretty pointless. We’re just wasting our time.” Professor Vicious: “You guys aren’t even going to fight back?” Captain Clemency: “Nope. We’re taking the higher road of forgiving you your trespasses.” Professor Vicious: “I must say that’s right noble of you. Maybe we have been too hasty in this ‘take over the world’ business. Maybe we should go ahead and start that commune. Wait a minute. What’s that sound?” Dispensation Man: “It’s coming from over there, by the movie camera.” The Conciliator: “It’s the audience! They’re getting up and leaving!” (The superheroes hesitate, then attack the villains with lots of explosions and fisticuffs while the Kinks’ song “Give the People What They Want” plays over the soundtrack.)