Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lessons Learned From the Deleted Scenes in Thor

I watched Marvel’s Thor last night for only the second time. In case I haven’t made this clear yet, I LOVE Marvel movies. And I think a lot of writing tips can be gleaned from them. Most of them are well-crafted stories with brilliant characters and believable plots. Despite their larger-than-life scale, they resonate as real. After watching the movie last night, I viewed the Deleted Scenes. I’ve seen most of them before, probably off of Youtube or Pinterest. But I’ve never seen them all together like that, right on the heels of viewing the movie. Note: This post is rather full of spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie but are planning to, I would step away right now.

By seeing the deleted scenes from Thor, I learned some very valuable lessons about editing.

1. Just because a scene is funny doesn’t mean it adds to your story. Interactions between the Warriors Three, Lady Sif, and others, are hilarious. But after watching the movie, I realized that, had they kept the scenes they cut, it would have bogged the film down. This movie isn’t about Lady Sif and the Warriors Three. It’s about Thor. I adore humor and think it adds a very necessary element to a story. But unless you’re making a comedy, be careful that you don’t allow the funny parts to overwhelm the story goal.

2. Supporting characters should feel real, but you don’t have to delve deeply into their lives. Again, I take from the scenes involving Thor’s Asgardian friends. In the movie, it is obvious that Fandral is a charmer (and I just found out that Josh Dallas doesn’t play him in Thor 2 – *wails*), Volstagg is a prodigious eater, Hogun is a grim warrior, and Sif is a strong soldier, yet also a feminine lady, of Asgard. Many of the deleted scenes are extended looks at these four, but, in the end, they weren’t necessary. Their loyalty to Thor is the most important part of their scenes and that was captured in the movie. I know that I have a weakness for going too deeply into my supporting characters’ lives. In the last few chapters of Raiders’ Rise that I have written, I’ve introduced some new characters that I really like. However, I didn’t plan them in my outline, and I’m afraid that I’m starting to dwell overly long on them. So, that will be one of the hurdles I have to face in editing. Too many characters to focus on will just distract your readers.

3. Don’t add scenes just to show off your world to your readers. There is a very short deleted scene near the climax of Thor in which Erik Selvig is punctured by shrapnel from the Destroyer’s mayhem. Thor then finds a healing stone one of his friends must have brought from Asgard and uses it to heal the wound. While depicting a neat item, it does nothing positive for the story. If anything, it slows it down and feels contrived. Thus, I’m glad they removed it. Fantasy and sci-fi writers, especially, struggle with this, I think. We create such fascinating worlds, and it feels like a travesty not to share every aspect of those worlds with our readers. But they’re far less interested in the world than the story. So, carefully evaluate your scenes to make sure that you’re adding to the story, not just showing off.

4. Readers must understand your villain. My biggest problem with Thor is that Loki’s motives are not clear for most of the movie. I do think that Loki is one of the most incredible villains Marvel has ever created, at least on screen. I can’t speak for the comics. But his tragic fall from glory is somewhat unexplained here. After Odin falls into the Odin-sleep, Loki assumes the throne. But he seems to go abruptly from sad, confused, and slightly jealous to insanely power-hungry. Perhaps that was what the filmmakers wanted, but it’s the most aggravating part of the movie for me. At the end of the film, we finally understand why Loki acted as he did. But while suspense and mystery are handy tools, I think they were misused in this case. The one deleted scene that I truly think would of have bettered the story is an extended scene from when Loki and his mother, Frigga, are sitting by Odin while he sleeps and discussing the future. This scene was trimmed down quite a bit in the film, but in the original take, Frigga has Odin’s scepter brought to Loki as he leaves the chambers. He does this amazingly bewildered, quirky eyebrow-thing that shows the confusion that Loki still feels. Frigga, not Loki, decides that he will take his father’s place on the throne. And she says something that would have shed light on all of Loki’s actions thereafter – “Make your father proud.”

If they had kept that scene, Loki would have made so much more sense in the movie. He would still be a villain, but we would understand his motivation better. This reminds me that my villain is just as important as my heroine, and, even in a case such as Raiders’ Rise, when the villain’s viewpoint is never directly shown, I still have to demonstrate why he does what he does. Otherwise, my heroine’s achievements mean very little. Your villain must be just as real to your readers as your protagonist is; make sure you include that all-important scene that makes things click for us.

Feel free to tell me what you think about Thor and my conclusions. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

5 comments:

  1. Oooh . . . I've been wanting to watch Thor, and I have it now . . . so . . . better go watch it. Be right back. :P

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    1. *grin* I'm excited to hear what you think!

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  2. These are all excellent points. Well done! I noticed the same thing when I watched the deleted scenes. There was so much fun stuff, but most of it is better off not being the movie. The exception, I thought, was that scene with Loki and Frigga. It really should have been included int he movie.
    I love villains, and I always try to give them good motivation and character development in my books. I don't know how well I succeed, but I try. ;)
    I'd love to read more about your villains and heroes/heroines. :D

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    1. Yeah, I was really sad when I saw the scene with Loki and Frigga, both because it wasn't included in the movie and because it just makes the whole thing that much more tragic, ya know? Making villains real can be really difficult, but it is certainly important. Thank you! I'll see what I can do. :)

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