The Standard Superhero Movie Plot (OR: You Can Write Your Own Superhero Movie)

Want to write a superhero screenplay? It's really easy, and you need only basic training. Here are the prerequisites:

Some writing skills (only rudimentary skills required - the Special Effects will take care of the rest).

A smattering of Eastern Philosophy and/or psychology (so your superhero character can interject some wise-sounding talk from time to time).

Some basic science, but especially a good grasp of the typical buzzwords. Examples:

tesseract (It's not important to know that a "Tesseract" is really the four-dimensional analogue of the cube, or that it extends the cube as the cube itself extends the square. If your superhero needs to get around in the Universe or in Time, they did it in a "Tesseract")


black hole

quantum XXX (e.g.: "quantum particle", "quantum symmetry", "quantum supersymmetry", "quantum entanglement", or just plain "quantum effect")





bosons ("Higgs boson" for extra effect)

relativistic XXX (e.g.: "relativistic contraction", "relativistic expansion", or just plain "relativistic effect".)

nuclear XXX

The Plot. Knowing the Standard Plot is the key. All you have to do is plug in the details.

The Standard Superhero Plot:

Superhero (SH) finds that he/she has certain superpowers (SP) and that they must confront Archenemy (AE), in order to save (select one):
 ___The City    ___The Earth    ___Some Other Planet    ___The Galaxy    ___Some Other Galaxy    ___The Entire Universe

Specific Details:

AE always is somehow stronger/badder than SH.

Both SH and AE may or may not have weapons, although AE is usually able to blow up or melt things simply with a gesture of their hand.

AE's weapons always are more powerful than than SH's weapons.

On a bit of a more serious note: SHs always use force. AEs always make use of energy.

If confronted with a key computer or entry lock, SH can guess the password in three tries.
(The rest of us have to reset our passwords or call the help desk.)

AE can guess it the first time, use somebody's body part for ID, or simply blast their way in.

AE may or may not have a really big army of ugly people, zombies, aliens, or robots.

There is always one or more hand-to-hand fight between SH and AE. During this fight SH has somehow lost his/her weapons and/or their SP. Often this takes place in a public bathroom. Both SH and AE throw each other through doors, windows, walls, and the like. Don't make this fight last too long, lest your audience winds up wishing that SH and AE would just kill each other and get it over with!

Note: If you find that you have worked yourself into a position where you really have to know something about science, simply have your characters mumble or whisper.

Your SH may appear to die during the screenplay, but returns at the end.

AEs never die, except at the end, and even then it's sometimes not entirely clear whether they died or not.

Bonus Points:
To be true to the genre, it helps to include one or more of the following:
 Somebody needs to get an injection with a needle the size of a 16 penny nail, shoved all the way in, using no antiseptic wipe.
 Security guards are expendable in all superhero movies (and for that matter, spy movies and action movies), The guards are easily smacked on the head, pushed off a tall structure, or simply shot or zapped. Guards don't stand a chance!
 A car/bus/truck/crane/fire engine chase during which at least 30 vehicles roll over or crash into each other.
 Authorities show up in one or more large black SUVs. Almost always, they're on AE's side.
 Some large building needs to be blown up. Usually this is some corporation that is making weapons or other gadgits for AE. We're talking a nuke-class blast with flying metal, collapsing concrete, and finished with a mushroom cloud. The latest Special Effect is a circular shock wave seen from above which spreads out over an entire city. No being could possibly survive this explosion. Was AE inside? She-e-e-it no!

Copyright © 2019 J.A.