CONTEST: Build a Better Superhero Movie

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Recently, Warner Brothers announced the official synopsis for the upcoming “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” movie:

Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.

I was, to put it politely, underwhelmed. The “heroes fight each other until a villain shows up and they have to work together and discover a bond of mutual respect” plot line is as old as comics (one friend observed its the same plot used in every Marvel Team-Up issue) and, while I appreciate that Warner Bros. is marketing to a wider demographic AND setting up the Justice League franchise, I can’t help but join many of my fellow geeks in rolling my eyes. Falling back on convention is safe, but rarely inspiring.

In one conversation, a colleague asked “What other plot could they have used?” THAT got me thinking.

What other story lines could there be?

CONTEST: Write a Better “Hero vs. Hero” movie synopsis

[CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED TO NEW ENTRIES]

The Challenge: Write a 3 or 5 act movie synopsis (1-2 paragraphs per act) that pits two heroes – one a brooding brilliant human vigilante operating out of “his city”, the other a high-profile super-powered alien who has vowed to protect the earth – against each other.

The Criteria:

  • 700 words maximum
  • The heroes must remain true and consistent with their respective back stories. They can grow and evolve, but the core characters cannot be compromised.
  • Both heroes are going to work together as part of a larger hero group in an upcoming film, so the outcome must lay the foundation for them working together.
  • The synopsis must offer an alternative or variation on the “heroes fight each other until a villain shows up and they have to work together and discover a bond of mutual respect” trope.

The Deadline: Midnight (Central Time), Tuesday, June 30 (winners to be announced July 15)

The Prizes: 3 winners – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place – will be selected from the entries by a panel of editors (TBA), and will win one or more of the following books (in e-book format):

"Screenplay" by Syd Field

“Screenplay” by Syd Field

"Story" by Robert McKee

“Story” by Robert McKee

"Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder

“Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder

  • 1st Place – All three books
  • 2nd Place – winner’s choice of two of the three listed books
  • 3rd Place – winner’s choice of one of the three listed books

The three winners will also have their synopses posted here on the RTP site for all to admire and the First Place Winner will be a guest for a special “Roundtable: Dialogs” episode featuring other astonishing guests (as always) and fabulous conversation (as always).

Entry Submission: The contest is now closed to new entries, but you can check out the Official Contest Rules.

Come on, Literary Alchemists! Show me what ya got!

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About Author

Dave Robison has indulged in creative pursuits his entire life. His CV includes writing Curious George fan-fiction at the age of eight, improv theater at age ten, playing trumpet at age twelve, as well as a theater degree, creating magazine cover art, writing audio scripts, designing websites, creating board games, hosting mythological roundtables and generally savoring the sweet drought of expression in all its forms. His years of exploration give him a unique, informed, and eloquent perspective on the art of storytelling.

3 Comments

    • Dave Robison on

      I want to respect the Batman/Superman copyrights… hence the “brooding brilliant human vigilante operating out of his city” and the “high-profile super-powered alien who has vowed to protect the earth” descriptors. The spirit of the contest is to propose a better narrative than the one provided, so – within those constraints – have a blast. Make sense?

  1. Michael Kirby on

    Bummer. As usually I see this late.

    I want to quibble with your criticism of the form though. The “heroes fight each other until a villain shows up and they have to work together and discover a bond of mutual respect” trope is a troupe precisely because it is one that resonates with people in their day-to-day lives. In fact I’m pretty sure I heard something to this affect on the roundtable podcast 🙂

    We often have “frenemies” at work, or school, or the PTA, where we might lightly compete, only to find when something significant this way comes, they become our greatest allies.

    Just because a Sonata is a Sonata, doesn’t make it immediately bad. It could be, or it could be Mozart.

    Since I’m late for the contest, I’ll say that I’d have gone down the route where batman represents “brains”, and superman “brawn”. I’d have Batman do something that out-wit’s superman, forcing him from the field (perhaps getting superman to “harm” batman publicly, sparking a public backlash). But ultimately he runs into trouble with big villain that requires both brains and brawn to defeat. He’s got to go back to him to convince superman to help. And the concession is the League of Justice – Civilian oversight).

    At that point they can each use their strengths the complement each other’s weaknesses.

    It’s not out yet, so who knows. From the previews it looks like a more tired version of the troupe, but sometimes previews are misleading.

    Mike