Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Are Origin Episodes Necessary?

Are Origin Episodes Necessary?

I watched this video on youtube "7 Things That Need to Happen in the Deadpool movie" the other day. It's the one that slated to be released in 2016.  One of those things was that Deadpool's origin should be established to provide a basis for his madness and skill set, but "that should not be mistaken for a full blown origins".  It was about getting to the meat of the matter rather than starting from scratch.  This got me thinking: Is an origins episode necessary?

I can certainly see their point. It's possible to get so tied up in how your character becomes whatever it is you want them to be (in this case, a deranged and superpowered mercenary) that you spend the whole story getting them to that point. By the time they become this great and fascinating and over all FUN character, the story is over. Also, there is a question of exposition. There's a lot of explaining and definitions of things; this is X and that is Y and this plot point Z is very important or the universe will explode. This can make the story drag. It's spending so much time in development that the author and audience together don't see the payout.

I had a case of this when I started writing "A Mage's Power", the first book of my Journey to Chaos series. The first chapter had a lot of stuff about Eric's world that is irrelevant to the story as a whole because he's going to another world at the end of the first chapter. It was just filling in Eric's past in order to establish his personality so as to explain why this trickster spirit needs to help him. I cut a whole bunch of stuff out and the first chapter is still much the same way, just a lot leaner. The next two chapters are similar: I was so caught up in world building that I forgot to add a plot (specifically Eric's plot). Again, rewriting had to go in to make sure that there was a purpose to all this and it wasn't too info dumpy.

A third point against origin episodes is about starting from scratch. To use the Deadpool movie as an example, do we really want to start the movie with Wade Wilson as some Canadian kid playing hockey? No. We want to see Deadpool, the adult mercenary dual-wielding a katana and a gun against assorted villians. For this reason, the video stated a quick flashback or something more creative should be used to reveal the horrific events that lead to the creation of Deadpool. They used X-Men Days of Future's Past as an example of successfully putting the audience into a story without explaining every little thing. I pefer using 300.

In the prologue of 300, there's this narration about what a typical Spartan childhood is like. The boy we see is Leonidas himself, from the moment he was born. This skips through his life up until he is this grown and married man who is about to march off to Thermoplayae. The bulk of the movie is this battle. Thus, the bulk of the movie can show the badass army stomping on the mooks until their Last Stand. They don't try to show Leonaidas' whole entire life, just glimpses of it for Sparta in general. I recall other epics (which I will not name because I don't want to provoke any fans) but they do a TERRIBLE job of this. They cram their hero's entire life into 1.5 hours and as a result, nothing is well developed. It would have been better to skip forward to their epic hero time instead of jumping through their childhood.

Another idea I had while writing is this is the opening part of a RPG like Final Fantasy. At the start, the player characters have no skills, no abilities, and no special equipment. They have to learn, acquire and master these things over the course of the game. This can be rather dull because all the characters can do is attack, run, use items (which they don't have) etc. You need to get past chapter/arc/disc 1 before you have some variety.

On a contrasting note, origins episodes set stuff up. Without the explanations and the info dump and the build up, you just have a bunch of nonsense because you don't understand the situation. There's no sense of progression. There's no depth. That's why the video said that SOME backstory has to happen. If you know Deadpool's backstory then there are more dimensions to him and his actions in the present can be seen as being influenced by them. There's a framework for the character and the plot to move on from.  The trick is to do this in a concise manner.

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