Yes, this may seem like a strange comparison.
Allow me to elaborate.
The other week my husband and I went to see Hercules in the dollar theater. Hello, Duane Johnson for a buck? Yes, please. This being the case, neither of us were expecting much out of this film. I wanted some fan service and we both wanted some cool action.
As a writer, I often go through the beats of the story as they come on screen. Hercules hit all of the beats. I didn’t have a hard time spotting them, but that’s fine. There is a (loose) formula for films, and it almost always makes a good movie.
Hercules had action, there was some fan service—although I don’t love all of the people being dirty. Some pull it off, others don’t. I generally feel like I want to go and take a shower for them.
I loved the concept of the film. I haven’t read the comics, so I had no idea that Hercules had a posse with him. And right off, I liked the posse. All of them. Even the guy who should have probably been on a leash the entire time. The girl wasn’t stupid in love with Hercules and the everyone was loyal.
This is the cast of characters I love! Comradery is one of the concepts in stories that I crave and hardly ever get. Mostly because someone has to betray someone to make the story more exciting. That also works, but it’s not my favorite.
The filming, the action, the costumes, the fighting…all of it was good.
My husband and I were driving home, and I was trying to figure out why I felt so “Meh” about Hercules. Why hadn’t I loved it?
Then, being foolish, I asked this question out loud. My husband is a smarty pants, so he immediately started tossing out ideas.
Did I not like the characters? No, I actually liked them.
Was the story dumb? No, it was fine. A little cookie cutter, but fine.
Was there bad music? (this is his pet peeve) Nope, music was okay.
Were the conflicts weak? Not the best I’ve ever seen, but not bad in any way.
Was everything believable? As much as it could have been.
So what was the problem?
After a few minutes of discussion, I came up with it. I liked the characters. The director and writers did a good job of rounding out the entire cast of characters. The characters were loyal to one another (they tried to make you think otherwise for a second, but I saw through it). Then I realized that the characters hadn’t progressed. They were essentially the same at the end as they were at the beginning. Even Hercules, who did have a little character growth, didn’t strike me as much different.
The characters of Guardians of the Galaxy went from scoundrels to heroes. Some of them against their will, but knowing it was for a greater good. That progression is what makes characters interesting. It’s what helps the audience relate to them. I can understand not wanting to do something and being tricked, guilted or simply talked into it. I’ve done things I didn’t want to do and they turned out great. But sometimes they turn out lousy. But in the end, I’m changed in some way.
So either the Hercules writers didn’t show him to the extremes, or they didn’t feel any of the characters really needed to change.
That’s what I have to say about that. Anyone else have any thoughts?