I was re-watching The Avengers the other night and as the climactic battle sequence raged, I couldn’t help but compare this sequence to a similar scene in another super hero film, Man of Steel.
If you haven’t seen either The Avengers or Man of Steel, warning: minor spoilers ahead.
In The Avengers, an army of alien invaders makes their way through a space/time portal and descends upon New York City. It’s up to Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow to team up and thwart the villainous alien plan to take over the Earth and install Loki as ruler. What follows is a spectacular action scene right in the heart of lower Manhattan that causes millions and millions of dollars in property damage.
In Man of Steel, General Zod and his army invade earth, looking to capture Kal-El. They descend upon Metropolis and use a world-building engine to terraform earth into a carbon copy of Krypton. Zod wants to restore Krypton on the Earth. It’s up to Superman to save the day. And, like in The Avengers, what follows is a spectacular fight between two superior alien beings that wreaks havoc throughout the city. And again, there is millions and millions of dollars in property damage.
Now, to my point.
Both films show cities getting demolished in the wake of superhero battles. And yet when Man of Steel was released, some of the criticisms I read about the film centered on the level of destruction in that final battle scene. It seems like an unfair criticism to me. So, I posted my thoughts to Facebook and got the conversation started.
In the discussion that followed, people brought up different issues they had with Man of Steel, like tone, character development, plot devices, and character motivations; all valid points, most of which I can get behind. Here are some of the comments I received:
All that destruction is part of the continued story line. Increased regulations, heroes turn on each other, etc.
Yeah, but that’s actually addressed in civil war. The destruction in that and avengers two kinda sets up that storyline. Plus the tones in both action scenes are vastly different, making the audience have different reactions.
I would go back to tone to explain why people accept avengers a bit easier. The action is very light-hearted and fun. You can’t say the same for man of steel. It wants the audience to take it seriously.
Isn't part of it that audiences believe Superman could have more easily directed the fight (which involved him and a few adversaries of relatively equal strength, mobility, etc) away from people than the Avengers (who were facing a small army of people and monsters vastly more powerful and mobile) could have? It was for me.
At least in Avengers the heroes show concern for civilians and make an effort to save as many as possible. Superman showed none of that.
These responses got me thinking…:
Maybe it wasn’t the destruction per se that some viewers took issue with. Perhaps there were other legitimate criticisms people had with the film and they couldn’t quite adequately express their thoughts and so they fixated on the destruction aspect.
And that led me to these thoughts pertaining to client relations…
Sometimes a video you’ve produced for a client doesn’t receive the response you anticipated.
There’s something about the video that doesn’t quite work for the client.
The client, however, can’t articulately explain what it is about your video that he/she doesn’t like.
In his/her attempt to explain what’s wrong, he/she fixates on a particular aspect of the video that, to you, seems a bit unfair or irrational.
If you encounter this with a client at some point in your career, don’t get frustrated. Your job at that point as a video producer is to find out the core issue that bothers your client. Like a medical doctor in an emergency room setting, you need to rule out other possibilities and get to the root of the problem.
For example, I once delivered a human interest short documentary to a client for approval who told me that, tonally, it was one of the darkest stories she had ever seen and that it wouldn’t fit with the other videos she had already released. She was ready to scrap the whole project.
I knew, however, that my story wasn’t nearly as somber as others. So it wasn’t tone that concerned my client.
But what was it?
After listening to her concerns, speaking with her, and then rewatching the video a few times myself I realized that the issue was with my main interview subject. This individual told a personal story in a very matter-of-fact way, so any emotional sound bite I used in the piece didn’t feel authentic, because the interview subject never really got emotional. It was the perceived inauthenticity of my main subject that created the issue.
To solve this problem, I went back through the edit and just let the interview subject tell the story. I removed any sound bites that were editorial or emotional in nature. And you know what? These revisions worked for the client.
So the next time you receive feedback from a client that confuses you, or just feels arbitrary and without merit, take the time to have a one-on-one conversation. Talk through the edit. Find out what’s really going on.
The issue may not be the fact that you decided to level Metropolis.