Writing Character Blurbs As A Means Of Expressing Existential Despair

NOTE: WRITTEN MANY MONTHS AGO, BEFORE THE MOVIE CAME OUT

Greetings, True Believers™! The merciful pop-culture movie overlords have released a new crumb from their sumptuous dinner table! It is a new blurb on the four principle characters in the new FANTASTIC FOUR CONTRACTUALLY REQUIRED REBOOT™!

REED RICHARDS IS A SCIENTIFIC PRODIGY WHO HAS BEEN QUIETLY EXPLORING THE UNIVERSE’S DEEPEST MYSTERIES IN HIS GARAGE, AFTER SCHOOL. AFTER BEING TRANSFORMED BY ONE OF HIS EXPERIMENTS, HE CAN WARP THE SPACE AROUND HIM, AND APPEAR TO STRETCH HIS BODY INTO IMPOSSIBLE FORMS AND TO INCREDIBLE LENGTHS.

SUE IS BRILLIANT AND BEAUTIFUL, INDEPENDENT AND SARCASTIC. THE POWER TO BECOME INVISIBLE AND TO GENERATE HER OWN FORCE-FIELDS CAN MAKE HER HARDER TO REACH THAN EVER—BUT THAT WON’T STOP SOME OF HER TEAMMATES, ESPECIALLY REED, FROM TRYING.

A TROUBLEMAKER AND A THRILL-SEEKER, JOHNNY IS THE ROCK STAR OF THE TEAM. HIS POWERS ALLOW HIM TO SHOOT FIREBALLS, FLY AT BREAKNECK SPEEDS, AND REALLY LIGHT IT UP.

A RARE BREED BRAWN AND HEART, BEN IS WARM, EVEN SENSITIVE, DESPITE HIS ROUGH-AND-TUMBLE UPBRINGING. HE IS ROCK-SOLID—IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE. A LOYAL AND PROTECTIVE FRIEND, HIS STONE BODY GIVES HIM EPIC STRENGTH AND MAKES HIM VIRTUALLY INDESTRUCTIBLE.

What some people would describe as the pinnacle of generic Hollywood ad copy I see as an expression of existential angst and a cry for help. Shall we break this down?

REED RICHARDS: he can “warp space” making it only look like he can stretch? This reeks of plotting-by-committee.

“We don’t like ‘stretching’. ‘Stretching’ is SO yesterday. Come up with something else.”
“Um… warping space?”

“Sure. Whatever.”

Writing by committee robs a writer of a key element of writing: autonomy. With no autonomy comes a feeling of helplessness. This writer is trapped in a fate they cannot escape, their own words being controlled by forces they cannot hope to bargain with!

SUE: When a movie like this describes someone as “sarcastic” I am thinking annoying, like Chandler Bing with lady parts. She is cold and emotionally distant and someone (REED! Oh, sorry… *SPOILER*) wants to try “harder” to reach her. Is this the writer expressing their wish that someone would reach out to them across the endless gulf of their own embitterment, past their indestructible sarcastic shield, so they can temporarily know the futile illusion of the comfort of touch?

JOHNNY: The writing for Johnny’s blurb is a beautiful example of “Hollywoodeese”. It is an attempt to create excitement and anticipation by someone who hasn’t had either for a very long time. “Johnny” is the person the writer wishes they were: extravagant, powerful, and noticeable. Very unlike the anonymous writer, who beats what could be an interesting character down into a perfectly-realized clichéd example of wish-fulfillment.

BEN: The tough guy with a heart of gold. We got it. Is there something like “The Big Book of Hollywood Cliches” that writers like this can consult when they are tired of writing and just want to coast? Indestructible, but with a soft interior? Somewhat like the armor of cold, depressive sarcasm the writer has placed around themselves in a futile attempt to beat back the whispering void.

I think we can all hear a cry for help when we hear one. Aside from this being a cynical, contractually-obligated Sony-led venture designed to keep the rights of the franchise away from anyone else who might do anything good with it, I think there is something more.

I think that somewhere out there, on the infinitely small, gravity-trapped dirt mote we call home, there is a writer who, after a hard hour’s work for Sony, has to step away from the keyboard and confront the purposeless cold of the inner dark alone. And to that person, I say: God speed.

For those of you who think I may be reading bleakness into an otherwise hackneyed blurb that is as interesting and engaging as an empty ecru room, written for a movie that might not be that bad after all, I would like to remind you that in this movie Dr. Doom is a blogger.