Monday, May 7, 2012

Theme in Writing

Okay, so I saw Marvel's The Avengers this weekend.

One word: AWESOME!!

It truly was a good old fashioned FUN movie experience.  I really appreciated the writing as well as the visual effects. 


But as we were watching the movie, I couldn't help but notice the themes: a morality tale of absolute evil and absolute good; the value of teamwork; and finally, self sacrifice for the greater good.

It was amazing to see how the writers made connections to all the characters reinforcing plot elements from each of the movies previously released. Brilliantly done!

It was the themes, however, that drew me into the story even more. That's not an easy feat with such gigantic characters and visual effects, but these writers and the director accomplished it beautifully.

Morality Tale

As I have blogged before, the villain in the story must have connections to the main character some how. In this instance, the villain, Loki, is brother to Thor in the story. But the villain had also done his homework in making sure the other characters were also connected to him. He sort of handpicks each of the heroes to ensure they are right where he needs them to be. 

The fact that this villain is absolutely evil to the core helps set up the story perfectly. He is unpredictable, cruel, intelligent, funny, and evil all at once. 

By making him this way, the idea of absolute good is needed to complete the tale. Good call.

This makes us care for the good guys. This makes us care for the mission.

A good lesson for writers.


After the movie, my husband and I discussed the theme of teamwork in the film. The writers made a good point of showing us the idea of how difficult it can be for someone who is used to working alone can struggle with teamwork when forced to work with others. 

This is so true in all aspects of life. One wouldn't think of a group of super heroes dealing with such struggles, but the writers provide the solution: the common cause.

The team works best when focusing on the common cause of destroying evil once and for all. A powerful theme in a story every writer might want to consider for their book. 

Self Sacrifice

Without giving anything away for those who haven't seen the movie, the theme of self sacrifice is prevalent in the film more so than in other super hero movies up to date. 

This helps draw the viewer in. 

In writing, the reader cares about a character willing to risk their own lives to save another. There is something special about that concept. We read about it today when a soldier leaps on a grenade to save his comrades in arms. This act of selflessness makes us all wonder if we could...or would...ever do such a thing. 

This theme is very powerful indeed. Show your readers something valiant about your character in this way. Think of Katniss taking the place of her little sister, Frodo willing to take the ring to Mordor and Sam willing to go with him, or Aslan willing to die for the cause of good over evil. 

In The Avengers, we are shown this theme and it works. The viewer cares so much about the characters that this act becomes real and not abstract.

The End

All-in-all, The Avengers us a great film and a great lesson in theme: it's not merely what the story is "about" but about experiences and ideas; connecting those experiences and ideas throughout the story. That's what makes it interesting!

I highly recommend seeing the movie on the big screen with that surround sound for the full effect! I am off to see it again real soon.

But also see it as an example of good writing for sheer entertainment factor. I could go on and on about more aspects of writing, but I wanted to point out the themes here more than anything else.




  1. I can't wait to see it! It may be a few weeks before I have a chance, but I am looking forward to seeing how they weave all the individual heroes' personalities together into one team!

    1. You will love it! It's good ol' fashioned summer movie fun.

  2. Ruth,

    "(T)he villain in the story must have connections to the main character some how."

    This is valuable. I am in the midst of a struggle to find a good villain for the sequel and no idea seems good enough to get me excited enough to write.

    However, the solution might be right in front of me.

    1. So true, Joseph. Just concentrate on your main character. What traits or mannerisms does he/she have?

      Take those and make connections to your villain. Hope that helps!

      Thanks for visiting,

  3. Too fun! It's always nice to have a heads-up, especially since movies are so expensive. Thanks for the review, Ruth!