The Secret To Writing A Superhero Story by Peter Russell

Film Courage: So knowing that you’d rather critique or analyze story rather than sit down and write it out…

Peter Russell, screenwriter/script doctor: Okay…stop…I don’t anymore because I get paid so much more for actually writing.

Film Courage: Well how did this happen?

Peter: I guess because the things that I’ve been analyzing and thinking about and teaching for twenty years, a lot of them have turned out to actually work. So it’s kind of nice. I’ve been talking about the B.M.O.C. [Beginning, middle, obstacle and climax], the structural tool and the core wound and everything else. But what it turns out is that these things actually do help and even though it helped other writers and I’ve been told that for a long time, it’s great and a relief that they actually work. So what I find as a writer as opposed to a teacher is that these tools work so it’s a relief to have them. When I’m stymied or I can’t move forward, I go back to my own work, I go back to my own book, I go back to my own lectures and I go “Where am I?”

I’m working on a miniseries now about Jack Johnson, the first African American Heavy Weight champion in the U.S. And it’s been sold to production companies. But they want changes and I’m co-writing with a brilliant guy that I met actually at a talk I gave and I often meet people that I collaborate with and he had this project and it was marvelous.

But one of the things I talk about is the superhero model because superheroes are big now whether they are serious like some of the serious stories or if they are a comic like in DEADPOOL 2 (we can talk about that, too). But the superhero is huge now and so the superhero model involves a very particular tool we can talk about at some point. I don’t know if you want to talk about it now? But what I decided was because several people had taken a pass at Jack Johnson and I think someone is actually making a movie but not very big and I don’t think I am giving away anything secrets wise.

The reason a superhero is fun to watch is not for the same reason most heroes are fun to watch. Most heroes are fun to watch because they are wounded and they’ve got some big bleeding wound and we’re going to watch them heal it. We’re going to watch them (that’s the story). Superheroes, no. Superheroes are not wounded, they are superheroes (the old-fashioned superhero).

In 300 Zack Snyder’s he doesn’t have a wound, it’s not like “My mommy hurt me and I’ve got to figure out how to do that.” It’s like no. In 300 he’s an old-fashioned superhero because all the reason we want to watch old-fashioned superheroes is to see if he can lift the bigger weight that the villain is putting on him. The four crucial points of the story, the villain just gets bigger and says “Hey, you can lift that 300 pounds, huh?” Think as the villain and the superhero as a deranged…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

Watch the video interview on Youtube here






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