Tag Archives: meet-cute

Swamp Thing 3.7: The Mysteries of Alessandro

It’s your basic “boy-meets-girl, boy-becomes-cryptid” story, really. A woman walks into a laboratory, and the chemistry experiment begins.

As we’ve discussed, the three steps to getting the audience to like a character is to make a friend, make a joke and make a plot point, and Dr. Alec Holland is about to do all three in record time. The appeal of Swamp Thing is half superhero-action and half romantic drama, so it’s only going to be effective if it can get us to believe in Cable and Alec as a couple, during the limited amount of time before he explodes.

So this meet-cute needs to be practically automatic, establishing that both parties are smart, funny and attractive, and getting them to challenge each other in sparky mini-clashes that are interesting to watch. The time-honored method is to get the characters to stick their hands in a murky water trough, looking for an imaginary animal.

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Superman II 2.12: The Nice Guy

The thing is, everybody thought that Superman would fail: it would look silly, the flying wouldn’t work, it would collapse under the weight of its own budget. Most importantly, everyone thought it would be too square for the seventies: a man in a cape fighting unironically for truth, justice and the American way, in an America that had lost its taste for unsullied superheroics.

So when Superman turned out to be an enormous hit, it knocked us back a step, forcing us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves: are we as cool as we think we are? Do we believe that truth, justice and the American way is a workable ethic in this fallen world, and that an individual with power and talent would ever choose to commit himself to the general good?

Those are difficult questions to answer, and in our time of need, we turned to the nicest TV star that we could think of, who wasn’t currently on public broadcasting.

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Superman 1.33: The Coming of Clark Kent

It’s a textbook case of Hollywood ugly. Christopher Reeve is tall, handsome and built like a truck, with piercing blue eyes and a terrific smile. About thirty minutes from where we’re currently standing, he’s going to be the smoldering hunk in one of the all-time heart-melting romantic comedy scenes, and everyone in the theater will be thoroughly in love with him.

So how much work do you have to do, in order to make him look like a forgettable schlemiel? Well, you grease his hair down and give him big unfashionable eyeglasses, and then he hunches his shoulders, swallows his dialogue, and projects an uncomfortable glassy stare, with his mouth pulled tight in what you might call a resting frogface. At that point, he makes a convincing nerd that you wouldn’t look at twice.

I’m kidding, of course; he’s still insanely gorgeous, and if you don’t feel like hitting that, then I would be happy to take your turn. But the show must go on.

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