1. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Which of these two ideas sounds better?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by frigocc, Jun 29, 2022.

    Writing a TV series, and at first, I thought I had it figured out, but one of Scriptnotes' podcasts really made me reconsider the fact that I didn't really have a "theme" in my screenplay. So, I've been considering a couple of different options. Without boring ya too much with a wall of text, here are the two options:

    1. Doug is a superhero/vigilante who, along with his partner, stops a big bank robbery. However, Doug soon learns that his partner orchestrated that crime himself so that he could be the one to save the day. When he confronts him, the partner has him set-up for the murders of the robbers while they're out on bail. 20 years later, Doug, now out of prison, is a loser pizza delivery driver, with nothing going for him, and his ex-partner is now a beloved superhero on the level of Batman and Superman. A team of agents from the DOJ try to coax him out of retirement in order to help investigate a doomsday weapon that was stolen from their possession, but he declines numerous times. After events lead to him getting fired and then evicted from his apartment, he drinks his sorrows away at a local bar. At this bar, he overhears some guys whispering about how Doug is a murderer, which makes him angry, since he feels like he'll never be able to shake off that label. He ends up assaulting them, and getting booked for aggravated assault. Facing life imprisonment for violating his parole, he finally accepts the DOJ's offer. Takes him a while to adjust, but he does. He has some setbacks, but eventually feels like he's overcome challenges to his reputation. However, when he finds out that his ex-partner is the one who stole the doomsday weapon, and he plans to use it to level half the city -- saving the other half -- in a grand finale that will cement him as the greatest superhero of all-time, he must assume the identity of the bad guy again, and take on the city's beloved hero, knowing that they will all turn against him again. The theme of this one would be something along the lines of "reputation is who people think you are, but character is who you actually are."

    2. This second option is much like the first. Doug stops a big crime with his partner. We cut to 20 years later, where Doug is a loser pizza delivery driver. He still is hesitant to accept the offer, eventually does, has setbacks, learns it's his ex-partner's doing, and has to stop him, but the motivation here is different. In this one, after they stop the big bank robbery, while they're still high off of their newfound fame, Doug's partner gives him the bad news: he's being replaced. Doug feels like he missed out on the opportunity to be great, and his life spirals downward. For this option, there could be multiple themes, but I'm unsure what I'd go with. Maybe he needs to learn to let go grudges and move forward; maybe he needs to learn to get over his trust issues that arose from being replaced (though, this maybe be too cliche); perhaps it's similar to the first option, where he's tired of everyone thinking he's a loser, and he wants to prove them wrong.
    Thoughts on these premises/plots? Regardless, I want a lot of the stuff to happen to be similar, but I'm really worried about execution, and making sure there's a damn good theme underlying the story. All that said, which of these two sounds most interesting to you guys? The guy who was framed for murder, and fears he'll never be able to shake that label? Or the guy who was replaced, and feels like he missed out on his only chance at being a hero?
     
  2. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    hmnut likes this.
  3. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    I forgot I made that thread, lol. And it's just a title to describe the genre, really. Vigilante doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

    Regardless, still struggling with this premise. I can't figure out if the lacking confidence, and being regretful due to being replaced thing is powerful enough to drive a series.
     
  4. Jlivy3

    Jlivy3 Member

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    Costumed Crimefighter, maybe? Obviously, Batman has no super powers. He's just a rich guy with a bunch of cool toys, who works out a lot. In his cool rich guy gym. In a cave.
    This question always intrigues me. Does Zorro qualify as a superhero/costumed crimefighter/masked vigilante? He's got a secret identity.
    The Scarlet Pimpernel?
    Ivanhoe when he's disguised?
    Spring Heeled Jack might be the first costumed villain/supervillain/masked...troublemaker? Of course, criminals often wore masks and wanted to hide their identity, for obvious reasons.

    Oh, yeah, sorry-your question...read the post again. It sure looks to me like the first synopsis just rolled off your keyboard and the second was more of a struggle. My thought is, if it flows, go with it.
     
  5. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    Option one would work, but there are a lot of questions as to why. Fake a bank robbery or level a city.
     
  6. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Well, the whole thing with Doug's evil partner (Luke) is that he orchestrates crimes so that he can be the one to stop them. He has a literal hero complex. He wants to be beloved by the city, and escalates so that he can cement himself as the greatest superhero of all-time. So, the bank robbery and leveling half the city serve the same purpose: to be the beloved hero that is always there to save the day.

    Now, another idea for the backstory is that one of the bank robbers got away from the scene of the crime. Doug finds out that his partner, Luke, may have been involved in the bank robbery, and confronts him. In order to kill a few birds with one stone, Luke sets him up for a killing, making it seem like the guy Doug killed was actually Luke's partner, and that Doug isn't. Since the identity of Doug and Luke are unknown at this point, nobody would know, and this would serve a few purposes: not only would it tie up two loose ends for Luke, but killing the city's hero would serve to make Doug hated by the citizens, and would make Doug's guilt genuine, as rather than just being framed for killing someone, he actually does.

    I would just have to figure out the specifics of a good way to trick Doug into actually killing the robber that would not involve charges that would escalate manslaughter to murder. Maybe he gets a "tip" that a weapons shipment is being held in a warehouse or something, where Luke has told the robber to meet him. When he sets up Doug, he sets it up as Luke and his partner intervened in an attempted robbery of the warehouse, and Doug fatally shot his partner. This, as I understand, would most likely, given his age and being a first-time offender, and the fact that it's reasonable to expect the warehouse would be empty, net Doug a manslaughter charge, and not murder.

    Obviously, I don't have to go into all these details immediately, but it will come up at some point in the series, and I'd need to be prepared to mention all that in the treatment for the pilot script.
     
  7. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, not sure what you'd call them, but personally, I still refer to Batman as a superhero, same as Kick-Ass and Peacemaker. I know that I definitely couldn't actually use the word superhero in the title; it's trademarked by Marvel/DC jointly. So, it's an easy way to get sued. Moreso, I want it to be known that they're superheroes without using the word in the title. However, it wouldn't stop me from referring to my characters as superheroes within the story. I actually try to play with this with my title. The title is actually The Deadbeat's Guide to Becoming a Hero, but on the cover page, I have it written as The Deadbeat's Guide to Becoming a Superhero.
     
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  8. altra

    altra Member

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    I wonder if you have written an outline? I think that is what I would do. I would put down events, when different characters are introduced, etc. I would go all the way to the conclusion of season 1 (as you describe this as a tv series).
    The outline for me would be strictly one liners. For me at least, once I start to fill in rough details, it organizes the story. You can try doing it for both angles and see which one comes easier to you.

    Also, can you personally relate to any of the conflicts you described, in your own life? If so, pick that route. Write what you know.
     
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  9. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Now, here's another thing I have to figure out: with my latest idea, Doug being framed as the guy who killed "The Wombat," no one knowing that he actually is The Wombat, what would motivate this government organization to recruit Doug to join their superhero team? I mean, he's a guy who literally went to prison for killing the city's beloved hero.

    I don't want to make it a carbon copy of Suicide Squad, since that's the obvious choice. But why pick Doug specifically to be a superhero? I thought of perhaps making the leader of this organization actually believe Doug's story, but not sure if that'd fly.

    Oh, other than some minor details of exactly how things went down, I already know how I want to outline my first season. It's essentially the story in my first idea, wherein he joins the team, has some setbacks, we get some backstory, his investigation starts to reveal his ex-partner's scheme to level half the city, then he must go against the city's beloved hero in order to stop him.
     
  10. altra

    altra Member

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    Sounds pretty interesting. Good job!

    Are you going to have a satisfying ending, and angry ending or a cliffhanger ending?
     
  11. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    I'm sorry to keep mentioning this, and maybe for whatever genre you're working in (this is a screenplay for what -- a possible television or Netflix series?) it doesn't matter, but the more you post about this idea the less I see that makes Doug in any way a "superhero." Yet you consistently refer to him as a "superhero" even when you acknowledge that there's nothing in any way "super" about him. He's a decidedly ordinary schmuck.

    Is there some genre I'm not aware of in which everyone can be a superhero simply by claiming to be one?
     
  12. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Yes, a screenplay for a television series. Probably a bit too raunchy for cable, moreso something for streaming. But he's not a superhero in the "he has actual superpowers" sense. He's a superhero the way Batman, Kick-Ass, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Green Arrow, Rorschach, Peacemaker, and a million others are. Just someone who suits up and fights crime. Sure, they could be called vigilantes, but I don't think the distinction is really important, to be honest. No producers or agents will care.

    Triumphant ending, but moving forward, I'm sure any showrunners, if it ever made it that far, would find some sort of cliffhanger.
     

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