One of the benefits of being home in Iowa is that, here, I am not the only comic-book and fantasy-story lover in the family, Here other family members care about Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and the Marvel Universe. Here the sister I didn’t get to see bought the Black Widow movie and lets anybody at Mom’s house access her Disney+ account.
I got to watch Black Widow, the last episode of Loki, and the next episode of Star Wars: Bad Batch in spite of tornadoes in Iowa, loss of internet connection, and Mom’s trips to the Emergency Room.
I have now seen all the Marvel Movies and all the Marvel TV series that have been produced by now, including WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki.
But this is not any sort of movie or TV review. I wouldn’t want to risk spoiling anything.
No, I want to talk about the importance of variety to good story-telling.
You see, I think that is the key to the MCU being so superior to all other superhero movies. And I want to show how that can apply to my own storytelling.
WandaVision was unique because it was a magical mystery story embedded in a series of old TV sitcoms. It used elements of the Dick Van Dyke Show, the Brady Bunch, Bewitched, Malcolm in the Middle, and Modern Family. A grieving witch gifted with chaos magic is living in a world she recreated from her childhood obsession with sitcom DVDs.
Black Widow is an action/adventure spy movie that mimics classic James Bond films. It has artfully been fitted in between Captain America; Civil War and Avengers; Infinity War.
And Falcon and the Winter Soldier is a classic buddy-cop movie where both the detectives, the military police, and the villains have super-soldier-serum-derived super-powers.
And, of course, Loki is like a Doctor Who adventure that travels back and forth through time and space.. altering reality as it goes.
So, the MCU is using a format of interconnecting stories with varied formats, themes, and strategies. This I am trying to do with my own novels. For instance, the central metaphor of Snow Babies is a quilt where each canto is a mini-story quilt block, and all of them are stitched together to make a warm blanket of a tale about a blizzard. The Baby Werewolf is a comedy-horror story told by three first-person narrators. Sing Sad Songs is also a story told by three narrators, but some of the narrative occurs while characters are dreaming. And shared dreamscapes and dream-stories help determine the outcome of the tale. All of my stories share characters, settings, and events.
So, I firmly believe the story-telling experience is greatly enhanced by interconnected variety in the stories themselves.