Superhero movies are seeing a renaissance, at least on the Marvel side of the aisle. But for the genre to grow, it will have to shed a few lazy tropes like Husk sheds her skin (look it up) (it's from the X-Men) (or don't, it's disgusting).

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"It was like some kind of...hulk!" says an innocent bystander in 2008's The Incredible Hulk, the actor doing his best to make the clunky line sound like something an actual human being would ever say. For whatever reason (easy mechanism for exposition), the honor of first speaking the title character's name is often bestowed upon newscaster characters or civilians interviewed on the news. But the all-time least subtle name-drop comes from Roger Corman's classic 1994 film The Fantastic Four, in which the titular characters all face the camera as the orphanage owner says "Look at you: The Fantastic Four!"

This trope is a necessary evil. We can only use the front-page headline device so many times. But it's still likely to take you out of the movie (it happens twice in that 2008 Hulk movie, once with Hulk and once with Abomination). Just brace yourself for a WW1 soldier saying "You sure are a wonder, woman!"



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The Incredible Hulk is also guilty of this transgression, with Bruce Banner laughing at Betty Ross for buying him elastic purple shorts. X-Men handles it more subtly, with a leather-clad Cyclops asking Wolverine, "What would you prefer, yellow spandex?" Even the critically acclaimed Netflix series Jessica Jones features a moment in which Jessica dismisses the original Jewel costume.

This trope is, at best, a fun nod to comics readers and, at worst, an insult to the readers and artists as a famous actor angrily remarks "This costume is hideous and anyone who likes it is hideous on the inside."

 

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Fortunately, it looks like the black-guy-says-something-stereotypical-yet-disproportionately-calm trope seems to be one the way out. The joke is almost always "there is a black person and this is what black people are like". Though Spider-Man 2's Donnell Rawlings cameo manages to diverge from the norm, but most of these moments are just a guy with a boombox and a basketball, smoking Kools and saying "Daaaaaaaaamn! Look at that super man!"

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Just when it looked like all is lost, like no amount of yelling is going to help our hero defeat the slightly larger more evil version of himself, like our hero is simply outmatched, he receives a psychic transmission/astral projection/voicemail from his true love/mom. He reaches into a well of power inaccessible to his enemy, who cannot love. Our hero wins because he thought about a person.

 

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Bonus points if the savior is a character who abandoned the hero's cause and was thought to be long gone, only to have a change of heart.

 

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Two characters attempt to reach each other's hand (one character is dangling off of a gargoyle on a haunted skyscraper or the wing of a flying submarine). After struggling to touch each other's fingertips, they suddenly groan and grab one another's wrists. It is never explained how their hands suddenly moved a foot and a half closer to each other, so unless one of the characters is Mr. Fantastic, we can only assume that both characters dislocated their shoulders.

 

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In 2008's Iron Man, "Rhodey" Rhodes (known by fans of the comics to be War Machine) looks at an incomplete Iron Man suit and says "Next time, baby" (calling inanimate objects "baby" is another thing that black people apparently do). Little did he realize that he, Terrance Howard, would be replaced by Don Cheadle in further films. Nonetheless, Marvel kept good on their allusion, introducing War Machine in the next Iron Man film, even if they did assume their viewers can't tell black men apart.

 

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The worst example of this occurs during the spectacular failure that is X-Men: The Last Stand, when the Juggernaut quotes a moderately popular YouTube video, screaming "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" Why not just let fans write the entire script? Or string together a series of trending topics to create dialogue? Give the people what they want, which is to say something that they recognize.

 

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Oh wow, Howard the Duck? Sitting on a thing? You must be glad you waited through 48 minutes of VFX credits to see a thing you recognize. Will there be a Howard the Duck movie? Does this foreshadow a plot development? Is this redeeming or entertaining? No, but you already wasted time waiting for it, so you'd better start convincing yourself that it was worth it. It's still better than that Blade: Trinity sting that's just Blade driving a car for 15 seconds.

 

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"This is just your personal opinions on what makes someone a hero, interspersed with bad metaphors and opaque references to events in your own life. You were supposed to cover the mayor's press conference! Why is this eleven pages?!"


 

Bonus: 3 Scenes That Can Stay



1. A Kid Recognizes The Hero And Keeps His Secret

Little kids know what's up when it comes to superheroes.

 

2. Citizens Fight Back

"Hey asshole! Stop fucking with Spider-Man!"

 

3. Stan Lee Appears

Keep this going as long as the man is still willing to do it. And be sure that he has some lines! They don't make that accent anymore.