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The influence of television-style character arcs on filmmaking

Even prestige television shows require something of an episodic format, and the plot must progress as a series of mini-climaxes and narratives for each episode. One of the advantages of television is the fact that the repetitive nature of the episodic structure lets us see the character in a gradient of contexts. Some recent films and "cinematic universe" projects seem to be following the television model, and place characters through iterative encounters to reveal more and more about them. The Marvel films are the most obvious example, but even series like John Wick are taking this approach. As big "intellectual properties" and sequels grow increasingly important to the success of films, is film starting to treat its characters more like television’s and less like the traditional film protagonist?

  • While it is crucial to note the profitability of franchise in the movie industry, and that has been a huge trend since the start of this century really, but it is undeniable that this television-style arcs have established better understanding and depth of the characters (I’m referring to the multidimensional ones worth dwelling into), consequently audience connections. To answer your question, yes, the movie industry has been going at length to, say, milk every possible layer of a blockbuster. That’s partially, in my opinion, because us the fans are curious to see if the sequel lives up to or outdoes its predecessor. However, no franchise can be in existence if creators are not sharp in stearing the wheel. – LisaV132 4 years ago