DZ-44: Marvel, First Acts and Establishing Characters

How can your first act effectively establish your character journey?

First Acts are hard. They have to set so much in motion, especially setting up characters. To help them understand how to write effective first acts better, Stu and Chas turn their analytical gaze to a franchise that has been refining and reiterating its first act “schema” for over a decade… THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE.

The MCU has made (to date) six separate origin films, each tasked with establishing their titular characters. So you’d think they’d have found some patterns that works for them. In this episode, we take a look at three of these: IRON MAN, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, and DOCTOR STRANGE. Stu also makes numerous comparisons to THOR, and we enthuse about GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol 2.

As we breakdown where these first acts succeed (and, er, not-succeed), our discussion moves through sequence structure, macguffins, supporting characters, exposition… and — most importantly — Character Wounds and Character Flaws.

Even if you don’t care for MCU films, there is plenty to learn from how they approach their first acts.


… and stick around after the end credits, for an important announcement re: our launching of a Patreon.

Audio quotations used for educational purposes only. Timestamps indicated below. Chapter markers included in the mp3.


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