There’s this fellow, Guy Windsor, who’s about as much an expert in sword-fighting as anyone can be in an era in which it’s pretty much unheard of for anyone to have to fight for their life with a long sharp piece of steel.
I am a swordsman, writer, and entrepreneur. I research and teach medieval and Renaissance Italian swordsmanship, blog about it, write books about it, have developed a card game to teach it (which involved founding another company, and crowdfunding), and run The School of European Swordsmanship.
So here’s Windsor talking about the things movies and books get wrong about swords.
He says something 2½ minutes in that you don’t need to be a skilled swordsman to appreciate.
…most historical combat that is put into books is boring. You read a book for the characters and plot. The action is there because it’s exciting, but the reason it’s exciting is because your character who you care about is in danger.
That’s true, not just for historical combat, but for superhero movies. Those three sentences ought to be tattooed onto the back of the right hand of every director who makes one of those omnipresent escapist movies of the summer. That awful Superman movie that spent the last half playing wrecking ball with New York? Boring. All the big Marvel movies that bring together a grab-bag of Avengers to smash things? Boring.
I did like the Winter Soldier because it did something different: sure, there was fighting, but the main thrust of the story was character and friendship. You liked Captain America and you saw him and his friends grappling with a problem that wasn’t going to be solved exclusively by destroying everything.
And that’s what I liked about the latest entry, Ant-Man. It’s a ridiculous premise, and the physics just won’t work, but I could set that aside because it wasn’t the center of the story. The creators remembered something important about this kind of movie: it isn’t about saving the world from existential danger, it’s about having fun. Go read Lance Mannion, who writes the very best reviews of these kinds of movies, so I don’t have to explain it.
Also, my very favorite character in the movie was Luis, played by Michael Peña. When your secondary characters are interesting and entertaining even without a super suit, that tells me the writers and directors cared about something other than throwing up garish icons that can break things.