10 Clichés You're Probably Tired of Seeing in Blockbusters

These days, big-budget action movies are some of the most popular, but you're bound to see plenty of tropes and tired techniques.

"Who cares! I love the sequels, CGI, and evil villains!" Well, this wouldn't be a big deal if it didn't affect the quality of the storytelling. Screen Rant lists 10 of the most common problems found in Hollywood's biggest tentpole franchises, like Transformers, The Avengers, and The Hunger Games, and explains how each of them fails to romance audiences.

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0-SLs4j3OY

Here are the 10 issues listed in the video:

  • Fake-out deaths
  • Trailers spoiling movies
  • Final installments broken up
  • Money-grabbing sequels
  • Over-reliance on CGI
  • Generic villains
  • Lack of diversity
  • Women as eye candy
  • Dark, realistic blockbusters
  • Subplots that set up sequels

I admit it—I'm not a fan of these tentpole action flicks (I haven't seen a superhero movie in a theater since Man of Steel), and the reason is because good storytelling is so hard to come by within this subgenre. It's not a secret that these franchises are basically designed to be money machines.

Audiences don't get the opportunity to empathize with certain characters or become interested in an original plot. They don't get to be genuinely surprised when so-and-so rises from the ashes after being presumed dead of a laser beam through the heart. This means audiences tend to either lose interest completely or require non-stop explosions, city decimation, and Megan Fox mounting a motorcycle in "ass shorts" in order to stay invested throughout the entire 90 minutes.

But recently, we seem to have wizened up. Everyone wants a story they can really engage in, characters they can root for—to walk out of a theater feeling like they experienced a movie rather than just paid for one. Go into the Story's Scott Myers put it perfectly:

As far as I’m concerned, here is the biggest issue confronting these movies: Stakes. How many times can the earth’s fate be at stake? After seeing so many movies where this is what lies at the heart of the plot, aren’t the studios risking audiences eventually giving a collective shrug?

Big blockbusters like The Dark KnightLord of the Rings, and Mad Max: Fury Road have shown us that it can be done: you can make a big-budget tentpole that has a great story, but, as a screenwriter, you have to focus more on the internal conflict rather than the external one. In other words, the battle the protagonist is waging against his or herself is more important than the one they're waging against the antagonist. No amount of highly choreographed action, car chases, or brilliant CGI is going to save a boring story.

What are some blockbuster clichés you dislike? Share your thoughts in the comments.     

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I don't mind Money-grabbing sequels. If another awesome movie will come of it, the more the merrier! Over-reliance on CGI can hurt sometimes, but it's still not pulling me out of the movie at all. You need CGI for these kinds of epic movies.
Lack of diversity shouldn't bother anyone - speaking soleley of performance. As long as the best actor gets the part, has the right look, and entertains, who cares what their skin color is? When you try to "remedy" this problem, you get things like an Asian Jubliee with a pointless role in a movie. Women as eye candy, well they're not going to put Oprah or Rosie O'donell as Wonder Woman. And why is it only "women as eye candy"? All the guys are cut, near model-like men. So no more attractive people in movies? Why? If they can act and look the part why are we going to exclude them on their looks - I think that's counter intuitive to what your point was in the first place. Basing something on looks. Dark, realistic blockbusters... we are NOT tired of this because it's only been done right one or two times. (Batman, The Watchmen) They just need to do it right, not stop doing it all together.

June 22, 2016 at 7:43AM


Amen to that. I more or less agree wholeheartedly with your comment.
Even tho Women might be used a lot more often as eye candy than men, I do agree with that, there is in most Marvel movies a shot (often in the trailers) of the hero, topless, shredded.

"Money-grabbing sequels" As long as it makes money, Hollywood will keep milking any franchise they have, they are a business first and foremost. I think it is as idealistic as thinking that we are getting tired of "bad movies" and we only want "good movies".

"Subplots that set up sequels"
I would rather have subplot that set ups sequels like it has been done in the MCU than what has been done with the Transformers Saga where every entry stands on its own but on the long term, the overall story is so convoluted and non-sensical it just doesn't make much sense.

One point that could have been addressed is the scope of the blockbusters these days. I think people are getting tired of global extinction event, It has been done and done again and the general public has been desensitize and there's nothing really impressive in a city being destroyed. I think there is a general fatigue and it hurt films like Age of Ultron or Apocalypse. Whereas the smaller scale of Civil War or Deadpool made for a lot more engaging stories.

June 22, 2016 at 9:02AM

Adrien Bauve
VFX Artist, Stop Motion Animator

Your statement, "...they are a business first and foremost" is not correct in my way of thinking. It's called "SHOW BUSINESS" with the word 'show' leading the charge. Without the 'show' there would be no 'business'.

June 26, 2016 at 9:49AM

Lee Albright
Owner-Albright Films

spoken like a true white guy.

June 22, 2016 at 9:24AM, Edited June 22, 9:26AM


I like finding that the 'women as eye candy' trend is starting to fade. It's not the 90' anymore. But it's also true that men characters are used as eye Candy too, with an heroic twist.
I am tired of the franchises that last forever. X-men is good, but there are so many good comics out there, or even better original stories. There are franchises that shuldn't have happened, like 50 shades of grey (how many filmmakers that struggle to get funded could do better movies?) or the hobbit. Many of them are good stories yes, but they can be told in one movie. It's like the tv shows that have to have 22 episodes, you can feel the ones that are there to fill time.

June 22, 2016 at 9:46AM, Edited June 22, 9:46AM

Abi Stricker

Where are the ten clichés mentioned in the title? Trailers spoiling movies, final installments broken up, money-grabbing sequels, over-reliance on CGI... etc are not clichés of superhero films, but general criticisms of Hollywood. Overused plot devices, stilted dialog, characters with no purpose other than pushing the plot forward, fake emotional moments - usually superhero bonding with a child(Iron man III).. etc. Clichés ain't hard to find.

June 24, 2016 at 6:03AM

d shay

The main thing I'm tired of is the kissing scenes right in the middle of an action sequence. If you're fighting for your life, long slow kisses just don't seem fitting.

June 24, 2016 at 3:33PM

Dantly Wyatt
Writer, Director, Content Creator.