Behind the Backstory

Often times characters have pasts to explain to us why they do stuff, and this works to a point as long as you don’t think about it too much. Conversely, it works for humans beings as long as you do think about it too much. It’s absurd enough to reveal that Hannibal Lecter ate his own sister (‘Oh, that’s why he eats people. He’s being literal’), or that Lisbeth Salander was abused (‘Oh, that’s why she’s a powerful female character. Otherwise, it could never happen.’).

What happens often is that that backstory that would work beautifully as a single line of dialog…

Mr. Will Smith
It’s better to have loved and lost.
Mr. Tommy Lee Jones
Try it some time.

…end up as scene, or multiple scenes. That bit from MiB is all you need to know how to do it right. Just imagine, what if single lines of dialog, lines of dialog never even intended as part of the story, wind up as a whole film, or even a trilogy of film. That makes makes beautiful memes, so why am I mad?

Because Jupiter: Ascending is the meme factory. That’s why.