Give the Hero a Strong Goal to Pursue

Every story needs a direction. That direction comes from the hero’s emotional dream. The hero needs something emotionally and pursues a physical goal to get it. Often times the hero thinks he or she needs the physical goal but what they really need is an emotional goal that forces them to change into a better person. In short, the hero needs to become a better person.

Think of every great movie and notice how the hero changes from being trapped in a dead end life to achieving a better life. In “Titanic,” Rose starts out as depressed and feeling trapped heading into a marriage with a man she doesn’t love. Then by the end, she’s now alone but in control of her life and doing what she wants.

What happens if the hero doesn’t have a strong emotional goal that he or she needs? Then you wind up with a story without a strong focus or direction like “Ant Man and the Wasp.” In this latest Marvel Studio movie, the hero lacks a strong emotional goal. As a result, he doesn’t change much at the end. Because he doesn’t change emotionally at the end, the story isn’t as emotionally satisfying.

It’s not a bad story, but it’s not focused. There are simply too many stories going on around the hero and the hero’s only real goal is to get through with his house arrest, which he can do simply by waiting. As a result, there’s not much incentive for him to do anything so there’s no real emotional change that he goes through by the end of the story. That’s why “Ant Man and the Wasp” isn’t as strong as it could have been if the hero had a strong emotional goal and then changed to achieve it in the end.

The other characters in “Ant Man and the Wasp” have stronger goals to pursue:

  • The original Ant Man wants to go back into the quantum realm and rescue his wife, the original Wasp.
  • Ghost, a villain who can walk through solid objects, wants to stay alive by using the original Ant Man’s technology that he needs to save his wife.
  • A man wants to buy the technology of the original Ant Man to sell to the highest bidder.

There’s nothing wrong with characters having other goals. It’s just that the hero lacks a strong emotional goal of his own. Think of every great movie from “Star Wars” and “Titanic” to “Die Hard” and “Rocky.” They all have heroes with strong emotional goals. Strip away the hero’s emotional goal and you literally have no story.

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