Enough With the ‘I Need Your Blood’ Movies Already
If I were teaching a screenwriting course of some kind – you know, the kind of class that Tim Daly’s J.T. Dolan taught on ‘The Sopranos’ before Christopher Moltisanti shot him in the forehead – I would stand in front of my class and slightly cut my own arm open, watching the blood trickle to the floor. And then, in the most melodramatic way possible, I would point to the blood and announce to my class, “This, class, is where it all starts.” And right before the authorities arrive, I would repeat over and over, “If you want to make it in Hollywood, remember the blood. Remember the blood. Remember the bloooooood!”
I have never been privy to the conversations that lead to the basic plot of the modern studio hopeful blockbuster, but I can only assume that the word “blood” is mentioned quite often. “So, why does the villain want to kill the hero?” “Oh, he needs his blood for some reason.” “Brilliant.” In the past 15 months, there have been at least four major tentpole movies in which the plot has something to do with needing a character’s blood. Sometimes the blood is needed for good! Sometimes the blood is needed to wreck havoc. Sometimes the blood is a gray area of moral ambiguity. Regardless, someone needs someone else’s blood. “I need your blood but I’m not a vampire movies” will soon become a genre on Netflix.
The latest entry to the “I need your blood but I’m not a vampire movies” genre is ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,’ a movie I would probably have simply watched and forgotten almost immediately – just like all of the other ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ movies -- if it wasn’t for its awfully familiar plot point: The villains (I’m being vague on who the villains are as to avoid spoilers) (Also: ha!) need the Turtles’ blood. Of course the villains need the Turtles’ blood because why else would anyone have any interest in English-speaking human adult-size turtles?
OK, so, the basic plot of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ is that the villains have created a gas that will kill the citizens of New York City. Through an explanation that involves a lot of coincidences and nonsense, the blood of the Turtles is needed for the antidote, which the villains also want because they plan to sell the Turtles’ blood and make a huge profit.
Of course, that plot point reminded me a lot of ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past,’ in which Peter Dinklage’s Bolivar Trask needed Mystique’s blood in order to build his mutant-killing Sentinels. And that plot point reminded me of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2,’ where Harry Osborn needed Spider-Man’s blood to fight off a disease (a disease that may or may not have killed Harry in 45 years or so). One of the most unintentionally funny scenes in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ (in a movie that’s full of them) is when Spider-Man has to sit down and calmly try to explain to Harry that, no, you can’t have my blood. And that plot point reminded me of ‘Star Trek Into Darkness,’ in which the crew of the Enterprise needed Khan’s blood in an effort to save James Kirk.
Is this laziness, or is blood really that interesting? I suspect this has a lot to do with creating a reason for the protagonist and the antagonist to fight in close proximity to each other. In other words, to get someone’s blood, these people need to be in the same room.
“You know, I’m having the hardest time coming up with a reason why our supervillain would want to fight our superhero.”
“Well, maybe the supervillain needs the superhero’s blood?”
“Gross. Why would the supervillain need the superhero’s blood?”
“I don’t know, just make something up. The supervillain is sick and the superhero’s blood will cure him?”
“Why would that work?”
“Well, then, let’s do it. You know, someone should really teach a screenwriting class on the use of blood in summer blockbusters.”
If 'Seinfeld' were on the air today, I suspect that during the episode in which Kramer donates blood to Jerry, Jerry would somehow gain superpowers from this experience. Though, I hope the next time this happens, maybe it can be changed up a little bit. Maybe the villain needs the hero’s plasma this time? Or maybe it’s time to just go all in. Maybe it’s time for a movie that’s just titled ‘Superblood.’ Not only does the hero need blood to survive, the criminals need his blood to either save or destroy the world, or whatever.
Or maybe the title could be 'Be Positive,' and the plot centers around our hero, Be Positive, who is in an everlasting battle with his brother, Be Negative. You see, Be Positive can receive blood transfusions from both B+ and B- donors, but his brother, Be Negative, has no use for Be Positive’s B+ blood type and, because of this, wants to eradicate all of the people with a B+ blood type from the face of the Earth, starting with our hero, Be Positive. But, to do this, Be Negative needs Be Positive’s blood for reasons that will never make sense. (You’re welcome, Hollywood.)
Anyway, if you’ve been sitting around and moping that it’s already been a couple of months since the last “I need your blood but I’m not a vampire movie,” you’re in luck because ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ has you covered. And if ‘Star Wars: Episode 7’ winds up being about Luke Skywalker’s blood being needed to restart the Jedi Order, or something, I really will start a new screenwriting class and I will pray every day that Christopher Moltisanti puts me out of my misery.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and GQ. He is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.