You know, I think Joss Whedon may have written the ending of yesterday’s Super Bowl. He’s known for killing off beloved characters by having then suddenly and unexpectedly impaled on something. (See Coulson in The Avengers and Wash in Serenity to name two.) Of course in this case it was a whole lot of Twelves who were impaled.
The funny thing is that Alissa and I have been talking about how the Seahawks of the last couple of years have played in a way that is so endearing to their fans and so suspenseful that it almost seems fictionalized.
Of course it’s not, and there are a couple of elements that don’t lend themselves to traditional sports movies. Those usually have the protagonist as something of a plucky underdog, someone who squeaks into a wild card berth and makes the most of it. While you could argue that the Hawks, and particularly Russell Wilson are frequently overlooked and under-respected, it’s tricky to reconcile that with a repeat first-seed.
Still, that under estimation is a potential angle.
Of course, a good story needs good characters. The Seahawks have those. But who do you focus on? There’s Wilson, of course. Or there’s Sherman, with his story of growing up in Compton and rising above the streets. That could probably be a movie in and of itself. Lynch is too quiet to be a lead character.
Actually, I like the “five man band” approach to telling this story. It’s a common method for creating an ensemble cast of heroes. The roles are as follows:
The Leader: Wilson
The Lance: Sherman
The Big Guy: Lynch
The Brain: I’m not sure, but this is a smart team.
The Girl: Okay, so this presents a problem, but not an insurmountable one. Yes, The Girl is frequently a love interest for the leader and/or the lance, but not always. Her role on the team is not actually gender specific. If you change “The Girl” to “The Heart” you can easily find a Seahawk to fill the role, smoothing out differences, pulling together the big egos, keeping the team true to their moral compass, etc.
Add Pete Carroll, and you’ve got the perfect mentor archetype, even if he is a little on the youthful and fun-loving side.
Once you line up the character side of things, the story is a bit formulaic. It’s just a matter of doing it well. You combine good writing and camerawork and music, and you’re set.
Of course, the original conversations happened before yesterday’s game. How does the loss impact a potential movie? Well, you make it a trilogy, of course.
A trilogy, you ask? This Seahawks team has only gone twice. Where do I get a trilogy?
Well, you have to do two things.
First, you have to understand how epic trilogies work? The first installment, introduces the heroes and gives them a victory. Think of the original Star Wars trilogy. The first movie introduced our heroes and villains and defeat the villains.
So who are the heroes? The Seahawks, obviously. Who are the villains?
Well, in a sports movie, the villain is the rival. I think in the first installment of the Seahawks trilogy, the villain has to be the San Francisco 49ers. Yes, there are other teams in the NFC West, but neither the St. Louis Rams nor the Arizona Cardinals engender the same visceral reaction from Twelves that the Niners do. It’s not just the rivalry. It’s the fact that the Niners, and Colin Kaepernick were the defending NFC champions. And, they actually beat the Hawks at home in the 2013 season, a big achievement. The NFC Championship game was a much tougher challenge than the Superbowl. That game becomes the climactic battle.
One problem, what about that Super Bowl blowout over the Denver Bronco’s? I’d handle it something like the Olympic Hockey final in Miracle. The Miracle on Ice game was a semi-final game. But it was against the Soviet Union, so from a narrative perspective, it is much more important than a final against…Sweden? I think?
You see my point. Actually, you can’t just ignore the Super Bowl blowout in 2014. The runup to that game helped to define Richard Sherman, so even if it’s not part of the dramatic tension, you can’t push it aside completely, and the subsequent celebration is the perfect close to the movie.
So what about the second installment? Going back to our Star Wars analogy, we’ve moved on to The Empire Strikes Back. Of course, all is not well in Rebel Land. We know that the Empire has pursued the rebels, and they’re pretty much on the run for the entire movie. At the end, Han Solo is in carbonite. Luke has lost his hand and is reeling from the big reveal. But as Chewie and Lando head off into space to find Han, as Luke, Leia and the droids look on, the camera pulls back to reveal the gathering Alliance Fleet. The music rises. The credits roll and you’re left waiting for the next installment.
So how do we translate this to football? Well, we don’t have to cut off Russell Wilson’’s hand, or freeze anyone in carbonite, or have Jim Harbaugh telling Luke Willson that he is in fact his father. (See what I did there?) There was plenty of dramatic tension in the 2014 season. The Hawks stumbled out of the gate with a 3-3 start. They got rid of Percy Harvin before finishing strong down the stretch. They cruised into the NFC title game against the Packers and then pulled off a stunning comeback.
Then we get to the Super Bowl itself, against the formidable New England Patriots and Tom Brady. The battle is well fought. Emotions range from guarded optimism to confidence to excitement. Then New England came roaring back to take the lead. But there was plenty of time. Emotions start to soar with The Catch. We were there, on the cusp of victory. All we needed to do was to push the ball over the line.
Then the interception. At that height of joy, that moment of fruition, it all gets torn away. The resolution is to follow the team through the aftermath of defeat. The press conferences, the trip home, the conversations of our heroes comforting each other. It’s something of a montage until…
The team is gathered in the locker room at Centurylink field, decked out in their jerseys, but not their pads or helmets. Whatever is happening, is ceremonial. They make their way out of the clubhouse and gather in the tunnel to the field. Maybe it’s a call back to a scene early in the movie. They look at one another. They raise their heads and square their shoulders. Injuries are apparent. Lane’s arm, Sherman’s elbow, Thomas’s shoulder, etc.
The start walking up the tunnel and you begin to hear something, very faintly at first. The camera swings around to follow the players into the light. The sound gets louder, and finally becomes defined. It’s the crowd in the stands, in a call and response across the stadium.
It keeps getting louder and louder. The camera slows as the players, now backlit by the glaring sun shining into the tunnel, run by faster and faster as the the chant grows louder and louder until it is deafening. The light intensifies until the whole screen is whited out, but the chant continues, louder than ever as the credits roll.
So what about the third installment of the trilogy? Well, the good guys are back, but so are the bad guys, bigger and badder than ever. In Star Wars, we’re up to Return of the Jedi. Our heroes have to rescue Han Solo and then defeat a more powerful Death Star, both on the ground on Endor and in an epic space battle.
How does that look for Super Bowl L?
Well, to make it truly epic, we need some help. We need to 49ers to play tougher than ever, to be powerfully motivated to play in the Super Bowl in their own house. And then, after barely defeating the 49ers, they have to come back and face the Patriots again.
And you’ve got your trilogy. Again, it’s formulaic, but that’s not a problem if you have good characters and good execution.
So, Seahawks nation, just think of yesterday as the middle act of a trilogy. Our heroes are bruised and battered, but they’re not out.