Dusk. Two anthropomorphic scallions on a motorcycle steal a candy bar from an innocent asparagus. Suddenly, a plunger shoots through the air, snagging the candy bar. The dark form of a cucumber leaps from a building and shouts, "I! AM! THAT! HERO!", before tying up the scallions and returning the candy bar. His parting words? "With great chocolate... comes great responsibility". Reporters form a mob, shouting eagerly, "We have received unconfirmed reports that we may indeed be witnessing the return of LARRYBOY!"
Now, you may be asking, "Just who is Larryboy?". The answer is simple. He's this guy.
Okay, the answer's a little more complex than that. There is a company called Big Idea Productions, the brainchild of Mike Nawrocki and Phil Vischer, which created a show called Veggietales, featuring anthropomorphic fruits and veggies as characters. Larryboy, a sub-theme within Veggietales - which has spawned multiple films and a TV spinoff - follows the adventures of superhero Larryboy, the secret identity of Veggietales co-host Larry the Cucumber. His most recent escapade was entitled The League of Incredible Vegetables. It featured the Cucumber of Steel (yes, that IS his real nickname!) joining forces with other superpowered fruits and veggies: Thingamabob the Tomato, Vogue the Rhubarb, S-Cape the Gourd, and Ricochet the Asparagus. The group worked together to tackle the nefarious Doctor Arvin Flurry and stop him from freezing the citizens of Bumblyburg with his dastardly invention "The Fear-Dar".
Now that you know where I'm coming from, I'm going to blow your mind and tell you that I believe DC (and Marvel, for that matter!) could learn a thing or five from these characters. After all, every great ninja has his sensei, and every great Jedi has his master. So why can't DC take lessons from other superheroes? But what exactly could a comic titan like DC possibly learn from a small-time production like Larryboy or The League of Incredible Vegetables? It might surprise you to discover there are actually several things they could learn. For example?
In a really good movie, heroes must overcome their differences and work as a unit to get the job done. Or, if you're the Guardians of the Galaxy, you just fly by the seat of your pants with your 12% of a plan and hope for the best. But, if Batman v Superman taught us anything, it's that team players accomplish more than one-man-bands *cough Batman cough*. For a movie to be truly great, the team must actually be a team. They need to rely on each others' special abilities to get out of situations they couldn't on their own. And the heroes in The League of Incredible Vegetables demonstrate this admirably.
Whether it's S-Cape using his jetpack to snatch Larryboy and Thingamabob from harm's way, or Larryboy taking the wheel of Vogue's vehicle, the League always functions as a team to do what none of them can do alone.
2) Side Characters Can Be Sassy Too
Yes, we know that the main characters usually have the best lines because - DUH - they're the main characters, but characters that are of secondary importance to the story can be just as snarky as the heroes themselves. For example, in both comics and cartoons, Batman's butler Alfred has more sarcastic wit on his worst day than Tony Stark does on his best. Alfred and characters like him are important, because even though they're not necessarily the heroes of the film, secondary characters need a snarky side too.
3) Can We Save the City Without Collateral Damage?
"Hey, here's a great idea! Let's save the city without destroying half of it in the process!" - No Superhero Ever
Let's be honest here. When the Avengers or the Justice League (or any other action hero for that matter) get into their final showdown with the villain, we all want to see some collateral damage. I'm not immune to that. I love watching buildings blow up as much as the next guy, but I believe that the superhero film trope of wiping out half to two thirds of a major city is overused. Just once, I want to see them duke it out with the villain in the middle of nowhere. The League of Incredible Vegetables shows us that minimal collateral damage is possible, even in a city. Okay, I get it: this is a kids' show and the heroes are anthropomorphic food, but the concept is there! Collateral damage can't be fun to clean up after, and with Civil War, Batman V Superman, and The Incredibles all touching on this issue, it's safe to say that all of this unnecessary destruction needs to stop.
4) Give the Villain Enough Screen Time To Develop
One of the biggest complaints I've heard about Jared Leto's Joker in Suicide Squad and Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman is that the villains were not given enough screen time for viewers to really understand their motivations or how they intended to achieve their evil goals. It was basically just: "BOOM! Here's a villain! Backstory? Nah, he doesn't need any backstory! Let's just have him terrorize everyone for no apparent reason!" Oh, and then there's this guy...
Now, Doctor Arvin Flurry from The League of Incredible Vegetables is a different case altogether. We see the villain actually become relatable in this film, because he suffers from something which afflicts all of us: fear. Again, I get that this is a kids' show and the villain and his motivations must be treated accordingly, but I think that if DC tried to make the villains as relatable as they do the heroes, they'd end up creating a much better film.
5) Make Time During the Final Battle for Quippy One-Liners
Yes, we all know this isn't a Marvel movie, but DC needs to learn that even Batman can't be all "doom and gloom" all the time. Fortunately, if the Comic Con trailer for Justice League taught us anything, it's that the Dark Knight finally went to that place inside himself he'd never been - his humorous side. I think with all these great comedic characters, like Ezra Miller's Flash and the newly-mirthful Batman, that some well-placed one-liners could really ease the tension of the final battle.
Superhero movies can be amazing, regardless of who produces them. Some aren't as good as others, and some fail to live up to their full potential. But all superhero films have something in common: they, just like the heroes themselves, aren't perfect. There's always room for improvement. And what better way to improve than by watching those around you and copying their successful formulas? After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery!
But what do YOU think? Could DC learn a thing or two from The League of Incredible Vegetables? Comment below!